This morning I am writing this with the Wimbledon’s Men’s final in the background.
I have in the past compared tennis to cricket, and cricket to tennis. Both sports have similar backgrounds: both invented in England, cricket in Kent, tennis in Birmingham; and both spread in popularity throughout the English speaking world. (For whatever reason, however, tennis spread throughout the non-English speaking world as well, while cricket is still only popular in former British colonies. More on that in a second). Furthermore, they exist on a similar historical timeline: the first test match was held the same year as the first Championships at Wimbledon; and while initially dominant, England has seen its presence in the game diminished. Andy Murray is the first British Wimbledon finalist since Fred Perry in 1936.
Since then, Wimbledon has seen Men’s Champions from the USA, France, Australia, Egypt, Peru, Spain, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, West Germany, the Netherlands, Croatia, Switzerland, and Serbia.
Also, in my opinion, the games are similar in other ways:
Both are gentlemanly lawn pursuits that have welcomed swashbuckling foreigners to spice up the game.
And both require creativity, stamina, concentration, and intelligence – in spades. Tennis is far more athletically challenging than batting in cricket, of course, but I feel the latter is closer to the former than anything else in major sport.
And both sports’ games require a long time to develop their individual storylines. It’s games, sets, hours before you really know what kind of tennis match you are going to get. Just as in cricket it takes overs, hours, DAYS before you get an idea as to how the historians will remember the match.
Both are great old games.
But it makes me wonder why the world accepted tennis, and golf, and football, but turned up its collective nose at cricket?
Also, tennis is incredibly entertaining because of its global nature: Spanish swashbuckling, Eastern European efficiency, North American arrogance, South American passion.
How much fun would cricket be if we could be treated to similar such diversity?
An unanswerable question, of course. The game might actually be less entertaining, but I don’t think so.
Unfortunately, the world will probably never know. Cricket’s time in the sun is fading, and despite the ICC’s best efforts, it will never become a global game. Ever. That window of opportunity has closed forever.
I had been toying with a piece on attacking cricket versus “boring”, defensive cricket, after all of the talk about Spain’s Euro 2012 win, and about “parking the bus” etc. But Russ from Idle Summers beat me to the punch with this fantastic article. Definitely worth a read.
Until next time.