Last week I went to The Oval to watch the first day of the last test between England and South Africa. Now a lot of people, and I mean a lot of people (if you consider the populations of any non-commonwealth country and lots of them too) do not understand cricket. I do not just mean the rules and terminology which is as arcane as any sport can get. Instead they do not understand a sport that takes five days to play and will quite often end in a draw. I have always tried to extrapolate the enjoyment one has in watching a football match on the TV with a few beers over five days with six hours of play. That is a lot of exctiement, a lot of beer and a load of old codswollop.

It is quite possible I did not understand it myself. Like my involvement with most sports, I am in no way obsessive. I enjoy watching a game of football, I enjoy watching cricket but I would not plan my social life around it (unless it involved going to see said sport). Perhaps this is where cricket comes in. It is a sport where earnest concentration really is not an issue for the spectators. It is impossible to watch engrossed at every delivery. Instead you and your mates shoot the breeze and get merry on the potentially lethal cocktail of bouze and sunstroke.

Cricket also is wonderful for punditry. As we sat there watching South Africa spank us all over the field, we shrugged and resigned ourselves to another loss. Ending the day on 363-4 we forsaw a final total of well over 500 and England batting manfully (and slowly) to get a draw. Was anyone talking about a victory. Was anyone talking about this game not making it to the final session on Monday? Bollocks were we. We were praying for rain. That the game has shifted so much illustrates the potentially great thing about the longevity and slowness of cricket. It is like all other sports in super slow motion. You could not pour over individual efforts in football before slow motion replays were invented. Cricket has them built into the game.

As I speak England need to make 110 to win. If Michael Vaughn doesn’t put Alex Stewart in to spank those final runs he deserves to lose his job as captain.