Cricket - An American View

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Okay, its my first visit to London, and it happens that the Cricket World Cup '99 matches are underway. Having played baseball and been a (fair weather) Houston Astros baseball fan, I figure I can follow a cricket match. So while my wife is birdwatching, I find a sports pub, buy a pint or two and watch the Sri Lanka/Zimbabwe match on cable (having failed to find a ticket for under £60). The announcers say things like:

"Until Paul Taylor came on to knock over the Leicestershire No 11 and enforce the follow-on, nine first-innings wickets had fallen to some young spinners. Off spinner and slow left-arm orthodox, they make up a nicely balanced pair: classical English finger-spinners of the old school. . Limited-overs cricket, covered pitches and heavy bats have changed the game in favor of youth. Of course, the pitches at Wantage Road are good ones, with some pace and bounce, which turn as they begin to wear. Said Davies: 'I'd only got two wickets before tea and I wasn't too impressed, but the lads told me to relax and bowl as I had been. I went back out and took four wickets for two runs.' " (Before tea?) Now I know what the TV character Frasier felt like when his dad, in a fit of pique while watching a TV basketball game, asked him, "Why did the Sonics get a two guard and a backup point? They need some wide bodies in the paint!"

I even bought a little book with explanations of the rules. "Usually a batsman's individual total is made up of ones, twos, threes, fours and sixes. However, if he strikes the ball and it hits a fielder's helmet which has been left on the ground - usually directly behind the wicket-keeper - the umpire will signal that five runs should be awarded". I am not making this up. I think Calvin and Hobbes were involved in developing these rules.

So I had to buy the newly released game from EA Sports Australia, "Cricket World Cup - England '99", knowing I'd never find it in the U.S. It wasn't moving too well in London, either, as the English team was eliminated early. It even has a half page that tells all us US-centric oafs what the general object is (probably a last minute concession to the marketing dept.) U.S. sports fans may yet have the last laugh, though. There was a major exposition underway at Covent Garden by, of all things, Major League Baseball. And when I asked a bartender for a cricket score, he said, "Who cares? I'm going home to watch the Yankees."

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