On Two Different Sports Today…

Just because a sport is not “a big deal” here in the US does not mean that there are no interesting happenings in those sports. Try to start a conversation about cricket in a US sports bar and … well, all you are likely to hear are crickets. However, in other parts of the world (England, India, Sri Lanka and Australia for example), cricket is a very big deal. In fact, in India some folks have tried to reinvent cricket to make it even more appealing to massive audiences.

Cricket is generally a slow-paced game played in a genteel atmosphere. That is not to say that the players are not intensely focused on their games but the overall ambiance of the game is not one of crazed movement or violence. In the Indian reinvention of the game, they put a 3-hour time limit on matches; that is a radical departure from “test matches” in cricket, which can take days to complete. In addition to the time limit, the Indian Premier League – as the reinvented game is organized – presents the games the same way the NBA presents games here with loud music, flashing lights and scantily clad women dancing/prancing about. Folks who are not aficionados of the reinvented cricket call it “cricket on crack”.

Those detractors can be feeling a bit smug about the Indian Premier League because the league has had three scandalous happenings over the recent weeks. Scandal and cricket tend not to be nouns that go together any better than mustard and chocolate ice cream go together.

    1. An Indian television network did a “sting operation” and caught several Indian Premier League players taking bribes to “play sloppily”. Here in the States we would call that “tanking” or “point shaving”. In cricket, even cheating behavior takes a softer tone.

    2. One of the owners of a team in the Indian Premier League and his bodyguards got into a brawl with stadium security guards at a game and reports say that the owner was heavily inebriated. I guess the analog here in the US would be Danny Boy Snyder getting himself a full snootful in his owner’s box and then taking his posse with him down to the field to show the stadium security guards what it means to be a tough guy. [Even I have difficulty imagining that ever happening…]

    3. One of the players in the Indian Premier League – an Australian – was arrested on charges that he molested a woman at an “after-match party” at a 5-star hotel in Delhi. Analogous behavior on the part of athletes in the US happens all the time and most folks take the same dim view here, as they seem to have taken in India.

These three events are serious scandals in the world of cricket and to give you an idea as to the behavior that is expected within the game of cricket, let me explain to you a scandal in the sport that happened in 1981 which is still considered to have been inexcusable behavior. The Australian and New Zealand teams were playing an international match and the game came down to the final ball. The only way the Australians could lose would be for the New Zealand batter to hit the ball out of the field of play – scoring 6 runs. To prevent that, the Australian captain instructed his bowler (pitcher in baseball terms) to throw the ball underhanded and roll it on the ground by the batter. There is no way on the planet anyone could hit such a ball out of the field of play.

The Australians won the match; they have been reviled for it for the last 30 years. There is even a Wikipedia page devoted to that single pitch from 1981. After all, that is not the proper way to play the game – hence the saying,

    It is not cricket.

Let me switch here to another sport that is not at the center of most fans’ attention here in the US. Soon to emerge on the sporting scene in the US is a Bikini Hockey League. This is the brainchild of a guy from Tulsa Oklahoma who claims that he first had this idea back in the year when the NHL was dark over failed CBA negotiations. He did not have the time to put the idea to work back then but now his plan is as follows:

    He will shoot a pilot for a “reality TV show” where women will live in a house together and compete in bikini hockey.

    That reality show – and the putative buzz that it will create around the sport – will provide the momentum to launch the Bikini Hockey League.

    Hey, I do not make this stuff up; I just pass it along.

Oh, in case you were wondering why Tulsa Oklahoma and ice hockey go together, they do not. The Bikini Hockey League will use inline skates and not ice skates. I certainly would not want to leave you with any misimpressions here…

Here is a question for readers of the female persuasion:

    Do sports such as the Bikini Hockey League and/or the Lingerie Football League interest you because they give women new avenues for sports participation or do you find these kinds of things off-putting?

As someone of the male persuasion, I really do not know how women perceive these leagues.

Finally, I ran across this item in Gregg Drinnan’s column, Keeping Score, in the Kamloops Daily News recently:

“There are soon to be new laws in B.C. that will prohibit motorcycle riders from wearing the flimsy helmets known as skid lids or skull caps. ‘However,’ notes Richmond blogger T.C. Chong, ‘if you are from Saskatchewan, you will still be allowed to wear a watermelon.’ “

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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  • Andy  On June 1, 2012 at 2:30 am

    This article is a huge event for me! You have discussed one of the biggest sports for Australians (indeed I play it), and you have done yourself proud! Excellent, I loved it. You are spot on in describing cricket as genteel, and slower paced. Interestingly, after getting into baseball as my brother is now playing it, I’ve noticed that ‘America’s pasttime’ is actually slower than cricket! On average, cricket sees 90 deliveries played out in one hour. This compares to the 80 or so pitches delivered in an hour of baseball? Would that be fair? So there is more action, at a slightly quicker pace, in cricket than in baseball. The reason for this is cricket only has two innings. Baseball has 9.
    Hope you are well!
    Andy, from Melbourne, Australia

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On June 1, 2012 at 8:49 am


      Great to hear from you again…

      I learned a bit about cricket on my trip to Australia and New Zealand earlier this year because our tour leader in Australia played cricket and took time to explain some of the rules of the game as I was watching on TV. [He also plays Footy in a "pub-league" so I cannot say that he is totally rational.]

      Your math regarding the pace of baseball is on the mark. One difference between the games is that in baseball, there can be action without the pitcher delivering the ball – - stolen bases, pickoff plays etc. Another difference is that changing a pitcher in a baseball game takes time; changing the bowler in cricket just happens as part of the game.

      I am well. Hope things are well with you. I loved my trip to Australia…

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