To celebrate the start of The Ashes, today’s blog post is about the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 England versus Australia match that the Englishman and I attended. My first and only cricket match thus far, the experience was quite a cultural awakening to a very English sport.
That Saturday the sun was shining, which was one of the most talked-about topics of the day. The English absolutely love talking about the weather, which I find fascinating. When in doubt, talk about the weather. End of digression – We were crossing our fingers that it wouldn’t get rained out, and sure enough, Birmingham didn’t disappoint. However, I don’t recommend sitting in the pristine gold section of the Edgbaston Cricket Ground unless you absolutely must be next to the players box (which I admit was really cool!). The other 3/4 of the stadium was basking in the sun all day while our section was in the shade with jackets on. The two old men behind us kept reminding everyone how cold it was in our section throughout the entire match, but at least the more they drank, the funnier they got.
We did get to enjoy the sun during the interval for lunch. All sorts of meat pies, sausages, beer, cider, and desserts were for sale. I can vouch for the amazingness of the cider; the English really know what they’re doing with that beverage. We also saw a parade of costumes (see picture below). Apparently, it’s quite popular to dress up for the cricket – who knew? Mostly men were in attendance, as is the tendency, which was awesome because there was zero line for the ladies’ bathroom!
So what did I learn about the cricket? 1. Bowling = pitching, in baseball terms. They throw the ball, and it has to bounce first, then the batsman hits it, protecting the three stumps that are behind him. 2. Wicket = a. when they bowl and hit the three stumps and dislodge the bails that hold them together, b. when the batsman gets out as a result of hitting the stumps, and c. the ensemble of the equipment (stumps and bails). 3. There’s a lot of banter with the Australian team because their captain, Mitch Johnson has a massive ego. English fans sing an Australian soap opera theme song, chant “Miiiiiiiiiitch-elllll, Miiiiiiitch-elllll,” and tell him to “give us a wave!” That’s got to be the most polite way to annoy your opponent.
Ooh, also, the snake! Fans stack their cups on top of each other, which creates a wavering snakelike figure, and as it gets bigger, they yell, “Feed the snake!” (translation: stack more cups) I sadly slept through that (yes, I fell asleep during the game), but I’m sure it’s very impressive when you actually see it.
Brief summary of the “runs” and points system – So, there are two batsmen on opposite sides of the pitch at any given time. The bowler throws the ball at batsman number one, who proceeds to hit it, and then both players run to the other end of the pitch. One successful exchange of sides is a run. If you do two exchanges, it’s two runs, etc. You hit a “four” when you bat the ball past the boundary, and it bounces on its way out. You hit a “six” when you hit the ball outside of the boundaries. Voila, how you score in cricket in a nutshell.
While I am still no expert in cricket, it’s been fun learning more about the sport. I’m not sure if I could do a test match (they last five days!), but I survived and enjoyed my first all-day game! Best of luck to England in The Ashes!