The meaning of cricket

In which I try to explain why five days of slow sport is the greatest game ever.

I’ve done a good job of teaching Mrs G the rules and laws of cricket, she can tell me what a maiden is and the difference between the main forms of the game are. She’s also getting the hang of the LBW law (the cricketing litmus test – if you understand leg before you had a decent grasp of the game, a bit like the offside rule in football).

She is also slowly grasping the naming of the fielding positions (like what a “silly mid-off” is and how it differs from “third man”). This is pretty impressive considering that she comes from the relative cricketing backwater of New York. Where she struggles is not in the application of the game, but the matches themselves. Like many she doesn’t get the meaning of cricket.

No other sport I know has generated an idiom like “it’s just not cricket”, we don’t say “that’s just like football” or “going round like a Formula 1 car”. There is something about the sport that makes it special, even the laws of the game have a specific section about the “spirit” of the game. Do the rules of baseball, basketball or rugby look to codify the behaviour of the players in such a way? It’s not because cricketers are constantly treating the game with disdain but more because the way it is played is perhaps more important than the participation.

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Choosing my sports teams

In which I choose which team colours to wear.

It is the start of the batball season and it has reminded me that I have not yet provided my allegiance to any US Sports team. With the potential of being a future New Yorker I need to make a pick of which teams I am going to follow when I spend my life in front of ESPN.

I’m quite good at supporting non-local teams (after all I support AC Milan and the New Zealand All Blacks) so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. However I do need to consider a few factors.

Can I support the really successful teams, will this make me a glory hunter? What if the team I choose has a deadly rivalry with the team of my new American family? Is the team known for being mean? Does the jersey look good?

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Am I still a football fan?

In which my support starts to waver.

April is nearly upon us, so that means we are coming to the climax of the football season. I should be getting excited as all the preamble of the winter months is over and now we get to the business end of the season. Except this year I couldn’t care less where AC Milan (the team I support) finish.

Perhaps I no longer care about football? Maybe I’ve got to the point where I no longer have any reactions to twenty-two men running around a pitch other than casual amusement.

This malaise has been creeping up for a while. Where before I would celebrate the highs and shout at the lows of a match now I just shrug my shoulders and change the channel. There is no longer the threat of a sore throat after a penalty shootout, nor the silent brooding that comes from a poor result. I have become ambivalent to game that a few years earlier next-door-but-one neighbours could hear me cheer to. Continue reading “Am I still a football fan?”

Cricket affectiveness disorder

In which I come down with an illness that lasts five days.

Tomorrow is the start of the end of my summer illness, no not hayfever (although I have been clear of that for the last few weeks), but a stranger disease.

I suffer from a curious illness, at times it can be crippling but I had thought in the last few years I had been able to get over it. However at recent events it has come back with a vengeance. I suffer from Cricket Affective Disorder (CAD), I have the Wicket Blues. This particular malady only affects a certain sub-group of people, the English Cricket Team fan. No other nation has been able to report a similar illness (although ongoing research is being made into Australian Smugness and Indian Cricket Mania) and medical organizations are desperately trying to find a cure.

Recent studies by WHO and the ICC had shown that cases of CAD was in decline and were ready to declare the complete eradication of the disease at the beginning of summer. However it seems that the disease has mutated into a more powerful form, possibly with the N1 TeAM strain seen a few years ago crossing with bout of KPERS earlier in the year.

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The joy of Test Match Special

In which I spend five days listening to people talking about pigeons.

I am lucky that I work for a manager and company that does understand that an office is a noisy place and sometimes you need a way of shutting off from the cacophony of your colleagues. The usual way for me to do this is by using my phone to listen to music. This is so important that I will only have phones I can stick a huge memory card in to put as many melodies on as I can.

The alternative would be to stream, but data limits restrict the ability to use Spotify and I sit just out of range of a free wi-fi. Thankfully this month I have saved my allowance so I can listen to live coverage of the Ashes, but this raises an ethical question. Does the listening of a live sports event damage or improve productivity and therefore should I be allowed to listen to Test Match Special?

The obvious answer is of course yes, I’m not going to pretend that this will be an unbiased assessment of my listening habits. It is one of the God-given rights for an Englishman to listen to TMS, if it had been around in the 1770s then hundreds of radio sets tuned to 198LW would have been thrown into Boston harbour (however this would have galvanised the Redcoats even more than the wanton destruction of tea).

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It’s The Ashes

In which a 25 day sporting event takes over my life.

It’s that time of the biennium when England (and Wales, and a bit of South Africa) take on our antipodean rivals to fight over the silliest trophy in the world. Not that the trophy is stupid, more the size. Lifting a 6 inch ceramic urn above your head looks like you’ve just become a subbuteo champion not the victor in a long-standing cricket rivalry.

Today the start of the summer Ashes, and by this point you will either be one of the majority that has groaned with indifference about week-long matches or, if you are like me, giddy with excitement. I guess you opinion. On cricket is going to dictate whether you press read more, but go on…give it a try.

Even my American wife is intrigued about the Ashes, it’s a rivalry half as old as her nation, and although she’s not stocking up on Pimms for the weekend sessions of play is still willing to let her husband take over the TV for nine hours a day.

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Fire in Babylon

In which England are silenced by whispering death.

Being an England Cricket fan I am used to a number of disappointments, and the team being generally rubbish is one of them. In the last ten years I’ve had to get used to seeing England win, and be expected to win, but now I’m coming to realise that those days are over.

The greatest cricket team I have ever seen has been the Australian team of the 90’s and 2000’s, but before the era of Warne and Ponting came the West Indies and they may have been the greatest team ever. This week the BBC has aired “Fire in Babylon”, a documentary of the Windies teams from the 70’s and 80’s, and it’s something special.

If you love cricket, it is worth watching.

If you love sport, it is worth watching.

If you are interested in social history, it is worth watching.

For the rest of you…it is worth watching.

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1994 the year I found soccer

In which I say Goooooaaaalazzzzzoooo,

As a kid I was not that interested in sport, I preferred books and later computers, so sporting events in the 80s and early 90s mostly passed me by. I knew that the Sky Blues had won the FA Cup in 1987 but I spent most of that match playing with polystyrene aeroplanes on my parent’s stairs. Something then changed around 1994.

Firstly I discovered Sensible Soccer, perhaps the greatest football game ever made.

Playing with my dad, he would choose recently crowned (but soon to be disgraced) European Champions Marseille. Looking for a suitable opponent he suggested the beaten finalists. A certain Italian team founded in 1899 by an Englishman , the team of Maldini and Van Basten, the Diavolo, Associazione Calcio Milan.

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