An American Trying To Play Cricket

As an American I have no idea how to play Cricket even though the opportunity to play has been offered to me on several occasions. I suppose I should learn but Cricket is not a very popular game in the United States and the only outlet I had to learn the game closed up shop years ago. It appears that Cricket is the distant cousin to Baseball and it could be American arrogance that has not allowed Cricket to be popular in the United States.
It is hard to say why Americans do not embrace Cricket. Cricket sounds almost as American as wars and fast food. To play Cricket you need 11 players per side and you use a bat and a ball to score runs. Heck there is even a position called a bowler when you play Cricket. American football teams have 11 players on the field at one time and Americans seem to love a game that uses a wooden bat and a ball. Bowling is practically the number one pastime in the American Northeast. So why don’t Americans play Cricket? Cricket even has controversy like the famous 1981 underarm bowling incident between New Zealand and Australia. But Americans just do not want to play Cricket and the more you look at the set up of the game the more you start to wonder just why Americans don’t like to play Cricket.

On February 1, 1981 the Australian team was up on the New Zealand team in the Benson and Hedges World Series Cup, the international Cricket championship, being played in Melbourne, Australia. The Australian team was up by six runs and the New Zealand team was up to bat. The Australian captain decided that the best way to handle the situation was to have his bowler roll the ball along the ground so the New Zealand player could not get a hold of it and give it a ride. To an American that would seem perfectly logical to have someone called a bowler roll the ball but this apparently incensed everyone. It angered the New Zealand players and it even drew boos from the Australian crowd and their team won! An event like this just shows how popular Cricket is in the countries that play it because the Prime Ministers from both countries condemned the act as cowardice. Even the Australian Prime Minister called his own Cricket team cowards! Because of this incident underarm bowling was banned from international Cricket competitions and the captain that ordered the underarm bowling, even 26 years later, stated that he is embarrassed by the incident and refuses to discuss it.

It could be said that people outside the United States get a lot more passionate about their sporting events than Americans do. Riots at American football games that result in the deaths of fans rarely happen where riots at soccer games outside the United States seem commonplace and there have been deaths from these riots. So the fan frenzy over their sports could be said to be a little more intense than Americans’ emotions. Americans get emotional when their teams win or lose, there has even been riots in the streets of American cities when championships are won, but these do not seem nearly as frequent as in stadium riots at soccer games. The same things could be said about the underarm bowling incident. The fact that the Prime Ministers felt it necessary to comment shows the level to which they get passionate about Cricket. When Bill Buckner let the ball get through his legs in game 6 of the `986 World Series that cost the Red Sox the game and eventually the World Series there was no comment from the United States President. There really wasn’t a whole lot of official political quotes when the American ice hockey team won the gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics. So maybe Americans just do not possess the drive needed to play Cricket.

Maybe the same analogy could be drawn to the other European sports that Americans seem reluctant to embrace like soccer for instance. Riots in American football stadiums are rare and even though the American President has been known to call the Super Bowl champions on occasion it is not a regular thing and the President certainly does not comment on the game the Monday after. So maybe Americans just do not possess the crazed dedication to these games that these games seem to require.
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