Neville Cardus wrote this in an essay in 1932.
Cricket is a capricious blend of elements, static and dynamic, sensational and somnolent. You can never take your eyes away from a cricket match for fear of missing a crisis. For hours it will proceed to a rhythm as lazy as the rhythm of an airless day. Then we stretch ourselves on deck chairs and smoke our pipes and talk of a number of things- the old ‘uns insisting that in their time batsmen used to hit the ball. A sudden bad stroke, a good ball, a marvelous catch, and the crowd is awake; a bolt has been hurled into our midst from a clear sky. When cricket burns a dull slow fire it needs only a single swift wind of circumstance to set everything into a blaze that consumes nerves and senses. In no other game do events of import hang so bodefully on a single act. In no other game does one little mistake lead to mischief so irreparable You get another chance at football if you foozle a nick; but Hobbs in all his majesty must pass out of the scene for hours if for a second he should fall into the error that hedges all mortal activitiy. Many a great match has been lost by a missed catch; terrible are the emotions of long-on when the ball is driven high towards him- and he waits for it- alone in the world- and the crowd roars and somebody cries out, “E’ll miss it- ‘e’ll miss it”.
The laws of cricket tell of the English love of compromise between a particular freedom and a general orderliness, or legality. Macdonald’s best break-back is rendered null and void if he should let his right foot stray merely an inch over the crease as he wheels his arm. Law and order as represented at cricket by the umpires in their magisterial coats (in England it is to be hoped that these coats will never be worn as short as umpires wear them in Australia, much to the loss of that dignity which should always invest dispensers of justice). And in England umpires are seldom mobbed or treated with contumely which is the lot of our football referee. If everything else in this nation of ours were lost but cricket- her Constitution and the laws of England of Lord Halsbury- it would be possible to reconstruct from the theory and the practice of cricket all the eternal Englishness which has gone to the establishment of that Constitution and the laws aforesaid.
From: Cardus on Cricket.