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The Ashes
July 21, 2005 2:16 AM   Subscribe

The Ashes Starts Today
You can listen live online and get more background here, and in case all you folks in the US are feeling a little left out, here's an interesting article about how, until the late 19th century, you used to play as much cricket as baseball!
posted by johnny novak (68 comments total)

 
This is going to be a great series, too. Australia are always dangerous, for sure, but England are on the up. It's going to be a fascinating summer.

This is a proper game. None of your "all over in one day" nonsense.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 2:24 AM on July 21, 2005


Warney is such a doink. We apologize.
posted by peacay at 2:39 AM on July 21, 2005


Yeah, but he's the guy we're all scared of. He might be a bit, erm, doinky, but on a good day he's unplayable. His first ball in the UK, against Gatting, however many years ago it was, was a thing of true beauty. How far did it turn? 4 feet? Unreal.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 2:45 AM on July 21, 2005


until the late 19th century, you used to play as much cricket as baseball!

Balderdash!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:17 AM on July 21, 2005


Busy stocking up on beer and settling down for a night infront of the telly.

It's about time us Australians got to meet some serious opponents to keep up on our toes. Looking forward to this.
posted by Jimbob at 3:18 AM on July 21, 2005


I remember Gatting was hesitant to leave the crease cos he believed that the wickie had taken the bails off and not the ball. It is my sacred duty as a Saffie to hate the Ozzies ("I have two favourite rugby teams: The Springboks and whoever is playing Australia") but that ball rightly deserves the "Ball of the Century" award.
posted by PenDevil at 3:22 AM on July 21, 2005


yawn.

Sorry guys. Cricket is as impenetrable to Americans as baseball is to you Brits. Obviously cricket is a very popular game in many places throughout the world, but - like baseball - unless you grow up with it, it is very hard to get into.

I remember taking a Swede to his first baseball game. After taking an hour to explain the basic rules to him, he seemed to understand it... until the catcher dropped strike three and failed to throw out the batter. My friend looked at me with that what-the-hell-was-that? look. "That was strike three! Why is he not out!" he demanded to know. I just put my head into my hands.

I'm curious, do cricket fans have the fascination with statistics as do baseball fans?
posted by three blind mice at 3:26 AM on July 21, 2005


Oddly enough tbm, Ed Smith - the guy that wrote the Observer article that johnny novak linked - is a former England cricketer (played a couple of tests last summer), who has also played a couple of seasons of professional baseball in the US, and has published a couple of books about baseball.

Cricket is pretty fascinated with statistics, although they're often a little bit complicated to interpret what with not-outs, leg-byes and so on. For example, Ian Bell - a new-ish England batsmen has an average of 297 at the moment (50 is generally considered a world-class career average), after 3 matches, but only being "out" once.
posted by bifter at 3:36 AM on July 21, 2005


three blind mice writes "I'm curious, do cricket fans have the fascination with statistics"

Heh. It's a requirement nearly.

But I disagree about baseball being greatly unknown. It's not rocket science and I'd be surprised if the majority of people in cricketing nations hadn't played it one way or another growing up.
posted by peacay at 3:37 AM on July 21, 2005


I believe baseball is called 'rounders' in many parts of the world.
posted by the cuban at 3:43 AM on July 21, 2005


"The first annual Canada vs. USA cricket match, played since the 1840s, was attended by 10,000 spectators at Bloomingdale Park in New York. The USA vs.Canada cricket match is the oldest international sporting event in the modern world, predating even today's Olympic Games by nearly 50 years."

from this article about cricket in the US

also

66-3 - Australia looking shaky. Rah.
posted by johnny novak at 3:49 AM on July 21, 2005


Rounders: currently the most popular sport for secondary school girls in Great Britain

Also: The Other NRA
posted by Grangousier at 3:55 AM on July 21, 2005


I'm curious, do cricket fans have the fascination with statistics as do baseball fans?

I think statistics are what's great about cricket, and I assume baseball as well. Every year they seem to come up with new statistics to report, and new fancy computer-generated graphics. Commentators are famous for providing fantastically useless tidbits of information ("This is, of course the third time now Shane Warne has bowled two maidens in a row under a south-west breeze while Venus is in the 6th house - do you remember when Carl Rackemann faced similar circumstances against India back in 1986, Greg? Oh, watch out for the seagulls!") It's this banter that makes the hours pass so much smoother.
posted by Jimbob at 3:59 AM on July 21, 2005


Yes, cricket fans are obsessed by well, not really statistics, but the joy of mathematics itself.
posted by BigCalm at 4:15 AM on July 21, 2005


Statistics are definitely a big deal. Bill Frindall, the BBC cricket scorer, is something of a legend.

He knows all: Stump Bearders.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 4:20 AM on July 21, 2005


This has made my day: Estonian Ice Cricket.
posted by Jimbob at 4:29 AM on July 21, 2005


and Beach Cricket in Fife
posted by johnny novak at 4:42 AM on July 21, 2005


It's about time us Australians got to meet some serious opponents to keep up on our toes.

Unlike, um, Bangladesh in the one-dayers, eh Jimbob?

For sure this is going to cut into my workday.

And as someone who transferred primary affections from cricket to baseball upon moving to the US, I can say that baseball is a damn sight easier to understand. Also, you're just getting into it, then it's over! What's that all about? Needs to be another few hours long.
posted by gaspode at 4:45 AM on July 21, 2005


"Two aliens were visiting Earth to research the local customs. They split up so that they could learn more in the time allowed. When they met to share their knowledge, the first alien told of a religious ceremony it had seen.

"I went to a large green field shaped like a meteorite crater. Around the edges, several thousand worshippers gathered. Then two priests walk to the centre of the field to a rectangular area and hammer six spears into the ground, three at each end.

Then eleven more priests walk out, clad in white robes. Then two high priests wielding clubs walk to the centre and one of the other priests starts throwing a red orb at the ones with the clubs."

"Gee," replied the other alien, "what happens next?"

"Then it began to rain."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:45 AM on July 21, 2005


And, to while away the lunch interval (97-5; good lord): http://www.stickcricket.com/
posted by Hartster at 4:49 AM on July 21, 2005


Unlike, um, Bangladesh in the one-dayers, eh Jimbob?

Exception that proves the rule ;)
posted by Jimbob at 4:54 AM on July 21, 2005


Can't stop thinking about the Wikkit Gate.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:04 AM on July 21, 2005


So, wait. Let's see if this Yank underestands at least the rudiments. The batter gets five pitches (bowls or whaterverthefuckyacall'em), and is out if the pitch hits the wicket behind him and knocks down the bail, or if he hits it and it's caught. If not, he runs back and forth between the bases, with each time he gets safely to one counting as a point. I think there's another guy running at the same time. Oh, and you don't have to run if you don't want to. Is that how it goes? And after a while, one team is done and the other starts. How's that decided?
posted by klangklangston at 6:07 AM on July 21, 2005


Say what you want about the virtues of the two games, but our uniforms look a hell of a lot cooler than yours.

*walks off singing "Take Me Out To The Ball Game"*
posted by jonmc at 6:38 AM on July 21, 2005


Sorry Klang, the batter gets as many as can be thrown before he's out or the game ends, the pitcher only gets 6 throws before he has to be switched (for 6 throws and then he can come back). Other than that you are on the right track. Here's a couple sites to get squared away.

The captain of the USA cricket squad told me that they are expecting to field a team for full international competition by 2008. With the number of Indian, Pakistani, Caribbean, African and even Brit immigrants, it appears we have quite a pool of potential players, so beware!

(I play cricket on the weekends, there is actually some top notch play to be seen in the DC area, lots of East and West Indians in these parts!)
posted by Pollomacho at 6:40 AM on July 21, 2005


Klangklangston you're basically on the right track. Cricket explained by an American.
posted by peacay at 6:42 AM on July 21, 2005


I've truly got nothing against cricket, rugby, soccer*, or any other Euro sports, but ultimately I think we're all usually most comfortable with the sports we grew up with, so as an American, I'm gonna be partial to football (the tackling kind), baseball, basketball, etc. Just like a Brit or Australian would be partial to their home sports.

That said I do find it an annoying affectation when a certain type of American who wouldn't be caught dead watching the Super Bowl starts wearing soccer jerseys and learning soccer chants. These are often the same people who say things like "bloody hell!" and "wot?" even though they're from New Jersey.

*fun to play. boring to watch, IMHO. YMMV.
posted by jonmc at 6:51 AM on July 21, 2005


Say what you want about the virtues of the two games, but our uniforms look a hell of a lot cooler than yours.

You think so?

posted by bifter at 6:55 AM on July 21, 2005


You think so?

Yes, and we grow better Afros
posted by jonmc at 6:57 AM on July 21, 2005


The English invented cricket to make other human endeavors look interesting. — Bill Bryson
posted by Grod at 7:01 AM on July 21, 2005


Cricket is like life - extended periods of tedium interrupted by very short bursts of excitement. Still, there's no other sport I'd rather watch (only on TV though - live it's a waste of time).
posted by bifter at 7:11 AM on July 21, 2005


Australia all out for 190 - and whilst England bowled well, I thought the Aussies batted really badly, particularly Gilchrist (who I think is a great player) who threw his wicket away, and looked like he was playing 20-20. They also looked nervous.
posted by johnny novak at 7:27 AM on July 21, 2005


What's the ball like? I noticed that the fielders don't have any gloves. In baseball, that'd break your hand.
(And jeez, Americans complain about baseball being boring and taking forever...)
posted by klangklangston at 7:40 AM on July 21, 2005


I disagree that cricket's inpenetrable to the American mind. I am a fan and have been for a long time. This is great news and I'm excited to follow along!

Thanks for the post!
posted by fenriq at 7:42 AM on July 21, 2005


What's the ball like? I noticed that the fielders don't have any gloves. In baseball, that'd break your hand.

Larger, heavier and denser than a baseball. We just know how to catch 'em properly ;)
posted by anagrama at 7:52 AM on July 21, 2005


Don't think they are larger actually - slightly smaller, but not by much. Still very bloody hard though.
posted by bifter at 8:03 AM on July 21, 2005


Hmm, it's possible I'm mistaken. A brief Googling didn't turn up any dimensions for a baseball, but :

The traditional cricket ball (left) is red and shall weigh no less than 155.9g and no more than 163g. It should measure a minimum of 22.4cm in circumference and a maximum of 22.9cm.
posted by anagrama at 8:08 AM on July 21, 2005


Cricket balls are slightly smaller and harder than a standard baseball, there's also the single seam up the middle and its red. After use, one side will get worn and tattered some so that the ball has better movement (unlike MLB where they replace the ball all the time to avoid this movement intentionally).

When you see a bowler rubbing the ball along his inner thigh he's making one side smooth and allowing the other side to stay rough so the ball will pull to that side when he bowls it.

A good cricket match is a superb excuse to stay up all night and get stinkin' drunk.
posted by fenriq at 8:11 AM on July 21, 2005


What's the ball like?

My wife won't play catch with me anymore if we use my cricket balls. First because it hurts her hand in the glove too much. Second, because I don't use a glove and she is afraid that she is hurting me too much (Granted, I suck at cricket and so it does hurt when I catch the ball poorly, but I'm not going to get any better if I don't practice).
posted by Pollomacho at 8:12 AM on July 21, 2005


4 for 19 v 190. *whistle*
Might be over tomorrow.
posted by peacay at 8:17 AM on July 21, 2005


ok

at lunch I was a happy man

now bombs and mcgrath bowling one of the best spells you'll ever see have put an end to that
posted by johnny novak at 8:28 AM on July 21, 2005


"The ball shall be a sphere formed by yarn wound around a small core of cork, rubber or similar material, covered with two stripes of white horsehide or cowhide, tightly stitched together. It shall weigh not less than five nor more than 5 1/4 ounces avoirdupois and measure not less than nine nor more than 9 1/4 inches in circumference." From the official rules of MLB.
So, the ball is smaller and heavier. Damn. I'd assume that either not many hits get caught, or that you just can't whale on the ball the same way.
posted by klangklangston at 9:34 AM on July 21, 2005


klangklangston, oh you can really whale on the ball. The flat face of the bat makes it pretty easy to get good wood and pound it. But the best batsman use the whole field and don't just take it back the way it came.

Watching a pair of talented batsmen work is pretty impressive. I remember years ago watching Darryl Cullinan of South Africa put up something like a 232 not out to set a new record. I am almost certainly way wrong on the score though.
posted by fenriq at 9:42 AM on July 21, 2005


I learned everything I know about cricket from Lagaan.
posted by muddgirl at 9:46 AM on July 21, 2005


From the Guardian article, was anyone else really amused by Chadwick's summary of why Americans moved from cricket to baseball. "Americans do not care to dawdle - what they do, they want to do in a hurry." The irony, that this is precisely the reason that many younger Americans are turning up their nose at baseball, ought not be lost on anyone.
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:05 AM on July 21, 2005


That was the weirdest first day of a Test I have ever heard. Madness. I'm not sure I can take a whole summer of that sort of thing.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 10:11 AM on July 21, 2005


Damn. I'd assume that either not many hits get caught, or that you just can't whale on the ball the same way.

Remember you bat from the middle of the field. You can hit in any direction, there are no foul balls. You can nail the ball, but it is more difficult, you don't see the "out if the park" blasts like in baseball, but you are likely to see some sixes (6 points for a "home run" over the rope without touching the ground) and fours (4 points over the rope after hitting the ground), granted most of these are going to happen in the narrowest part of the oval, but there are cranked balls.

Also remember that the ball is made of basically the same materials, but more of it and packed more densely, so it's hard! Less of the force of the bat is going to be absorbed into compressing the ball.

Another thing about it is that the ball is lower, which means you are swinging with more of a downward direction. Further, your objective is to defend the stumps, so you aren't going to start with the bat up too high, where you can't get it down fast enough (you aren't going to just let a strike or ball go by in this game unless it's WAY wide). On top of that, you have to make the decision to run or not immediately afterwards, while still on your follow up. Combine those factors and you see that the swing is not as full and followed through as a baseball swing at chest height, starting from behind your back, with the option not to swing at all.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:21 AM on July 21, 2005


I with you, jonmc, but I'd add American rugby fans/players to the derided class, too.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:49 PM on July 21, 2005


Where does one catch live coverage or highlights on American television? I guess some sites stream; which?
posted by Gyan at 2:30 PM on July 21, 2005


The BBC streaming is the canonical one. Test Match Special. It might be an acquired taste, but if you've grown up with it, the sound of TMS is the sound of summer. Best listened to sat outside, in a hammock, getting slowly mashed.

I intend to do this tomorrow.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 3:56 PM on July 21, 2005


Catching in cricket is quite different to baseball. If you're playing silly mid on or off, you're standing almost directly in the batsman's firing line, a few metres away, and a bit of protective gear is wise and well accepted.

Here is an extraordinary catch by the Australian captain, from earlier this year.

Now I just have got to say: OOH, AAH, GLENN MCGRATH!!!
posted by wilful at 4:14 PM on July 21, 2005



A cricket ball is smaller??? You sure?

I thought it was just a tad bigger (and noticeably denser as mentioned above). But that's just going on the very few baseballs I've owned. Maybe the baseballs I had weren't official size(?)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:05 PM on July 21, 2005


wilful : "If you're playing silly mid on or off, you're standing almost directly in the batsman's firing line, a few metres away, and a bit of protective gear is wise and well accepted."

Unless you're Jonty Rhodes.
posted by Gyan at 5:08 PM on July 21, 2005


I've not had a baseball and cricket ball side by side, however my distinct impression is that base abllsa re a little bit smaller.

Being able to catch a cricket ball without excess pain is definitely a learnt skill.

Just anotehr example of yank wussiness, I guess!
posted by wilful at 5:15 PM on July 21, 2005


I've not had a baseball and cricket ball side by side, however my distinct impression is that base abllsa re a little bit smaller.

Good. So maybe I'm not going crazy coz that's what I thought.



Being able to catch a cricket ball without excess pain is definitely a learnt skill.

Wish I had the video running when I saw this… and can't believe it doesn't regularly appear on highlights packages… I saw a game on the teev maybe 5 years ago where some guy whacked a six (home run) and this dainty young woman was standing in the crowd and nonchalantly stuck one (count 'em: one) hand up and caught the freakin' thing!

Huge!!! I want to have her babies.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:28 PM on July 21, 2005


dainty young woman was standing in the crowd and nonchalantly stuck one (count 'em: one) hand up and caught the freakin' thing!

In some One Day matches, they offer prizes to people in the crowd who catch 6's.
posted by Jimbob at 5:50 PM on July 21, 2005


An Aussie friend of mine was recently recruited to play in his company's baseball team here in Japan. Only problem, he didn't know how to play and spent the first game winging it. So he came to me and asked me the rules. After hour number two, I realized that baseball is a difficult game to teach, especially if you're not watching a game.

Cricket looks somewhat interesting, but hitting the ball seems much more a challenge with baseball.
posted by zardoz at 6:05 PM on July 21, 2005


Cricket looks somewhat interesting, but hitting the ball seems much more a challenge with baseball.
Not having played more than a bit of rounders as a kid, I would say that you are probably right. However bowling is surely undisputably a much much harder skill than pitching.

Also, a batsman will make up to several hundred strokes in an innnings, while a batter would make what, half a dozen strokes times the number of innings (is it 9?)
posted by wilful at 6:42 PM on July 21, 2005


Hitting the ball in cricket might not seem so easy when you take into consideration the variation that comes from the ball both moving through the air, and moving off the pitch. The hardness of the pitch varies not only from ground to ground, but from square-inch to square-inch.

If you watched the first day of the first test, you would have seen a good example. Some of the balls, bowled in exactly the same fashion to the same area of the pitch, did completely different things.
posted by coriolisdave at 6:45 PM on July 21, 2005


Cricket looks somewhat interesting, but hitting the ball seems much more a challenge with baseball.


Wah fah?!!!

In baseball the pitcher can vary the speed and make it swing thru the air to "make it a challenge" to hit.

In cricket the bowler can do all that PLUS use the pitch to get movement and/or uneven bounce.

PLUS he's allowed to try and knock the batsman's head off. And when this happens it is considered most ungentlemanly for the batsman's beeotchassed teammates to pile onto the field and physically assault the bowler in retaliation.

PLUS a new cricket ball is extremely shiny, and when it gets older one side can be polished. Both factors mean the ball will move thru the air more than a baseball.

PLUS when a ball gets old (they don't get replaced nearly as often as a baseball) it soaks up the sweat and spit from being polished and undergoes a phenomenon known as "reverse swing," therefore the batsman has to anticipate the opposite of what was happening earlier.

Now I don't wanna turn this into an international incident, but in summary:

1. Cricket balls are harder.
2. Cricket balls are much more challenging to hit.
3. Cricket fielders are much more hardcore coz they often stand mere yards from the batsmen and don't wear gloves.
4. Cricket batsmen are much more hardcore because they don't act like beeotches when the bowler tries to brain them with the ball.
5. Cricket crowds are much more hardcore coz you're considered a PUSSY if you don't catch a six (home run) when it comes your way.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:47 PM on July 21, 2005


And yet, while being "more hardcore" (indeed!), they're all perfect gentlemen, obeying both the spirit and the letter of the rules of teh game.
posted by wilful at 7:15 PM on July 21, 2005


The bouncer is the key thing. Not only is the ball doing 90mph or so, swinging maybe 6 inches either way, and coming at you from the ground in a basically unpredictable way, but it's being aimed directly at your head. I, and no doubt many others, have lost front teeth to the game.

Baseball? Strike Zones? Bunch of girls. :-)
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 9:40 PM on July 21, 2005


I'm curious, do cricket fans have the fascination with statistics as do baseball fans?

As mentioned above, yes. Perhaps it's not surprising though, since the guy who invented the method of recording scores in baseball, Henry Chadwick, was actually an Englishman.
posted by freddles at 9:55 PM on July 21, 2005


Unarguably the most famous statistic in the game of cricket is Sir Donald Bradman's batting average, which was 99.94. Had he scored a paltry four runs in his final innings he would ahve achieved the inconceivable average of 100.00. This is in the context of a respectable international batsman having an average somewhere near 50.
posted by wilful at 10:22 PM on July 21, 2005


looks like my ticket for Sunday might be useless.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:26 AM on July 22, 2005


Pshaw. First off, baseballs routinely go faster than cricket balls, if the high-end records are any guide (100.4 for cricket, 103mph for baseball). Second off, the bats are thinner, and there's no option to just ricochet the ball around.
I haven't been able to find the statistic that would really help in assessing: the average number of points scored per stroke by a high-end cricket batsman. I know that hitting a baseball is hard enough that if you do it only three times out of ten, you're in line for the Hall of Fame.
(I haven't been able to find statistics for on-field injuries or deaths for either sport, either).
posted by klangklangston at 6:04 AM on July 22, 2005


There has been only one on-field death due to play in MLB -- Ray Chapman on August 16, 1920.

I do find it a bit silly to compare the two games. It's like claiming gorillas are better than chimpanzees or vice-versa simply because they share a common ancestor.

However, if rounders truly is "currently the most popular sport for secondary school girls in Great Britain" it proves the women of GB are obviously far superior to the men.
posted by ?! at 9:34 AM on July 22, 2005



Gorillas are much better than chimpanzees.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:47 AM on July 23, 2005


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