Is Cricket Too Complicated?

From today’s joint press conference w/ Barack Obama and David Cameron:

It’s always a great pleasure to welcome my friend and partner, Prime Minister David Cameron. Michelle and I have wonderful memories from when David and Samantha visited us last year. There was a lot of attention about how I took David to March Madness — we went to Ohio. And a year later, we have to confess that David still does not understand basketball — I still do not understand cricket. [my emphasis.]

Cameron’s response:

Thank you for the remarks about the cricket and the basketball. I haven’t made much progress — I made a bit of progress on baseball; I actually read a book about it this year, so maybe next time we’ll get to work on that one.

Yeah, this is basically the conversation I have with American friends any time I mention I like cricket. They’ll either say “it’s too long,” or “it’s too complicated.” And I’ll reply, “I’m sorry, what the hell is American football even about?” This isn’t to say American football is complicated — I’m sure if I spent an afternoon or two watching a game with a friend, I’d get it. But I think that’s true of cricket as well! I learned cricket on my own as an 11-year-old; no one in my family follows the game closely (my siblings, despite growing up in India, have no clue what it’s about). It took me a while to figure out particular rules (follow-on, leg byes, and LBWs), but otherwise, it’s a pretty clear game: One side bats and tries to score runs, the other then bats and tries to score more. If an 11-year-old can figure this thing out, you can too!

So why does cricket appear impenetrable to outsiders? Because we cricket fans are snobs. The worst thing in my mind is to be a soccer fan — why follow a sport that everyone, including the newborn, can intuitively understand? No, I’m happy to talk about googlies and field placings and strike rates and swing. Let the simpletons scratch their heads.

5 thoughts on “Is Cricket Too Complicated?

  1. I think like every sport, anyone can come to grasp with cricket if they devoted the right amount of time to watching it, and listening to it being analysed by fans and experts.

    For example, over the last few years I’ve come to love ice-hockey. I’ve always had a fascination with it but since about 2008/2009 made the decision to actually get into it. Nobody taught me about it, and I only know one other person who follows it. I don’t watch a lot of it live because of the time difference and yes it isn’t as complicated as cricket but I found some of the terminology used in describing american sports a bit tricky getting over. Its just a matter of time.

    So if you really wanted to get into cricket, you could. Just like any sport really.

    Oh, and listening to podcasts is a fantastic way of learning about something new.

  2. Tulip says:

    The intricacies involved in the game bewilder many…For others it has been a constant form of learning and don’t feel outcast as others. Other sports are American Football (in the sense of strategies) and Golf.

    • Alex Braae says:

      Yeah, attempting to understand football plays is almost impossible given all the potential variables and outcomes. Like cricket, the basics are fairly simple, but the details are impenetrable, and highly episodic. I tell people who have never been to a match before that the game is nothing more than a series of isolated events. Once they grasp that, it becomes a lot more interesting, and better still, each event is just around the corner.

  3. […] quick follow-up to my previous post on this subject: I imagine that some of you watched the wonderfully amateurish (and downright charming) coverage of […]

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