Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What are the rules of cricket?

Who's asking: Jen Lechner, Freeport, ME

When I did that Blography podcast last fall, John Lindner asked whether any questions had stumped me. I was only a month into this version of the blog at that point, so I didn't have a good answer yet. Some questions were going to take a while, I said, and some just didn't have an answer.

This was one of the first questions Jen asked for the blog. Despite a heavy snow falling outside my window, tomorrow is the Portland SeaDogs' home opener, so I thought it might be the right time to compare and contrast baseball and cricket. I've never understood cricket, but how hard could it be? You hit the ball, you run.

Pfft. I found this site, which lays the rules out as clearly as anything I've seen -- and still, something ruptured in the depths of my brain.

Eleven men to a side. One side bats, one fields. On the batting side, one man bats and runs, and one man just runs between two posts. When the two batsmen reach opposite posts, a run is scored.

That's all pretty clear -- but then things get complicated. Cricket has ten different ways of getting a batsman out, and about half a dozen ways to score that don't involve hitting the ball with the bat. Each team gets ten outs to an innings (cricket says "innings" instead of "inning"), which is why the game can sometimes take days to play. (To complicate things even further, a team may decide for strategic reasons not to take all ten outs, but to declare the innings closed earlier.) "Limited duration" cricket sets a time limit for a game, and allows each team only two innings. "Limited overs" cricket is a game of one innings apiece that sets a pre-determined number of overs (set of six pitches, which cricket calls bowls) per side. Oh, and did I mention that fielders take turns bowling (pitching), with each fielder bowling only one over?

A friend who follows cricket says it's easier to understand if someone explains it to you while you're watching a game. Some day when I have six hours to spare and a gallon of Chardonnay on hand, I might take him up on the offer.

Five Random Songs

"A Forest," Nouvelle Vague. Nouvelle Vague is French for "new wave," which is English for "bossa nova." This CD is a set of bossa nova covers of new wave songs -- "A Forest" was originally performed by The Cure -- and I like it a lot.

"That's Right (You're Not from Texas)," Lyle Lovett. The Texas Tourist Board ran a brilliant commercial a few years ago, featuring Lyle Lovett singing this song into a telephone: "That's right, you're not from Texas, but Texas loves you anyway." He hangs up, turns the page of a telephone book and says, "Man, this is going to take forever."

"Baby It's You," The Shirelles. The year was 1962, and I wasn't born yet... hair was big, and girl groups ruled.

"The Letter," Natalie Merchant. Standard break-up song. Been there, done that.

"Angel Band," The Stanley Brothers. From the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Old-timey bluegrass, in 3/4 time like a lullaby.


Kathleen said...

Having had someone demonstrate a "googly" and declare the game is "simple" more than once, I am now firmly of the opinion that the only way to understand this game is to grow up playing it. Aussie rules football anyone?

JIM LAMB said...

They told me in Jamaica that you can only drink Red Stripe at Cricket Matches or maybe good rum, if it's a serious match.
The English drink Gin which is not good for Jamaican men. That's why the English no longer dominate the game.
Also the English let their coaches get away with losing, unlike some other countries.

Jennifer Lechner said...

I am so glad I am not the only one baffled by cricket. To me it's like quantum physics or math that requires more than substraction and addition, things I don't understand, I just try to ignore it.

Anonymous said...

It reminds me of the card game in Anne Tyler's "Accidental Tourist"
all those made up impossible rules


Archimedes Principle said...

I'm English, and I don't understand Cricket... well, not the nuances of it, and this game by the way, thrives on nuance. Imagine settling down to watch chess on grass 'cos that's cricket.
Gimme 90 minutes of that high energy contact game we Brits refer to as Football. Such a gentlemanly sport too...

AnswerGirl said...

It is true that one rarely hears of cricket hooligans -- but soccer fans don't go around murdering coaches.

I suppose it's too late to bring back those Christian vs. Lions matches.