Boring enough when you can actually SEE it, this strange public school ritual is regularly brought to an agonisingly mind-numbing low by BBC Radio 4, set to last for several weeks at least. I would describe cricket as being utterly pointless, but for the fact that it seems to have more points than any other sport, awarded for no obvious reason and with a total lack of logic.
Which set me musing on further boring spectator sports:
(1) Top of the list has already been mentioned, i.e. cricket in which the main excitement is two men walking from one set of sticks to another set of sticks, holding a large piece of willow used to bat a ball into oblivion or into the hands of a mid-off or whatever to deafening roars of approval from the crowd. And it doesn't even bounce! Bowl a maiden over? Not this one!
(2) Golf. At least in cricket you get to see somebody running occasionally -and I must admit the players look very fetching in their matching white outfits and shin pads. But tartan trews and little woolly jumpers? Sorry, in the fashion stakes, golfers just don't hack it - unless they end up in the bunker, which is fun!
(3) Hockey. Now I must declare an interest here. At high school, me and my jolly old hockey stick were assigned to one end of a very cold, very muddy field while the rest of the team bashed everyone else's legs to bits at the other end. Being in defence, I can't remember seeing the ball more than a couple of times in all my years at school, and even then I'd have to battle with my own team's goalie for possession - the only exercise we got and probably the only time the opposing team were in with a chance!
(4) Snooker. Not only do the players not run, they hardly move at all unless it's to lean over the table to hit a little white ball. The most exciting it gets is when the players sip their beer or whisky or whatever and one can at least start wondering how long they'll stay upright....which probably explains why they're always leaning over!
(5) Bowling. No, not the kind you do in bowling alleys, but the genteel kind which is normally played on a velvet smooth bowling green. Again, competitors don't seem to move very much (if at all) but then most of them do have the excuse of being well over 80. Teenagers at our local green have tried to sabotage the game by hammering broken bottles into the grass, but nothing stops the intrepid team from pursuing their favourite sport. What that generation lacks in speed is more than compensated by sheer endurance!
(6) Darts. No excuse here, as anyone over 18 (the legal UK limit for drinking) can join in what is perhaps the only sport where spectators actually look healthier than the players! The beauty of this activity is, like bowling and snooker, you can be a champion without ever having to don a tracksuit, go running at dawn or cut out the carbs and the extra pint. A couple of sit-ups once a week and a good pair of spectacles are all it takes to be a world-class darts master. It must surely rank alongside snail racing for its sheer exhilarating thrill factor!
(7) Curling. This was a new one on me until the 2008 Olympics (or was it the one before that?) when the Scottish team actually won a Gold! Very pleased about that, the only downside being that I felt compelled to watch them as they swept their way to victory - reminding me that I hadn't done the vacuuming that day. Definitely toe-curling!
NB. Apologies for anyone not from the UK who may be unacquainted with any of these weird activities. No doubt you have a few national sports of your own you'd like to include, such as paint drying. If so, please tweet them to me and I'll compile an international list! But I still think, in this instance, Britain comes out on top!
(Actually, I'd like to withdraw that last comment! Have just heard that a New Zealand group are lobbying for an Olympic sheep shearing event! Sorry, cricket players – think you've just lost first place in the Boring Spectator Category!