Ah, cricket, that sport that happens in between football seasons every year. It’s basically the only thing that’s on Sky Sports after the final whistles blown on the Premier League and really, you’ve never seen the point of it. Isn’t cricket pretty much just like glorified rounders anyway? And you played rounders in PE in school, and you hated school. Visa vi, you hate cricket. Simples.
Or perhaps, not so simples.
Cricket is actually a sport that is well worth your time, it’s a game of technique, finesse, and skill that puts two teams against each other in a game that is actually an extreme test of athleticism. It’s epic stuff and there’s a reason why Sky Sports are so keen to turn all their channels into seemingly never ending cricket live streams; it’s awesome to watch.
So, if you’re still reading this, we’re going to assume you don’t know what the hell is going on once that ball is thrown at the wooden things behind the guy with the massive bat. So read on, and the next time you’re down the pub with your mates with the ashes on the telly (don’t worry, we’ll explain the ashes later on) you’ll be able to completely stun them with your sudden transformation into a cricketing encyclopaedia.
Two teams of 11 players (yes, just like football!) take to the field, with each team taking it in turns to bat and score runs while the other team gets to try and bowl them out, with each turn being called an innings.
The bowler throws the ball to the batsman who then hits the ball away from the rest of the opposing team who are waiting around the field to catch the ball and eliminate that particular batsman from play. After they’ve gotten rid of all ten batsmen (It’s definitely batsmen too, despite the fact this sport would be much funnier if you could say ‘the batman is guarding his wickets’) the teams switch sides.
The game goes on until a specified number of balls have been thrown by each team or the allotted time for the match has come to an end and the team with the highest amount of runs are declared winners.
So basically, the bowling team have to stop the batsmen scoring points, and the batsmen have to try and stick in there for all the overs to score the highest amount of runs they can. Pretty easy to figure out, right?
And here comes the big problem of cricket, the thing that puts most people off and stops it from ever being viewed in quite the same way as football, despite the fact that we’re actually pretty good at cricket as a nation. The most common kind of cricket played, on an international level at least, are test matches.
These are epic games that lasts up to a whopping five days of play (that only last six hours really, so five days worth of play does sound like an exaggeration to us) with each team having two innings in the five day period in which to score as many runs as they can. These are meant to be the most gruelling tests of a cricket team’s skill imaginable and can really test a team’s endurance (and in some cases viewers as well).
A test match usually ends when all four innings are complete, the team batting in the final innings overtake the oppositions score or the third innings finishes with a team that have had both their innings still trailing the team that have only batted one (that’s the test cricket equivalent of getting butchered 7-0 by the way).
Now if you haven’t heard of the ashes, or what they are, this is going to sound weird. But what you’ve got to remember is that this is all completely true and not a made up load of rubbish.
The ashes are held in a little trophy-esque urn that is literally so tiny that when cricketers celebrate winning them it looks like they’ve won at some kind of Smurf sport. They’re the burned remains of a cricket ball that was handed as a gift to 19th century England captain Ivo Bligh, who swore to retake ‘the ashes of English cricket’ after a satirical newspaper reported that that English cricket had died and ‘the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia’. Yikes.
So, 130 years on and here we are again, with England and Australia locked in a deadly test cricket battle to have the bragging rights of the best cricketing nation by holding the other teams symbolic ‘ashes’.
It’s this that we think makes cricket so great. Football is awesome, don’t get us wrong, but the glory of that sport on the international stage is all about ego, and in the end ‘the Germans always win’. But cricket doesn’t care about glory, it doesn’t want to be internationally celebrated and for its stars to earn hundreds of thousands of pounds a week. It just cares about good, old fashioned sporting tradition.
And absolutely murdering Australia every summer for a tiny little urn, of course.