July 3, 2009

BECAUSE, YOU ACTUALLY DO HAVE ALL DAY:

As American as…Cricket: Cricket and baseball are twin brothers, separated at birth. (Roger Bate, July 3, 2009, The American)

I cannot remember the first time I heard an American say “cricket is so boring: it lasts for days and still ends in a draw.” Let’s just say it was not this decade or the one before that. I am not going to try and explain cricket—the rules are too complex for a short article. Or to persuade you that cricket is a great game—hundreds of millions of Indians, Pakistanis, South Africans, Zimbabweans, Sri Lankans, Australians, New Zealanders, Bangladeshis, West Indians, Kenyans, Dutch, Welsh, Scots, and English, like me, know it is.

It is fair to say if you do not like baseball, then you will not like cricket. But if you do, read on a little longer.

There are many similarities between baseball and cricket. They are duels of batter (batsman) and pitcher (bowler). They showcase highly individualized, skillful players striving for a collective goal. They are slow, staccato games with plenty of pauses for the audience (and indeed players) to consider what could happen next. Both can move from the seemingly pedestrian to vibrant excitement in less than a second.

They are sports with tremendous history and fabulous rivalries. While there is no love lost between Red Sox Nation and Yankees fans, India and Pakistan almost went to war over cricket (and who knows, they still might). Both sports boast legendary players who elevated the game to new heights. Born at roughly the same time as Babe Ruth, Australian great Don Bradman dominated cricket for nearly 20 years. When Bradman told Ruth that a batter did not have to run on contact in cricket the Babe barked “Just too easy!” Yet Babe Ruth eventually became fascinated by cricket.

Good sports can be enjoyed at many levels. The casual observer enjoys soaking up the atmosphere and beer; the serious fans obsess over the minutiae.


Freshman year at Colgate, an Anglophile in our dorm organized a cricket match. We used a sawed off hockey goalie stick, a tennis ball wrapped in tape and the wickets were stacked milk cartons. We dressed in such whites as we had and mixed up vats of gin and whatever. At one point, two professors had to cut across the Quad in mid-game and one was heard to say to the other: "At least we're importing a better brand of ruffian these days."

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 3, 2009 7:01 AM
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