Cricket — by Dave Freer

It’s just not Cricket.

Or it’s not just cricket.
 
Cricket – not the insect, but the ancient arcane ‘game’ involving the defence of sacred sticks (wicket –now what does that suggest? wicca? Or just wicked… ). It’s actually a ritual with traditional and symbolic positions like Silly Mid-off. As everyone in the know knows, it is really an English traditional rain-dance. They dress up in funny white clothes and make strange cries which are incomprehensible to the uninitiated. At which point the rain comes down, and the ritual being successfully concluded, everyone adjourns for drinks in the clubhouse, where no clubs are kept.
 
Ok so… that’s what it probably looks like to Americans and to people who didn’t get their countries colonized by the British. It’s quite a complicated game with many non-obvious rules and traditions – and its traditional form goes on for five days or until one side wins. Draws are not uncommon. Play can be very strategic and exceptionally boring (being honest here). My wife is a hard-core fan and my younger son plays for a local club in South Australia – this a recreational club, not a professional one. They made it through to their grand final this year and indeed feeling probably didn’t run quite as high during several wars. We were here to watch it over the weekend. For a genteel game as supposedly played by English gentlemen in the Heyday of the empire, it was… intense. No superbowl set of opposing fans were more vocal and less likely to speak to each other (keep in mind they’re all drawn from a country district and small town and often know each other).
 
My son’s side eventually lost by six runs (it was a close-run thing, ha ha), and many tears were shed. We were there, and it’s a good thing the players are far off on the field so my boy (now well adult) didn’t hear his mother co-batting every ball. She wasn’t the only one.
 
Oh, and yes, it did rain, in South Australia (not the time of year for it), but that did not stop the game.
 
It’s that serious, and that important, that they’re already starting training for next year.
You can certainly learn cricket as an adult. It’s relatively unlikely, and honestly to people who didn’t grow up with the game, puzzling, and not likely to inspire fanatical watching. But to many millions of people it’s close to a religion – they follow it intently and can tell you details about the players – not only their game, but their lives. I’m sure the same holds true for various sports around the world (American Football is as alien to me, but I believe for millions of people it is very similar.)
 
So why is this relevant to writer? Well, besides the fact that I set an entire book around cricket (which would mean almost nothing to anyone who didn’t know the game…) is the fact that what is important to you may not seem so to others, and contrariwise – what is literally fighting material may seem an irrelevant game to you. Likewise what was life and death to you as a teenager, is hard to get excitable about now. What was important or unimportant 50 years back isn’t now. Life is proximal, and characters, if you want them believable and ‘real’ to readers it’s what they in that proximal situation relate to. I imagine many of the ‘pressing issues’ of today will, by those future readers mean us much as Cricket does to my American friends.
 
(WordPress has been doing odd things for some of the resident Mad Ones and decided not to play nice with Dave this morning. So I posted this for him. He will be checking on comments and answering you as WP allows.–ASG)
 
Featured Image by PDPics from Pixabay. Creative Commons licensing.

16 comments

  1. I never was one for the stick and ball team sports. I didn’t mind playing baseball or American football (or soccer or “speedball” think a combo of football and soccer) and was too short to enjoy basketball, and though I enjoyed Volleyball I was lighter then, and often had badly sprained fingers from said shortness.

  2. I look forward to your book on cricket. Dorothy Sayers used the game once . . . and left me baffled. But I have faith in your ability to exceed that level of bafflement and make me laugh about it.

  3. Sport matters (at least the sports I’m interested in…). But if you ask me why sport matters, I’ll probably say “Sport matters because everyone knows it doesn’t!”

    My perspective is that the reason I can sit in front of the match and passionately support my side, getting very upset when the opposition scores out of nowhere, is that come Monday morning I know that I can interact with the ‘opposition’ in exactly the same way as I did the previous Friday – if we’re both fans of the sport a few comments might be shared but after that it doesn’t affect us.

    Others may look at it from a different perspective.

    There are also ‘outliers’. Even in areas where one sport is dominant there will be people who are uninterested in it; there will be people who are fascinated with sports that are irrelevant to everyone around them.

    1. Sport is a waste of emotion that might otherwise go to tribal feuds.

      I’ve spent of whatever capacity I’ve had for that on insane grudges against the other countries, and perhaps also other political factions.

      So, I think I concur with your opinion.

      1. That works better if the people are playing themselves, not watching. The former may rouse and release the passions, but not the physicals energy.

  4. When I was a kid baseball and (American) football were really, really big in my life. I would watch (hundreds per year) about every game I could on TV (Minot is about 500 miles from the nearest pro teams in Minneapolis, so didn’t attend any games until I got into college), and collected cards. Baseball cards were actually sort of an addiction in high school. I spent thousands of dollars on collectible cards, and I still have them boxed up in several foot lockers in storage.

    That all changed in 1994. My favorite team, the Montreal Expos, were easily the best team in baseball that year. Then the strike happened (I think this was like the fourth or fifth in like 20 years) that cancelled the World Series. I was so disgusted the Major League Baseball I stopped paying attention and stopped collecting cards. Since then I’ve attended two games with my wife, watched two games on TV and listened to one game on the radio. These past few years have left me rather disillusioned with NFL football as well. And the college game is getting just as bad.

    I watch/attend sports to get away from real world issues for awhile, and the constant politicization is pushing me away from them. I can find other interests to entertain me.

    1. I’d probably like cricket, if I ever saw it. It sounds like the game is still about the *game*.

      I love its bastard country cousin, baseball… which so far has mostly resisted the politicization, perhaps because the sport is more generally populated by patriots, and by the odd-minded (probably 80% of the pros are Odds). But little rule changes are gradually eroding everything random or unpredictable. If it saves twenty seconds but makes for a dull moment, what have you done to the game?? especially since baseball is all about penetrating the tiny cracks, not paving them over. — I do envy your card collection; I own exactly none.

      Used to enjoy American football, but that had descended into plodding dullness (and increasingly, outcomes dependent on the collision of mass with braindead mistakes) a long time before wokeness completely killed my already-waning interest.

      PS. Hatched in Devils Lake myself. 😀

      1. I have become a fan of Japanese baseball since living here. Compared to the US version Japanese fans seem more involved so attending a game is (or can be) a lot more than just sitting in a seat watching the players run around. That contributes to the atmosphere even when you watch the game on TV. Even last year the matches where fans were present (only the first few weeks were in totally empty stadia) were much better. We weren’t allowed to chant but drumming and similar was permitted so we drummed the chants.

        Cricket is a better game to play IMHO, but it isn’t as good a spectator sport for the most part. Although I think the shorter forms of the game like 20twenty make a good spectacle, the longer ones, particularly the multiday ones are tedious to watch (though if you watch just as an excuse to simp fizzy alcoholic drinks in the sun they work well).

  5. I like the idea of “proximal caring” – and it works in both space and time. For example, I’ve never understood why American news covers random foreign disasters. Why do I care about a typhoon halfway around the world?
    I’m creating a very long lived character and I’m wondering what to do about his memory. On the one hand, the point of the book requires that he remember facts in detail, but on the other, remembering the emotional weight of things indefinitely would probably drive a person crazy. Feeling for centuries how one feels the day after a pet dies would be torture; even worse when it comes to spouse and children.
    To quote Jim (via Kate Paulk): Humans are not made for immortality. (which reminds me, a review needs to be written; I don’t suppose “perfect for snowpocalypse” is sufficient)

    1. Well, I read Xianxia, so my reaction is that a cultivator isn’t going to be having that problem if they get there by cultivating the Dao of Shitposting.

      😛

    2. I have a character like yours — long-lived — and I’m just in the middle of a scene where she’s reminiscing about an old mission she failed at in her youth. Actual youth, she was 18 at the time and is now looking back a couple thousand years later. She communicates her grief and regret at the cost of her failure via music.

      I’m cursing myself for this aspect of her, because I don’t have a musical education. I just know what I like. But YouTube helps me figure out what ancient instruments sounded like, and how those sounds were produced — per a Roman fresco, kitharas may have had “Whammy bars” like modern electric guitars — and so forth. Plus what different types of notes are called, e.g., portamento, vibrato, all that jazz.

      But I don’t think the immortal would feel quite as you think they might. What I mean is, while something, perhaps a sensory detail, might trip a memory so that you’re “right back to that moment,” I think most of the time people are detached from the emotions of a memory. They can report how something made them feel, rather than relive it, even when the experience was intense. Think of those times when someone can be crying in grief while recalling a joyful past experience, e.g., a parent recalling the birth of a child while delivering the eulogy for that child. Or flip it, an exuberant bride at her wedding feast reminiscing about the death of her mother. The memory is sad, but she feels her mother is “present” at the feast.

      A lot of people are like this, which is why some people go out of their way to recapture the emotion they felt from a given experience. I gather drug highs have the same effect, hence the “chasing the first high” that addicts do.

      1. If all of my emotions were as fresh as the day they were experienced, I would be quite mad by now, only three quarters (or so) through a modern day life span. And I have led a humdrum life compared to many, many other people.

  6. I truly NEVER ‘got’ *any* sport(s). I suspect grandpa was bewildered in not disappointed that when we had a ‘picnic’ at a local (high school?) baseball game, the thing of the absolute least interest to me was the ball game. Oh, some people are swing a stick and chasing a ball and running around? So what? Now, had he taken me to tour some factory (ANY), THAT would have been fascinating. Stuff is being *made*… THAT’S interesting.

  7. Ah yes, the inscrutable game if you aren’t steeped in it… Got stuck in Sydney one night. Wandered down to the local pub. Some big game on the TV. Bartender tried to explain it to me, finally said words to the effect of “Screw it, Mate. Just drink like everybody else.”

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