Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

May 7, 2013

All you need to know about cricket ... and then some

By Mike Redmond

— Baseball season is here and so our thoughts turn to cricket, a game that is just like baseball except for the myriad ways in which it is not.

Cricket jumps up, so to speak, because there is a movement underway (as opposed to underfoot) to make Indianapolis, a city familiar to most of us, the Cricket Capital Of The World. This would only add to the luster of a city already known as the Euchre and Pork Tenderloin Sandwich Capital.

Of course, the 14 people in Indianapolis who understand and like cricket are thrilled. The rest of us are mystified, which seems the only reasonable reaction. And trust me, it is not a reaction that goes away even after you have seen a game.

To Americans raised on a sports diet of baseball, basketball, football, and hockey, cricket is the sort of thing that causes headaches if you try to figure it out for yourself. Here are some things you need to know about cricket:

1. It is not baseball. We’ve covered this already.

2. The teams consist of 11 players on each side. Positions include the bowler, the catcher, wicket keeper, long stop, slips, right bower, left out, guy over here, guy over there, upper and lower squamish, and designated jiminy (American League only).

3. It is the only game named after a bug. It chose this unusual name because all the good ones (horse racing, cards, Steve) were already taken.

4. Games consist of innings (like baseball) and overs (not like baseball unless you’re betting the over and under). They can last for days or even longer. A match between the West Indian Wahoos and the Wangaratta Wombats began in 1963 and is still being played, albeit more slowly than usual, if that’s possible, as the players are now using walkers and those little red shopping scooters you see at the grocery store.

5. To the untrained eye, a match looks as if one person throws the ball in a most peculiar galloping overhand motion, and a man wielding a fraternity paddle tries to hit it back at him, after which people clap politely. It also looks this way to the trained eye.

6. No actual crickets are involved.

OK, time out, or whatever they say in cricket. Let me clear up a couple of things. First, I know there are more than 14 people in Central Indiana who like cricket. In fact, it’s a tribute to our growing international community that this Cricket Capital Of The World idea even took root.

Great for us that we have such interesting people who have come to live among us, and I mean it.

Second, I still think it’s kind of a goofy idea but I don’t really think it’s a goofy game. Unless, of course, you consider that all games are goofy if you examine them too closely. I once tried to explain my beloved baseball to a guy from Germany. It was a challenge. Before the game was over I ended up agreeing with him that it really made no sense at all.

So here’s to you, Central Indiana cricket hopefuls. I hope your fast bowlers come through and your batsmen guide the good length balls to wherever they’re supposed to go and wickets are taken.

Play ball, have at it, chirp, or whatever it is you crickets say.

© 2013 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.