Cricket is a study in people’s ability to cope with pressure and over time, their flaws become writ large on the international stage.
As India celebrated 900 ODIs, the tale of Virat Kohli’s appearance, disappearance and re-emergence onto the stage was a happy point for the commentary team on a day on which he excelled.
The pressure in cricket comes in a number of different ways, but unusually for a sport it is as much mental as physical pressure.
The most familiar is the stranglehold exerted by bowlers on batsmen, preventing them scoring runs by attempting to vary length, flight and spin to outwit their bat-wielding opponents.
That variety was apparent when one flicked channel from the Virat Kohli show to Huddersfield Town’s game with Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday lunchtime.
Football has, over recent years, come to appreciate the benefits of exerting mental pressure. By keeping the ball from one’s opponents and forcing them to hurry when in possession themselves, their opportunity to affect the game is limited.
This is how Huddersfield had been able to rise to the top of the table before the game and how they attempted to impose themselves upon Sheffield Wednesday.
The home side dominated possession throughout, but saw their efforts to pull the Owls out of position bludgeoned to the boundary time and again.
Their much vaunted midfielders Aaron Mooy and Kasey Palmer were unable to exert themselves in the game – the latter was eventually withdrawn.
Meanwhile, just as batsmen try to relieve the pressure by rotating the strike and picking off runs from bad balls, Wednesday’s attackers were able to do something the same – not so much nurdling to scrape singles as crashing Huddersfield’s attempts to the ropes to relieve the pressure.
Fernando Forestieri, as he tends to be in games at Huddersfield, was the only real class act on display. His continued running into space and retention of the ball allowed Wednesday’s midfield runners – Kieran Lee and Adam Reach the pick – regular opportunity to join the attack.
In this sense, the South Yorkshire side played more like fast bowlers. They looked to dominate through physical prowess, and were eventually able to do so in both attack and defence.
With Mark Hudson and Christopher Schindler separating to allow Jonathan Hogg to drop deep, Forestieri and Gary Hooper found considerable joy down the middle of the park, and might well have scored before the penalty that gave them the win.
All the while David Wagner’s side looked to exert an increasingly desperate pressure onto their visitors.
They kept the ball well, and made for the right areas, when they had it, but seldom looked like scoring.
As it was, every time they looked to put Wednesday under the cosh, their suffocation was lifted by bludgeoning physical reaction.
The study of pressure and time it may have been, but all Sunday afternoon showed was Huddersfield Town unable to exert the former until they ran out of the latter.
Wednesday, like India, were worthy victors.
For New Zealand, as for Huddersfield, there will be a chance to redeem themselves soon enough. For, unlike geology, sport does not take millions of years. It is over within a day, and a new game comes around almost as soon.