}

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

C is for cricket

Cricket is a game played in many counties, though it’s especially popular in countries in The Commonwealth. This year, New Zealand and Australia will jointly host the ICC Cricket World Cup (http://www.icc-cricket.com/cricket-world-cup). In this part of the world, this is a big deal.

The ICC Cricket World Cup will be held 14 February to 29 March 2015, and will feature teams from 14 countries divided into two pools. Pool A is Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, New Zealand, Scotland, and Sri Lanka. Pool B is India, Ireland, Pakistan, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, West Indies, and Zimbabwe.

The game of cricket began in England in the 1600s, and in about two centuries became their national sport. It was carried to the far reaches of Empire, which is part of why it’s not as popular—or particularly well-known—in the USA.

The international governing body is the International Cricket Council (ICC). It sets the rules for the game and governs it. There are 106 members, of which 10 are Full Members (also known as Test Nations), 37 are Associate Members (which includes Canada and the USA), and 59 countries are Affiliate Members. The ICC is headquartered in Dubai in the UAE.

The reason the 10 Full Members are known as “Test Nations” is that they play the long form the game, known as Test Cricket. It takes up to five days, making it the only game in the world that takes five days and might still end in a draw. Players for both teams dress in white. The shorter version of the game, which is what will be played at the World Cup, is the One Day International (ODI), which is MUCH shorter and reminds me, as an American-born Kiwi, of baseball (particularly when watched in person).

So far, I’ve avoided talking about what the game is and how it’s played because I’ve always found it’s difficult to explain it. Fortunately for me, it turns out that Wikipedia has pretty good summary:
Cricket is a bat and ball game, played between two teams of eleven players each. One team bats, attempting to score runs, while the other bowls and fields the ball, attempting to restrict the scoring and dismiss the batsmen. The objective of the game is for a team to score more runs than its opponent. In some forms of cricket, it may also be necessary to dismiss the opposition in order to win the match, which would otherwise be drawn.
The rest of the information on Wikipedia fleshes out how the game is played. Fair warning: If you’re not into sports, and maybe even if you are, your eyes may glaze over if you read it. In that case, trust me, on this: The game is much more interesting to watch than it is to explain.

I’ve been to several ODI matches in Auckland, but I’ve never been to a Test Match, and I frankly think it’s unlikely that I’ll go to one any time soon (I don’t have that much stamina…). However, the first cricket match I ever saw played was between some university students in Ontario. I was about 11 at the time, and had NO idea what they were doing.

A cricket wicket.
When the bales won't move,
it's a "sticky wicket".
Nowadays, I enjoy watching at least part of some ODI matches, and I also like how gentlemanly it is: Sportsmanship is VERY important in the game, which by the 19th century led to the expression, “it’s just not cricket” to describe anything unfair or underhanded.

The game has actually given English several expressions. For example, “sticky wicket” describes a difficult situation. Someone who’s had a successful run—especially, someone who’s died after a long life—may be described as having “had a good innings”. To be shocked or taken aback may leave one “bowled over”. All these expressions are still commonly used in New Zealand, among other countries.

And that’s a look at Cricket. It’s big in New Zealand, though rugby is our national game. It’s Australia’s only truly national game, with rugby popular in some areas and Aussie Rules Football popular in other areas. Now, the two countries are hosting a sort of Australasian ICC Cricket World Cup.

Many people in the world won’t even know the cricket world cup going on. But for some countries, it’ll be important. I’ll be watching—some of it, anyway.

The image of a cricket pitch at the top of this post is by Nichalp, and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. It is available through Wikimedia Commons. The image of cricket wickets, also with this post, is by §hep, and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International, 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license. It is also available through Wikimedia Commons.


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9 comments:

rogerogreen said...

When I was in Barbados in May 1999, there was a lot of cricket on the TV. Boy, I did NOT understand what was going on...i

Reader Wil said...

I only see cricket when I am in Australia! I don't think there are Dutch cricket teams. Thanks for teaching me something mew!
Wil, ABCW Team.

Meryl said...

This is so cool - I visited Wellington where my son was for a year - working for a publishing company there. They played cricket - which he picked up quickly. When I went to watch I had no idea... too bad I didn't have this handy :-D

obsessivemom said...

As someone from cricket crazy India, I completely know what it is all about. While hockey is our national game, it is cricket that we seen played all around everywhere in playgrounds and even the tiny gullies of our country. The ads are already on 'we won't give the cup away!' I remember the frenzy of the last world cup when India won it. Was just wonderful. Your post brought back some really happy memories. Thanks.

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