Appreciation of cricket by a baseball fan

I grew up on baseball and always consider it the superior team sport on this planet, although I also love all of the other North American sports too, plus soccer. As for cricket, until last year, I’d really only watched the World Cup matches with my South Asian friends. But lately I’ve been watching the cricket channel Willow, which comes free as part of my cable package. I must say that the game is addictive and the skill level of the players is very impressive.

The fielding - these guys have cat-like reflexes even after standing around in the field for hours straight. They’ve sometimes stood around for hours in the hot sun without a chance to catch a ball, but when it comes, they invariably pounce on on it, and barehanded no less. This is with a ball that’s harder and heavier than a baseball. And I’ve yet to see an injury. Bowlers sometimes have balls hit right back at them, as they are actually still running towards the batter, and they seem to almost always catch the ball… Sometimes even after jumping or diving for it.

The batting - if he’s not one of the 2 openers, the next batter has to be ready to start batting anywhere between a minute to over an hour from the time of the last out. And these guys that have been sitting around waiting to bat for hours seem to come right out and start swinging, especially in T20 or ODI’s. And one mistake at the bat and your day is done. Somehow these guys sometimes bat for hours and score over 100 runs. This is with a ball that swerves in the air bounces and twists, coming at them. However, the batters running is sometimes comical. For all their skill, many can’t seem to figure out not to get in each other’s way when running past each other.

Dinner time… To be continued

I’m not that much of a sports fan at all, but I am an American, and I think cricket makes a lot more sense than baseball. It’s so much easier to explain what each side’s objective is. “The bowler is trying to knock over the wicket” is a lot simpler than “the pitcher is trying to get the batter to miss swinging at three pitches, or to fail to swing at them, unless the pitcher makes it too hard to hit, in which case it doesn’t count”.

The thing that makes cricket for me is the amount of variation in it, weather, pitch condition, ball condition. They all change over time and all can dictate or be dictated by… the tactics and strategy used.
Plus it all takes places over an extended period of time and so can ebb and flow like a great novel.
It also has the element of surprise in that you can assume you know where the game is headed but within the space of a few overs you have either several important wickets down or an important half-century and the game has swung away again. In the test form of the game you also have the possibility of a drawn match being a legitimate result.
Also, I’d argue that the aesthetics of cricket batting and bowling are superior to baseball. There is far more variation in speed, style, placement and stroke type, far more subtlety and invention.

That’s not a criticism of baseball, I love lots of sports that are simpler than cricket.

Actually, that is often not what the bowler is trying to do. Bowling directly at the wicket is not a common tactic (as they can be easy balls to hit and score from) and the real objective of the bowling side probably is more in line with baseball in getting the batsman to play and miss or play an ill-advised shot.

Certainly the bowling side wants to take 10 wickets in an innings but there are 10 ways of being given “out” in cricket (5 common and 5 rare) and only 2 of them typically require the bowler to try and hit the stumps directly.

I’m British, also not a sports fan – though, more power to those whose “thing”, sports happen to be. On the “sports explanations that don’t explain” scene, I love the – famous over here – routine about cricket summed up for the benefit of a foreigner.

"You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out. There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time, and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game !"

There’s a very similar quote about baseball, similar enough that I suspect that one was ripped off from the other. I can’t remember enough of it to be able to find it, though.

For sure, people who are not keen on sports have in the nature of things, ample opportunity to ridicule sports, and to do so re chosen set-out-in-words versions of rules of same.

I harbour a suspicion that J.K. Rowling is a disliker of sports, and one who has difficulty seeing the point of them / getting interested in them: whereby her wizards’ sport of Quidditch, as told of in the Harry Potter books, is a deliberately contrived insane and grotesquely-complicated (procedure-wise and rule-wise) sport, which essentially just does not work: but which nevertheless has in the Wizarding World, great numbers of fanatically-devoted and fascinated-by-its-smallest-minutiae (and eager to gab on about same, ad infinitum) followers.

As a Pakistan fan, I always use the 1992 World Cup final as an example of how quickly the game can turn on its head.

England are 141/4, with two set batsmen on the crease, need 109 off the last 15. Great position. Two balls (pitches later) 141/6; tail end exposed.

That’s what makes the game great, it took basically 30 seconds of playtime to go from “should be World Champion” to “we are fucked”.

Yeah, about that, finger injuries are the most common ones which occur on the field of play, breaking bones, splitting webbing is very common. That said, yeah, the technique is impressive, it has to be.

The individual plays are over in a few seconds, and the speed of the gameplay is very very quick.

Not the only one. We have discussed this before. It sounds like how stereotypical sport hating woman woukd describe the spoirts her husband watches if asked to describe them.

You’ll remember the skippy little magician Abdul Qadir then? He was the bloke (although Warne seems to be credted) who reintroduced leg spin into the game.

JJ: stick with it. You’ll soon understand the slow rhythm of test matches.

Welcome. We have cucumber sandwiches and tea.

But we’ll have no crusts on our cucumber sandwidches, my dear old chap.

Do you think JJ is ready for TMS?

In my short time as a fan, I’ve actually watched test matches for extended periods. I must say that I prefer the T20 version of the game, but understand the prestige factor is highest with tests. I feel I get the hugely differing tactics and strategies needed depending on the form of the game.

Bowling is another part of the game that amazes me. These guys run from what appears to be 40 yards out, gradually getting to maximum speed, just miss brushing the umpire, and then contort their bodies to deliver the ball with calculated spin and speed… Six times in a row. And even when the ball is struck directly at them, they lunge in front of it or stick their very important hands out to stop or catch it.

I think that one thing that would be hard for baseball fans to understand is that it’s not so easy to bowl a ball that is unhittable. The size of the “strike zone” is huge but these batters can hit just about everything from head to toe.

Of course, most of the time I’m watching the top 11 players of the countries that are playing. I watched some of the Under-19 tournament going on recently and, as expected, these guys aren’t nearly as good.

I recall years ago Geoffrey Boycott saying, “If you want to know how the batting side are going just add 2 wickets to their score and see how that looks.” As he pointed out often a partnership ends and either the next man in or the surviving partner is almost immediately out. It often offers an interesting and contrary perspective as in your example.

I stole a few bits of Boycott thinking when I was coaching kids. Good ideas that were easy to understand and easy to explain.

Thank you for this link (with its in-turn links to other material). I thought I’d explored most of SDMB’s Harry Potter-related stuff, but this which you provide here, was new to me.

Being one of that minority of males who feel sports to be boring and lacking in point, I can’t help sympathising with the “stereotypical sport hating woman” ! (I do try to take a position of “if you enjoy sports, fine – just leave me out of it”.)

As an English chap, I played a bit of cricket at School and have followed it on and off for over 50 years.

Here in England we have three types of competition:

  • county cricket (roughly equivalent to a US interstate competition), where a single match takes 4 days :eek:
  • limited overs cricket (several versions, but the most popular called ‘T20’ takes 3 hours)
  • Test cricket (international matches, lasting 5 days)

Now who has time to watch a county match lasting 4 days?
That form of cricket is slowly dying (and is heavily subsidised by the other forms.)

International matches are OK - I generally watch the edited highlights on TV in the evening. I personally wouldn’t have the time, money or interest to go to the match, but the matches between England-Australia are always sold-out.

T20 (so-called because each side has just 20 overs to score) is brilliant. Every ball is contested; the levels of fitness are high and there’s almost always an exciting finish. :cool:
Most matches are held on Friday evenings or the weekend, so it’s far easier to be at the whole game.
So that is by far the best cricket to watch!

While T20’s are the most exciting, I think ODI is a truer form of the game as the depths of the batting and bowling lineups are more exposed. Are there great players that skip tests and only play T20’s and ODI’s?

I think to be considered a great cricketer, you’d have to be a great* test *cricketer first and foremost.

It places the most scrutiny on a player’s technique and character.

Sometimes players nearing the end of their careers will give the longer forms a miss to keep things going a bit longer: cricketing can be hard on the body, especially if you’re a bowler.

T20s are totally disposable IMHO. And no manufactured ‘close result’ comes close to what can happen in a Test match - like MacCullum’s ridiculous centuryfrom last week.

I just watched about half of the video lisiate linked to, and the only people I saw running were the bowler and the guys chasing down the balls. As far as I could see, all the batsman did was hit the ball and then stand there watching it fly.