Hmm, how does S. Fry sound as England's new captain and opening batsman?
July 18, 2014 6:37 AM   Subscribe

Stephen Fry understands that non-believers don't get it. So here are some videos explaining the various laws of cricket, produced in collaboration with Lord's, the home of cricket. posted by mysticreferee (29 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I like watching cricket mostly out of a "what a nutty/cool thing" point-of-view, but will readily admit I can't make a bit of sense out of the thing. I'd still much rather watch cricket than, say, (US) football.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:54 AM on July 18, 2014

Alas, for me, and I suspect most 'non-believers', these are much too in depth. It's like a video explaining the nuances of the offside rule in soccer to someone who is not yet clear whether kicking the ball in the net is how you score points.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:04 AM on July 18, 2014 [7 favorites]

I have to admit I've just never been able to understand cricket, even though by all accounts it's very similar to baseball, which I'm quite familiar with (even though I don't watch it very often). I'm not sure why there's that barrier for me.
posted by kmz at 7:06 AM on July 18, 2014

It's good that I'm American because every time I read about cricket, I get the strong sense that I would be an absolutely insufferable cricket fan if I lived somewhere where really getting into it was reasonable. Quirky rules and terminology, history, pretentiousness; I love it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:08 AM on July 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

...even though by all accounts it's very similar to baseball...

Uh oh. Now you've done it.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:08 AM on July 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think the problem with the "similar to baseball" line isn't so much the snarking that invites, but the assumptions it invites.

Once you start down the road of "It's just like baseball except for this... and this... and this..." the conclusion will end up sounding as if cricket is entirely unlike baseball, and the analogy was really just a filthy trick meant to sucker you in.

Better to start from scratch with an explanation and when there's a resemblance to something the audience is familiar with, exploit it only as far as it can reasonably go.
posted by ardgedee at 7:18 AM on July 18, 2014

Cricket isn't so much a sport and more the world's most complex and fiendish board game.
posted by dng at 7:23 AM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Once again, I'm going to link to DM's Explanation of Cricket as the clearest explanation for newcomers. Particularly relevant to this conversation: Is Cricket like Baseball?
It's like baseball, but with arcane, incomprehensible rules, isn't it?

No. Cricket is about as similar to baseball as soccer is to American football. There are some concepts that are similar in both sports, but really they are quite different.
And no. The rules of cricket may be unfamiliar to you, but they are no more complicated than the rules of baseball. If you can understand baseball, you can understand cricket. In fact, I am familiar with both sports and I feel that the rules of cricket are, if anything, a bit simpler than the rules of baseball.

Most people who feel cricket is incomprehensible come to that conclusion because:
  1. they are unfamiliar with the rules; and
  2. the jargon used by people talking about cricket is quite specialised and indeed incomprehensible if you don't know what it means.
posted by zamboni at 7:29 AM on July 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

And test matches last eons. (or parsecs, if you're so inclined)
posted by blue_beetle at 7:39 AM on July 18, 2014

The rules of cricket may be unfamiliar to you, but they are no more complicated than the rules of baseball.

The thing is, baseball is actually incredibly complicated. I was basically born into it, so everything about it seems perfectly obvious, but trying to explain the rules to people who don't know them is a real eye-opener.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:41 AM on July 18, 2014

Hmm, how does S. Fry sound as England's new captain and opening batsman?
Like an improvement on Cook.
posted by fullerine at 7:54 AM on July 18, 2014 [7 favorites]

Sys Rq: "trying to explain the rules to people who don't know them is a real eye-opener."

Yes, agreed. Once my boyfriend (who has no knowledge of the rules of baseball) accompanied me on a MeFi meetup to a Brooklyn Cyclones game (they're the local minor league team). He asked me to explain the rules to him, and I started to explain what the goal was (scoring runs), and that you can be prevented from scoring runs if you get "out." By the time we left, at the seventh inning stretch, I had just about covered all the ways you can get "out." And nothing else.

But enough about baseball.

I enjoyed this one, on the Leg Before Wicket rule, the most. Five criteria! It's delightfully specific.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:57 AM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thinking about it now, I only understood baseball once I was dragged into a fantasy baseball league and started watching a whole bunch of it. Maybe I need to dive into a fantasy cricket league.
posted by kmz at 8:04 AM on July 18, 2014

My biggest problem with the film Lagaan was that, after watching more than three hours of a group of plucky villagers learning to play cricket, I still have no idea how cricket is played. These seem shorter, but I suspect they lack dance numbers.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:08 AM on July 18, 2014

No discussion of cricket is complete without a dose of Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer's "Straight Out Of Surrey".
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:09 AM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sports rules tend to run into a version of Godel's incompleteness theorem; that is, you start with a fairly simple set of axioms (rules) but quickly find that they can't completely describe or account for all the situations that arise in the run of play. That, in turn, leads to an endless array of "except in the case whens..." that are what generate the real complexity of the game. The lbw rules are a prime example of that; the basic idea is really simple. The main way you're trying to get a batsman out is by knocking over the three stumps he stands in front of with the ball that you bowl towards him. Obviously it would be possible for the batsman to just stand resolutely in front of those stumps so that the ball could never knock them over. So you invent a "leg before wicket" rule that says that if the ball hits the leg but would have gone on to hit the stumps, the batter is out.

But, of course, as soon as you hit on the idea of that rule it generates various kinds of tactics designed to exploit advantages the rule gives to the bowlers--which in turn generate all kinds of modifications to the rule, and you end up with something that can take an afternoon and lots of handwaving and several bickering arguments among the "experts" to understand.
posted by yoink at 8:52 AM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I found the rules of cricket confusing because trying to learn the rules at age 6 on the playground from people also aged 6 isn't going to result in a very coherent understanding of anything.
But after watching these videos, it's now clear to me that the problem is actually cricket, and our poor six-year-old selves didn't stand a chance.
While some of the rules are (necessarily) arbitrary and capricious, I did like the ones about catching out of bounds - though I would phrase it as the ball can be caught if it doesn't touch the ground and the catcher is not touching any out-of-bounds ground while touching the ball.
posted by anonymisc at 8:56 AM on July 18, 2014

Hopefully is will be something like this.
posted by boilermonster at 9:20 AM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks for posting that video @boilermaster, though now I think I need a cigarette. ;-]
posted by zuhl at 10:26 AM on July 18, 2014

No discussion of cricket is complete without a dose of Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer's "Straight Out Of Surrey". yt

Or, indeed, the Duckworth Lewis Method.
posted by Grangousier at 10:38 AM on July 18, 2014

As I can't find the first law... #1... I give up and choose to remain entirely ignorant of the rules of Cricket.
posted by MikeWarot at 10:47 AM on July 18, 2014

The key rules of cricket are really, really not hard to understand, and those of you who love the ho-ho-crazy-British-sport-hey-isn't-the-food-over-there-lousy-they-all-have-bad-teeth gleefully baffled Yank shtick really ought to give yourselves a slap. You're only making yourselves look dumb. I am not much of a sports fan but it sure as hell didn't take me long to get the hang of baseball, and cricket really isn't any more complicated than that. You don't need to go wading into the subtleties of LBW or the bleedin' Duckworth Lewis Method to figure out how the game is played well enough to enjoy it and understand it 95% of the time. You're just being lazy buggers.
posted by Decani at 11:12 AM on July 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

The stuff linked in this post clearly wasn't supposed to be introductory, but the framing of the post made me think it was going to be, so then I was surprised at how detailed it was.

I've occasionally gone looking for more basic explanations of how cricket works, but had trouble finding explanations that hit the sweet spot between oversimplifying by avoiding jargon and being too confusing to follow while still providing enough jargon to help me understand other explanations and coverage. I have found a couple of not bad youtube videos, so I get the general gist of the game, but I still find it impossible to read any real coverage of it because there's too much vocabulary that I don't know.

I suspect this would also be true of baseball or curling or any one of a number of sports where if I didn't grow up learning to play them, I would find reading the sports pages utterly baffling.

To choose a more American example, I don't watch much football and I find it confusing to follow it on TV -- people talk about things like 3-4 defenses and hurry-up-offenses as if they're things that the viewer automatically knows, but I don't, so I really can't follow what they're talking about. I do still know enough about it to roughly follow the game, though -- I mean, I know who is on offense and who is on defense and who is winning and such.

I find that Olympic coverage is sometimes quite good for the type of explanation I've had trouble finding for Cricket. The difference between watching, say, CBC coverage of a Briar curling final and the NBC coverage of an Olympic round robin game is *huge* in terms of how specialized the commentary is and how much they stop to explain themselves as they talk.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:56 AM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

My mother worked as an exchange teacher in Wales for a year before she met my father. My favorite of all the souvenirs she brought back from there was a regulation cricket bat, which, after I moved out from my parents' home, had a permanent place next to the front door. Its greater heft and large flat surface made it IMO far superior to a baseball bat as a personal protection device (although I never had to prove it) as well as for killing oversized bugs. Still, the only rule of Cricket I ever learned is that it's gauche to yell out "JIMINY" while swinging the bat.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:30 PM on July 18, 2014

Those are definitely not introductory, and some of them describe edge cases that have practically never happened - for example, only one player has ever been given out for obstructing the field, and seemingly none for hitting the ball twice. Some of the others go into lots of excess detail - the batsman out of his ground one, for example. So it's really for people who have been playing cricket casually and understand the basics, not for our confused American friends. [That said, the basics aren't particularly hard to understand if you understand the concepts of baseball, you can certainly map a lot of concepts from one game to the other]
posted by Pink Frost at 3:31 PM on July 18, 2014

seemingly none for hitting the ball twice

Wikipedia, in a rather entertaining little entry on the rule, begs to differ.
posted by yoink at 3:41 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

What are these 'rules'? Cricket has LAWS damnit.
posted by wilful at 3:10 AM on July 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I tried the videos but they didn't help. I'm still cricket illiterate.
posted by irisclara at 2:18 AM on July 20, 2014

I tried the videos but they didn't help. I'm still cricket illiterate.
You could play for England!
posted by fullerine at 7:36 AM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

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