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.

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