This is why cricket should be known as the beautiful game

Cricket has long been my passion, and I’m no stranger to becoming emotionally involved in Test matches. But the England v India match at Edgbaston shows exactly why so many people love this sport, and why they get so deeply involved.

People who aren’t into cricket have missed out on a fantastic four days of sport. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it was one of the greatest Test matches and perfectly demonstrates why people fall in love with this sport.

Building tension

The game was tense, with so many twists and turns. And while the idle viewer may assume all cricket matches are solely about winning, this isn’t true. They’re also about the tension, the ups and downs and the sheer drama unfolding on the pitch.

Every world-class game of cricket tells many stories, complete with every cliché and story arc you can think of. You’ll witness struggle and relief, goodies versus baddies, moments of high tension followed by the sheer cathartic relief of winning, and much more besides.

High drama

I’d say that there is no sport on earth that offers the kind of drama shown by Test cricket. The fact that the match can last five days is an indicator of just how dramatic it can get. The longer it lasts, the more chapters there are to enjoy and empathise with. Perhaps that’s why so many great literary figures have been so enamoured with cricket – everyone from Pinter to Beckett has waxed lyrical about the sport.

While people who aren’t fans of cricket may not see what I see, it’s also a concern that the sport has effectively split in two. There is the classic, long Test match, that is attracting fewer live spectators. And on the other hand, there is the more immediately exciting, but so much less tension-filled bang of T20. And it’s this long, slow build up of tension and eventual resolution that makes Test match cricket so beautiful.

Brave play

The four-day Test match at Edgbaston clearly demonstrates exactly what would be lost to us all should Test matches totally disappear. There were many amazing individual moments showing difficult decisions and ever-braver play. And most of all, there was the emotional investment in a match that had no clear outcome.

Watching Ben Stokes take the fifth wicket to secure victory for England felt like the end of a long, tension-filled but amazingly fulfilling journey. This is why cricket is the beautiful game, and always will be.