That's Not Cricket
Global warming my ass! It's the 6th of July, I'm sitting in the sun watching my first game of cricket (how very English) and the only thing I can think is, "I wish I brought my scarf and gloves." At least the rain, which has been constant since the middle of May, has stopped long enough to keep this from being a thoroughly miserable experience.
And quite an experience it is; I'm surrounded by cricket aficionados and have learned more about cricket in the past hour than in the previous 52 years. The two main truths this belated enlightenment has enabled me to comprehend are these: cricket is
nothing like baseball, and what I'm watching really isn't cricket.
Let's start with the easy one: American's tend to think of cricket as British baseball because it's their national sport and involves a bat, but that's as far as it goes (and even that's a stretch, as anyone who has seen a cricket bat will attest to). For you Americans--and the substantial number of Brits who
could give a toss about cricket--allow me to throw out a few confusing facts:
-- In cricket, one person bats but two people run
-- They don't actually have to run when the ball is hit
-- They can run if the ball isn't hit
-- The ball isn't pitched, it's bowled
-- A strike means the ball has been hit, not missed
-- The object is not to strike out the batter but to knock a few bits of wood off of some sticks
So, as you can see, cricket resembles baseball in the same way a squirrel resembles
a rat; four paws and a tail doesn't always guarantee you'll be hand-fed in the park. And that being said, what I'm watching now is to real cricket what Arena Football is to the NFL.
Real cricket games take, literally, days. The "20/20" game currently taking place is, sad to say, another American-influenced perversion of the traditional British way of life. It's fast-paced, exciting and devoid of all the stodgy trappings and strategic nuances that
make cricket such an acquired taste. Real cricket, I am told, involves picnicking on the lawn on a summer's day, drinking
Pimms, reading the newspaper and chatting with your friends while the cricket goes on pointlessly in the background.
Here, it's almost like watching an American baseball game, except it's more exciting. The pitching and batting -- excuse me, bowling and striking -- is practically non-stop and anytime anything remotely interesting happens, rock music blares from the speakers and everyone cheers. All we need is a Wurlitzer playing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and I'd feel right at home.
Another disappointment is, these games don't feature players wearing the traditional whites. Instead, they have home and away colors, like an American football team, and merchandising is playing a larger role. It's sad, and oddly enough, I am
feeling a tug of nostalgia for a game I have never seen and a tradition I have never experienced; maybe it's the beer.
One has to hope that, somewhere in Britain, staid conservatism will prevail and ... hold on, here comes a Mexican wave ... now, where was I? Oh yes, conservative values, being true to the English way of life, and all that.
What's this? Cheerleaders! They are putting cheerleaders out on the field during half
time? Actually, they look more like a color-coordinated pack of bewildered teenagers, and there's only four of them. How are they supposed to make a pyramid? Good God, they're dancing with a guy dressed up as a Shark to a Scissors Sister's song. It's like they're trying to pretend to be Americans but can't quite figure out how.
Now I am depressed. In the States, these girls would be laughed off the field; here, everyone just seems to be ignoring them, the way they would politely ignore a guest at a dinner party who is making a spectacle of himself.
Cheerleaders in Britain? That's just not cricket.
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