As an American, cricket is fairly hard to come by- unless you’re talking about the insect, of course. While traveling in Europe, I met my boyfriend, an Englishman with a love of the game. Over the past three years, I’ve watched statistics float across the TV screen, heard both exclamations of excitement and grunts of disapproval, and have generally learned the ins and outs of the game through him, his brother, and stepfather. I even got to watch a bit of village level cricket over in England a few summers ago. However, it wasn’t until moving to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa that I got to experience my first professional game. As luck would have it, it just so happened to be a World Cup game, to boot. As a lover of all things athletic, I knew that it’d be a wicked good time, regardless of who would play and reign supreme. Turns out, I was right, and I realized that I’ve come to adore watching live cricket for a multitude of reasons.
1. Cricket is truly a gentlemen’s sport.
OK, maybe that’s not what the rest of the world classifies it as, but for me, this is completely true. In cricket, there isn’t any fighting, brawling, or intentionally trying to hurt others (alright, maybe a few head shots from frustrated bowlers). Sure, there may be the odd time when a player gets pissed off, but in general, it’s pretty placid. While a bit of rough and tumble can certainly be entertaining (i.e. rugby, football, etc.), I found it to be pleasantly relaxing to watch a game that didn’t involve an infinite amount of cursing, offensive gestures, intentional injuries, and arguing with referees. All-in-all, the cricket that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing displayed nothing but good-natured sportsmanship- a nice repose from some of the more in-your-face sports.
2. Cricket is a game for sunshine.
Cricket is a summer sport played outside in the warmth and sunshine. It is not an exploration of the various elements, nor does being a spectator require you to wear 16 layers of wool. Play stops when rainfall does come, allowing you to have a chance at shelter if you beat the other 15,000 people to one of the covered areas. I like these odds a lot better than attempting to stop the frigid temperatures and sleet.
3. Cricket offers a coming together of different cultures.
With sports in my native United States, teams are only playing visitors from other regions of the country. Sure, it may feel like fans of team X are completely alien to those of team Y, but international events truly bring some national pizzazz to any event. In this case, it was Indian supporters turning out donning the most intricately made costumes, creative signs and banners, flags, playing festive music, and singing songs exclusive to their team. Although I did pity the lackluster showing of support for the United Arab Emirates team, it was certainly a once in a lifetime experience to see national pride- which can often be exclusive and offensive- at its best.
4. The Cricket World Cup is kind of a big deal.
Like football, the World Cup only comes once every four years. It is not merely an end-of-season championship, with losing teams being offered a fresh shot at the win in the coming year. Additionally, the location of the World Cup always changes. How lucky was I that this year, it just so happened to be taking place in the city I moved to a week previously? Anything that only happens once every four years is surely worth seeing. Alright maybe this isn’t always true, but with sports, it certainly ups the ante.
5. Good cricket teams become legendary.
India is one of the best teams in the world- and have been considered so throughout the history of the game. Players coming out of this country are icons. I once read an interview with one of the most famous Indian cricketers of all time- I believe it was Sachin Tendulkar. In the interview, he said that he hadn’t been out to the shop in over twenty years. When he initially rose to fame, he dressed in a disguise complete with glasses and a fake beard as he went to the corner store to buy something; he was still recognized and mobbed (in the most doting of ways, of course). This is how adored Indian cricketers are, and I got to see them play from only a few meters away.