Sri Lankans are crazy about cricket, and why shouldn’t they be? It’s a thrilling sport, packed from start to finish with intense competition between top-flight athletes that just as often raw as a fistfight as it is graceful as ballet…or is it? In the U.S., where most All Around This World classes take place, all most of us know about cricket, if we know anything at all, is that it’s something like baseball and that most Americans know nothing about it. Cricket is a sport that stirs the passions of billions of people around the world, mainly in former British colonies such as India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Americans know nothing about cricket…? Maybe we should.
Here are the basics. Much like baseball, cricket is a sport played between two teams — one sends up batters to hit a ball while the other takes the field to play defense. At the center of the field is “the pitch,” which is a rectangular area that has two “wickets” about 72 feet apart (as opposed to 60′ 6″ between the pitcher and home plate in baseball). A wicket is a set of three wooden poles, known as “stumps,” with more wood resting across them — the “bails”. Two batters from the team stand at either end of the pitch. The bowler — similar to the baseball pitcher — throws the ball with the goal of hitting the wicket and knocking off the bails. The batsman tries to prevent the ball from hitting the wicket by swinging his bat.
If the batsman misses the ball and it knocks the bails off the wicket, he’s out and the next batsman bats. If the batsman hits the ball and one of the fielders catches it in the air, he’s out (much like baseball). If the batsman hits the ball and it drops into the field, he and the other batsman dash back and forth between wickets, counting how many times they go back and forth as “runs” until the fielders are able to get the ball back to the wicketkeeper (who’s sort of like a catcher in baseball). There are different kinds of cricket matches lasting a variety of numbers of “innings” (again, sort of like baseball), but the basic goal is for each team to try to score more runs (like baseball) than the other team.
Get it? Good.
A basic cricket overview | “This is cricket”: only four minutes of YouTube viewing stand between you and your future love of cricket | Wikipedia on cricket | There really is something called a googly.