A little less vigour, please
This week sees the first Test of the British summer. Going entirely against recent tradition, there appears to be a somewhat unsettling trend where pretty much everyone involved is raring to go. This is not the way it is supposed to be.
New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said: "The term 'unfinished business' reflects how we felt after that final day of the third Test at Eden Park last month."
This has been a common sentiment from both sides. The feeling is that the two teams are involved in an ongoing battle and that it hasn't yet been decided. This is wrong. Everyone needs to pay more attention to the rules.
The reality is that we had one battle earlier in the year and it ended 0-0. Now we're having a second battle, which at the time of writing is yet to begin. You can't arbitrarily reframe matches between two countries to create your own series start and end points? There'd be anarchy. You could have one team claiming a series has ended as soon as they've won a match, while the other will want to carry on playing the series until they can get ahead - even if that takes them 46 years.
There is no unfinished business here. There is only finished business and the prospect of new business.
On top of this, Brendon McCullum's talking up his side's chances. What is he doing? He shouldn't even be here yet. This is the first Test of the British summer. He's supposed to remain at the IPL until the night before the Test, at which point he should fly over before emerging bleary-eyed in the morning, spouting off about how he wouldn't be so sad if Test cricket died.
The Kiwis are also talking about "going after" Graeme Swann. Again, this is wrong. It shows far too much intent and a complete misunderstanding of the kind of cricket that has been scheduled. The first Test of summer is marked down as being one where the touring batsmen will succumb to early season moisture and their own apathy. England's spin bowler is primarily a fielder at this point in the season, although no one seems to have reminded Swann of this. In a somewhat unseemly display of enthusiasm, he too is raring to go after returning from his elbow injury.
And what of Swann's team-mates? Surely they know the drill by now? Well, apparently not. Tim Bresnan said: "I am not here to carry the drinks," which is not just overly enthusiastic - it might also be an outright lie.
Stuart Broad said: "You'll see a really focused team coming out on Thursday, determined to put on some good performances, to throw the first punch, to make sure the first three days are our days, the first hour is our hour, not relaxing into Test matches and chasing the game."
Again, this is completely the wrong attitude. It's not just about relaxing into a Test match. It's about relaxing into the entire summer. You've got to pace yourselves. If you set off too quickly, you don't just run the risk of burning yourselves out by the first one-dayer, you also waste your best cricket because the British public won't haven't woken up yet.
The first Test of the summer might once have been a red-letter day, but for many years now Brits have been conditioned to expect a very gradual unveiling of the international summer. Rather than hearing our alarms and launching into things with a full English breakfast, we have instead grown used to pressing the snooze button several times before phoning in sick, only surfacing around midday to see what all the fuss is about. Enthusiasm has no place here. We need everyone involved to get their act together in order to put on a really underwhelming rain-affected performance which won't live long in the memory.
Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket