Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What's A Googly?

"Cricket (as explained to a foreign visitor)

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in.

Each man that's in the side that's in goes out and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out.

When they are all out the side that's out comes in and the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those coming in out.

Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

When both sides have been in and out including the not outs

That's the end of the game

HOWZAT!" - Anonymous

One sport that Americans - try as they may - cannot understand, is cricket. Indeed, there are many Brits who share the same frustration about a sport in which there is no net, no goals, and a match can last for five days - after which it may just be declared a draw after all! However, if you take the time to learn the basic rules of cricket and watch a few tests, you will find what I discovered... it is just as complicated as you had first believed! But boring? Far from it.

The first tactic adopted in converting an American to the ways of cricket, is to create some self-interest, "it's like baseball, but with only two bases, and many more home runs." In this respect, it sounds significantly more interesting than that great "American past-time" baseball. And the scoring is much the same. One point for a run - each time both batsmen run from one stump to the other - and four when it hits the boundary, with a massive six points when the ball leaves the playing area without touching the ground.

Of course cricket is a complicated sport, and I can honestly hold my hands up and say that I probably don't understand even half of it. One of the chief complications lies in the labels given to every aspect of the game - and there are many. Overhearing a conversation about googlies, yorkers, slips and gullies, could just as easily lead your imagination to a fantasy novel as cricket.

Regardless, the beauty of cricket is that one does not have to fully understand the game in order to enjoy the sport. A cricket match is a quintessentially English event. Only the most diehard will stake out a spot on the boundary, staying grounded until the five days are up; the rest of us will watch for a while, have a wander around (probably in search of food or drink), and most importantly enjoy the company around us. This is a necessary element of cricket, especially as a match can disintigrate with a spot of rain or decrease daylight.

Five days long, and no winner? Sure, but any Brit could tell you, it's the joy in the journey that counts.

It's football... isn't it?

September 2007; having been out of England for a month now, I was eager for the match to start. I had already come to terms with the fact that "soccer" was considered a girls' sport in the United States and I knew I would be just as happy to watch women play as men - as long as there were two goals and a pitch, it is all the same to me. The referee blew the whistle, and the match began. Only, it wasn't a "match," it was a "game;" and why were the clocks counting down from 45 minutes instead of up to 90? Who was this mysterious man with the power to stop the clock all together? And where on earth did that buzzer come from? From this moment, I had realized my worst fear... sport in England is not the same as sport in America, even football is not football anymore... it is "soccer."

This then, is a record of my experiences and thoughts on the world of sport, particularly football (as I will now refer to it as). And you may find in here some experiences that have broadened my horizons, and caused me to consider a realm outside of those few "main" English sports, and allowed me to make room for American football, basketball... and perhaps even soccer.