Cricket – it’s a question of which part of the world you call home!
Stop a Polish person in the street and ask them why Shane Warne, Sachin Tendulkar or Brian Lara are famous and you’ll almost certainly get a blank stare. Do the same in the UK, Australia, India or Trinidad and you’ll get completely the opposite reaction. Why? They are all legends of cricket, that strange sport that few people understand and even fewer play.
I’m going to use this post to try and explain what cricket is and why it’s so popular in countries that actually play it. First, three myths to debunk.
Myth 1: It’s similar to baseball
Both cricket and baseball involve hitting a ball with a bat and then running. And that’s where the similarity ends. The bats and balls are different, the pitch is different, the scoring is different, the number of players in a team is different. The only other thing they have in common is their status as the principal summer sport in their respective countries. Fact: these two sports are not similar.
Myth 2: It’s boring
This line is trotted out all the time, usually by people who think all sport is “boring”, or by Americans who can’t understand that a game can last five days and end in a draw. True, this can happen in Test cricket (the longer form of the game) but the situation often comes about because one team tries their hardest to win and the other team defends heroically, which happens all the time in football. In any case, Twenty20, a relatively new form of the game, is all done and dusted in a couple of hours, and has enticed a whole generation of new fans to cricket. Children in your household might enjoy finding out about cricket through this fun cricket game. Fact: cricket can be as thrilling as any other sport.
Myth 3: It’s difficult to understand
If you listen to commentary on a cricket match, you hear all sorts of jargon. Don’t know the difference between a googly and a yorker? Can’t tell your mid-off from your square leg? No worries. All you need to know is that the team which scores the most runs wins the match, just as in any other sport. If one team scores 267 for 7 and the other gets 268 for 9, then who wins? The latter team of course. You might enjoy this short British Council film from 1950s about cricket, it has some great footage and even better accents. Fact: it’s as straightforward as any game, you just need to know the lingo.
Ok, so I’ve convinced you that cricket is worth taking an interest in. What now?
The Ashes – Crickets oldest rivalry
Well, it’s a good time to become a fan of cricket, because the Ashes are taking place right now. The Ashes is the name given to any series of matches between England and Australia, a fierce rivalry that dates back to 1877. There are usually five matches in a series, and last time they were played “Down Under” the Aussies won 5-0. This time, it’s much closer, but we won’t know the final result until the end of August. You can follow the action on the BBC Website, but dedicated fans of cricket listen to Test Match Special (or TMS for short). This programme is a national treasure in the UK, as they have ball-by-ball commentary. TMS has a loyal and dedicated band of followers.
The Indian Cricket league
For sheer excitement and razzmatazz, the Indian Premier League is the place to be. It takes place every year from April to May, with huge prize money on offer and lots of controversy. It’s just like a Bollywood blockbuster!
Think you are an expert on UK Sport?