Football or Baseball? What about Cricket?
Cricket is the mainstream sport that every American needs to hear about.
Like many Americans traveling across the ocean, I bring unrelated discussion topics in regards to how I live, what kind of food I eat, and what kind of sports I like. America is a nation fascinated with the three major sports all created on the North American continent, Football being the most popular currently, Basketball being the second, and Baseball, the last. Each sport has something to offer those who watch it. After all, the Super Bowl is one of the most watched events worldwide every year. However, a new sport that I encountered seems much more obscure than even I could imagine. Cricket, one of the national games in the United Kingdom has something to offer everyone, even those who have never played it before.
I arrived in the UK for graduate school in September of 2019 at the University of Westminster. I am at a sub-campus in Harrow which is roughly a forty minute drive from London’s city center. Needless to say, moving into a new country for the first time for such a long period had me wondering how I was going to keep up with all of my American sports teams. After all, my favorite sport, Baseball, is rapidly approaching the World Series in which I hope that my Washington Nationals are playing. Several days after arriving and getting acclimated with where I will be spending my next year, I began walking around campus to view facilities both academic and athletic. I came across a wide open park called Northwick Park which is a stones throw away from my living quarters. I noticed that certain sections of the grass were cut a bit lower with some areas of the grass being highlighted like a pitcher’s mound. This was unfamiliar to me and having never seen anything like this I assumed that the grounds crew at the campus made a terrible mistake and cut the grass in an awful manner. What I didn’t realize was that this was a cricket field. I awoke the next morning to the sound of wood hitting a ball not to far from my window.
Like Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams I strolled out from my accommodation and watched as the men played this game that I have never seen before. Gatorade used to have a commercial in which is talked about Cricket and one of the quotes was “A bat is a bat, even if it’s flat.” Watching these guy play was something extraordinary. It was like watching baseball being played in a circle. One player made a diving grab reminiscent of Derek Jeter, another made a valiant catch that looked like something out of a Ken Griffey Jr. grab. It was superb and I grew enough courage to talk to some of the players and their coaches. These guys were a good team and seemed to understand the facets of each position. I, the clueless American, could not figure out the game at all and it actually took me a Youtube search to find a video that fit the description of what I was looking for.
After watching it, I felt that I understood the game that quickly and like baseball it would be easy to figure out. That was not the case, so I made the deal with some of the players that if they could teach me to play cricket and learn strategy than I would teach them baseball. So far, so good, but I plan to arrive back in the United States next September with two things, one a Master’s degree and the second an understanding of cricket.
How to Play Cricket
© 2019 Ellis Distefano