There is a special kind of hell reserved for cricket fans and for England Cricket fans especially, because clearly God hates the English and sends rain, New Zealanders and as we saw today, frustration, against them.
The complete dourness of English cricket was kept off of the back pages of the Australian press because thankfully, Steven 'Piggy' Smith, David Warner, and Cameron Bancroft, conspired to cheat against South Africa by blatantly rubbing sandpaper on the ball in an effort to make it do something. The story which would have gone to press, would have been England being bowled all out for just 58 in the third test against New Zealand.
The fourth test should have been a chance for England to redeem the series by drawing it 2-2. Instead what we got was a slow and painful death in which despite England finally managing to show a hint of competence, New Zealand responded with enough pluck and courage to last out the fifth and final day; this winning the series 2-1.
The raw numbers for the fourth test were:
England 307 & 352-9d.
New Zealand 278 & 256-8 (match drawn).
What we got was hour after agonising hour, of England fumbling towards victory but it remaining tantalisingly beyond reach. Exactly as Dante described, this was desire unfulfilled; with each tick of the clock becoming ever louder and slower. Jimmy Anderson, whose interntional career is quickly coming to an end, never found a second wicket. Root tried Broad and Wood and Leach and even brought himself on in frustration but wickets 9 and 10 never arrived.
I think that whoever coined the phrase "only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun" must have been an English Cricket fan. Not enough New Zealanders go out in the midday sun, or after lunch, or in the final session of the final test: although this phrase does kind of imply that there are some dogs who have an ability to play cricket. I suppose that dogs do have a very keen ability to take catches; so that means that they have more demonstrated skill than the English who didn't do enough of that this afternoon either.
Always striving; never satisfied. Always working; never completed. It was as if the players looked at the three lions on their shirts and remembered that they were English and the ghosts of so many seasons past, had all bought ticket in the Outer, just to see England return to the loser's circle.
Football fans who see their team relegated on the last day of the season will know a more intense feeling of this sensation. Anyone who has lost a final in just about any sport imaginable will also know what this sensation is like. For a cricket fan though, it is a very particular kind of disappointment; having taken five days to brew, before becoming the bitterest of spoonfuls to swallow. There is no sugar to help the medicine go down and it is not remotely delightful.
Fear not though, from what I've heard Satan is building another stadium for the football World Cup in case Russia isn't deemed reliable enough to hold it. England will more than likely be knocked out in the Round of 16 but at least it will be warmer than playing in Siberia.
Some say the world will end in fire; some say in ice. From what I've tasted of desire, I side with those who favour fire but ice will suffice... and if England does win the World Cup, I expect that Satan himself will be ice skating to work... to put the finishing touches to his picket fence around the eleventh circle of hell.