Monday, September 12, 2005

The cricket test

England have regained the Ashes.

Does that mean anything to you? If the answer is yes, you may want to look away now because I'm about to enter into a garbled, confused and quite possibly wildly inaccurate explanation of cricket and the Ashes series.

England have just today regained the Ashes from Australia in the Ashes test series. The ashes themselves aren't anything but a vial of ashes from the burnt stumps of some previous cricket game a long time ago, but it's my understanding that they have some sentimental value. It's like the cowbell game between Lawrence County and Giles Co, the first game of the high school football season. Whichever school won got to keep the cowbell for a year. In case you're wondering it was just a regular old cowbell, but boy did we want that thing. England and Australia battle for the ashes every year and a half or so I think.

To try to explain how big of a deal this is here I have devised a little Q and A, with myself as both questioner and respondent

Q: What is cricket?
A: You know what cricket is, you've seen it in the movies. It's a bunch of men dressed in white loitering on an impossibly green field holding wooden paddles and pitching a ball in an exaggerated manner. To an Englishman it somehow encapsulates all that is good and right in England to such an extent that to say "It's not cricket," means that something's not proper, correct or fair.

Q : What are the rules of cricket?
A: As far as I can tell, the object of the game is to hit the ball and then jog at a leisurely pace between two sets of wooden pegs or stumps at either end of a short stretch of bare earth. For the opposing team the object is to knock some old spindles perched precariously on the stumps to the ground. Each team (who wear the same uniform usually) takes turn doing this, but I'm not clear how they decide whose turn it is.

Some people stand around in the "outfield" but I'm not sure what they do.

Q: How long does a game last?
A: It seems to go on forever. Even longer than baseball which I find interminable. When I first arrived in this country England was playing India and when I left six weeks later I'm pretty sure it was still going on.

Q. What is the Ashes test series?
A: I've explained the ashes, but a test series is a series of some number of matches, these may or may not also be known as tests, I've just not ever quite figured this out. Because England is a rainy country sometimes they have to interrupt the game. If the rain goes on too long they bring in a mathematical formula called the Duckworth-Lewis method to determine the winner.

Q: When was the last time England held the Ashes?
A: a very long time ago, sometime in the 80s

Q: What is the Cricket Test?
A: Well, actually that's a whole 'nother thing. Some time ago a Conservative politician Norman Tebbitt devised the concept of the cricket test. Many of the immigrants to this country from the 50s through the 70s came from cricket playing places like Pakistan, India, and the West Indies. And which team you root for is a sort of test of loyalty for 2nd generation Britons. Do you support England, the country of your residence, birth and nationality or the team of your ancestral homeland?

Q: Does the Vol Abroad pass the cricket test?
A: Well, I'm not a second generation Briton, but I am glad England won and since I'm not aware of a Tennesse cricket team, I think I'm ok.

1 comment:

St. Caffeine said...

Funny story, ...

A couple of years ago a student showed up in one of my classes wearing a Giles County High t-shirt. Of course I immediately asked him who had the cowbell. I've never seen such a look of shock on a student's face before. He was AMAZED that anyone outside of Lawrence/Giles knew about it.

Unfortunately I can't remember his answer now, but I think it was LCHS.