Understanding the Laws of Cricket

By admin Dec14,2023

Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world, with some two and a half billion fans globally, including several Americans. And there’s always room for more, which is why I’ve prepared this short summary of the rules of the game, to spread the gospel, so to speak. My hope is that these brief and straightforward instructions will bring legions of new fans into the British Empire—I mean, global cricket family.

First off, for a game of cricket you should set aside anywhere between two hours and fourteen days, although this will not guarantee a result. Cricket is like a liquid—it will take the shape of its container, and occasionally spill from it.

Speaking of shapes, for your playing surface you will need a large circular area. Grass is ideal. Dirt or gravel is permissible but frowned upon. If your area is rectangular, you might want to consider criquette, the French alternative.

Now contact your local vicar and request the personal telephone numbers of as many bakers, butchers, and bumbling policemen as the vicar can provide. The involvement of such village stalwarts is mandatory and, it is felt, adds to the spirit of rivalry. A local magistrate will referee.

The match shall begin precisely six minutes after the tossing of three coins or the eating of a ceremonial pie, which may contain either rabbit or quail. If coins are tossed and all three land on heads, both teams must link arms and deliver a rousing rendition of “God Save the King.” Should anyone smirk during its performance, they must either forfeit one run or remove their sweater, unless it is unseasonably warm, in which case they must put a sweater on.

The players shall then proceed to the arena. Acceptable modes of transit include a 1969 Mini Cooper, any model of Range Rover that Prince Philip once drove, or a hackney carriage. If anyone opts to travel by Tube, expect delays.

Trumpets herald the arrival of the players at the arena. And, without further ado—aside from a pigeon race, a short ceremony to honor the county’s best-kept village, and a brief spell of morris dancing—play shall begin.

Each side must field somewhere between two and eleven players, some of whom shall carry flattened truncheons, while others toss about leather balls. Everyone is smoking a pipe.

The aim of cricket is to accumulate as many credits as possible whilst avoiding strikes. This is achieved by rounding the bases without alerting the opposing team’s catcher. Winking is strictly prohibited.

After the opening passage of play, break for sandwiches. Sliced cucumber (white bread, crust off) will score you double points; tuna salad or curried egg will earn a deduction, but will be worth it, gastronomically.

Before play resumes, remove two dozen Cumberland sausages from the freezer. If you do not have access to Cumberlands, Wiltshires will do. If no Wiltshires, consider weenies or frankfurters—but, remember, you will have to manually convert from miles to kilometres.

Substitutes are allowed for any players who become injured, respond poorly to the tuna-salad or curried-egg sandwiches, or, in the case of policemen, in the event that a string of grisly murders is committed in a nearby market town.

After an hour or so, break for a pheasant shoot.

And, folks, those are the bones of it! By the end of Day One, the score should be something like one-half for three of a possible eleven out of twelve. But do not worry if you haven’t achieved such a rating—we are still some days away from being able to establish which team is in the lead.

What’s important is that—amid the rituals and traditions, the seesawing fortunes, the operatic highs, and the depths of despair—you don’t lose sight of cricket’s quiet serendipity, of its ability to reach across borders, continents, and generations to console and to unite. If you can do this, I think you’ll agree that cricket’s enduring popularity is more than just a relic of brutal imperialism—it is democracy manifest. And we could all use a bit more of that.

So, this weekend, why not gather thirteen to twenty-seven of your dearest friends, find a semicircular patch of gravel or a long strip of grass, bring three dozen hard-boiled eggs, two pitching wedges, and an empty claw-foot bathtub, and—provided the wind is blowing from a northeasterly direction—have yourselves a game of cricket.

With any luck, you’ll be done in time for Christmas. ♦

By admin

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