I love cricket.
It is a wonderful game and a gift given to me by my parents and good coaches at school. Without a solid introduction to the game it is a very difficult sport to fully appreciate. It is a sport that requires some thought and consideration; where football is essentially a ready meal cricket is a Sunday Roast. You cannot just immediately pick up the sport and understand it; it takes time and thought to fully appreciate the game.
It is a sport that harks back to a different era in time; matches can be played over 5 days and still end up in a draw. Explaining this concept to anybody that has not grown up with cricket is akin to explaining to children that you have banned coco pops for breakfast and replaced them with shredded wheat (nice one Jamie Oliver)
There remains, just about, a code of ethics and honour within the game as well. While cheating certainly exists it is treated very harshly when the perpetrators are caught. A quick look at the ban given to the Australian Captain, the unimaginatively called Steve Smith, highlights this commitment to treating cheaters harshly. While for some his treatment was not harsh enough; it is worth reflecting how Maradona was treated after cheating with the famous hand of god goal back in the 86 World Cup. His punishment was to keep on playing for Argentina and win the World Cup. Steve Smith on the other hand has been banned for 12 months.
The game is also open to people of all frames and heights; an inclusivity also offered in Rugby but through cricket this wide spectrum of participation is provided without the requirement to get as physically bruised every training session and match. In comparison to brutal pad drills and 80 minutes of a match played in the bitter confines of Winter, cricket training consists of net practice on a long summer's evening and a match on Sunday in a Village, interrupted by a lovely Tea and followed by beers in a lovely Country Pub.
Cricket also provides a unique set of haberdashery; very few sports transfer the clothes needed to participate in the sport into genuine high street fashion without alteration. But the cricket hat and classic V Neck jumper are as well suited in a restaurant in London as they are on the cricket pitch. The same cannot be said for the oddly shiny shorts and shirts worn by football players.
The saying goes, that societies get the leaders they deserve and this idea can be very easily transferred into the world of sport through commentators. Whereas football and rugby commentators struggle to get through a 90 and 80 minute match respectively without using a cliche every other minute the average cricket commentator is able to describe an entire days action with a casual ease and mastery of the english language that would be awarded with a Pulitzer Prize if written down and turned into a novel.
In short, cricket is awesome.
Alas it is not a sport that through participation you have any assurances that you will either be called upon to do anything over the course of a match or even end up with a calorie deficit. Case in point, I played in a 20/20 match on Tuesday. We won by 10 wickets, I did not bat, I did not bowl and I was required to field twice. After the match I enjoyed two pints of London Pride and returned home to my wife and children. The three hours of sporting activity that I undertook resulted in a calorie surplus and me having to explain to my confused wife that I did nothing in the game but had a good time and won and that it was a sensible use of time away from the family during a family holiday.
Maybe one day somebody will create a version of the game that includes a HIIT exercise session for fielders when in the field along with an edict that a Yoga Studio is installed into every Village Hall across the country with an indoor ball play pit for the kids. At that point possibly cricket can become a viable regular activity for the overweight family man. Until such a time comes, unfortunately cricket will remain an irregular part of my adult life.