Cricket – the game, not the bug

When I arrived in Australia a few months ago, the footy season was coming to a close. I arrived just in time to see the semi-final and the final rounds. My team, the Hawthorn Hawks, was ousted in the first game I watched, but, as a perennial Red Sox fan in the 90’s, I know “there’s always next year”. Footy is short for “Australian Rules Football”. It’s an interesting mix of soccer, American football, and rugby, with a little basketball thrown in (they have to dribble the ball up the field). It is a fast paced, exciting game. Hopefully I’ll get to see a few of the games next winter.

Footy is played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), which was built for the 1956 Olympics. It holds about 100,000 people. During the winter it is used by the many footy teams in the Melbourne area. During the summer, it is used for cricket. Cricket is not at all like footy.

MCG - a timeless stadium (especially when photographed in black and white)

The Boxing Day Test Match has been played in Melbourne off and on since the 1950s and annually since 1980. It involves Australia and another team. Every four years it is part of the Ashes. The only thing I know about the Ashes is what I learned in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but I don’t think robot aliens are involved in the regular matches. In fact, until last week the only thing I knew about cricket was from HGTTG and an elaborate diagram a post doc drew for me during tea.

Luckily, I have some excellent friends here who do things like plan outings to Boxing Day Test Matches (thank, Chris!) and other friends who patiently explain cricket in all of its intricacies (thanks, Michael!). We opted to go the day after Boxing Day. Since the match usually lasts 5 days, we weren’t worried about missing too much. The day started with me realizing I had forgotten my sun hat and sunscreen. Luckily, one of my excellent friends had brought lots of the latter and let me use her hat for a bit (thanks, Christina!). I did think to wear a thin long sleeved shirt to protect my arms and shoulders.

Appropriate Cricket Attire

We watched Australia’s last two batsmen and the first few Indian batsmen (including Sachin Tendulkar, who is considered one of the best batters in the world), with breaks for lunch and tea (seriously). I have a lot more appreciation for cricket as a game of stamina. One Indian batsman played for probably 5 hours in the hard Australian heat. And it was hot. Surprisingly, the rules are not that hard to understand if there is someone explaining while the game is going on and you have nothing else to think about for eight hours. Since there is not currently a game happening in front of you, I won’t try to explain it. Just know that when people of the British Empire start complaining about how baseball is long and complicated, just say at least it’s played mostly at night, only takes a few hours, and it’s hard to go more than an hour without someone running somewhere. Oh, and four innings never take FIVE DAYS. Like baseball, cricket is more a game of suspense than action. Every bowl has the potential to be a run or an out.

The video shows an example of a bowl, a hit, and a single run where the batsmen change places. If it rolls over the boundary at the edge of the field, it’s 4 points, if it goes over the boarder without touching the ground, it’s 6 points. Australia ended its first inning with 333 runs(points?). India made a good run of it while we watched, but apparently the next day they folded like the Red Sox in September (too soon?). Australia won, much to the thrill of the Australian-sombrero wearing crowd.

Australian Sombreros!?!

I was a little puzzled at the popularity of the sombrero when it’s impossible to find a margarita here. But that’s neither here nor there.

For almost all, though, the comedic high of the day was watching the cameraman on the Segway fall over. Apparently, they do tip over. (Side note, the batsman is the one who was “at bat” or whatever they call it for hours and hours and hours.)

They must have replayed this 20 times during the game. Pure sports blooper gold. Dana Whitaker would be thrilled.

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~ by Genevieve on January 3, 2012.

One Response to “Cricket – the game, not the bug”

  1. […] with the third book. I have a much greater appreciation for the Krikkit Wars now that I’ve watched a game. And for Bistro math, now that I’ve seen how astrophysics is done. And for the the genius […]

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