Outside the Lines

Being an American cricket fan can be a bit of a lonely existence. It’s frustrating to me because I honestly do think that most of my friends who are sports fans would enjoy the sport, as once you get past the stereotype that it is an uppity British lawn game, it really is enjoyable sporting entertainment. Take the best parts of baseball, tennis, and golf, and you get cricket.

Furthermore, I think that even non-sports fans can find things they like about the cricket. The history, the politics, the humor, the great writing…

And, so, today, I bring you: things about cricket that everyone can love:

The Two Chucks

This is a no brainer. The Two Chucks, or the Chuck Fleetwood Smiths, are two freelance writers, Sampson Collins and Jarrod Kimber, who do a daily videocast for Cricinfo during marquee test matches.

Originally, they were Two Pricks at the Ashes, but then ESPN snatched them up, changed their name, and promoted them to the big time. At first I was unsure about the change, but the show is still a brilliant eight and a half minutes of jokes and commentary on the day’s play.

They know their cricket, but they also know their limitations. I look forward to every episode.

Oh, and Sam Collins is a strikingly handsome Englishman with a voice that will make you weak in the knees (yes, even you), Jarrod writes an incredibly entertaining blog (more on that in a second), and they are making a movie about test cricket.

Blogs

There are four cricketing blogs that I think my friends would all enjoy, apart from my own, of course:

The Old Batsman:

Lyrical, evocative, sad, humorous. And he talks cricket in layman’s terms. Not all nuts and bolts and fielding positions. He writes like I wish I could write.

Here he is, on fielding:

“Most of all though it’s a mood thing. Sometimes, on a beautiful ground it’s just too churlish, too ungrateful, to do anything except be thankful that you’re there. Other times it’s about smothering anxiety, killing boredom, finding humour and life in the little things. Occasionally it’s just about getting it over with, and every now and again it can be extraordinary. The art is to do it while not doing it, to let it wash over you, its lulling effect opening the window to an implacably calm interior state that can resist its length and its demands and takes you somewhere else until you come up smiling.”

The link in the above quote goes to my favorite cricket blog post ever.

Alternative Cricket (cricket for grown ups):

These fellas never cease to entertain. Their references might at times be too obscure for non-cricket fans, it is a good spot to read and laugh and realize that most cricket fans don’t take themselves all that seriously.

Cricket With Balls:

This is Jarrod Kimber’s blog, as mentioned above. Just like the previous site, Jarrod’s writing for the most part takes on the lighter side of the game, but he also tackles more serious topics, like Sri Lankan politics. He is a fantastic, and I mean FANTASTIC writer, and I think all fans of good, solid writing will enjoy CWB. He is cricket’s version of Hunter S. Thompson. No hyperbole.

He is also a published author.

99.94:

This one might be a bit of a stretch, as it is very “cricket”, but the writing is the perfect balance between poetry and nuts&bolts cricket-talk. It is written primarily by Gary Naylor, who also travels throughout Europe writing theater reviews. His “final overs” columns are the highlights of my week. Bonus: he writes a lot about County Cricket, which I appreciate.

Lasith Malinga

“Slinga’” Malinga is the only cricketer my wife could pick out of a lineup. The only one. He has curly hair, looks fantastic in Sri Lankan blue, and has the most wicked delivery in cricket today. His bowling makes grown men weep, albeit mostly tail enders. I could watch him bowl all day. Everyone could:

Unfortunately, for all of us, he has retired from test cricket, but he still plays plenty of one-dayers for both club and country.

The Twenty20 Format

Now, of course, we are into the actual game, but I still think everyone could enjoy a T20: the matches are only around three hours long, and there are plenty of sixes (home runs), and wickets. Plus there are cheerleaders, music, big crowds, and great atmospheres.

The format, for all its flaws, is a great introduction to the game.

It’s boozey

Most county grounds in England allow you to bring your own booze into the ground. And, really, who doesn’t enjoy sitting outside in the sun for nine hours, drinking beer, and chatting? No one.

NO ONE.

I have never attended a cricket match, but from what I hear, it is less about watching every ball, and more about having a drink, and a snack, and chatting with your neighbors. Sounds like a good time to me.

Plus, there are all the folks in fancy dress to keep you entertained, even during the most boring of matches.

*

And, well, that’s about it. The game itself is, honestly, infinitely entertaining, but the above I think is a fair sampling of all there is to enjoy outside the lines. I hope my fellow cricket loving readers will add more in the comments.

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3 Responses to Outside the Lines

  1. Ah Shucks! That’s very kind (and very flattering) indeed.

  2. Pingback: Polar Opposites | Limited Overs

  3. Pingback: America and Cricket | Limited Overs

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