Thursday, 21 June 2007

Cricket Is Ridiculous

This post was originally two separate posts from my own website, which I have pasted together, modified slightly, and uploaded here. consequently, the next sentence you read may well be false:

As you may be aware (or may have guessed if you know me at all), I am not a fan of cricket. You have a huge field, with people, often with their faces painted up with sunscreen, sprinkled sparingly over it. Two of them have lumps of wood. A third throws a ball at some other wood, and one tries to hit it with his own wood. The others (who are bestowed with monikers such as “silly mid leg-wind”, or something like that) then try to catch it, while the two people with the wood are switching places over and over (sorry, no pun intended, although to be fair I didn't delete it when I reposted this, either).

You would think, with a description that long, that it would be exciting. After all, millions regularly watch “twenty-two people try to kick a leather ball through some scaffolding”. But you would be sorely mistaken. Cricket is quite impressively dull. It may be because nobody is ever in any great hurry, because they have a full working week to finish the game — often they’ll play for two days secure in the knowledge that they almost certainly can’t actually affect the result. And if they’re not finished by teatime, they call it a draw and go inside. You can tell the game was invented in England, can’t you?

But what really gets me about cricket is that they show all five tedious days on television. You could probably fit a decent film into the parts of the coverage where the cameras are showing people in the crowd, or interesting butterflies. I'm convinced you could show cricket on Teletext and it wouldn't lose anything much.

But the biggest mystery in cricket is the music. I watched some cricket today — and when I say “watched”, I really mean “read a book while it was on” — and they played Supergrass, Love Shack, Boom Bang Bish I Want To Hear You Say “I’m A Moron Who Wouldn’t Like Real Music Because It Has Too Many Words” (or something like that. One of the worse songs the early nineties inflicted on an unsuspectinc public), and — I think — Mmm Bop. If it wasn’t Mmm Bop, it was some other pair of syllables that feature in no English words at all. And they didn’t even play the whole songs. They only played a few lines from each one. It sounded like a Time Life Music advert.

You might as well have a Magic 8 Ball in charge of the proceedings.


And I’m really not sure I understand cricket. I though it was a nice, simple, polite game where people are nice to each other and drink a lot of tea. But apparently not.

Quite aside from the fact that it’s in fact full of dirty tricks and nastiness (timewasting just to let the clock tick over so you can get a draw more easily, usually), the rules are preposterously complicated. I only found out this week that LBW is any more complicated than simply “if the batsman’s leg stops the ball hitting the wickets, he’s out”. (At least it’s simple enough to understand the off-side in cricket.) Given those odds, even with Hawkeye and video replays and microphones in the stumps, and three umpires, mistakes are still made with alarming frequency. That, to me, renders that game largely pointless. You might as well have a Magic 8 Ball in charge of the proceedings.

Cricket remains the only game in history (to the best of my knowledge, anyway) where you can avoid losing using a well-timed rainstorm. If play is rained off it isn’t postponed; it just doesn’t happen. And if that means the game’s a draw (say, because one side have four million runs and the other have only two but still have three tail-end batsmen not out) then so be it. All your clever tactics in deciding when to declare and when to keep on batting go right out the window the moment a big cloud appears because that could easily cancel the rest of the match, even if it doesn’t actually rain.

And as I mentioned, it takes five days to play a game. And they play it in five game series. And sometimes it’s a draw! (Or a tie, which apparently is not the same thing in cricket.) They play the game for the best part of a month, and don’t even have a winner. What kind of a game is that? A stupid one, that’s what kind it is.

2 comments:

Paul said...

Well, you already know my opinion on the subject :p.

"You could probably fit a decent film into the parts of the coverage where the cameras are showing people in the crowd, or interesting butterflies."

TBH, I look at 90% of TV and think "they could be showing cricket while this rubbish is on".

I'll admit though that there is a certain guilty pleasure in watching cricket on Ceefax. It's also a sport that translates remarkably well to radio and internet tickertape.

"Given those odds, even with Hawkeye and video replays and microphones in the stumps, and three umpires, mistakes are still made with alarming frequency."

Hawkeye is an unofficial tool used by the commentators, and is not yet accurate enough to be used by the third umpire.

And is football or any other sport really any different, given some of the offside decisions given or not given?

"Cricket remains the only game in history (to the best of my knowledge, anyway) where you can avoid losing using a well-timed rainstorm. If play is rained off it isn’t postponed; it just doesn’t happen."

Rain is frustrating, yes, but at least there are fewer draws than there used to be: batsmen score their runs more quickly these days and this tends to make up for the weather.

"And as I mentioned, it takes five days to play a game. And they play it in five game series. And sometimes it’s a draw! (Or a tie, which apparently is not the same thing in cricket.) They play the game for the best part of a month, and don’t even have a winner.

And what exactly is boring about a series draw, anyway? Some of the most exciting Test series have been draws. Some of the most exciting Test matches have been draws. If you watched a football game and it ended 3-3, you wouldn't call it boring, would you?

Cricket is, admittedly, a slow game. I don't mind that, though. It gives strategy and tactics time to unfold, and has lots of lovely numbers to think about in between bits of action.

Finally:

"And if they’re not finished by teatime, they call it a draw and go inside."

Oh, come on. Everyone knows that the tea interval is only two-thirds of the way through the day's play.

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