>I should perhaps be more specific here. ‘Local’ cricket in this post does not mean village cricket, it means County cricket. Village cricket could honestly take up a couple of posts on its own, but it would be nothing to do with cricket, it would be entirely about the associated politics and background scandal.
County cricket is an interesting area for a number of reasons. It’s a strange beast because it’s the relative equivalent of football on a local level, except far less popular. It’s fiercely rivalrous, but everyone claps for everyone else, and not sarcastically or ironically. It’s also the only sport where you can genuinely assert that somebody, in the crowd, will be at risk of either a broken jaw or some major bruising from a lump of leather hitting them at Mach II.
It’s one of the oldest pastimes we have in this country and people follow it for love. Like any sport it’s full of heartbreak and desperation. With teams collapsing under the weight of their opposition, of the script that was so clearly laid out being destroyed and sitting through a kind of ritual humiliation, with key players reduced to the status of has-beens and also-rans in the space of an afternoon. There’s some excitement to be sure, but it’s not riveting, not for ages. Then it suddenly is, very. In the space of a few overs, it becomes tense beyond belief and every ball is a potential match winner.
The county rivalries go back hundreds of years, long before the players of old would have allowed their servants to kick a football around after they’d finished their chores for the day. Yorkshire and Lancashire, Gloucestershire and Somerset. They’re vitriolic and legendary.
Even so, it’s rare to get grounds full on any given day, even a sunny Sunday afternoon. The reason for this, I think, is that cricket is a patient and refined objective for the crowd. And ‘crowd’ by definition is a lot of people, whereas not a lot of people are patient and/or refined. Where are all these people who could be enjoying a pleasant and relaxing day in the stands of a fine old cricket ground? They’re doing something far less enchanting I’ll be bound. Shopping, watching tv, at the football – God only knows. In my opinion a game of cricket can be a simply lovely thing to behold
You have the pomp and circumstance of the teams lining up, the shake of hands, the patient collection of opposition players sitting at the side of the pitch, applauding their opponents as they enter the field. There is the skill inherent in a well trained bowling attack, the elongated spells of precision placement of pitched-up leg cutters, and the balletic strokeplay of experienced and talented batsmen, deftly dispatching balls to the boundary. There’s also the joy of being able to watch it all happen whilst enjoying a drink and a decent conversation with your companions.
You’ll notice that I haven’t talked much about the actual game, because you’ll just get bored. I have instead just tried to make the point that going to the cricket is a fine enterprise and one that too few people venture into.
I shall, I warn you, post in a far more detailed nature on the game itself and, be warned, I shall not title the post so accordingly that you may avoid it.