Cricket Explained (By Someone Who Doesn’t Understand Cricket)

Cricket Cartoon

We won a game of cricket against England, in some sort of world championship thing. To the annoyance of Australians and Indians and so forth, most Irish people don’t even realise this is an achievement. Here cricket is a minority sport some oddballs play, like lacrosse or caber tossing.

And it’s not even the first time. Here’s what I wrote back in March 2007:

It was St. Patrick’s Day. It was the climax of the rugby tournament. And water was banned.¹ Sounds like a dangerous recipe, yet it was the most good-humoured one I remember for years. Even Irish people were wearing green. Okay, it rained on our parade both literally and figuratively. The weather felt like being indecently assaulted by eels, and to lose the rugby after such a performance was magnificently tragic.²

But then came the cricket. Are we still on the same planet here? Ireland doesn’t beat Pakistan at cricket. You almost feel bad about it – what did Pakistan ever do to us? Most Irish people don’t even know what the rules are. So I thought it was my job to find out. I watched a game – or some of one anyway, they are pretty long – and this is how I think it works:

Cricket is played in a field. One team comes in to the field to field, which means they have to throw the ball and catch it. Sounds simple enough, but they can only throw it at the batsman who is actually on the other team, and has his hands full. Apart from the one who’s bowling (throwing), they stand around in a variety of positions that have names like silly mid-off, googly and teashop.

The batting team comes in, or on, to the field one at a time, and the bowling team tries to put them out, or off. You can put a batsman out by hitting the wicket (sticks) or catching a ball he hit, and you can put him off by insulting his girlfriend.

The batsman scores by running backwards and forwards, but only between the wicket and… another wicket, swapping places with a batsman at the other end. I’m not sure how he got there. They score one for every time they manage this before the other side finds the ball and brings it back, or an automatic four if the batsman hits the ball as far as it can go. Or six, if he hits it further.

Six is also the number of throws each bowler gets, and is called an over. When this is over, he goes over to the fielders again, and another takes a turn until all the overs are over. Then they start over. Play continues the next day and the next day and the next day until one side gives up.

Not so hard really.

  1. This was due to Galway’s outbreak of cryptosporidium, a nasty parasite, due to the nasty outbreak of uncontrolled building polluting the water.
  2. That year we got the Triple Crown and almost, almost took the championship.
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