“Are we late to the game?”
“Well, the game actually started yesterday. It’s a four-day game, you see.”
“Oh…so what’s the score?
“36 to 17 for a total of 53.”
“Yes, the scores of both teams added together must 462 runs for the game to be over.”
This is an actual conversation I had with Julian and Aisling, friends of my parents who very kindly invited me to their house in Surrey to spend some time with them and their two children, Oliver and Sophie.
They asked what I wanted to see while in England and I replied, “A cricket match.”
That’s how I found myself sitting alongside a cricket pitch picnicking on grilled chicken and trying to work out the complexities of the game in front of me. And since cricket is a very leisurely sport, I didn’t feel pressed for time while I tried to muddle it out.
As far as I can make out, there is a bowler (like the baseball pitcher) who throws a ball, but instead of trying to get the batter out, he is trying to hit a wicket propped up in the sand. The batter, wielding something between a baseball bat and a canoe paddle, tries to stop the ball from hitting the wicket. When the batter hits the ball, he can score runs by running back and forth between two wickets. If the ball hits the wicket, the batter is out and the next batter is up.
And that’s the very, very basic outline of cricket. Or at least, that’s how I interpreted it.
A cricket match can take days to play. Which is why it is perfectly acceptable for spectators to read a newspaper, listen to an ipod or even take a quick snooze during the game.
And it is actually possible to sleep while the players are on the field as the atmosphere of the crowd is one of genuine but quiet interest — kind of like a cat basking in a sunny window who surveys the outside but has no real intention of moving.
While the game may not appeal to most Americans accustomed to fast-paced sporting events, I think cricket is a sport I could learn to appreciate. After all, the players are very sensible and take a lunch break at 1 o’clock and a tea break in the afternoon.
And there’s something very enjoyable about sitting in the nice weather, sipping on Pimm’s and waiting to see if the ball will or will not bounce over the rope (if confused by the previous statement, you can learn about the 42 laws of cricket here).
I may have to invest in a cricket bat. Or even better, a lawn chair and Pimm’s so I can pretend I’m at a cricket match while watching my brother’s baseball games later this summer…