“That was the stupidest idea I’ve heard in a long time,” fellow freshman Anthony Catenaro said when I told him about my plan to revive the once-active UR cricket club.
On a hopeful suggestion that revised cricket rules might actually attract Americans to watch – and maybe play – the game, he proposed that I go back to India.
While the reaction was exaggerated and not meant to be taken seriously, it did sadly summarize the American attitude towards cricket. After all, what kind of a sissy sport has an English tea break?
However, from the seven months of experiencing true American culture, I have realized that the main problem lies in the lack of knowledge of the game.
In addition, cricket tends to be long, with most one-day international matches lasting eight hours while “Test” matches last an agonizing five days. No wonder comedian Robin Williams dubbed it “baseball on valium.”
Therefore, a lack of familiarity combined with a relatively short attention span will easily bore the average American.
Hence, to solve the problem, let the first class of Cricket 101 begin. Before we begin exploring the rules of the Gentleman’s Game, let’s start with some background information. The field is roughly circular with a radius of 70-75 yards.
In the center of the trimmed-grass outfield lies the “pitch” – not what the pitcher in baseball throws but a gray 22-yard long rectangle. The pitch, usually flatter and harder than its surrounding, is an integral part of the game.
At each end of the pitch is a set of three “wickets” or “stumps” in line, which are wooden sticks planted in the ground that could be loosely thought of as the home and first bases.
Sitting on top, connecting the wickets, are two smaller wooden sticks or “bails.” At a certain distance in front of the wickets, lines called “creases” are painted to specify a kind of safety zone.
The batsmen, not batters, stand before the crease at one end and have two main purposes – to score as many runs as possible and to protect their wickets. They score runs by hitting the ball, with their flat bats, in between fielders in the outfield and then running from one end of the pitch to the other to register one run.
They keep running between the ends until they are “run-out” – when the fielder hits the wickets with the ball before the batsmen passes the crease – or until they find it too risky to run. Moreover, batsmen can register six runs by launching the ball directly beyond the outer boundary and four runs by hitting the ball past the boundary with at least one bounce.
On the other hand, the bowler, not pitcher, runs up to his/her end of the pitch and delivers the ball to the batsmen. This, however, involves the bowler “windmilling” the ball, with a straight arm. Failure to comply with this can result in a lifetime ban. When six of these are delivered in a row, the bowler completes what is known as an “over.”
The bowler can get the batsmen out by a variety of ways. He/she can “bowl” the batsmen – forcing the bails to fall off the wickets by bowling – or have them caught by the fielders. Even more methods of getting the batsmen out are topics for Cricket 102 to be discussed at the meetings of UR’s cricket club.
With 11 players on each side, two batsmen are required to be on the ground at all times. Therefore, in the longer version of the game with each team entitled to two innings, the only way an innings can end is either when the batting team declares or when the bowling side gets all 10 batsmen out.
In the one – day international arena, each side only has one inning and it ends either when the side is all out or a maximum of 50 overs have been bowled – whichever comes first.
Now that I have confused you beyond belief, you probably feel compelled to stop by my room and watch some of the cricket DVDs I possess. As I have found out in converting some of my hallmates to cricket enthusiasts, the best way to make sense of what I just said is to watch or, even better, play a game.
With the cricket club almost revived, there will be plenty opportunities to realize your cricketing potential!
Madhur can be reached at