Aaron's Antre: Cricket, not as lackluster as it looks

Aaron Chum, Author

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The Australian national team bats against the English national team at The Oval, a cricket ground in England.

– Photo by Paul Hudson. Licensed under Creative Commons (Attribution 2.0 Generic)

 

Editor’s Note: The opinions and attitudes expressed by the author are those of the author and not necessarily of the publication’s editorial board. This segment is part of a series of opinions by Aaron Chum entitled “Aaron’s Antre.”

Last Sunday, I toiled much later into the night than usual, doing typical high school stuff (read: homework due the next morning). It wasn’t because I had too much homework, if only due to the fact that it was the first week of the second semester. And it wasn’t because of my disappointment over the “Chuck” series finale that kept me up until five that morning — it, to some degree, still prevents me from getting much needed rest at night. Rather, I had procrastinated away several hours earlier in the day perusing the Internet, learning about the sport that shares its name with an insect featured in the folklore and mythology of cultures around the world. Yes, cricket.

Research on a homework assignment invariably led me to the Wikipedia article on cricket, where, after substantial reading, I finally understood the rules and history of the sport.

I found out that cricket is most prevalent in England and regions of the world that were touched by its expanding empire in earlier centuries (Australasia, the Indian subcontinent, the West Indies, and Southern Africa). So basically, our national pastime would be cricket, not baseball, if the colonies had not won the Revolutionary War.

And finally, I spent more time than I would like to admit watching YouTube videos of the Australian national cricket team (which I understand to be among the best in the world).

Apparently international cricket is a lot like basketball at the Olympics: At the top, there’s the U.S. and maybe a few other countries that futilely toil in the runner-up spots. And then, far behind, only tiny specks in the rearview mirror, are all of the other countries (like Hungary). In cricket, at the top are Australia, England, India and South Africa. And then there’s every other country (like Bangladesh).

So why watch cricket?

The cliche answer would be a blanket statement for any sport: its entertainment value or its ability to bring a group of people together, best highlighted by the India-Pakistan cricket rivalry accentuated by the many non-athletic issues surrounding the two countries.

Personally, much of cricket’s appeal lies in its similarity to baseball. Maybe it’s just because baseball season has been over for a while; I don’t watch spring training and I needed to watch something that somewhat resembled baseball.

But perhaps the thing that draws me to cricket the most is that it takes the batter-pitcher (or bowler, as they call it in cricket) relationship to the extreme. In cricket, the batsman is essentially standing in front of what would be the strike zone in baseball (the wickets). So the excitement of the game is magnified, at least for me, when the bowler is throwing the ball directly at the batter and the batsman has to defend himself by whacking it away, as opposed to the pitcher throwing it to the side of the batter in baseball.

In addition, now, I’ll be able to better relate to another couple billion people in the world.

True, cricket is definitely not a sport I could watch for hours on end. But then again, there are very few sports that I can watch hours on end.

So when cricket season rolls around (which as far as I can tell begins in April), I’ll be watching… If only to stave off the inevitable hours I’ll have to spend studying for AP tests in May.

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