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Premier League Saves the Day

August 8th, 2015 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Cricket, English Premier League, Football, soccer, The National

Summer is grim, in the soccer-loving precincts of the world.

Most countries have soccer leagues that play from August and into May. And in June and July?

A whole lot of nothing, aside from some tennis, some golf and … (ack!) cricket.

For what seems like a month, the sports department TV, which sits poised about 10 feet from me, here in the offices of The National, has been playing hours and days and weeks of cricket.

Some of it live. Some of it tape. All of it insignificant. And dreary. And endless.

But, then, identifying what is significant, in cricket, is a difficult task. The Cricket World Cup, I suppose, or certain specific Tests, between England and Australia (“the Ashes”), or either of those and India.

Then there is “not significant but widely watched”, and that includes the Indian Premier League, which is Twenty20 cricket, considered the least significant cricket by the old guard and traditionalists. T20 cricket is cricket trimmed down to the length of a baseball game. A bit under three hours. Which is a radical concept, a cricket match ending so soon … without a break for lunch or tea, even.

Anyway, I clearly am immune from cricket fever. It’s been all around me for nearly six years, I look forward to living in a country where cricket is not played.

Someone said, “Ah, but if you go to the stadium …”

And I said: “I did. I saw a Twenty20 game at Zayed Cricket Stadium when the IPL was here. Bored silly.”

And he said, “Oh.”

Part of the reason cricket is popular is that is provides live competition during the summer months.

If you search your TV box, in this part of the world, you are bound to find a cricket match. Maybe live. Probably taped.

The past week-plus has been particularly drear as what seems to be a 50-day series between New Zealand and Zimbabwe, in Zimbabwe, droned on and one and on. I see the TV and it’s cricket. As always. New Zealand in Zimbabwe. It’s either a Test or an ODI or a T20 or tape of any of those.

One of the crazy parts of cricket is that Zimbabwe, the former Rhodesia, the country run into the ground by their idiot geriatric president of theirs, Robert Mugabe, is a big deal in cricket.

Only 10 nations are “Test-playing-nations”, and poor, broke Zimbabwe is one of them.

So, after what seemed an eternity of cricket, to get to the office today and the afternoon rolls around and there is the Premier League on opening day of the 2015-16 season … well, it almost makes you want to weep from joy.

Soccer is the common denominator of most sports fans, in that sports fans from nearly anywhere will watch soccer, and probably will know a few basics about the big leagues, like the Premier League.

So, Manchester United, a 1-0 winner over Tottenham, but the only goal was scored by a Tottenham player into his own goal. Maybe United isn’t all the way back yet.

And Chelsea, defending champions, a 2-2 home draw against Swansea City. Trouble ahead?

Three of the six games on the day, televised. Meaning about eight hours of continuous soccer competition or coverage. Thank goodness.

And this is how it will be for the next nine months!

The UAE’s local league, the Premier League, the French, Italian and Spanish leagues. League matches, Euro 2016 qualifiers, World Cup 2018 qualifiers, the Uefa and Asian Champions League.

Soccer round the clock.

What a mercy it is that they are back … sparing us from another 100 hours of New Zealand and Zimbabwe cricket.


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