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The Heavy Ball

TV viewing safety guide for New Zealand-England Tests

The time difference can kill you unless you follow these instructions

Alan Tyers
14 Dec: England v New Zealand, CricInfo Women's World Cup match played at BIL Oval, Lincoln

Or just head to New Zealand. Better for your health and sanity  •  Photosport/ESPNcricinfo Ltd

England are playing in the Land of the Long White Cloud, but for their supporters back home, it'll be more like the Land of the Long Dark Night. With Test matches kicking off at 9.30pm UK time, fans will have to focus on executing their skills and getting things in the right areas if they are to stay awake. This guide explains how.
Pace yourself
Yes, the prospect of watching Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott compile a painstaking two-an-over partnership against New Zealand's battery of dobbers is obviously very exciting, but you don't want to peak too early and use up too much nervous energy in wild fits of ecstasy. Try to take regular naps while Jonathan is marking out his guard or holding up play to wonder if that man 50 yards behind the sightscreen might have some very distracting egg down his tie.
Warm up and warm down properly
After a long day's work and/or binge-drinking, the cricket fan is advised not to just throw himself or herself on the sofa with abandon. This sort of poor body positioning can lead to serious injuries that can plague a viewer throughout an entire series, and unlike the England cricket team, the fan at home does not have the luxury of constantly rotating substitute viewers.
Focus on your good areas and execute
A Test match viewing day lasts for three sessions, apart from those bits where you're in the loo, looking under the sofa for a lost cashew nut or trying to fix the TV screen having hurled a lamp at it listening to Knighty go, "Oooh, well, I just wonder, you know, is it a catch, oooh, no, that's a four, no a six, that's gone all the way". Lapses in concentration can be very costly - a remote control dropped on to a toe, a disintegrated biscuit dunked for too long in a cup of tea, a poorly packed ham sandwich going everywhere. Sustained excellence comes from doing the simple things well, every time.
Drink plenty of fluids
It is the duty of every English cricket fan to show his or her support for the team by sticking to drinks from commercial partners of English cricket. Although a cocktail of Laithwaite's wine, Stowford Press cider and Marston's Pedigree bitter may not be to everyone's taste, at least you can soak up the booze with some delicious Non-Specific Animal Carcass-Based Snacks from ASDA.
Stay positive even if the situation looks grim
There will be dark hours ahead - perhaps a lost satellite signal coinciding with having to listen to a re-recorded David Cameron interview on Test Match Special, or falling asleep and having a nightmare of Sir Ian Botham shouting at you for not having brought your gym clothes, or even an extended Boycott monologue about Sir Richard Hadlee. Stay strong. Keep your eyes open. You will prevail. And the good news is that if you do miss anything, England will be playing New Zealand again in about six weeks anyway.

You can check out Alan's new book, Gin And Juice: The Victorian Guide To Parenting here if you like