Monday, August 08, 2005

No US Cricket Team For Upcoming Tourney

It appears that the United States will not be sending a team to play in an international cricket tournament scheduled to take place beginning in late August. LA Times excerpt:

LONDON -- The United States was tossed out of an international cricket tournament after an election dispute left the Americans unable to decide on a team. The International Cricket Council on Monday replaced the United States with the Cayman Islands in the ICC Intercontinental Cup.

Okay, pay attention. The US has over 280 million people. The Caymans have about 50,000. Is there really a greater percentage of cricketeers in the Caymans than in the U.S.? Answer: Yes. The Caribbean is a hotbed of cricket activity, which is a holdover from when many of those island nations were British colonies. I saw some cricket action in Barbados several years ago, and they take it quite seriously (I also saw some cricket when I was in Australia in early February). I guess the question shouldn't be why was the U.S. replaced by the Caymans, but why was the U.S. even considered in the first place?

The action follows a March election at the U.S. Amateur Cricket Association in which two factions claimed leadership. "We are not able to wait any longer, as it is necessary to finalize details of the competing teams," ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said. Regional qualifying in the Intercontinental Cup is Aug. 27-Sept. 2 in Toronto.

Hold it right there. The USACA held an election in March to determine the direction the team would take, and that matter is still unresolved? Just asking...

The winner of a series featuring Bermuda, Canada and the Cayman Islands advances to the semifinals and final beginning Oct. 23 in Namibia. The tournament is for countries just below the level of the world's 10 test-playing nations, led by Australia, England, India, Pakistan and South Africa.

If we think of this in terms of baseball and it's hierarchy of leagues, test match play is the equivalent of the major leagues, while these teams would probably be considered on a par with Triple-A.

The USACA says about 10,000 players -- primarily expatriates from south Asia and the Caribbean -- compete in weekend games in the United States, mostly in California, Florida and around East Coast cities.

Full Story:,1,5587106.story?coll=sns-ap-othersports-headlines

Cricket is a hell of a fascinating game. I'm a rabid baseball follower, so some of the similarities between the two games became readily apparent as I watched my most recent action at the Sydney Cricket Grounds on a 32-degree day this past February (Sorry, that's 32 Celsius, which is 90 Fahrenheit. Yes, it was Southern Hemisphere summer!), and if I ever found myself in the fortunate position of getting back there again (to escape the worsening Northeast winters of course), I think I'd find myself becoming a regular at the SCG.

Continuing with the baseball comparison, we have the bowler who is equivalent to the pitcher who throws to one of two batsmen. The batsmen are partnered and hit and run in tandem. The batsmen stand at opposite wickets that are placed 22 meters (about 67 feet) apart. When the ball is hit, the batsmen run to the opposite wickets before one of the nine fielders can get the ball back to either of the wickets (three pegs nearly three feet high and about ten inches apart). None of the fielders wears a glove except for the wicket keeper, equivalent to the catcher (who also wears shin guards).

The ball, about the size of a baseball, is made of cork, and is covered with leather, and has one raised seam. Bowlers are required to throw the ball in a straight-arm fashion, and there is ackshully an umpire who watches this to make certain that the bowler's elbow does not bend by more than 13 degrees!

The batsman, who wears a helmet, mask, shin guards and swings a bat that is flat on one side and round on the other, hits until he is either run out (by not gaining his wicket before the ball strikes it, or is tagged by the bowler or wicket keeper), put out (as when a batter hits a lazy fly that an outfielder catches) or misses the ball which strikes the wicket (equivalent to a strikeout). Batsmen can bat for a long time and compile lots of runs. Each wicket counts as one run.

Oh yeah, also, think of the area where our batters stand to face the pitcher. Now move that area to the exact middle of the field. Everything is in play--NO FOUL TERRITORY! The fielders tend to bunch up, but still have an impossible area to cover, which is why many test match scores are of the 348-321 variety. Each bowler bowls a series of overs, or six balls, and the bowlers are constantly moving from the pitch to the field in a free substitution manner.

There is a raised boundary that circles the field just before the stands begin. If a batted ball bounces past it, like a ground rule double, it counts as four runs, or a "four". If a batted ball goes into the stands on the fly, like a home run, that counts as six runs, or a "six". Good batters average between 30-40 runs per match (operating like a .300 hitter with 30 homers). 50 runs is referred to as a "half-century". 100 as a "century", and the almost unheard of 200 is a "double-century". The stats are a bit arcane, but I think if I had a chance to delve further into them I'd find myself looking at cricket numbers the same way I do those for baseball.

I'm quite certain I've missed something with this description of a game I've only seen twice in person (so feel free to correct me if you have more extensive knowledge of this game than I do), and maybe half-a-dozen times on television, but it is an interesting game that contains a great deal of strategy and drama.

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