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The next big cricket tournament in the USA
September 1, 2012 2:44 PM   Subscribe

In another attempt to increase the popularity of cricket in America, a tournament based on T20 (Twenty-twenty), an extremely short form of the game where a match can last as little as three hours, is planned for next year. Though cricket is one of the oldest sports in the country, and the USA is one of the 106 members of the International Cricket Council, speculation still periodically emerges (Slate, BBC) on whether the nation is ready for cricket's big 'breakthrough'.

Discuss: can cricket ever become a major sport in terms of play, attendance and media coverage, in the USA?
posted by Wordshore (93 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
No. But that's fine.
posted by JPD at 2:46 PM on September 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


The league will be launched in direct competition to the English season with ambitions to attract many of the world's top stars for what Neil Maxwell, one of the main proponents, is presenting to the States as "baseball on steroids."

whoops
posted by silby at 2:48 PM on September 1, 2012 [36 favorites]


The problem is that cricket fills the same niche as baseball, which is – dare I say it – a better sport.
posted by sonic meat machine at 2:50 PM on September 1, 2012


Not only that but the relative popularity of baseball is declining.
posted by JPD at 2:51 PM on September 1, 2012


The problem is that cricket fills the same niche as baseball, which is – dare I say it – a better sport.

Sorry, what is this base... ball? Oh... oh, do you mean Rounders? Like what our fairer sex play?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:52 PM on September 1, 2012 [15 favorites]


I certainly prefer baseball to this bastardized form of cricket, T20, which is based around a ridiculously short innings. But the longest, and purest, form of cricket, test cricket with matches lasting up to five days - and still sometimes ending in a draw or tie - is as perfect a blend of the physical, cognitive, mental endurance and skill as can be found across the sporting spectrum.
posted by Wordshore at 2:53 PM on September 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


The problem is that cricket fills the same niche as baseball, which is – dare I say it – a better sport.

Baseball is certainly better suited to being televised and watched on a regular schedule. Basketball and (American) Football are even better suited for that and have been outgrowing baseball for years now.

20/20 is a version of cricket designed to be better suited for television and is doing well as a televised sport in traditional cricket markets but it still isn't as well suited to TV as existing American sports.
posted by atrazine at 2:55 PM on September 1, 2012


Test cricket is the most boring spectator sport in world bar none. And I've actually been to Lord's.

If you did not grow up with the sport it had no appeal.
posted by JPD at 2:56 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Our marketing has to appeal to mainstream America," he said. "It's about promoting an entertainment product. Almost remove the reference to cricket and create a thing called Twenty20 that competes with movies. Link it to Hollywood and Bollywood and provide all the razzmatazz that goes with it."

Actually, if T20 no longer wishes to be considered as cricket within the Australian market, I'm fine with that too.
posted by mixing at 3:03 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Test Cricket is the Rolls Royce of cricket. People really underestimate the concentration needed to bat for an entire day.
posted by PenDevil at 3:04 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's got to be a way to at least get American hipsters to be interested, ironically.
posted by Jimbob at 3:04 PM on September 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


Sorry, what is this base... ball? Oh... oh, do you mean Rounders?

i shudder to think what you guys call apple pie and your mothers
posted by pyramid termite at 3:05 PM on September 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sorry, what is this base... ball? Oh... oh, do you mean Rounders? Like what our fairer sex play?

Apparantly over there the chaps play netball, too. Imagine: netball.
posted by Grangousier at 3:06 PM on September 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Baseball and 20/20 are certainly better suited for showing advertisements.

Test cricket is a wonderful thing and possibly the only unequivocally positive result of the Empire.
posted by brilliantmistake at 3:10 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, I'm lost. So they're going to have to compete with the IPL or no? Because that sounds like a recipe for disaster.
posted by hoyland at 3:10 PM on September 1, 2012


Reading this, I have to think of the plot line in Mad Men, where Jai Alai was going to be the Next Big Thing.

Jai Alai stood a much better chance than cricket does. Sorry, lads.
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:11 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think Americans might like Kabaddi, maybe we should promote that.
posted by atrazine at 3:14 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Test Cricket is the Rolls Royce of cricket. People really underestimate the concentration needed to bat for an entire day.

No doubt its an incredibly difficult sport - but FFS you stop playing for snack and a tie is a likely outcome. Americans complain soccer is low scoring and boring.
posted by JPD at 3:14 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's not a snack. It's tea. There is a vast gulf of cultural and culinary difference.
posted by Wordshore at 3:18 PM on September 1, 2012 [20 favorites]


I strongly suspect that the appeal of cricket in an area of the US is going to be linked to the percentage of ex-British Empire immigrants (and specifically Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis).
posted by jaduncan at 3:19 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


3 hours?! Get it down to between 100 to 130 minutes, and they may stand a chance.
posted by Ardiril at 3:19 PM on September 1, 2012


Washington Post (May 2012): "cricket is the country’s fastest -growing sport, with 15 million fans and an estimated 200,000 players."

Blame Osama line - "Post-Sept. 11, 2001 politics have made it difficult for students from cricket-playing powers to get visas to study in the United States, crimping a potential source of talented players. And those with plans to relocate permanently face a long wait for citizenship, a requirement for being named to the U.S. national team."
posted by Bwithh at 3:22 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not a snack. It's tea. There is a vast gulf of cultural and culinary difference.

exactly
posted by JPD at 3:22 PM on September 1, 2012


Title sponsor will be Allen Stanford.
posted by arcticseal at 3:25 PM on September 1, 2012


America used to be big on cricket but the British started the ICC to ban "those damnable yankees" from picking up their sport so we play baseball instead.
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 3:27 PM on September 1, 2012


Don't think of it as five days of watching men in uniforms stand around on growing grass occasionally throwing and hitting balls. Think of it as five days of wearing silly hats and drinking beer. The men could be doing anything, the crowd don't really care.

It's not the nature of the sport that kills it in the USA, it's the lack of five days' holiday.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:33 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Obligatory Dutch view of cricket.

Cricket is one of those English traditions, like the Archers and the weather, that's comforting to know is still around, but you don't need to actually engage with it.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:34 PM on September 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


an extremely short form of the game where a match can last as little as three hours
posted by scose at 3:38 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Cricket will never be spectator-friendly to American audiences for many reasons ... but I think one of the American sticker-shock items will be simply the shape of the field.

Baseball offers you seats behind home plate. Hooray!

Cricket offers you seats behind ... behind ... well, actually, the closest you can get to the action is about 200 feet away from one of the wickets.

In other words, the very best ticket available is analogous to being seated in a baseball outfield.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:41 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


2009's Duckworth Lewis Method album (a concept album of songs about cricket from the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon of Thomas Walsh of Pugwash) greatly upped my interest in Cricket. I'd love for it to take off in America enough for me to find a few other people that want to give it a chance. I'm intrigued, but haven't been able to grasp it enough to get enthused. But I think watching it or even just talking about it with a few friends over some beer might be what it takes to get me invested.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 3:41 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's got to be a way to at least get American hipsters to be interested, ironically.

sir I give you:

2009's Duckworth Lewis Method album (a concept album of songs about cricket from the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon of Thomas Walsh of Pugwash) greatly upped my interest in Cricket. I'd love for it to take off in America enough for me to find a few other people that want to give it a chance. I'm intrigued, but haven't been able to grasp it enough to get enthused. But I think watching it or even just talking about it with a few friends over some beer might be what it takes to get me invested.
posted by JPD at 3:45 PM on September 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'd much rather watch the other kind of cricket match. Unlike baseball, it's still perfectly normal for players of that game to have a beer gut.
posted by axiom at 3:51 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Think of it as five days of wearing silly hats and drinking beer. The men could be doing anything, the crowd don't really care.

Exactly. Cricket isn't an event to be watched for a few hours. It's a life style. The glory of test matches is you can dip in and out of them. A narrative builds up. Watching cricket is more like fishing except with occasional exciting bits.
posted by Damienmce at 3:56 PM on September 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Cricket's history as a pastime for the idle upper class will be a huge cultural hurdle.
posted by Ardiril at 4:03 PM on September 1, 2012


Somehow, I suspect the American euphemism for nobody being interested or engaged, "hearing crickets", will remain in the common parlance.
posted by Malor at 4:04 PM on September 1, 2012


Isn't a tie a very unlikely outcome in test cricket? I thought the thing about cricket was all the draws, where they don't actually finish the game in five days, not games where the team finishes with the same score.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:06 PM on September 1, 2012


yes. that's what I meant by a tie. No result
posted by JPD at 4:09 PM on September 1, 2012


The USA will also have to introduce cultural changes such as greater tolerance for open drunkeness and a willingness to get bright red sunburns.
posted by srboisvert at 4:11 PM on September 1, 2012


The USA will also have to introduce cultural changes such as greater tolerance for open drunkeness and a willingness to get bright red sunburns.

So, you've never been to a college football game, I take it?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:13 PM on September 1, 2012


Since it's been on ESPN3 lately, some friends and I, Americans all, have taken to watching T-20 matches of the Sri Lankan Premier League. Part of it is the excitement of trying to figure out a new sport, part of it is trying to be snarky like this Grantland article.

But I'll say, most of it for me is that, out of seven teams in the league, one are called the Warriors, one are called the Nagas, and a third has a unicorn as their logo. It's impossible for me not to get behind a league where nearly half the teams are either a character class or something out of the Monster Manual.
posted by 7segment at 4:23 PM on September 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Isn't a tie a very unlikely outcome in test cricket? I thought the thing about cricket was all the draws, where they don't actually finish the game in five days, not games where the team finishes with the same score.

Test cricket, yes. Limited overs, no. Twenty20 is limited overs.
posted by Talez at 4:24 PM on September 1, 2012


Go away.

We were here first.

Thank you,

Soccer.
posted by timdicator at 4:26 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well I responded to the wrong quote. But draws/ties are impossible in Twenty20 because they have a Super Over if they score the same.
posted by Talez at 4:26 PM on September 1, 2012


Soccer is such a funny word. It's spelt "soccer" but the British keep calling it "football".
posted by Talez at 4:27 PM on September 1, 2012


It's spelt "soccer" but the British keep calling it "football".

You mean "footie". It wouldn't be British if it didn't have some kind of infantile shorthand.
posted by indubitable at 4:34 PM on September 1, 2012


Soccer is such a funny word. It's spelt "soccer" but the British keep calling it "football".

They're both shortenings of 'association football'. /pedant

Are we really doing this?
posted by hoyland at 4:37 PM on September 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


You mean "footie". It wouldn't be British if it didn't have some kind of infantile shorthand.

Which of course is where we get "soccer" to begin with, as the British shorthand for "aSOCiation football"
posted by Navelgazer at 4:37 PM on September 1, 2012


The Test game - the five match series of five-day games played over a month or two that is the apotheosis of civilisation - was once described to me as having the game mechanics of Texas Hold 'em crossed with the physical nature of the Pentathlon. This analogy has got better over the years.

Twenty20 is, to follow the same logic, a cross between Snap! and masturbation.
posted by cromagnon at 4:58 PM on September 1, 2012


This American actually had the opportunity to play a simplified version of cricket at a kids' summer camp back in June. I knew somewhat of the game, but the kids knew nothing at all, and we depended upon our sole Brit to teach us. You can see the parallels to baseball, but it's a really different sport. If you grew up playing baseball, you find things like hitting the ball and not running immediately difficult to stop. Muscle memory and all that. And don't get me started on the straight-arm pitch with a necessary bounce (a bounce!). But after a trial-and-error hour or so, it was fun once we got into the groove.

I had fun playing, but I wouldn't expect Americans to gel to cricket, frankly. We already have an overlong, boring sport: baseball.
posted by zardoz at 5:06 PM on September 1, 2012


Your favourite bat sport sucks? Really?

It's time to recolonise America and impose cricket upon them.
posted by tigrefacile at 5:21 PM on September 1, 2012


I don't think it'll ever become mainstream, but they shouldn't want it to - aim for a valuable niche.

Even in the UK it isn't mainstream, really. The Oval is a tiny ground by most standards, and there the numbers willing to watch the few games do T20 are depressingly small.
posted by DanCall at 5:21 PM on September 1, 2012


I would strongly consider Douglas Adams' sage advice that this is all in incredibly poor taste on a galactic scale - but I can't help but admire how truly evil a cricket bat is by design, and that I wouldn't mind having one around for defensive and/or curiosity purposes.

Also, every time I try to understand Test Cricket eventually all the words start running together and resembling Calvin Ball and at any moment I fully expect that I'll read something in the rules like "In any month containing two full moons or during the hours of a neap tide all active players on the field must wear ascots, coat and tails and top-hats, an invigorating electric belt and all players must play one-handed with their non-dominate hand after drinking no less than 4 pints of bitters and bowing in the general direction of wherever the Queen is at the moment before each bowl."

Except Calvin Ball would probably be more entertaining since the only real rule of Calvin Ball is that all rules are subject to change and that whacking is not only permitted, but encouraged.
posted by loquacious at 5:28 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cricket is one of those tedious middle-class sports more designed for those with excess leisure time than for actual enjoyment. Making it shorter makes about as much sense as making a football match three days long. Don't get sucked in, as before you know it you too will be a boring Jeremy.
posted by Jehan at 5:38 PM on September 1, 2012


but I can't help but admire how truly evil a cricket bat is by design, and that I wouldn't mind having one around for defensive and/or curiosity purposes.

They're too heavy to really swing around like a madman and inflict some carnage. Get a hockey goalie's stick and cut off the L part so that it's about the length of a cricket bat.
posted by cmoj at 5:39 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course if any sport ever deserved greater recognition its Irish hurling, fantastic game unfortunately only played in Ireland non professionally (but I don't mean they're amateurs, the rules of hurling mean you can't be paid)
posted by Damienmce at 5:43 PM on September 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Goddamn it.

I'm just so disappointed and tired of people dismissing test cricket (and cricket itself) as boring because of the number of rules and the length of the game. It is simply the most basic reason why it is hard for the sport to "break in" to other countries.

I don't know, maybe growing up with it in India makes me love it in a way that ... it's hard to explain. It's a part of the culture in India and embedded into daily life so much that copying that cultural zeitgeist here seems impossible.

What sport isn't "new", or "weird", or "hard to explain" to the layman who is new to it? Baseball and American football are considered so esoteric and weird back in India -- let me backtrack, I don't want to generalize -- they were considered weird at least by my friends and other people I knew who were very passionate about sports. Basketball and NBA are very popular, so it's not like they aren't making an effort to understand the sport culture here.

Cricket, where it is popular, is, in my opinion, part of the history of the place itself. That is one of the main reasons I think that a handful of countries play it. Most of the appeal where it is "successful" lies in creating rivalries, history, and having people interested in seeing people pitted against each other.

England and Australia -- The earliest rivalry in the game. Read more here and here.

I really believe in the process of popularizing the game, this was one of the rivalries that showed the power of bringing crowds to the game. Controversies and national legends are aplenty, and I will start with this as an argument about why this sport is not "drab". Like any other sport, when its epic moments kick in, they provide you with stories you can carry along with you to the grave.

Cricket is very popular also in the West Indies. The West Indies teams of the 70s and 80s were so powerful that their fast bowling and brutal batting powerhouses were unmatched in their times (and in my opinion, still unmatched in many ways). The calypso legends add such a beautiful history to not only the game, but were instrumental in providing "heavy symbolic weight in the post-colonial era".

If you "truly" get the game, the joy you get from watching footage of these players is goose bump inducing.

Let me make arguments close to home. I think the turning point for the sport itself, and the Indian subcontinent, is when India won the world cup in 1983. The country was involved in the sport through colonial influence very early -- but hit it big in the 70s with some cricketing greats. I think it was a turning point because it was an instance of the sport breaking into uncharted territory.

You now had all of South Asia looking at what India had done -- showed dominance at the world level at a sport. What this meant for the popularity of the sport itself -- and the marketing and advertising possibilities for a sport which now had billions of eyes on it -- it immeasurable. If this hadn't happened, I believe cricket just wouldn't have been as popular. Because Pakistan followed. So did Sri Lanka. And the value of crowds from these places at cricket grounds meant revenue gathered from this sport was previously unseen. Cricket had now become a word-of-mouth national topic in these markets.

It produced, and keeps producing national heroes that people behind and look up to.

What does the sport mean for billions of people back home? The best way I can put it is through Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid's annual Don Bradman oration speech last year in Australia.

"I cannot take all of you here to India to show you the belief, struggle, effort and sacrifice from hundreds of people that runs through our game. As I stand here today, it is important for me to bring Indian cricket and its own remarkable story to you. I believe it is very necessary that cricketing nations try to find out about each other, try to understand each other and the different role cricket plays in different countries, because ours is, eventually, a very small world.

In India, cricket is a buzzing, humming, living entity going through a most remarkable time, like no other in our cricketing history. In this last decade, the Indian team represents more than ever before, the country we come from – of people from vastly different cultures, who speak different languages, follow different religions, belong to all classes of society.

I went around our dressing room to work out how many languages could be spoken in there and the number I have arrived at is: 15 including Shona and Akrikaans. Most foreign captains, I think, would baulk at the idea.

But, when I led India, I enjoyed it, I marvelled at the range of difference and the ability of people from so many different backgrounds to share a dressing room, to accept, accomodate and respect that difference. In a world growing more insular, that is a precious quality to acquire, because it stays for life and helps you understand people better, understand the significance of the other."


What other ways does cricket tie into the history of a nation? I could talk about the intersection of Apartheid and the sport when it started to boom in South Africa. Or how the India - Pakistan rivalry plays into what the sport means for the two nations. Or many, many, many more stories.

And what is this argument against the length of the game? Do you know how epic a 5 day sport can actually be? How the playing pitch and the ground keep changing throughout the 5 days -- how that ties into strategies and resources for both the team captains? How it evolves and changes and gives you a story at the end of each day?

Give me the sophisticated rules. Give me long games. They add to the culture of the sport -- they make it an event. So do the one-day matches. They bring people together, give a new meaning to water cooler talk. Think about discussing the many ways the long game could evolve into, and the thousands of ways it can jump, skip and change because of the rules. Shit. IT'S EXCITING!

So you see when I think about cricket, and my love for it, I think about all of this history and what it means for people that follow it. The history of the game, the various ways it has changed, and the passion with which people follow it. The weight of all of this is important for the billions that follow it. Never try to tell them another sport is better, they will simply ignore you.

... and, tl;dr version: NEVER tell me cricket is boring.

It is not.
posted by mysticreferee at 6:05 PM on September 1, 2012 [38 favorites]


Cricket is the best preparation for an American who wants to live in England, really. It's a long, slow, drawn-out affair performed by people in slightly silly (but traditional!) outfits, and at the end almost certainly nothing useful has been accomplished, but that's all right because there's tea.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:06 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I forgot this: A fellow American expat (who's now a university professor somewhere up near York) told me he once tried to play cricket shortly after moving here. The ball came towards him at one point, and he reached out to catch it with the unthinking reflex of countless games of baseball...

...and the ball zipped right through the empty space where the webbing would have been in a baseball glove and hit him square in the chest.

I don't know if he ever played cricket again.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:12 PM on September 1, 2012


Footnote: Sorry, I know the topic is whether it will be popular in America. I think they've tried before, with leagues and other types of one-off games. It was interesting to see that the teams were composed mostly of people born here but of South Asian descent -- understandable, since it is mostly popular only among those minorities.

For it to become popular here -- they need stories, they need to popularize what it can mean to the public, they need individuals they can identify.

And there needs to be a grassroots movement. Soccer may not be as popular but kids still play it here. They need something similar with cricket. You want kids to grow up wanting to play the game.

So, yes -- tough ask. But if the effort is not made, you're really missing out, and maybe that's OK for a lot of people. If you continue to look at it as an "alien" sport, that's what it will be, an "alien" sport.

And you will never understand the excitement and the weight of this type of thing, for example, and how exciting it is for an average cricket fan.
posted by mysticreferee at 6:14 PM on September 1, 2012


Consider that the only new sport to take hold in the US over the last 5 decades is mixed martial arts. That audience for the most part would be a marketer's target demographic for any growth sport.
posted by Ardiril at 6:23 PM on September 1, 2012


The Triangle region of NC (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) has a successful and growing cricket league, and there are 3 fields (? pitches, ? grounds) in Raleigh alone. According to their website, players are mostly South Asian along with some British and a few Americans, especially in their youth league. I've watched it played a bit and although I have only a rudimentary understanding of it, I think its very interesting to watch. I could see the popularity in the US growing, especially in more diverse cities where you are more likely to know someone who enjoys the sport and exposes you to it in return.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 6:25 PM on September 1, 2012


Arguably, the #2 and #3 growth sports over that same period were poker and Nascar.
posted by Ardiril at 6:28 PM on September 1, 2012


I'm just so disappointed and tired of people dismissing test cricket (and cricket itself) as boring because of the number of rules and the length of the game.

I find myself sorely tempted to attribute it to some sort of provincialism. Like, yeah, people scoff at baseball, and have do so in this thread sort of indirectly, but not too much because it's 'American'. But cricket is somehow incomprehensible because it's played by people with 'funny' accents?

Whatever, I'm still gloating a bit that my brother didn't realise for ages that using the fence in our backyard as the boundary meant if you hit the ball in the air off to either side, you were all but guaranteed a six. We stopped playing after he discovered that, as it's a bit silly when both of you hit everything for six.
posted by hoyland at 7:03 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's a bit silly when both of you hit everything for six.

"Six and out" is the usual back yard convention — and the striker gets to go next door and find the ball.
posted by Wolof at 7:08 PM on September 1, 2012




Cricket will never be spectator-friendly to American audiences for many reasons ... but I think one of the American sticker-shock items will be simply the shape of the field.


The shape of the field is part of why why Americans abandoned cricket for baseball during the Civil War.

Lots of soldiers had moments of free time to play a game, but it needed to be something they could abandon immediately when called to a muster. Easy thing when your post will be in the vicinity of home plate. Not as easy with cricket.

(And, of course, the bases for baseball are easy to improvise with burlap sacks.)
posted by ocschwar at 7:10 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


You lost me at "as little as three hours." Also, if someone made this comment already it only further proves my point.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:30 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


"NEVER tell me cricket is boring."

I've always wanted to attend a cricket match. I love baseball, I've watched a bit of cricket on TV.

Don't kid yoursef, though. Cricket is boring. Baseball is boring. Both games feature men standing around for hours, punctuated with brief bits of action.

There's nothing wrong with that. It gives the spectator time to have a drink, fill out a scorecard, eat a hot dog, whatever. That's part of the game. It doesn't take a lot of intense concentration to follow, which makes it perfect for lazy summer days.

But they are both most assuredly boring.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:33 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey Cricket!

Hockey here! We had some idle rinks, so we scraped off all the snow with our Zambonis and made the biggest cricket snowball ever. Plenty of spare time so we tried all sorts of angles, trajectories, launch mechanisms. Fired that great snowball all across the USA.

Still not a chance in hell.

Cheerio,

The NHL
posted by gompa at 7:37 PM on September 1, 2012


hoyland / Wolof:
Rules involving sixes and the length of the boundary / pitch definitely led to the most contentious arguments in our backyard-form of the game when I was a kid.

mr_crash_davis:
If you actually did read my long comment, you will see my argument for why I think it is not boring -- and why billions of people think it is not boring.

If your response is simply, "they are both most assuredly boring" -- then, well ... sigh.

...it's OK. :)

I enjoy the sport, no, I find it exciting, riveting since it forms a part of culture in India and is part of my childhood -- I will never change that opinion. I can say the same for many around the globe. You don't have to get it, and you've demonstrated that you don't get it. That's OK. I understand.
posted by mysticreferee at 7:49 PM on September 1, 2012


mysticreferee, I'm sorry you think I don't "get" cricket. I promise you I get it. It is possible to love a game that is boring. It's even possible to be excited and passionate about it. Your description of the way cricket is woven into the everyday life of India is the same way I grew up with baseball, and baseball -- even though it's supposedly the "national pastime" of the US -- is no longer the most popular sport in the country, and I would bet that most fans of American football and the NBA would call it boring; yet I love the game more than any other.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:16 PM on September 1, 2012


mr_crash_davis:
Well, there's a specific point you were making, especially that it is boring, you asked me not to "kid myself" that it wasn't, and that "it doesn't take a lot of intense concentration to follow, which makes it perfect for lazy summer days."

I was just saying I don't agree with any of those things, and specifically that you're actually wrong with the part that it is a sport for lazy summer days which doesn't require concentration.

That's all.
posted by mysticreferee at 8:20 PM on September 1, 2012


Cricket is one of those tedious middle-class sports more designed for those with excess leisure time than for actual enjoyment.

While it certainly evokes images of John Major's ur-England -- long shadows on the village green, warm beer and parish spinsters bicycling past, and so on -- in fact the vast majority of cricket games today are played by working people in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

I was visiting Pushkar in Rajasthan recently and was lucky enough to play a pick-up game just above one of the bathing ghats. It was obvious pretty quickly why it's so popular in hot climates: it's fast-paced and demands high skill and concentration, but it doesn't require extreme physical exertion, which is just impractical for most of the Indian summer.
posted by dontjumplarry at 8:37 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


It can actually take a fair bit of concentration to follow, looking at how the fielding side has set itself up, getting a sense of how they are trying to work the batsman over, pointing out all the things Clarke is doing wrong, and so forth.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 9:32 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


an extremely short form of the game where a match can last as little as three hours

Huh? T20 is restricted to 40 overs at most, where each over is notionally expected to be completed in 3m20s. Now obviously, overs at the death of the innings will take more, given the likely field tinkering every other ball, but spin bowling in the middle will take less, so that washes it out. So that's 40 overs x 3m20s + 25m interval = ~2h40m + 10m leeway = 2h50m. There's no scope for a T20 game to go over 3 hours except in the case of rain delay or truly relentless (& very exceptional) boundary scoring by both sides.
posted by Gyan at 10:20 PM on September 1, 2012


'Twas bad enough when Kerry Packer went on TV
posted by infini at 10:57 PM on September 1, 2012


While it certainly evokes images of John Major's ur-England -- long shadows on the village green, warm beer and parish spinsters bicycling past, and so on -- in fact the vast majority of cricket games today are played by working people in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
I started playing as a kid in England at the training run by our very working class village team in the north-west, where the Lancashire League is very much not posh either. I think the proportion of public schoolboys to pitmen's sons etc. has shifted a bit because only the private schools still play the game AFAICT (not to mention closing the pits).
posted by Abiezer at 11:56 PM on September 1, 2012


"Boring" is clearly in the eye of the beholder. I can understand where mr_crash_davis is coming from in stating that both cricket and baseball are boring. But for me, basketball is boring too - so predictable, one team gets the ball, passes up, shoots, scores, then the other team does it, then the first team does it again...once in a blue moon there'll be an interception and the sequence will momentarily be reversed. American Football? Despite my best efforts to chase it down on Australian TV, I've barely managed to actually see more than half a dozen "plays" of the game. I probably spend too much time blinking or sneezing or something. Tennis? Serve-volley-out-serve-volley-out-serve-volley-out...oh! Nope, that one was in. Serve-volley-out. And if you want a sport played by posh gits with ridiculously technical nastiness in the rule book, you're looking for rugby union rather than cricket.

Anyway... I didn't really have any point in mind. Carry on.
posted by Jimbob at 12:48 AM on September 2, 2012


Don't kid yoursef, though. Cricket is boring. Baseball is boring. Both games feature men standing around for hours, punctuated with brief bits of action.

There's nothing wrong with that. It gives the spectator time to have a drink, fill out a scorecard, eat a hot dog, whatever. That's part of the game. It doesn't take a lot of intense concentration to follow, which makes it perfect for lazy summer days.

But they are both most assuredly boring.


posted by mr_crash_davis

Eponysterical!

But I agree entirely. Baseball is not the national sport, it's the national pastime. Meant to be watched over an afternoon, leisurely, while drinking beer and eating brats and talking with your friends and family. Cricket takes this leisure up an order of magnitude...seriously, 5 day games?

Having said that, personally, if I were in charge I'd simply make it a 5-inning game; it'd be about two hours or so, maybe less, and you'd still cycle through every player at bat. I'll leave it to the experts to tell me why a 5-inning game would be a bad idea...but at least it'd be more watchable.
posted by zardoz at 1:21 AM on September 2, 2012


Baseball is certainly better suited to being televised and watched on a regular schedule.
posted by atrazine at 10:55 PM on September 1


This is not the same thing as "The better sport". Of course, the view that it kinda is should probably be expected from the nation that wanted wider goals in football so that scores would be higher. And who wanted the scoring system in squash changed so that somebody would get a point every rally. Bloody short-attention-span stimulation junkies.
posted by Decani at 2:00 AM on September 2, 2012


instrumental

Speaking of which...


Back in the year We Dependend on Radio 4 Long Wave, that was always the sign that the rest of the morning we needn't bother with the radio and could better switch over to the World Service.

And then we got broadband and discovered the BBC radio player and all was happiness.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:01 AM on September 2, 2012


And yeah cricket, even kewl cricket, will quite likely never be more than a niche sport in the US because baseball already fills the role of America's national passtime, has all the history mysticreferee was refering to above already.

But that's alright; cricket worldwide is still more popular than American football.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:12 AM on September 2, 2012




I don't wish to sound rude, but isn't wanting Americans to like your sport a bit 20th Century?
posted by fullerine at 3:10 AM on September 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


This is not the same thing as "The better sport". Of course, the view that it kinda is should probably be expected from the nation that wanted wider goals in football so that scores would be higher.

Of course. I think cricket is the better sport, and I much prefer test cricket to 20/20. The forces that drive the relative popularity of sports are what they are though.
posted by atrazine at 3:54 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Well you keep on jabberin', talk about this and that,
Don't make me nervous, 'cause I'm holding a cricket bat"


Just doesn't have that same zing.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:12 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The wikipedia article comparing cricket and baseball has lots of detail.
posted by Wordshore at 6:09 AM on September 2, 2012


Meanwhile, American football is slated to hit South Asian shores come November 2012. I'm actually excited about this for two reasons, first it's time we have a "real" professionally administered league in South Asia, unlike the administrative nonsense that is the (T20) Indian Premier League, and second, we finally have a _regional_ league with city-based teams from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka competing, instead of separate national leagues. This ensures you have a more equitable basis for judging / compensating players, than the auction-based farce that is the IPL.
posted by the cydonian at 7:12 AM on September 2, 2012


Here's the thing: every sport is boring, and I don't say that in a contrarian "local man doesn't own TV" way. What I mean is that every notable sport has complexities and esoterica, has unwritten rules and implied best practices, has tactics and stratagems, has a deeper second layer that is part of what makes it compelling for those not actually playing it. And, generally, only growing up in a particular nation's sporting culture, or spending a long time intentionally adapting yourself to it, will give you the necessary background to fully appreciate its sports.

Even soccer, with its lovely simplicity and legendarily sparse "12 laws", looks opaque and tedious to someone who hasn't been steeped in its culture -- cue standard American herp-derping about how low-scoring and boring soccer is. You can try to teach someone about the difference between a 4-4-2 and a 3-4-3 and what it says about a teams strengths and weaknesses and how they play, you can talk about man marking and zonal marking and their various merits and demerits, you can elaborate about the offside rule and how some defenses play an offside trap and how to spot it and what it's for, and you can go on for ages about the history of the game, its stars, its legends, and the rich cultural tapestry it has. But unless you get someone who has the patience and desire to try to learn, it's going to bounce off.

Because without that background knowledge almost all sports come down to undirected activity, with a bunch of people running around doing odd things for reasons you don't understand... and that's boring!

It doesn't mean the sport itself is bad, that any sport is innately better or worse than any other because it is or isn't "boring". It just means that there are strong socieo-historical reasons why any given sport is popular in any given place, and as majestic and poetic and reflective of the human position in a microcosm as you find it to be, you're not likely going to convince outsiders of why your favorite sport is so great.

It's a great thing to try to spread your sport to other cultures -- I love learning about new and interesting sports, personally. And if you proselytize enough you may actually win some converts. But don't go in expecting it to be the next big thing in an instant; most people are going to dismiss your sport out of hand, and even when these big cultural shifts do happen they take decades. Your sport is boring, but that's OK... because theirs is too.

I'm an American. I've read about cricket, I think I have a basic understanding of its rules and its history, at least as much as one can glean from Wikipedia. I've tried watching a bit of it, and dude, let me tell you: cricket is boring! I'm sure it's a lovely thing if you've grown up with it and understand it, but I don't have anyone to hold my hand through it. I can sort of understand what's happening and why some of it is done the way it is, but nope, boring!

But man, let me tell you about baseball: about childhood and hot summer nights at the local diamond, swatting at mosquitoes under the flickering glow of the old floodlights as you stood at first base; about the first time going to a major league game and how exciting it was, so much bigger and louder than you've ever seen it, but fundamentally these men, these walking gods, played the same game you did; about dog-eared baseball cards and heroes of the past; about Wrigley Field and the shiver you get down your spine you walk out from the tunnel into the first level box seats and see that broad verge of green grass in front of you; about long, lazy afternoons with beer and conversation, friends and happiness, the occasional bout of cheering, or jeering, or outraged hooting at your own dugout; about the Black Sox and Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio and Pete Rose and how much the Cubs suck but we love them so and how everyone but the insane rightfully hates the Yankees; about the deep, resounding crack the bat makes that lets you know, just *know* without even having to wait, that a ball's going out of the park and the sudden surge of excitement it brings. It's a glorious thing, isn't it? No, it's boring?

You're mad.
posted by jammer at 8:39 AM on September 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


What's that chirping?
posted by symbioid at 8:52 AM on September 2, 2012


This, surely, is the best rationalisation for an American not liking cricket

The problem with that is if they didn't like cricket because of that song they'd actually love it.
posted by Talez at 11:32 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not a snack. It's tea. There is a vast gulf of cultural and culinary difference.

Not a gulf so much as a harbor.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:01 PM on September 2, 2012


"Six and out" is the usual back yard convention — and the striker gets to go next door and find the ball.

In my house, due to a couple of shortsighted decisions during our neighbours renovation, it became 'six and out and $200 to repair the stained glass window and banned for at least a week', which rapidly caused us to abandon actual cricket balls for tennis balls due to unsustainable costs. Wasn't quite the same.
posted by jacalata at 12:33 AM on September 3, 2012


As a postscript, the USA have just comfortably won a one day match (one innings of a maximum of 50 overs, or 300 balls, each per side) against Malaysia.
posted by Wordshore at 4:36 PM on September 3, 2012


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