I have previously written about English football, or soccer which is a favourite sport in Europe. The game attracts noisy, excited fans who wear scarves and other accessories sporting their team’s colours. Many a match is discussed at length in local bars and fans don’t hold back giving their opinions of the players and the referees. Apparently most of the refs suffer from partial blindness or have suffered recent brain injuries, causing them to miss infractions by the fan’s opposing team.
Soccer is played from September and finishes in May, with the Cup Final game. Winter weather doesn’t hamper play unless it is snowing so hard that the players cannot see one another. Because of this, the game can often become a mud bath as players slip and slide on the soggy field.
Compare this to England’s summer game. Cricket is the direct opposite of soccer. If more than three drops of rain fall the game is abandoned for a while and the course is covered with a tarp to prevent the grass getting wet. Running and sliding on a wet pitch could damage the grass and that is a definite no-no. Cricket pitches are carefully groomed until the grass looks like velvet, no dandelion would dare to show its head to offend the eye.
The whole atmosphere of cricket is slow and artistic, the bowler performs a sort of slow ballet movement as he does his few steps forward and release the ball in a graceful arch. If the player makes contact with his bat, the satisfying ‘thwack’ of leather hitting the smooth ash surface is followed by the player breaking into a slow paced run to the other end of the pitch. This causes the watchers to break out into a slow hand clap and calls of ‘Well done sir’. Bowler, batter and crowd do not manage to raise a sweat or, should I say a drop of perspiration?
Players wear white clothing and a cap, denoting their team colours. At the end of a match they still look clean and unruffled. No sliding on the pitch for these chaps. I do not understand the rules, but the object of the bowler is to hit the wicket, which is behind the batter’s legs. The batter tries to prevent this by hitting the ball with his bat. If he gets a good hit, he runs to the opposite wicket and, if he has time he runs back to his own side. Each batter plays until the wicket is hit at which time he changes places with the next man and leaves the pitch.
Cricket is definitely the gentleman’s game. The crowd sit on lawn chairs or blankets on the grass, ladies usually in summer dresses, sipping a glass of wine or tea. The club house offers strawberry cream teas or buttered scones with cups of tea, no rowdiness here thankyou, this is a civilized game. Quite often the spectators are the same people who enjoy soccer all winter but the behaviour is completely different.
On the few occasions when I have watched cricket being played I have thought it long, drawn out and boring, a bit like watching paint dry, however it is a tremendously popular game in many parts of the world. The English took their game to all the Commonwealth countries and it caught on like wildfire. The game is a complete contrast to soccer but both games appeal to millions of fans worldwide.
It appears that soccer is played during cold weather so players need to run around and keep warm, cricket, being played in summer requires a slower pace so no player get overheated. As long as the fans are happy, both games achieve their goal and that is surely the point of it all.