Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Going Batty, or what are those sticks these cricketers are holding?

As shown in a recent graphic, cricket balls don’t vary much in size and weight from a baseball, although how they are made is a lot different.

Now we’re on to bats, and here we have two items that have very little in common. The baseball bat is round, while the cricket bat has a flat striking surface and a ridged back side (sounds like someone I used to know).

The word you’re looking for is “anyway” ….

Anyway … the cricket bat is meant, in my opinion, to be more versatile than the round baseball bat. The cricket bat must be used for blocking, defending, full strokes, and little nudges and nurdles as well.

Hopefully the below graphic will help you understand the basics of the cricket bat and how it compares with its American cousin.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Balls, Sir! Or, baseball and cricket compare balls

Baseball and cricket share two very important pieces of equipment: balls and bats.              

So today I thought I would make a quick comparison between the two, using a couple of graphics.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Theme and Variations for Willow Bat and Leather Ball, or there’s more than one way to play cricket

When I first started this blog, I contacted some of my friends to ask them what they know about cricket, and to find out why they don’t follow the sport. A few responded that they didn’t even know cricket is played in the United States. But most responses I received were variations on the theme of “I would be more interested if the games actually ended.”

Before wading any deeper into this subject, let me go ahead and say that I am a fan of Test cricket, and England County Cricket. I listen to or watch every match I can.

Right. Now that ye know the cut of me jib, mateys, I’ll sail ahead. As I sail, I will keep things simple, so bear with me, cricket veterans, if it feels like I’m leaving something out here and there. I will occasionally oversimplify in the name of education and to keep novices interested. (Hmmm—sounds like the blogging version of T20!-Sorry, all—inside joke.)

I understand my friends who feel like they don’t have time for a full-fledged Test match (international cricket match lasting a maximum of five days) or First Class match (up to four days). I myself have a three-year-old, a wife, a job, a dog and a house that all need seeing to.

The nature of my job is such that I can listen on headphones during the work day, and so I have the time and ability to follow the longer, more traditional forms of cricket. But for those who don’t have that kind of time or attention span, cricket offers alternatives.

For listening and viewing pleasure in a smaller, more digestible form, there is limited overs cricket. Limited overs cricket is simply cricket where there is a limited number of balls to be bowled. In cricket, a bowler bowls six balls, and then switches off with another bowler who bowls six balls. Each set of six balls is called an “over.”

If you have a day to kill, then there are 40- and 50-over matches. In other words, each team faces a maximum of 40 or 50 overs (sets of six balls). But even a day long match is too much for most people, at least at first. And so we come to the most popular form of cricket: Twenty/20. In T20 cricket, each team faces a maximum of 20 overs of six balls (for the arithmetically challenged, that is a maximum of 120 balls per team). These matches last roughly the same as a baseball game, and are packed with even more excitement than a typically baseball game—there are lots of runs scored (usually well over 100 or 200 per team) and lots of action.

I will discuss the ins and outs of the various forms of cricket in later posts. But let me keave you with this: All you really need to play a game of cricket is a couple of bats, a ball, and something to serve as the stumps on each end. The number of balls, overs, players, etc. is all totally up to you—much like baseball for me as a kid.

My friends and I would play ball with plastic bats and balls, rubber, tennis balls--anything. If there weren’t enough people per side, we would leave “ghost runners” on base and go back to bat again. If there weren’t players enough to have fielders, we would throw the ball up into the air and hit it ourselves, then place the bat on the ground. The fielder would throw the ball from wherever it was stopped, and try to hit the bat. If the fielder hit the bat, or caught the ball in the air, then it was his or her turn to be the batter. That sounds nothing like baseball. But we called it baseball.

Cricket has the same advantages. The amount of balls and innings and players and runs are unimportant details. As long as a batter can run back and forth on the pitch, between the stumps, and score runs, that’s really all you need (and even that is debatable).

I’ve been fairly vague here, and I know that I still haven’t discussed muc of anything in depth. That is all coming soon. But before we got into it, I wanted to make sure you all know—cricket DOES NOT have to take any longer than a baseball game, or even an American football game. And to show you just how exciting limited overs cricket can be, here are a few links to short highlight clips on YouTube. Enjoy! And I’ll see you in the back alley for some cricket variations after supper!

A Strange and Beautiful Game, or How I Learned to Love Cricket

Long before baseball captured the American imagination, another sport—also played with a bat and a ball—was part of the cultural landscape.
Although the sport of cricket is today thought of more as belonging to quiet English summers and to hot days in Asia, even before the United States came into being cricket was played in the New World, with the sport mentioned in private diaries as early as 1709 and in the public press in 1751. In fact, it is believed that George Washington himself watched some of his soldiers play “wickets”—which historians believe referred to cricket—in Valley Forge during the summer of 1778.
Despite such early roots, the shorter and faster-paced game of baseball eventually surpassed cricket in America, and the so-called “sport of kings” was reduced to little more than a niche interest for the elite. Cricket may yet make a comeback, however, thanks to the United States’ growing population of immigrants from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and parts of the Caribbean—areas where, along with England, South Africa and Australia, cricket is still very much a popular sport. Throughout the United States, cricket clubs are popping up in big cities, on college campuses
            My own long distance love affair with cricket dates to 2007. As a long-time Brit-o-phile, I have always been drawn to all things British. My favorite television program: Last of the Summer Wine. My favorite composers: Ralph Vaughan Williams, Thomas Tallis and Hamilton Harty. Movies, reading materials, dress, beer; my tastes in each of these areas has been heavily influenced by the British. I even listen to BBC Radio online and have for years.
When I was younger, baseball was my game. I had been a fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs before mostly losing interest in recent years. I had, in fact, lost interest in nearly all competitive sports. I had, however, always wanted to find out more about this strange-sounding game of cricket, and so in 2007 while browsing through the BBC News Web site I came across mention of the World Cup taking place in the West Indies. Although I couldn’t access the BBC online coverage, I looked around and found audio commentary being provided via and began tuning in while at work.
I had no idea what was going on at first—why was someone bowling to a batsman, what was a sweep and a cut shot and why were there two batsmen changing ends all the time? Despite my lack of knowledge, though, as I listened to that World Cup I was enchanted and well and truly captured by this marvelous game. I came to understand some of the rudiments of the game, was able to follow along using some graphics of what a cricket pitch looks like and read up on some of the rules and history. I also managed to win an England ODI shirt—which I continue to wear quite often (much to my wife’s dismay), despite the fact that it now looks like something I took off of a dead bum in an alley.
My burgeoning enthusiasm wasn’t even hampered by England’s second round departure from the tournament—as mentioned above I’m long-time Chicago Cubs fan so I’m used to losing. (It’s a good thing, as England headed down a road that led to disappointment, defeat and major changes in the squad.)
            Over the next four years, I became more and more fascinated by the King of Sports—or the Sport of Kings, whichever you prefer—and followed England’s progress (or lack thereof) in international tests, ODIs and Twenty/20 cricket (more about these names and what they mean later). Although a Brit at heart, as an American I felt I needed to at least attempt a show at support for my home country, so I began researching the state of cricket in the United States. It didn’t take long to figure out that cricket fell just above toenail clipping and just below nose picking on the list of things Americas follow and watch with any interest. I did, however, discover another format that became what I would call my true cricket love: English county cricket.
            I spent some time searching around the BBC Web site, and on various county sites, before finally determining that I would follow Surrey. My highly personal, heartfelt reasoning? I liked listening to Mark Church—who is the BBC radio commentator for Surrey cricket—and found him to be better than any other county presenter. As it turns out, this choice was in keeping with my personal sporting tradition: Surrey was losing a lot but also had a lot going for them in terms of quality players and atmosphere.
            I hesitate to guess at how many long work days Mark Church—and his sidekick, Johnny Barran—have gotten me through. They have given a great deal of life to the hours I spend working on technical documentation for my employer. The same can be said of the commentators on Test Match Sofa, and also Test Match Special favorites Henry Blofeld and Jonathon Agnew.
Cricket commentators like to joke that county cricket matches are so dull and ill-placed in this day of fast moving business and less daylight leisure time that the only people attending most matches are four old men and a dog. Thanks to the Internet, they can now say four old men, a dog and me—at least in spirit. My hope is that, through this blog, my fellow Americans will learn enough about cricket to discover the joys of listening to and watching it, and that they will take that interest outside, where it belongs—and take up this most wonderful of sports. So pick up your bat and take guard—I’m off to bowl you a googly. Let’s see how you handle it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What It Was, Was Cricket, or a Beginning Beginner’s Guide to Cricket (Part 1)

This is a post about basics. Actually, it’s more like pre-basics. This is going to be the “Baby’s First” version of the cricket basics. So for veterans of cricket, bear with me as I’m sure you will be as bored as a back row spectator at day three of the International SAT-Taking Championships.
This will be in the form of questions and answers, as if asked by someone who just wandered into a cricket match. If you want a more entertaining look at a first-time exposure to a sport, please listen to Andy Griffith’s immortal “What It Was, Was Football,” to be found here:

If I catch you listening before you’re done with my post then it’s off to detention for you. And now, on with the Q and A!

Q: What are all of those people doing out there in that grassy field?
A: They’re playing cricket.

Q: Looks more to me like they’re scratching poison ivy and spitting.
A: That’s not a question.

Q: So what is the aim of cricket?
A: For your team to score more runs than the other team.

Q: Well, that’s pretty simple. I thought cricket was complicated?
A: It is only as complicated as the number of questions you ask.

Q: OK, so how do they score runs?
A: Well the bowler—that’s the guy who would be the pitcher if this were baseball—comes running in and throws the ball to the batsman. Except we call it bowling. The batsman—
Q: Wait-you call it bowling? Are there holes in the ball? It doesn’t look like bowling to me.
A: I know, but a looooooong time ago it was done underarm and looked a lot more like bowling. But, anyway, the batsman scores a run by hitting the ball and running safely to the other end, while the batsman at the other end runs back to the end from which it was originally hit.
Q: Huh?
A: Sorry. There are two batsmen, one on each end. When one of them hits the ball, each one runs to the opposite end. If they do that without being out, they score one run. If the ball hits the boundary the one who hit the ball gets four runs. If it clears the boundary in the air, the one who hit it gets six runs.
Q: Oh, well that’s easy.
A: There are other ways to score, but we’ll stick with the sub-basics right now.
Q: So what is that bare patch in the middle of the field? The one that they’re all staring at? Well, except for the fat guy on the boundary who’s eating some kind of buffalo hump sandwich or something? Looks like somebody went crazy with the mower there.
A: Well, that bare patch in the middle is called the pitch. On each end of the pitch there are three sticks sticking up out of the ground. Those are called “stumps.”
Q: Stumps was my nickname in high school.
A: Stop interrupting. And that wasn’t a question. Anyway, on top of those three sticks are two more sticks, called “bails.” The bowler is trying to knock those bails off and get the batsman out. The batsman is trying to defend so he or she isn’t out, and at the same time score runs.
Q: Are there other ways to get out?
A: Yes. If you hit the ball in the air and someone catches it, you’re out. Or, if you are outside of the crease—that’s batter’s box for you yanks—and someone knocks the bails off with the ball you’re out. There are other ways, but, again, we’re being very basic.
Q: You keep saying that.
A: I’m glad I’m getting through to you.
Q: So how many outs do they get? How long do you bat?
A: A batsman bats until he or she is out, so their scoring is limited only by ability and time—and the talent of the bowlers and fielders, of course! A team is out when they have only one batsman left who isn’t out. There must be two batsmen at all times, so if you only have one left, your team is done batting. There are other ways one's turn batting can be over, but this explanation wil do for now.
Q: How many players are there?
A: 11 per team.
Q: Who is that guy with the funny looking gloves-is he the catcher?
A: Similar. He’s the wicketkeeper, and he serves much the same function as a catcher, and that is to stop the ball.
Q: Why doesn’t anyone else wear a glove, like the fielders in baseball do?
A: Gloves are for sissies.
Q: Ow! That batsman guy just got plunked in the arm? Does he get a free run?
A: No, that is allowed.
Q: Not in baseball, it isn’t.
A: Baseball is for sissies.
Q: Am I sensing a pattern here?
A: Patterns are for sissies.
Q: Can I take a break for a while? I’m confused and tired.
A: Confused and Tired was my nickname in high school. Yes, we’ll take a break, and have some more basics later.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My Brush with Fame, or How I faced Two Slow Balls in Practice

I have a deep, dark secret to share. A confession to make (even though as a Quaker I don’t do confession in the traditional religious sense). My horrible secret? My hidden shame? I have never played cricket.

It isn’t from a lack of desire; I simply never had the opportunity to play since falling in love with the sport about five years ago. And now that I have found people who play, I feel like I am too old and decrepit! I am, after all, nearly 48!
I have to admit that I was never anyone’s idea of a sporting hero. In junior high and high school I tried out for the baseball team over and over. I was a triple threat: Couldn’t catch, could bat and couldn’t run. I could pitch-nobody ever got a hit off of me in tryouts, but at that level what matters is hitting and defense. Later, in college, I got into shape. I went through Basic and Advanced Infantry Training (this is before I was a Quaker, mind you). I took up running (I could do five miles in about 30-35 minutes). I could jump high enough to nearly slam dunk a basketball, despite my measly 5’7” frame. For a while I did some decent duty as a catcher in slow-pitch softball (mainly because I could run out every ball to back up first base). But I was still uncoordinated at best at any type of athletic endeavor. When you add the fact that I describe myself, as did the immortal Norman Clegg of Last of the Summer Wine fame, as “one of nature’s non-competitors,” you begin to see the picture of an aging office dweller with more interest in reading than sports.
But when I fell in love with cricket (see my first post on how that happened), I really did want to try and find a way to participate. Last year, I finally had a chance—of sorts. I pitched (or, should I say bowled?)and was assigned a story on the local cricket club for a regional magazine.
So I showed up at the appropriate building on the Ball State University campus in Muncie, Indiana, to interview Vimal Bava, at that time a Ball State student and the captain of both the Ball State and Muncie Cricket Clubs, and to watch the team practice for an upcoming tournament. Despite being inside, on artificial turf, and being assigned a photographer who clearly saw this job as being just below clipping her toenails and just above snoring, the atmosphere was, for me, electric. I could hardly contain my boyish excitement as the players took turns bowling at their captain. The experience had it all for me: enthusiastic participants, decent hitting, some nicely spun balls and even the obligatory injury when an older member of the team had to limp off to the showers. After I got contact information, and had some questions answered, I turned to follow the rapidly retreating photographer. As I was going, I couldn’t help regret not taking a shot or two while that close to bowlers. So I asked Vimal if I could pop into the crease and face a couple of balls.
He waved me in and handed me his bat.
“Just a couple of slow ones,” I begged, taking guard with a stance that I imagine looked an awful lot like Barney Fife of Mayberry fame trying to hide behind a yardstick.
So, a couple of slow deliveries were sent my way. I don’t remember the first, even though it did hit my bat and skidded away for a possible single for a fast runner. I do remember the second—an inelegant, ham-fisted, ostrich-footed swipe that sent what would have been an easy chance to short mid-off that rocked my tennis elbow-ridden right arm like a lightning bolt.
I thanked them politely for taking it easy on a man more than twice their individual ages and headed for my car. Forty minutes later I walked into my house, still smiling like I was Bobby Thompson and I’d just hit the “shot heard ‘round the world” off of Ralph Branca in 1951, and began to regale my wife with the thrilling details.
“I don’t suppose you had the camera?” she asked, in that way wives do when they want to be supportive and loving but can’t help thinking what an idiot they’ve been lumbered with.
I could taste the bitter disappointment welling up in my mouth, but then the memory of my painful elbow forced it back down my throat.
“No, but I’ve got it all up here,” I said, pointing at my head and winking at her like Ian Botham off for a century celebration.
I can only imagine it was her great love for me that kept her from replying along the lines of “Well, something ought to be up there.”
I slumped back to my mental pavilion to seek succor among my Wisdens. Nought for one.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Hate Ranting or, How A Rant Worked

OK, first things first. I hate ranting.

I don’t like to read it. I don’t like to write it. I don’t like to do it. And yet I find myself ranting sometimes. It typically has nothing to do with the subject at hand; rather, it is more a manifestation of my own frustrations and misgivings.

That being said, sometimes it helps. Not in the way you’re thinking. I don’t believe ranting gets results—at least not for me. But the act of simply finding and giving voice to one’s frustrations helps me as a writer put together a hopefully cogent argument or apology, and makes me get the word out, instead of just sitting and stewing.

So it was that, at the urging of a New Jersey-based cricket writer named Peter Della Penna, I put together a post on my efforts to contact cricket officials in the United States to do some work on promoting the Beautiful Game. And so it was that, within an hour, I had two interview subjects contacting me via e-mail, having read that post.

This is basically a long-winded way of saying I will soon be bringing you some posts/interviews about the C. C. Morris Cricket Library and Museum, and also about the preparations of the U.S. Cricket team as they prepare for their ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier.

Hello? Is Anyone There? Or, a rant about how I can’t get an interview with any American cricket representatives

Hello? Is Anyone There? Or, a rant about how I can’t get an interview with any American cricket representatives
Everywhere one turns these days, there is news of cricket in the air. All around the world more and more people play and follow the sport. Even in the United States, there are cricket clubs in the least likely of places.
I live in New Castle, Indiana … a small town (population about 15,000) where basketball is the game. In fact, our town’s claim to fame is that we have the world’s largest high school basketball gymnasium (it seats about 10,000). In fact, 18 of the 20 biggest high school basketball gyms in the world are in Indiana. Nearby Muncie, home to Ball State University and known as Middletown, USA since being the subject of a famous set of sociological studies in the first part of the 20th century, boasts two cricket clubs: The Muncie Cricket Club and the Ball State Cricket Club. There are cricket clubs and leagues all around, and before a lack of funding and interest scuppered the effort, the mayor of Indiana’s capitol, Indianapolis, hoped to build a world-class cricket ground.
About 10 hours away, in Pennsylvania, you will find the C. Christopher Morris Cricket Library and Collection, which bills itself as “the largest collection of cricket literature and memorabilia in the Western Hemisphere." Yes, you read that right: “The largest collection of cricket literature and memorabilia in the Western Hemisphere.”
One of the best all-rounders to ever play was John Barton King, a cricketer from Philadelphia who lived from 1873-1965.
The United States took part in the first-ever international cricket match, against Canada.
It is believed that some of George Washington’s soldiers played cricket at Valley Forge.
The Wikipedia entry for Cricket in the United States claims more than 30,000 people watch or play cricket every year in the United States. I would put that number higher.
The United States even has its own page on ESPN CricInfo (!
And yet. And yet.
Cricket is almost nowhere in the national sporting consciousness. Apologists have given various reasons for this, including the rise in popularity of baseball, and the fact that the International Cricket Council was initially open only to Commonwealth Countries. I myself have even toyed with the suggestion that it is because most people who do follow and play the sport here are of Asian extraction and so many Americans see it as an exotic or “foreign” sport.
While there may be elements of these in the historical explanation, they don’t serve in today’s world. I believe the plain and simple reason that more people don’t play and follow cricket is that they don’t know there is any such thing available in the United States. And the responsibility for this, I fear, must fall on the shoulders off the sport’s governing body, the United States of America Cricket Association.
I am not here to re-hash the problems and accusations that have flown around the USACA over recent years. You can get all you need to know about that by reading a few pieces on CricInfo, or by Googling “USA Cricket.” What I am here to say is that to get attention to your sport you need to seek it, and accept it.
I have spent some time trying to find a way to get in touch with someone connected with the United States cricket team, in order to preview our country’s upcoming appearance in the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier Tournament, and to hopefully be able to keep people informed of our progress there. And yet when you go to the USACA Web site, it is nearly impossible to find any contact information for anyone. There is no media contact person listed. The contact information of various executives can be found, but those I have tried contacting have never responded to my requests for interviews with players or coaching staff. I have had to resort to contacting the ICC, where their very helpful media person is trying to get me through to someone in the US.
But it is not just the USACA. I have tried contacting the above-mentioned C. Christopher Morris Cricket Library and Collection at Haverford College in Pennsylvania for interviews and contacts as a blogger. I have tried to contact the people who run the International Festival of Cricket each year in Philadelphia. I have tried following the captain of our cricket team on Twitter. All I ever hear is, if you will pardon the rather tired and obvious pun, the proverbial crickets.
Therein lies the problem. Not the fact that I can’t get through to anyone. That is important only to me. It could be anyone. The problem is that someone interested in promoting the sport, and not asking for anything in return, is completely ignored. How many others have tried and failed to reach cricket “officials” in the United States and found themselves giving up and writing about Reality TV pseudo-celebrities, who make up for their lack of anything redeeming by at least being extremely available?
To promote cricket in the United States, we need to stop the good-old boys approach. We need to stop trying to keep it chuffing middle class, or assuming that Americans are too stupid or ADD to enjoy even a game of T20. We need to reach out to Joe Sixpack. We need to answer e-mails and phone calls from people interested in the sport. We need the sport and its governorship to be open.
People with whom I have discussed this issue invariably throw up their hands, and say something roughly along the lines of “we need to do it ourselves, and start anew outside the current structure.” Unfortunately, the current structure is the one recognized by the ICC, so that is a non-starter for me.
For me the answer comes down to this: USACA, answer my e-mails or phone calls. And the next person’s. And the next person’s. Don’t take it for granted that most Americans can’t handle cricket. Give up some control and power because, with a more popular and widespread sport, you will gain more of both.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Taking Guard

Over the next few days I'm going to begin putting up some short posts about things like fielding positions, etc. These will be very basic, to help cricket-challenged Americans like I used to be (and still am, really, even after five years) catch on.

Today I offer a graphic that shows some really basic things about the batsman-what s/he wears, where s/he is standing and what those things are sticking up out of the ground.

Never mind the stance--or the hand placement!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Crick Lit 101

There are many wonderful books on cricket, covering a myriad of historical events, statistics and related subjects. In fact I think cricket may well have the best and perhaps deepest selection of writings touching on the sport’s history and social impact.
With thousands upon thousands of tomes from which to choose, I decided to limit myself when selecting my favorites to share: No Wisden Cricketers’ Almanacks (I love them though) and no athlete autobiographies. These are only to start with; more will be forthcoming, along with my favorite radio programs, blogs and more.
"More Than a Game: The Story of Cricket's Early Years" by John Major. Combine cricket and a former Tory Prime Minister and what do you get? I know your first answer may be "plenty of sleep," but this is a fascinating, warm and often (surprisingly) humorous look at the development of cricket. If you are at all interested in cricket, or in British history, then check this out! Major knows his subject and handles it gently and lovingly.
"Village Cricket" by Tim Heald. This is a lovely book. History buffs, Anglophiles and cricket lovers should definitely give this one a go ... but if you're none of those things you're better off giving it a pass. If you want to learn about cricket and how important it is to British life, though, start with John Major's book then read this one.
"Fatty Batter: How Cricket Saved My Life (Then Ruined It)" by Michael Simkins. Hilarious, sweet, nostalgic, elegiac ... Simkins has penned a real winner here. I laughed out loud several times, and felt the tears welling while reading the poignant and moving chapter entitled "Burpham." The icing on the cake was when he ended the book with a thought that has crossed my mind several times:  “Will England ... pick Monty Panesar ... ?" A must read for cricket fans. But then I may be biased. I’m a big fan of Monty’s.
"Penguins Stopped Play" by Harry Thompson. Hilarious (in much the same way an old Road Runner-Wile E. Coyote cartoon is hilarious) look at just why people who are obsessed with cricket are ... well, obsessed with cricket. Of course, there's no real answer to that, is there? As you follow this group of rag-tag wannabes around the globe in search of a match on every continent, you can't help but feel a certain camaraderie with them. Despite a sad afterword (the author passed away just before the book was published) which left me feeling like I’d been punched in the gut, this is a thoroughly enjoyable must for any cricketer--armchair or otherwise! (PS--yes, penguins DO stop play of an impromptu cricket match.)
“Rain Men" by Marcus Berkmann. The further in you get, the funnier this book becomes. I found myself literally laughing out loud at several points. A good companion read to "Penguins Stopped Play."
"Zimmer Men" by Marcus Berkmann. Another brilliant turn at the crease for Berkman. The trials and tribulations of aging cricketers are given a hilarious treatment in this sequel to Rain Men.  I personally found Rain Men to be slightly funnier, but maybe that's because I'm old and out of shape myself, so Berkman's jokes hit a little too close to home. This is a definite need to read for cricket fans, but if you aren't an avid cricket fan, it probably isn't your cup of tea.
"Beyond a Boundary" by CLR James. A beautiful book--perhaps the best book ever written about cricket. I know everyone says that, but this book lives up to it's reputation. It also provides some good political history about the West Indies. This book gets to the soul and heart of cricket and what it has meant to a nation and to people trying to break out of the colonial yoke. I wonder: Has a movie about James' liufe ever been made? This book would certainly be a good source of material for a movie!
"A Majestic Innings: Writings on Cricket" by CLR James. This collection of James' clear and artful shorter writings on cricket is excellent, but probably something only the die-hard cricket fan would enjoy.
 “A History of the Foster’s Oval” by Nick Yapp. This one is probably best for the most diehard cricket fan. OK, let’s just lose the probably. But it is a great book if you want a clear and complete history of what is now the Kia Oval, even going back before there was an oval, then this book is for you. Yapp has really done his research, and his eye for historical detail, combined with some cool photographs and illustrations, make this an extremely interesting and useful read. There are many historical points that go beyond Surrey and cricket, and give the reader an insight into the overall cultural changes and world events occurring, such as the impact of war and changing social mores on the Oval (and on the Surrey club).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cricket Catches On

This is a piece I wrote for "M" Magazine, a general interest magazine published by the Muncie, Indiana, Star-Press. Later I'll post the actual article in text form so you can read it better.