Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ten Things You Should Know About Cricket...

I've only recently started watching cricket and I'm by no means an expert. From my limited knowledge of the sport, I've come up with 10 things that sports fans who know nothing about cricket should know.

10) The Channel 9 Cricket theme reminds me a bit of the "Hockey Night in Canada" theme and it means as much to Australians as the HNIC theme does to Canadians.

9) Australia's most famous cricket presenter is an 78-year-old former cricket player named Richie Benaud. His distinctive voice is often imitated but never duplicated.

8) The 'biggest' prize in cricket is the urn that is presented to the winner of the Ashes Series -- a 5 day test series between Australia and England. The tiny urn contains the ashes from the stumps of the first English cricket loss to Australia in 1882 (although there are other theories on the urn's contents).

7) The Barmy Army is an organised group of cricket fans who follow the English cricket team on all of their overseas tours. The Barmy Army has the stated goal "To make watching cricket more fun and much more popular". The group uses flags, banners, songs and chants to encourage the team and crowd participation in their activities. It’s England’s answer to the Dawg Pound.

6) Cricket has characters ... tons of them ... here are three of my favourites:

  • Andrew "Freddy" Flintoff - England had not won an Ashes series since 1987 but that streak came to an end in 2005 as Flintoff led England to a thrilling upset win over Australia. The celebrating was the best part, as the England team stayed out all night and was pretty rough looking the next morning when they visited with the Prime Minister.
  • David Boon - Boonie has a big-time cult status in Australia. He doesn't look anything like an athlete but he played more than 100 tests for Australia. His claim to fame is holding the record for the most cans of beer consumed on a flight from Sydney to incredible 54!
  • Don Bradman - "The Don" is easily the best cricket player who ever lived. His average of 99.94 runs per innings is almost 40 runs higher than the person in second. This feat has been called the greatest performance by an athlete in any sport.

5) The Ball of the Century is one of the most famous wickets in cricket history. Shane Warne, a spin bowler, delivered a ball that spun far more than expected and baffled England's Mike Gatting. Warnie had a few other amazing wickets in his long career.

4) When a batter is out one of two things must happen. He either gives himself out, by leaving the field (which is the highest form of sportsmanship), or the fielding team must appeal to the umpire. The appeal technically must be made for an out to be recorded. It can be a simple "how's that?" but will more likely be a "HOWZAT?!?!" or even a incomprehendable shriek.

3) A particular day of cricket could easily go for eight hours or more. Sometimes the crowds need to find ways to keep themselves interested. Luckily, there are plenty of empty beer cups on hand to make the legendary beer snake.

2) Sledging (or trash talking) seems to be 'celebrated' more in cricket than in other sports. They do it very well in cricket, better than any other sport, in my opinion. Here are a couple of the best:

  • Shane Warne: “I’ve been waiting two years to humiliate you again.”
    Daryll Cullinan: “Looks like you spent the time eating.”
  • Glenn McGrath to Zimbabwean Eddo Brandes after Brandes had played and missed at a McGrath delivery.
    Glenn McGrath: "Oi, Brandes, why are you so fucking fat?”
    Eddo Brandes: “Cos every time I fuck your wife she gives me a biscuit!”
    Apparently, even the Australian players were in hysterics after that one.
  • When Ian Botham took guard in a Ashes match, Marsh welcomed him to the wicket with the immortal and famous words " So how's your wife and my kids?"
  • Click here for a longer list

1) Cricket is also home to the one of most disgraceful plays in sporting history. Let me paint the scene for you. In 1981, Australia played New Zealand in the World Series Cup. New Zealand needed six runs to tie the match and had only one ball remaining. The Australian captain, Greg Chappell, ordered the bowler, his brother Trevor, to bowl underarm. Thus making is impossible for the batsman to hit a six. Technically, this wasn't against the rules of cricket, but it was widely perceived as unsportsmanlike. The Australian team was booed off the field by the Australian fans.

Go to a Cricket game if you get a chance (especially if you go in England or Australia). If you're a big sports fan, you won't be disappointed.

No comments: