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  • Andy Cooper

'Trump Stumped' - A Very British View on the US Elections from our team in New York

A special week in America (in which the US finally got to experience the beauty of Test Cricket)

“Cricket a game which the English, not being a spiritual people, have invented in order to give themselves some conception of eternity.”

For many reasons, last week was a pretty special one for the US and most Americans are still trying to process what happened. That’s understandable but, perhaps America would have coped better with the last week if it had embraced Test cricket when it had the chance*.

Test cricket is a complex five-day emotional journey that, at its best, leaves you an exhausted but delighted husk by the end. There are moments of despair when your team looks doomed, there are times when you just want it to continue forever and there are certainly moments when you just want to declare victory when you’re up (Stop the count!), but more than anything there are endless periods where nothing much happens.

30 years of watching Test Cricket helped me to deal with the two states which made up much of the time between Tuesday and Saturday;

1. The long stretches when nothing happened

2. The moments when something happened

Let’s deal with each of them in turn

1. The long stretches when nothing happened

Like most people in America I spent most of last week starring glassy-eyed at CNN; falling in love with John King, slowly accepting Rick Santorum and learning where Maricopa County is**. Over time the flashing graphic declaring a KEY RACE ALERT became increasingly meaningless.

But it’s in the periods of apparent nothingness that everything is really happening. The story was unfolding, the rhythms and currents which took us to the week’s ultimate (glorious) finish were already stirring. Whilst Jake Tapper despaired at the President, the counting continued with Biden accumulating Pennsylvanian counties like Jonathan Trott moving towards the century that will ultimately decide the match.

Watching last week required phenomenal patience. You can’t make events move any faster, no matter how many times you refresh your Twitter feed. Cricket fans have known that since it was Ceefax 341 that we needed to refresh.

Then the momentum slowly became unstoppable (in hindsight this probably occurred when Biden was still behind in Pennsylvania.) You get the same feeling during a Test match, the barely perceptible shift that occurs; most of us have probably felt it from both sides.

2. The moments when something happened

Moments of high drama came without much warning, and sometimes at inopportune times. You could be idly playing on your phone, barely watching when all of a sudden there would be a significant number coming out of Michigan.

How to respond? You hope the moments that go your way (like taking an early wicket) are significant, hope those that don’t are not (losing an early wicket); but you never really know. Biden seemed to jump into an early lead in Ohio but start poorly in Dade County Florida. We didn’t know if these were important on either the micro-level (Dade was, Ohio wasn’t) or the macro (neither were).

The story of a Test match can only really be told after the event, just like this election (and just like life really). It’s only afterwards that we can know what was really important. But that doesn’t make it any easier to watch or the wave of relief and disbelief when it finally goes your way any less wonderful...

*Cricket was actually pretty big in America in the 19th Century and the first-ever international took place in New York City

**Phoenix Arizona.

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