Ahead of the Ashes, we ask FHM’s two workies from across the pond to cast a mystified eye on our national game…
1/ Christine O’Leary, New York
Arriving in London travel worn and weary, I checked into my dorm, plopped my bags down on the floor and ventured into the kitchen to watch TV. Having very few channels to choose from, I put on the BBC and a narrator recounting the history of the cricket – the game of burly and generously bearded men wielding flat bats and oversized shin guards - lulled me to sleep that first night in London.
My first day at FHM, I transcribed an interview with cricketer Ian Bell who discussed catching, batting, fielding. Baseball vocabulary, basically. Naturally, I equated it to my native sport.
So, cricket looks like baseball except the batter uses a flat bat. Instead of swinging high, he swings low against a pitch that has been bounced to him from a pitcher (or bowler?) who has violently catapulted the ball into the ground with a dramatic swing of his arm that resembles a free style stroke. All the while referees, looking more like safari guides, meander back and forth from the fielders to the mound.
Instead of batting to the outfield, the batter bats toward what looks like the infield, and instead of running a diamond of bases, he runs back and forth between sticks that separate him and the pitcher, although I still haven’t figured out when he is allowed to do this and how many times. And as England prepares for The Ashes, I’m really going to have to cultivate my attention span, which is normally incapable of making it through 9 innings, let alone five five-day games against one rival, Australia.
2/ Davis Harper, North Carolina
Cricket, for me, is as foreign as blood pudding. Meaning, I know that cricket is something like baseball, and blood pudding is something like pudding. I will happily admit for that most of my life I thought that cricket was just a fast-paced, sophisticated version of croquet. I had heard some trivia some time ago about cricket being the most popular sport in the world, but I always wrote this off as India’s population tipping the scales.
Before I left for London, I figured my fairly extensive football knowledge would be enough to strike up a conversation down the pub. I was ready to discuss the summer transfer markets, but my British acquaintances were more interested in what I thought about Pakistan’s bowlers. I was dumbfounded. What?
From the limited cricket I’ve seen, it seems like a more traditional, much slower version of baseball. And I know about baseball, since I played it, awkwardly and unsuccessfully, for some years. For me cricket is basically a lot of bulky equipment, not much individual skill, and a reliance on a couple of pitchers and hitters. How come you can hit it anywhere and get a run? Why do the fielders always seem out of position? Is every out really a reason to celebrate as a team?
Will the Ashes turn a displaced American like me into a lover of cricket? If it’s just two countries playing each other every day for a month straight, I seriously doubt it.