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We respond to some Frequently Asked Questions by cricket newbies in North America
Do they actually stop for tea? Do the players only wear whites? Do games really go on for five days? Do some games end without a winner?
Our answer is always: Yes, yes, yes and yes but remember, this is true only for the oldest form of cricket. There are shorter versions of the game where these questions are irrelevant. Cricket has come a long way since when it was synonymous with the British empire. It is now played all over the world, in three different formats, and caters to both the casual follower as well as the geek; to both the life-long fan as well as the first-timer. Those who know plenty about cricket merely delight in it. Those who know nothing about cricket are best placed to fall in love with it.
Are the rules really complicated? Can someone who has never seen cricket enjoy a match?
Even the most ardent cricket fans find themselves tripping up on cricket’s rules from time to time. So yes, some of it is complicated but no, you don’t have to know every single rule to enjoy the contest. In fact, it is perfectly okay to know nothing. The game reveals itself layer by layer.
We have heard cricket is pretty similar to baseball…
Yes. That’s something you will realise when you watch a game. Like baseball, the team that gets more runs wins, but unlike baseball, a bowler needs to deliver the ball overarm – without bending his elbow – rather than pitching it. You will enjoy the similarities and be amazed by the differences.
It goes on for much longer than a baseball game, right?
Not always. The shortest form of cricket lasts about the same time as a game of baseball. And it is specifically designed to be a family’s evening out. The ball is likely to clear the field every few minutes. And the atmosphere, when the ground is packed, can get electric.
So why hasn’t cricket caught on in North America?
Believe it or not, cricket is the fastest growing game in the USA and is surging in Canada too. There are more than 15 million fans and over 200,000 active players across various leagues. Indian, Pakistani and West Indian immigrants comprise the bulk of the players, but the sport is also appealing into other segments of the population. And franchise-based leagues in Canada (and perhaps the USA in the near future) could draw many more fans into the fold.
So what is the first step I should take to get introduced to the sport?
Watch a match. Then watch another. The Global T20 league is currently on at the CAA Centre in Brampton, and it is set to go on till Sunday, August 11. Walk in and enjoy some of the world’s best players, and also watch some fine local Canadian cricketers showcase their skills. Read about cricket online. Dig through the rich literature that the game has to offer. If there is a cricket club around where you live, go and watch some games over weekends. And, who knows, perhaps you will be adventurous enough to play it. That should do. The game will then lure you in.