On a recent evening S. and I were invited once again to dinner at the Karen-and-Chris homestead, this time in more expansive company. The feast was lovely, and the company lively, as predicted.
But an odd sidebar with Chris cast the evening's proceedings into an odd and unexpected light (or perhaps it was just Chris's ineffable sense of curiosity): just casually, he mentioned that he'd heard about how those naughty, sneaky New Zealanders had been wearing special trousers, partly in an effort to gain more swing while bowling.
I am always struck, when people discover that I am a cricket-appreciating American, by how difficult they believe it is for news of their sport to filter out to the non-cricketing world; and so my reaction to Chris's aside was that he must have been especially attuned to the oddness of the story, rather than engaged in some ongoing dialogue about bowling techniques. (This was not a gathering of cricket-mad folk to be sure; actually these were hockey nuts -- this particular evening was the NHL's amateur draft, so throughout the evening people would wander in and out to the living room to see who was on the clock, and theorize about draft picks and trade rumors, the way fans do.)
To be sure, NZ's recent tour of England has had more than its share of controversy and strange moments: the exploits of Kevin Pietersen, who took his imperious batting style to a new level by adopting an unheard-of switch-hitting technique; an ODI that puddled to a no-result because of spotty weather and an excessive tea break between innings (causing the BBC's roguish text-commentator Ben Dirs to lose his mind with apoplexy); and a frenzied last-ball ODI victory, punctuated by a controversial run-out wherein a New Zealand batsman lie writhing on the ground while his stumps were annihilated. But the plain truth is that no one can pass up a story about pants.