Jimmy Anderson has played 179 Test matches and he was completely pissed off to lose this one by a single run. Jimmy Anderson is a quite majestically irritable cricketer.
The penultimate ball of the second Test between New Zealand and England could, and probably technically should, have been called a wide. Nobody at the Basin Reserve in Wellington really wanted the scores to move level with an extra though. Nobody except Jimmy Anderson anyway.
Next ball Anderson was out and honestly, sport’s whole meaning and impact is built on someone involving having and displaying this level of pissed-offedness.
We were struck by a particular moment just after the wicket had been confirmed when the camera focused on a frozen Anderson as the humanity surrounding him ricocheted around in glee.
The players are converging noisily. Fans are literally dancing with joy.
But someone has pressed pause on Jimmy.
The sort of whirling dervish backdrop highlighted this really well, but the contrasts continued.
Here’s Tom Blundell, who took the catch.
Here’s The Great Neil Wagner, who bowled the delivery (as well as the previous one).
Even Kane Williamson slipped into not merely having, but actively displaying an emotion, which is not a thing he’s usually very big on.
And here’s Jimmy.
As Anderson repeatedly took the short steps back and forth between sadness and irritation, bedlam and buoyancy swirled around him.
Neil Wagner is most definitely experiencing emotions in this shot and he is not alone.
Even Ben Stokes was at it.
Here’s England’s captain, sauntering onto the pitch at the earliest opportunity, already in “in’t Test cricket brilliant!” mode.
But that’s not the correct way to behave. Grinning at losing a match by a single run because it was brilliant Test cricket actually chips away at the brilliance a little bit.
Sport doesn’t need everyone pulling in the same direction for the same result. It needs conflict. It needs people who want different things pulling in opposite directions. That’s what makes it magical and powerful.
Everyone knows Stokes was pulling in the opposite direction to New Zealand, but smiling immediately at a loss raises a faint shadow of ‘could he maybe have pulled slightly harder?’ Even if that isn’t true, inadvertently raising the question still diminishes things, even if just a smidge.
What you really need in the immediate aftermath of defeat is a goddamn superhero, chuntering away about how the previous delivery should have been given as a wide before descending back into melancholy.
Chuntering to the umpire? Chuntering to his batting partner? Chuntering to himself? To the void?
It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that at the age of 40, with 179 Test matches to his name, Jimmy Anderson was completely pissed off to lose this one by a single run.
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