New Zealand's James Neesham reacts during the World Cup Final. Photo: Reuters/Peter Cziborra
New Zealand's James Neesham reacts during the World Cup Final. Photo: Reuters/Peter Cziborra
Cricket scribe Stuart Hess.
Cricket scribe Stuart Hess.

JOHANNESBURG – At 1.30am UK time yesterday, New Zealand’s all-rounder James Neesham tweeted the following: “Kids, don’t take up sport. Take up a baking or something. Die at 60 really fat and happy.”

Neesham was on the field when that match at Lord’s ended on Sunday. Strolling back towards his teammate Martin Guptill, who was just rising up to his knees, removing his helmet after he’d dived trying to make that second run, but failed to beat Jos Buttler’s stretch back that broke the stumps. He was centimetres short of his crease. While England celebrated, Guptill, Neesham and their teammates were crestfallen.

There is no way Neesham and the New Zealand team’s disappointment could be described. Emptiness probably comes closest. Neesham, as his tweet suggested, treated it with humour.

They gave us a chapter in an epic afternoon of sport on Sunday. With apologies to Shakespeare and some fine writers of books, television shows and films out there, nothing gives us drama quite like live sport.

It also serves up characters like Neesham, who can mask their disappointment in humour and Kane Williamson, who just is humane in the coolest way.

And for our own selfish purposes lets hope a lot of kids don’t take Neesham seriously.

Baking’s alright, and it might make you fat and happy at 60, but sport gives you so much more. No one would have spent their Sunday afternoon getting thrilled by waiting for a cake to rise.

Instead we gasped at Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who played out a five hour tennis epic, 14km south of Lord’s, got wrapped up in Daryl Impey winning stage nine of the Tour de France on Bastille Day and Bongi Msomi’s netballers winning dramatically against the second best side in the world Jamaica.

It extended into Sunday evening, with Algeria’s last gasp semi-final win over Nigeria in the Africa Nations Cup and to golf on the other side of the pond with a pair of South African wins for Dylan Fritelli in the PGA’s John Deere Classic and Retief Goosen’s win in the Senior Players Championship.

It was ridiculous, gorging on a feast, and then getting a couple of rounds of dessert.

Often people - non sports watchers (imagine how boring their lives must be) - wonder why sportsmen get paid the kinds of salaries they do.

Whether it be Djokovic’s R41-million for winning Wimbledon, Fritelli’s R15-million in Illinois, Impey’s R172 000 in France or the R55-million the England team earned for emerging on top at Lord’s, well Sunday is why.

Performing under that much scrutiny after years and years of effort and providing entertainment on a scale scarcely imaginable makes those kinds of financial rewards understandable. No one should begrudge them a cent.

There was criticism from many about staging so many major events at the same time, particularly in England - which is also hosting the Netball World Cup and Sunday also the British Formula 1 Grand Prix. It’s hard to believe there will ever be another day like it - TV producers probably won’t allow it. So for a few days at least we can pick away at all the drama that unfolded Sunday afternoon. It was a ridiculous and exhausting, I can’t imagine there’ll be another day like it.

It beats baking any day.

@shockerhess



The Star

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