Short pitch: the immanent game
For twenty minutes, cricket dominated, absolutely. Second by second, it controlled everything and its imprint was everywhere. Every muscle contraction was dedicated to the game. Each thought a construction of this match and its near conclusion. My psychology awash only with hopes and dreads of what my contribution might be. Relationships with teammates defined solely by our combined need to squeeze a result. Of the opposition, depersonalised antagnoists, on whom failure was all I wished.
The firm turf, felt only for what it meant for a cricket ball: swift passage to the boundary if hit a degree or two away from me. And the light, closing in on the game. The rotation of the planet obscuring the sun, progressively denying us sight of the struck ball until it was upon us or past us in the field. From there, back into my mind and the urgent hopes for victory and fears of shame should I be culpable in our defeat.
Immanence, the property of being everywhere, suffusing all experience, associated with ideas of deity, was the state of this cricket game.
For two hours, the match had hinted at, and never excluded the possibility of a tight finish. Our total strong; but their reply measured, then accelerating, until wickets fell, a batsman was required to retire and the run in, those swamping, absorbing twenty minutes.
Despite the intensity of those last minutes, I can’t recall ball-by-ball how the final over progressed. But with five needed from two balls, nine of us were stationed on the boundary, calculating if a stride either way could be definitive and eyes straining for the ball.
Neither of those deliveries turned out to be the examination of my moral courage and fitness for this sport that my mind had convinced me they would be. A single and a dot finished the game. We shook hands, we celebrated, we joked about heart conditions and eye strain. Cricket receded a little, allowing in physical sensations unfiltered by the game – thirst, muscle ache – and emotions – pleasure for a successful teammate, enjoyment and relief.