Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Little Cricket on a Saturday Morning

This past Saturday morning I loaded the fam into the Chevy Malibu and headed off for Indianapolis to watch a little cricket.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from the third annual Indy Legends tournament, and because of the heat—and the fact that our little girl is four and really wanted to go somewhere else—I almost called the whole thing off. But my wife, knowing how much I love cricket, would have none of it. So, off we went.

The main business of the tournament—and when most people were expected to show up—was in the late afternoon and early evening, during the semi-finals and finals. But I liked the idea of going early, seeing several matches in a short period of time and being able to leave whenever the four-year-old decided she’d had enough.

The cricket was adapted to be played on a softball diamond. Instead of changing ends, the bowlers all bowled from the same end, just like in baseball. They still did switch bowlers as normal. In addition, there had to be some additional rules to cope with the fact that there were fences within feet of the batting crease—so if someone hit it over the fence close in, it was a two.

The brand of cricket was fast-paced and entertaining, and something that I think would appeal to a lot of people if we could only help them understand what is going on a little bit. We same some pretty quick bowling, some quite deft strokeplay, and some sitters dropped like hot potatoes in the field. My step-daughter was with us for the trip, and at the end of the day she enjoyed it enough to say she was going to check out a few more matches online.

I think, however, that her experience might not have been so positive had I not been there to translate—at least at the beginning. We never got too deep into things like field placements and positions, but those didn’t really matter to her at that moment and weren’t really needed for her to enjoy the matches. I wonder if that is where we go wrong sometimes in trying to introduce cricket to Americans who’ve seen little or none of the sport. We start out telling them all of this stuff about silly mid-on and third man and power plays and the history of how bowling came to be overarm instead of underarm. That is because we love it and want everyone to know every nuance of this thing we love. I do the same thing when I tell people about our four-year-old. By the time I’m done, eyes are rolling back into heads and people are collapsing from boredom.

On the down side, there was no obvious place for a neophyte or walk-in who’d seen something on TV and decided to stop by to go for information on what was going on. I think a lot of people who show up somewhere will leave pretty quickly if there isn’t someone in a booth or tent that says something like “Information” on it. But really that is my only criticism, and it is probably unjust because, as I said, this was the morning of a tournament when teams are just there playing to see who gets to the semis. We were able to navigate and find matches to watch and found it thoroughly enjoyable.

I think if it would be nice to have a one page graphic guide on the basics of what someone is seeing when they go to the cricket. Perhaps I will work to develop one and make it available for free or for donations. Let me know in the comments if you have any ideas in this regard. (Note to self: add to my to-do list.) And when someone is playing cricket—even if it is just a match that we think nobody will come to—it would be nice to have a card table or a little tent set up with a sign that says “Information” or “Cricket help,!” and have someone there to answer questions and tell people what is going on (maybe even offer to have someone sit with them and introduce them to what is happening on the field). Later we can explain all the lovely and delicate intricacies of this sport of sports.

Besides the cricket, one thing I particularly enjoyed at the Indy Legends tournament was being able to talk with some folks in the stands about cricket. We had a lovely chat with some British ex-pats (although his voice reminded me so much of Ian O’Brien that I mistook him for a New Zealander, for which I most humbly apologize) about cricket. That is something I have little opportunity to do—converse in person with cricket lovers who know as much or (in this case) more than me.

We also had some amazing Indian food, by the way. I want the recipe so if anyone from Indy Legends can tell me how to make what you were serving in your food tent I will be most grateful.

Although we were only able to spend a couple of hours there, in all it was a very enjoyable time and something I think would appeal to a lot of people. Now if we can just get them there to watch! Congrats to organizers (and tourney winners) Indy Legends. It was fantastic.

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