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A quite marvellous game given by the eccentric English to many of their former colonies, all of whom now take great delight in beating them at it. The rules are almost completely incomprehensible, but can be briefly summed up thus:

Each team has 11 players who wear white clothing (except on Sundays when they don coloured pyjamas). The game is played on a grass strip 22 yards long ("the wicket"). At each end of the wicket a set of 3 wooden blocks ("a wicket") is placed. The object of the game is to score "runs" by hitting the small red ball with a piece of wood and running up and down the wicket. Meanwhile the opponents try to remove those scoring runs (the "batsmen") by hitting the wooden wickets with the ball. The batsmen can be got out in 10 different ways, all of which vary in stupidity.

The most incomprehensible dismissal is known as LBW. When a ball hits the batsman on his pads (the protective covering he wears on his legs) he can be given out. However this depends on another 100 different factors determined by the man in charge (the "umpire"). LBW is very controversial, needless to say.

The objective of the game is to score more runs than your opponent. In some games each team only bats once, and in others each team has 2 innings to score runs. Some games last a single afternoon while others last 5 days and still do not have a result. This is not regarded as strange by cricket fans.

However, you can forget the complexities of the game if you find them too confusing. What you really need to know is that at 1pm and 4pm players stop playing and have lunch and tea. This usually consists of cucumber sandwiches, prepared by the womenfolk, and lashings of tea and cream cakes. Occasionally the cucumber is replaced by fish paste.

The other vital piece of information is that cricket attracts many spectators, all of whom are obsessed with numbers and statistics. The spectators usually bring big hampers of food to the games along with pocket radios, packets of mints, scorebooks and several different coloured pens.

Cricketers usually have silly names, such as Beefy, Gatt, Embers and Athers. Even the commentators, who are usually more famous than the players, have their own nicknames and dedicated fans, and often receive cakes from their admirers, which they proceed to eat on air.

Cricket is a quite wonderful game. Just don't expect to understand what's going on...

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