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Cricket, lovely cricket

Cricket was originally a bat and ball game played by shepherds. The term stumps reputedly comes from the tree stump they stood in front of.

Today it is played between two teams of eleven, on an oval field, with a rectangle-shaped pitch at its heart. Cricket has a strong international following and caused controversy when a British politician suggested people should be asked what cricket team they supported as part of their citizenship application

It’s said to be the second most popular game in the world, after football, despite its origins as a children’s game, deemed unsuitable for adults.

One of the most popular features of cricket is its commentary, and many more people watch it on TV or listen to it on the radio than attend cricket matches.

Cricket commentators such as Brian Johnston become international personalities and are renowned for their entrancing monologues when play is paused, on subjects ranging from the weather to the cake they had for tea!

Cricket – no fair-weather game

Cricket has set any number of records, all noted in Wisden.

The longest cricket match recorded was in 1939 between England and South Africa. Played in Durban, where the weather report showed fine weather and a dry pitch, it lasted an astonishing ten days and was declared a draw simply because the English team had to get the train for their two-day journey back to their ocean liner home.

Players too are notable for their endurance and talent.

John Traicos has had an international pedigree in cricket. Born in Egypt, he played test cricket for South Africa in the 1970s but relocated his name and talent to Zimbabwe when that country received test status in 1990. 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was said to have the ability to bowl slow balls with ‘puzzling flight’ and the name of his most famous creation, Sherlock Holmes, is said to have been drawn from the famous Nottinghamshire player, Shacklock.

Perfect cricket weather

Of course, cricket weather can be unpredictable too. Unseasonable hot weather allied to high humidity led bees to swarm in Sri Lanka, when one swarm took to the cricket ground, players, umpire and spectators had to lay flat on the ground until the swarm finally moved off to some trees.

Damp cloudy weather conditions give the ball more swing and are a hallmark of play in England, especially at Lords and The Oval. These are known as greener wickets and because they have a moister surface, the quicker bowlers benefit by getting extra movement off the seam.

Dryer pitches in India, Pakistan, and South Africa, especially with fine weather, create a less consistent bounce in the cricket ball and the slower pace means the spin bowlers will enjoy life more.

Perfect cricket etiquette

Traditional cricket equipment such as hand-made bats can be a large part of the appeal of the game, as can the timeless fashion of cricket togs, ranging from cricket caps to sweaters, which hark back to the golden age of Downton Abbey. Cricket teas are famous too, for their elegance and length!

Rain stopped play – the most dreaded phrase in cricket?

Cricket weather is a difficult subject in itself, but the most likely reason for a game to be stopped is not rain, but poor light. Weather conditions can make a huge difference to the quality of light on a pitch.

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