Samir Chopra July 23, 2008

America's definition of cricket

It's a depressing state of affairs to be surrounded by a culture which specializes in systematic, clichéd misrepresentations of one's most abiding passion.
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Will it ever be possible to get a fair depiction of cricket in the US media? On current evidence, the prospects are bleak. Every television advertisement that features a cricket game, whether it be a tourism clip for the Caribbean or something else, invariably features a rather staid setting, perhaps with cucumber sandwiches and parasol-holding landed ladies in the background, in which portly men in creams amble up desultorily and deliver donkey drops which are clumsily hoicked past geriatric fielders. In these settings cricket does not so much resemble a game as much it does a government-mandated exercise program meant to replace drug prescription benefits for the rich and elderly.

Every print article in the US press meanwhile incessantly harps on the utter incomprehensibility of the game (which is guffaw inspiring given the Byzantine complexity of NFL penalty rules), the jaw-dropping durations of Test cricket (with no attempt to explain what relationship the length of the game bears to the endless variations it allows on a single theme, and how this cultivates a dedicated legion of fans), the inevitable mention of the quaint customs of 'tea' (its almost enough to make one wish this interval had been named differently) and 'drinks' (American readers might be forgiven for thinking gin and tonics are consumed by players to help with the tedium of the game). Much is made of the gigantic amounts of protection worn by cricket players with snickering about baseball players facing faster pitching with only a visor-less helmet for protection. No mention is made of the fact that cricket allows for the ball to bounce before it gets to the batsman, which allows for varying angles of attack by fast bowlers at a batsman's body (I simplify, of course, comparisons between cricket and baseball need more time and space than I can devote here). And it would be too much of course, to ask that any attention be paid to the rich body of cricketing literature, possibly more varied and complex than that associated with any other sport. There are also some half-hearted, superficial attempts at examinations of post-colonial tensions in cricket, most of which involve the phrase "the new economically empowered Indian middle-class." All in all, it's a depressing state of affairs to be surrounded by a culture which specializes in systematic, cliched misrepresentations of one's most abiding passion.

Despite the growing presence of cricket leagues in the US, despite the introduction of cricket as a recognized game in New York schools, despite the presence of large expatriate populations from cricket playing countries and even an American cricket team, cricket remains a profoundly misunderstood game in the US. Still, one should not complain too much. Soccer has a huge following in the US and still remains misunderstood; plenty of soccer artistry is unappreciated by a large segment of the population.

But, how one wishes the television advertisements mentioned above would instead feature Malcolm Marshall sending stumps cartwheeling, Viv Richards smashing one through midwicket or Jonty Rhodes catching swallows at gully. Pigs would be aviators before then, but one is allowed to dream.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Janelle on December 23, 2011, 10:48 GMT

    Articles like these put the conusemr in the driver seat-very important.

  • Joe Cooter on July 27, 2008, 12:56 GMT

    Posted by: Marcus at July 26, 2008 5:00 AM

    Andrew from ESPN- this is a little off-topic, but I read that the KFC Cup will be held in Florida this September. Does ESPN plan on televising any of the games? Because I think the best way to grow cricket's profile in the US is for the general public to be able to see it firsthand. Also, apparently the experiment of braodcasting the Stanford series in Colorado earlier seemed to be a success, so I'd be interested to know if there are any plans to televise the next tournament to a wider audience.

    I wouldn't be shocked to see Cricket on ESPN if they do what they say and change ESPN CLassic to a world sports network and Call it ESPN 3. Granted the Premier League will be the center piece of that.

  • Neil Bostock on July 26, 2008, 21:10 GMT

    You can broadcast it all you want, but people have to watch it. I live in NY, I talk sport with people all the time, and it ain't gonna happen. Baseball has more of the rhythms of a Test Match than a Twenty20, and is loaded with nostalgia and traditions. I attended an exhibition 40 over cricket game in the Bronx in 1985, in a small football stadium, so there were lots of sixes. I talked to a local cop about the game, and he commented that watching so many hits was just boring, that the game didn't have the "nuances", strategic pauses, or ebb and flow of a baseball game. Sound familiar? Give it up, chaps, it'll never catch on here.

  • Marcus on July 26, 2008, 5:00 GMT

    Andrew from ESPN- this is a little off-topic, but I read that the KFC Cup will be held in Florida this September. Does ESPN plan on televising any of the games? Because I think the best way to grow cricket's profile in the US is for the general public to be able to see it firsthand. Also, apparently the experiment of braodcasting the Stanford series in Colorado earlier seemed to be a success, so I'd be interested to know if there are any plans to televise the next tournament to a wider audience.

  • Joe Cooter on July 26, 2008, 0:47 GMT

    Posted by: Andrew - ESPN at July 25, 2008 11:38 AM

    As correctly pointed out above, ESPN bought Cricinfo last year. This shows the seriousness with which ESPN is starting to treat non-US sports such as cricket. The US has always been a significant part of Cricinfo's audience, accounting for around 25% of users currently.

    Yes ESPN's management has shown an interest in non us sports. Having Said that, They still employ people like Jay Marrioti and Bob Ryan, who firmly believe that if it doesn't happen with in the lower 48, it doesn't count.

  • Neil Bostock on July 25, 2008, 22:45 GMT

    Unbelievably ignorant comments from AJAX about American Football. Pansies? You have to be kidding me. Go away and watch several hundred games and then come back and make sensible comments.

  • Kartik on July 25, 2008, 19:02 GMT

    "The US has always been a significant part of Cricinfo's audience, accounting for around 25% of users currently."

    This is because :

    1) Indian immigrants are numerous in America. 2) Many of these are software engineers, or otherwise groups that like spending a lot of time in front of the computer. 3) Until recently, cricinfo was the ONLY way to get live scores, due to a lack of TV broadcasts in the US. 4) This causes a disproportionate amount of cricinfo's traffic to be from the US (but not from US-born people).

    Conversely, cricinfo's traffic from India and Pakistan may not be as high as one might assume, despite 90% of cricket's audience being there, due to low Internet penetration, availability of televised games, etc.

  • Andrew - ESPN on July 25, 2008, 11:38 GMT

    As correctly pointed out above, ESPN bought Cricinfo last year. This shows the seriousness with which ESPN is starting to treat non-US sports such as cricket. The US has always been a significant part of Cricinfo's audience, accounting for around 25% of users currently.

  • Marcus on July 24, 2008, 23:47 GMT

    Kartik

    "Tennis IS played in the Olympics..."

    You're absolutely right. I meant golf. Sorry about that.

  • Julio on July 24, 2008, 18:29 GMT

    Kartik- Do your research! Cricket is in the next Asian games, Commonwealth games, and will probably be an exhibition sport either in Londin 2012, or the next Olympics. The only reason cricket is not an Olympic sport is because women's cricket is very boring. And cricket is growing! I am speaking as a cricket fanatic from Argentina, where more and more people are playing the game each day!

  • Janelle on December 23, 2011, 10:48 GMT

    Articles like these put the conusemr in the driver seat-very important.

  • Joe Cooter on July 27, 2008, 12:56 GMT

    Posted by: Marcus at July 26, 2008 5:00 AM

    Andrew from ESPN- this is a little off-topic, but I read that the KFC Cup will be held in Florida this September. Does ESPN plan on televising any of the games? Because I think the best way to grow cricket's profile in the US is for the general public to be able to see it firsthand. Also, apparently the experiment of braodcasting the Stanford series in Colorado earlier seemed to be a success, so I'd be interested to know if there are any plans to televise the next tournament to a wider audience.

    I wouldn't be shocked to see Cricket on ESPN if they do what they say and change ESPN CLassic to a world sports network and Call it ESPN 3. Granted the Premier League will be the center piece of that.

  • Neil Bostock on July 26, 2008, 21:10 GMT

    You can broadcast it all you want, but people have to watch it. I live in NY, I talk sport with people all the time, and it ain't gonna happen. Baseball has more of the rhythms of a Test Match than a Twenty20, and is loaded with nostalgia and traditions. I attended an exhibition 40 over cricket game in the Bronx in 1985, in a small football stadium, so there were lots of sixes. I talked to a local cop about the game, and he commented that watching so many hits was just boring, that the game didn't have the "nuances", strategic pauses, or ebb and flow of a baseball game. Sound familiar? Give it up, chaps, it'll never catch on here.

  • Marcus on July 26, 2008, 5:00 GMT

    Andrew from ESPN- this is a little off-topic, but I read that the KFC Cup will be held in Florida this September. Does ESPN plan on televising any of the games? Because I think the best way to grow cricket's profile in the US is for the general public to be able to see it firsthand. Also, apparently the experiment of braodcasting the Stanford series in Colorado earlier seemed to be a success, so I'd be interested to know if there are any plans to televise the next tournament to a wider audience.

  • Joe Cooter on July 26, 2008, 0:47 GMT

    Posted by: Andrew - ESPN at July 25, 2008 11:38 AM

    As correctly pointed out above, ESPN bought Cricinfo last year. This shows the seriousness with which ESPN is starting to treat non-US sports such as cricket. The US has always been a significant part of Cricinfo's audience, accounting for around 25% of users currently.

    Yes ESPN's management has shown an interest in non us sports. Having Said that, They still employ people like Jay Marrioti and Bob Ryan, who firmly believe that if it doesn't happen with in the lower 48, it doesn't count.

  • Neil Bostock on July 25, 2008, 22:45 GMT

    Unbelievably ignorant comments from AJAX about American Football. Pansies? You have to be kidding me. Go away and watch several hundred games and then come back and make sensible comments.

  • Kartik on July 25, 2008, 19:02 GMT

    "The US has always been a significant part of Cricinfo's audience, accounting for around 25% of users currently."

    This is because :

    1) Indian immigrants are numerous in America. 2) Many of these are software engineers, or otherwise groups that like spending a lot of time in front of the computer. 3) Until recently, cricinfo was the ONLY way to get live scores, due to a lack of TV broadcasts in the US. 4) This causes a disproportionate amount of cricinfo's traffic to be from the US (but not from US-born people).

    Conversely, cricinfo's traffic from India and Pakistan may not be as high as one might assume, despite 90% of cricket's audience being there, due to low Internet penetration, availability of televised games, etc.

  • Andrew - ESPN on July 25, 2008, 11:38 GMT

    As correctly pointed out above, ESPN bought Cricinfo last year. This shows the seriousness with which ESPN is starting to treat non-US sports such as cricket. The US has always been a significant part of Cricinfo's audience, accounting for around 25% of users currently.

  • Marcus on July 24, 2008, 23:47 GMT

    Kartik

    "Tennis IS played in the Olympics..."

    You're absolutely right. I meant golf. Sorry about that.

  • Julio on July 24, 2008, 18:29 GMT

    Kartik- Do your research! Cricket is in the next Asian games, Commonwealth games, and will probably be an exhibition sport either in Londin 2012, or the next Olympics. The only reason cricket is not an Olympic sport is because women's cricket is very boring. And cricket is growing! I am speaking as a cricket fanatic from Argentina, where more and more people are playing the game each day!

  • Sandeep on July 24, 2008, 16:20 GMT

    Tennis became an official Olympic sport only in 1988 or 1992. Series plans and actions to introduce China into Cricket is not 15 years old. It is more recent. Plans are on to introduce T20 Cricket into 2016 or 2020 Olympics. Why not? Good money for IOA.

    ICC has close to 100 members under various categories. Instead of talking about why Cricket is not played by every country it is better to ask how many sports are played by the mass in 100+ countries. The answer would be Soccer and only Soccer.

    America is a productive country, no doubt about that. But they also love Golf which is played over 4 days. Liking Cricket is nothing to do with the work culture. Let us not put down one set up people over the other. These days people are more into T20 and one-day Cricket than Test Cricket.

  • Sandeep on July 24, 2008, 13:43 GMT

    From BBC - "It is perhaps surprising that cricket in the country does have a long history, dating back to the late-19th century. Indeed, baseball legend Sammy Sosa told the BBC in 2000 that he played cricket before taking up baseball, saying "If things had been different I could have been a cricket star."

  • tester.john2@gmail.com on July 24, 2008, 11:42 GMT

    I dont know much about baseball ,but during my assignment in USA ,I gathered thats its a faster game and is action packed and marketed properly. T20 is similar, but has more range of strokes and variations and it is fast , lively and action packed. I think if marketed properly ,it has potential to be popular in N America and China.

  • AJAX on July 24, 2008, 10:58 GMT

    Wow, time is more valuable in America! But wait, how come 1 hour of "football" ends up being three hours of drawn-out boring rubbish, with ads interrupted every five minutes by two minutes of actual play. Guess what Kartik, its not because people in the US are apparently more busy than everybody else, it has to do with getting more advertisements in for what is the worst form of rugby imitation ever. As for all the other entertainment, maybe if those pansy 7' 350lb overgrown monsters had the stamina to play 30 minutes straight the sport, rather than the fillers, would be enough to attract people.

    Who said anything about Olympic sports? All Samir was saying is that the way cricket is reported doesn't really encourages the growth of the sport in America. This isn't necessarily related to poor marketing by the ICC but has more to do with the condescending tone that is used to make cricket sound like a geriatric colonial past time rather than an active sport.

  • Andy on July 24, 2008, 9:48 GMT

    Great article, fine posts. In fairness, baseball is what one-day cricket oughta be. And baseball statisticians put their cricket counterparts to shame. How often do you see, say Andrew Strauss's lifetime record against Brett Lee, on the bottom of a TV screen?

  • redneck on July 24, 2008, 7:17 GMT

    kartik baseball is a olympic sport yet how many nations actually play it? theres the usa, japan & cuba but which other nations love americas favourite past time? even if there are a few more i recon cricket has a stronger case for being a olympic sport than baseball??? also who says american sport is less biassed i mean they only call the final of their domestic baseball comp the world series for crying out loud!!!and they cant say nothing about crickets protective wear look at NFL. could you really fit any more padding under your top? even soccer with the shin guards??? us aussies play our code of football which is argubly more physical than the NFL with only a mouth guard and even thats optional!

  • Marcus on July 24, 2008, 5:02 GMT

    Kartik

    ODIs may not have been played in China yet, but in five years, ten... who knows? The government there has made plain its desire to become a force in cricket, and what China wants, it usually gets.

    As to the Olympics- there's no reason why T20 can't be contested for a medal. But cricket isn't the only sport not played in the Olyimpics. I can't recall tennis being contested in the Olympics either, but there's no doubt as to how popular it is. Finally, only nine countries in the world play Test Rugby. Yet, that didn't stop 24 nations from competing in the Rugby World Cup. Obviously, the presence of Rugby extends beyond its Test-playing members, so why doesn't the same apply for cricket? When Argentina played Uganda in the finals of the WCL last year, nine of the Argentinians were locally born- all of the Ugandan team were. In fact, it looks like Africa could become a new hotbed of limited-overs cricket, if the BTTW blog is anything to go by. So cricket looks to be growing.

  • Kartik on July 24, 2008, 4:27 GMT

    Marcus,

    There are only a handful of countries that play Test cricket. Period. There may be 30+ countries in the ICC (including the USA), but those do not count - those players cannot earn a living in cricket, and their countrymen do not buy tickets to watch them.

    That cricket is not featured in the Olympics is the most glaring proof of this. Almost every other sport is featured, in both male and female versions.

    The popularity of cricket in China is even lower than in America. Surely you know this. ODIs have been played in the US, because there was enough of an Indian/Pakistani/Brit audience. None have ever been played in Shanghai or Beijing.

  • Marcus on July 24, 2008, 4:08 GMT

    Finally, I'd also like to see cricket become more popular in America, especially among the local-born players, and I think Stanford could make that happen with T20. But I don't think cricket should have to adopt cheerleaders (which is a stupid concept altogether) or change it's basic culture.

    P.S. This 1000-character limit is a real pain in the neck. I know there's a reason for it, but I just wish I know what it is!

  • Marcus on July 24, 2008, 4:05 GMT

    Here in Australia, the amount of attention in the media given to European soccer and baseball is miniscule compared to the amount of coverage of Australia Rules Football. It doesn't mean that we're not sophisticated enough to appreciate these sports- it's just that AFL is part of Australian culture (even if I can't stand the game). So the claim that Americans are too stupid to follow cricket is ridiculous.

    To Kartik- I think cricket has more of a presence than you give it credit for. For starters, it's innacurate to state that only ten Test-playing nations take it seriosuly, as the West Indies is made up of several different nations. Secondly, it's growing in popularity among several other countries, notably Afghanistan and China, where the government's really keen to make China a serious cricketing opponent.

  • Joe Cooter on July 24, 2008, 3:35 GMT

    I have been following this debate with Interest.

    As I said earlier, Baseball owes a great debt to Cricket. AS an American, I must take offense with those who say we're all a bunch of Red Kneck who care only for Football. I don't even like Pro Football. I don't have a problem with cricket and I find myself annoyed with Cricket fans who dismiss baseball as glorified rounders. (Just go on the BBC's 606 and go in to the baseball message board and your like to see cricket "fans" dismiss baseball as rounders.) With that having been said, I do believe attitudes on both sides are changing. Both sports are now borrowing terms from one another, which is fantastic. I have to disagree with the poster who said cricket players would adapt better. A few years ago, Sammy Sosa was in London doing some work for MLB international and was handed a cricket bat and is said to have put on an amazing display of hitting.

  • Samir Chopra on July 24, 2008, 2:14 GMT

    Folks, thank you all very much for your comments. I'm clearly going to have to devote a full follow-up post to this topic. Stand by!

  • Kartik on July 24, 2008, 0:46 GMT

    There are about 170 countries in the world.

    About 10 play cricket seriously. In reality, only the 4 nations of the Subcontinent are that crazy about it.

    160 countries do not play cricket seriously.

    Of these 160, one is America. Others include China, Russia, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Turkey, etc. Why single out America?

    Cricket is not even played in the Olympics. How is this America's fault?

    It is obvious that cricket-lovers are frogs-in-the-well, not realizing that they have not made their sport popular beyond just 10 of the world's 170 countries.

  • Kartik on July 24, 2008, 0:33 GMT

    The fact is, America is a country with high productivity. Unlike in India, time actually is a valuable resource in America.

    A test match may be fascinating when reading articles about it. But in terms of watching it on TV, it just has very little entertainment per hour. Even cricketing nations know this, which is why ODIs and T20 emerged. Test cricket does not sell enough tickets/TV ads to support itself economically, even in Britain, India, or Australia.

    Americans are too productive to watch Test cricket. T20 may catch on.

    BTW, why do you think West Indies cricket has declined after the early 1990s? Because top Carribean atheletes now go into baseball, that is why. The modern-day incarnations of Richards and Marshall instead get picked up by the NY Yankees or Cleveland Indians, and play baseball. And why not? They make 10X more than Clive Lloyd or Michael Holding ever did, with much less travel.

  • Kartik on July 24, 2008, 0:28 GMT

    Blaming America for cricket's failure to gain popularity outside of a handful of countries is just laziness and jealousy on the part of Indians, Pakistanis, and Brits.

    Nations that DO NOT PLAY CRICKET include :

    China Japan Russia France Germany Italy Spain Mexico Brazil Indonesia etc.

    This, to me, looks like cricket is an insular sport that has no ability to appeal to a broader audience. This is not the fault of America.

    When you point a finger, three point back at you.

  • Kartik on July 24, 2008, 0:25 GMT

    The failure of Cricket to become popular in MOST of the world is not America's fault. It is the fault of cricket-playing nations, notably Britain and India.

    Cricket is not an Olympic sport. How is this America's fault?

    The idiots here who say that Americans are not 'smart' enough for cricket are losers who don't realize how even an American minor-league baseball player earns more money than any Indian International Cricketer barring Tendulkar or Dravid.

    Lastly, cricket-playing nations don't know how to market sports. If you ever watch the American Superbowl, you will see how much entertainment exists, such that even a person who has no understanding of football will enjoy the show. Cricket, on the other hand, has no cheerleaders, no entertainment during lunch or tea, and no other spectacles during the game.

    In fact, the only fun innovations in cricket in the last 30 years (colored clothes, stump cams, etc.) were by the most US-like cricket-playing nation : Australia

  • Hendo on July 23, 2008, 23:10 GMT

    Cricket was played widely in the USA prior to the Civil War. The first mention of cricket in the USA is back in the early 1700s. In fact, if it hadn't been for the Civil War it is possible Americans would be playing cricket instead of baseball. Union soldiers looking for something to occupy their time in between marches and battles found it much easier to set up a baseball game than a cricket game, which needed more specialised equipment.

    Baseball is a fascinating game with a history almost as rich as cricket. Don't begrudge the Americans their general lack of understanding of cricket. Either you're brought up in it or you're not.

  • Neil Bostock on July 23, 2008, 23:07 GMT

    All the snide comments on this topic are just pointless. I'm a cricket lover by heritage, and a baseball fan by adoption. I find Americans don't misunderstand cricket -- they just ignore it. And I have no reason to bring it to their attention. I follow my games online, discuss the cricket news by e-mail, and then go to work and discuss what happened during the NY Mets game last night. Why do I need to even discuss cricket with Americans who know nothing about a sport that has almost zero chance of succeeding here, especially when they have a beautiful bat and ball game of their own? I suspect Americans may "misunderstand" cricket when they are asked about it because so many cricket fans can only evangelize for cricket while simultaneously bashing baseball.

  • Pubuman on July 23, 2008, 22:51 GMT

    A lot of people ask why there is an arrogant attitude towards Americans here. The simple reason is that most Americans don't even make the attempt at understanding the sport, yet they belittle it. No one in the cricketing world (or at least not the majority) does that to any American sports. No one says "I dont understand the game, therefore it must be silly" that's what most Americans say, the rest of the world would say "I dont understand the game, so I cant judge its merits".. that's the main difference...

  • Jez on July 23, 2008, 21:38 GMT

    I am a yank who loves and appreciates cricket and I take umbrage with the idea that my mind is not developed enough to understand the game. The reason nobody over here likes the game is because very few even know of its existance. Some may have heard of it but they dont even know what it is. I was once like that until I studied abroad in London in 1996-1997. To get some culture I decided to read up about the game at the Marylebone public library and then attended a Texaco Trophy match Vs. Australia at Lord's. I was hooked immediately. I still follow The England team via this website and Radio 5 live online. I also convertyed my brother when he visited me in London. The problem is that it is not MARKETED here in the States as people do not see any potential for making money as the public would to learn a new game that nobody knows about. It would not be an immediate money maker and that is what preculdes it from even getting off the mark here. Dont give me that not inteligent rubbish!

  • tiger will roar soon on July 23, 2008, 21:17 GMT

    Well it was not a fair article. I am from bangladesh and I have never understand baseball. I tried as I love to try out all sports in school but I couldn't. Now I am living in Japan. Cricket is as popular here as baseball in Bangladesh. It's their choice to love what sports. But about media attention I have never seen an article about baseball or American football in a Bangla newspaper. So let them love their sports as much we do ours.

    p.s. I think if there was a team from America in test arena. They would just bring more and more bothering moments. Like iIguess they would never visit subcontinent cause they will too afraid for a terror attacks. Chickens.

  • Sunil on July 23, 2008, 19:42 GMT

    This ignorance comes from a country that hosts the "World Series" every year and guess who participates - not one country in the entire world, except the USA. Go figure! Also, there are more stops than plays in any NFL game. How's that for dragging on a game for way too long??

  • Ibrahim on July 23, 2008, 19:39 GMT

    I KNOW. It's incredible how thickheaded they can be.

    I must agree with Jamaican Giga88 when he says "the more Americans become involved in cricket the more likely it is that our beloved sport will be negatively affected." I really don't think cricket should change its nature (ie with dozens of cheerleader-infested T20 "Premier Leagues") just to please the American mindset. I mean at the end of the day who cares what they think? 5 Tests, 3 ODIs and 1 T20 are enough on a tour in my opinion.

    (Personally, though, I must say how incredibly satisfying it was to see the American team WALLOPED by New Zealand four years ago--in a tragic sort of way, when you looked at the ages of the American cricketers.)

  • Palash on July 23, 2008, 19:37 GMT

    I believe the article was initially menat to say why the Americans are not getting interested in cricket, no mention of their not getting it was ever mentioned. I agree 100% with Samir that the way cricket is projected (if at all) in US media is not at all doing justice to the great game, and this could have been a plea to the world's foremost medias to put a bit better organization skill and knowledge when picturing any part of it, may that be in a commercial, or a newsprint report.

  • JK on July 23, 2008, 19:29 GMT

    I had an american friend who hated cricket and called it "wannabe baseball". I asked him why. He mentioned that he thought baseball was a far more difficult game because you could not hit the ball 360 degrees. So I invited him to our weekend cricket game (with a taped tennis ball). He swung 10 times and was bowled 8 times and found it quite difficult to make contact. The point is that there are a lot of misconceptions about cricket in american society especially regarding the duration of play. As Samir points out rightly, cricket is portrayed as a game played by unfit, overweight batsmen who are in some way "exploiting" the bolwers and fielders by having them bowl and run after the ball. I think it is worth pointing out that we don't play "gentlemen vs amateurs" anymore!

  • Greg on July 23, 2008, 19:28 GMT

    I was born in the US, and I started playing cricket in England when I was studying at Oxford. When I moved back to the States, I was keen to keep playing, and I was happy to find a team to play with in Los Angeles. Well, happy at first...it was abundantly clear that I was not wanted. The sides I played with in England were very diverse but in Los Angeles the teams were very insular, very monocultural, and they didn't want outsiders. Everyone agreed that, yes, cricket needed more American support, but apparently not at the expense of anybody from their own cultural group.

    It was actually worse when I moved here and joined a team in Canada--half of the side wouldn't even talk to me. Eventually the captain told to just not bother showing up, no matter how much effort or skill I had, because the team wasn't going to accept me.

    And this is for someone who has played and followed cricket for years! Who can blame Americans for rejecting the sport? I don't anymore...

  • Dan B on July 23, 2008, 19:27 GMT

    I've seen a lot of generalization in the comments that bugs me. I'm a Yank who picked up cricket whilst living in London years ago and started playing the game this year. I watch all the cricket I can handle on willow.tv and am one of three US-born players at my local cricket club. Learning cricket was a slow process for me but, in watching test matches with my mates (WI in England 2000, to be exact), I got into the game and learned to appreciate it. I attended a match at Lord's for the first time this summer (ODI, but still) and it was an awesome moment for me. The Pimm's and lemonade never tasted so good.

    Is this a short-attention span nation when it comes to sports? Generally, yes. Are we hopeless when it comes to cricket? Maybe, but it's fine. Just please don't lump ALL of us in as boorish yobs who can't appreciate cricket. For me, cricket is number two only to baseball on my list of favorite sports.

  • Gabbar on July 23, 2008, 19:05 GMT

    RJ, Buzz and every one else here. I will tell you what the author means but from a perspective of a official of a league in South Florida and captain of a team also.

    The problem is not that US people don't get it, but the problem lies where US cities, counties are not supporting the game enough. You can see this when you go and ask the county office for a ground on Sunday rent and they will first check if there is any base ball game scheduled, pririty will be baseball and most of them just find it too much hassle to support this game. If you ask for support for a kids baseball team you will get all the support and funding you need but when it comes to cricket even the officials do not want the game to get to US people.

    That's where I say US is not letting the game grow. And Yes I play cricket regularly and I watch the NFL games too. You will find out that Baseball is a slow game once you start playing cricket. And a big fan of basket ball.

  • Abhishek Vemuri on July 23, 2008, 18:58 GMT

    I don't understand how Americans who don't think the game is interesting enough to learn the rules, or have the patience to even hear them out, still have the interest to read this article on Cricinfo & take the time to comment on it.

    You just don't wander into a UEFA website, fetch an article on your countrymen not following a sport and comment on it if you didn't care about the sport in the first place!

  • Shaun S. Ali on July 23, 2008, 17:49 GMT

    It's sad to see some people owing cricket's unpopularity to either a lack of intellectual capacity, a juvenile fear of being beaten, or some other such nonsense. Equally bewildering (and comical) is how some posters can disparage the generalizing ways of Yankees...in general. Predominant US sports remain peculiar to the rest of the world (and vice versa) because of the US's long standing geographic isolation up to the 19th century and foreign policy isolationism through the early twentieth century. This was ample time for uniquely American sports to develop very rich traditions without the competitive pressure of other interests. In a closed market such as this, there was little choice but to fulfill any necessity with home-grown options. In sports, tradition is requisite for predominance, and cricket lacks a tradition in the US. The question is not how to make Americans smarter (a facile summation), but rather how to expose this great game in this sports saturated environment.

  • Mehul on July 23, 2008, 17:31 GMT

    Imagine waking up one day and seeing Shaq O Neil dribble (?) one past Dravid's defensive bat. I wouldn't mind paying for THOSE seats.

  • Dave Arlington on July 23, 2008, 16:52 GMT

    I actually became interested in cricket because a) I have a few friends from England and b) after hearing how hard it was to understand, I was determined to figure it out.

    Well, goody for me, and a shame for all the other Americans who aren't aware of what a great sport cricket it. Now I love cricket, follow it religously on cricinfo and own copies of the last 10 Wisdens Alamanacks.

    I love the fact there are different forms of the game all with their own strategies and goals. I love the fact, that as an American, I can sort of root for ALL teams because I don't have a real vested national interest in any.

    We have a lot of Indians here where I work and they're always surprised when they find out that not only am I aware of cricket as a sport but can actually speak intelligently about it and oftentimes, I even know MORE about what's going on than they do.

    The other day when I brought up to my Indian friend about how India did in the Asia Cup, he said, "I'm a Red Sox fan now!"

  • Kent Stoll on July 23, 2008, 16:49 GMT

    Samir, Great post, but my question my fellow fan, is why do we care? Cricket cannot (and should not) be all things to all men. I was born in the Windies, went to high school and college in the US, moved to Australia and then the UK, and now have come back to work in the US. One thing that has stayed throughout all this is my passion for the sport into which I was born. That's the key I think ... cricket is more than a sport, it's our birthright. We are born with a leather ball in our hands (if we're lucky and don't have to fashion one from wooden marbles and rubber bands) and a bat made from anything nearly resembling one. I don't frankly care whether it's adopted or not. Those of us who live here can continue to play and appreciate it on that smaller scale. Can you really imagine a match (even 20-20) on US TV? How long before every break between overs is lengthened by ads required by the US networks. Carry on lads, play baseball and football, leave the game of grace to us.

  • Vijay on July 23, 2008, 16:22 GMT

    I loved this one from R.Narayan - "You guys should move here: It's great, they play a game called Baseball where they can only bowl full tosses!". And I think Clinton makes a good point of who will cope better- cricketers playing baseball or baseball players playing cricket? It would be an interesting watch. No matter what the end result would be, I think the cricketers would beat the baseball players hands down when it comes to catching/fielding. Well, a better match as far as fielding is concerned should be baseball players versus the cricketers before the 80's (remember the guys who would escort the ball to the fence!)

  • Jamaican Giga88 on July 23, 2008, 16:20 GMT

    the more americans become involved in cricket the more likely it is that our beloved sport will be negatively affected. i think we should just let them be. cricket has enough problems with match fixing performance enhancing drugs and security issues all of which most likely would become worse with increased american involvement. if they would rather watch a bunch of guys hug and jump on top of each other thats fine by me!

  • Doz on July 23, 2008, 16:15 GMT

    When one has one's own sport,baseball, which is every bit as colourful in its history,beautiful to watch and play,and complex in its fabric as cricket,where is the need to adopt another sport that is so similar,as vague as that similarity may be?

  • Jamaican Giga88 on July 23, 2008, 16:13 GMT

    The more Americans become involved in cricket the more likely it is that our beloved sport will be negatively affected. i think we should just let them be. cricket has enough problems with match fixing performance enhancing drugs and security issues all of which most likely would become worse with increased American involvement. If they would rather watch a bunch of guys hug on jump on top of each other thats fine by me!

  • Joe Cooter on July 23, 2008, 16:11 GMT

    Part of the Problem is ESPN, which owns this Website. In there employ are a number of sports writers including Jay Marioti, Bob Ryan, and Mike Lupica who are very nativist in their outlook. It's as if the left hand of ESPN does one thing and it's right hand does something else.

    AS a baseball fan, I recognize the great debt it owes the game of Cricket. After all, the old Cincinati Redstockings where founded by the Wright Brothers who started out Playing Cricket. Both sports Need each other if they want to expand their popularity, especially baseball which wants to break into the European Market. The MCC is currently putting together an exhibition on both Cricket and Baseball which is due to open at Lords in 2010 and will visit Australia before heading to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. This is just the start of cooperation, In My opinion.

  • Sandeep on July 23, 2008, 16:10 GMT

    American Football is probably the most exciting sport that I have watched closely followed by T20 Cricket

  • Sunder Iyer on July 23, 2008, 16:08 GMT

    I grew up palying cricket and now I coach both my boys' little league baseball teams and I can understand why most Americans would consider cricket boring or difficult to fathom. There are just as many quirky rules/strategies in baseball as there are in cricket and even though they pitch (bowl) "full tosses", it's not as easy as it looks to hit the ball. The fact that you could get a double, even a triple play on a single pitch makes the game really interesting. I enjoyed cricket growing up and now I enjoy baseball as I watch my boys grow up. Adopt and adapt, is my motto. And of course, Vive la difference!!

  • Buz Trevor on July 23, 2008, 16:03 GMT

    I don't like to see negative comments about Americans because they don't "get" cricket. How many cricket fans get American football? A fascinating game. I do believe there is potential in the US for 20/20 to take off. Test cricket (which I love), I am not so sure. The further north you move in North America, the shorter and more precious the summers become. There are many other pressing attractions that mitigate against 5 day cricket. I do agree that Americans are reluctant to participate enthusiastically in team sports where they don't immediately do well! Go figure.

  • Samir Chopra on July 23, 2008, 15:26 GMT

    RJ: There is absolutely NO disrespect directed at football and baseball, both games that I love. I'm a fan of the New York Giants and Yankees and understand the games well. I was merely pointing out that folks that can take the time to understand NFL penalty rules can understand cricket as well. As for baseball, I was pointing out a misunderstanding on the part of baseball writers (my Red Sox buddy - yes, I have one!- actually quite likes cricket because he has been patient enough to sit through my explanations). You will notice that I also said that baseball and cricket deserve a long comparison. How ironic that in a post complaining of misrepresentation, you've landed up misrepresenting my views!

    My point in this article was not to sneer at Americans but at a systematic misrepresentation that prevents Americans from being able to understand it. I think the shorter forms of the game could definitely catch on here with the right support.

  • Abhinav Hasija on July 23, 2008, 15:24 GMT

    @RJ I live in the US, and we have a league going on. And just for the record, both my roommates - corn-fed mid-western boys play with me. One is a right hand quick with a whippy action and has a natural nippy outswinger. The other is one of the best natural slip fielders I have ever seen (though his backfoot play needs some work). And guess what? They did not play till I forced them to, and then really got into it after watching the world t20. So, if you say cricket is becoming popular... its a lie!

  • Stuart on July 23, 2008, 15:22 GMT

    There is a lot of arrogant comments about Americans here about them not getting cricket. Point is, why would should they get it when they have plenty of other team sports that they play? There is no difference in Americans not playing cricket than there is the British not playing baseball - very few British people truly understand that sport, and we wouldn't accept it if an American said the British brain just isn't developed enough to understand baseball. So why this arrogant attitude when Americans don't get cricket?

  • Sandeep on July 23, 2008, 15:08 GMT

    RJ talks about arrogance outside America but starts off his post with “No, we just don't like the game.”

    RJ wants to count only “White Persons” in the league. But how about counting blacks? Just kidding.

    RJ wants other countries to accept Baseball. Does he know that there is baseball in India and baseball is managed by Indians and played by Indians unlike in the US where Cricket is played and managed only by the expats? Yes, Baseball is not that popular in India. In a country where less than one million people play any sports, I can tell you that some Indians do play baseball and they will tell you that they don’t hate the sport. Many Australians including International Cricketers have played Baseball in their youth.

    Baseball is very popular in the state of Manipal. Recently, an Indian has moved to SFO to get trained in baseball. He won Million dollars for becoming the fastest pitcher in India. I have played baseball in India some 30 years ago.

    American sports including Basketball, Volleyball, American Football and Baseball are better accepted in other parts of the world in comparison with Americans who just don’t want to do anything with Cricket.

  • Ram on July 23, 2008, 14:22 GMT

    Every single time an American walks past our weekend game he wants to know whether this is the 3rd day or the 4rth day.

    I am doing my duty in bringing civilization (equivalently, cricket) to the masses by catching all my labmates and explaining things to them. To use a colonialism term, it is the "brown man's burden"

  • Ramu on July 23, 2008, 14:17 GMT

    Trouble with cricket in US are the expatriates. Those 1st generation ones have longing for it to keep their tradition alive. The subsequent generations are often confused about what the fuss is about. Many of them (those of Indian descent) think of cricket as a "brown" game to play and therefore they play it, without much knowledge or understanding of what they do or ought to be doing. Generally many of these "expatriates" are not apt at or even willing to try any other sport. In school or college competition, "not tall enough" for basketball, "not big enough" for football or hockey. All in all, "not driven enough" for any bullish American sport. So, the crowd that you mention are causing the rise of leagues in America, do not understand what is so "sexy" about cricket. They play it because they feel it is what they ought to play. Additionally when you have two cricket boards fighting over whatever scarce resources there are, then you can really make no real future for the game. Tough!

  • Jethro on July 23, 2008, 14:05 GMT

    A lot of valid points but its still "football", not soccer for us non-USA residents :)

  • Clinton on July 23, 2008, 14:02 GMT

    I lived in Taipei for 7 years, and cricket is a sport that doesn't exist to most locals - despite the odd "tuck-shop team" games played by expats. At least most Americans have heard of it. I know it is simplistic, but I still think a Mark Boucher or Shahid Afridi would cope much better facing one of the better pitchers, than having the best baseballers face Brett Lee, Steyn or Shane Warne. I would pay money to watch such a contest. Strongly believe cricketers would look the part - especially in the outfield, while baseballers would really look silly trying to play cricket. Just my opinion.....

  • Sandeep on July 23, 2008, 13:40 GMT

    When Americans say Cricket is played over 5 days ask them why they love Golf so much which is played over 4 days? Americans just find excuses not to learn another sport. They would say soccer is too boring because the scores read 1-0 after a match, but they would also say a good baseball game is one in which is pitcher dominated and ends up with a 1-0 score. Challenge them to watch a T20 game that lasts 3 hours with so many home runs and so many runs scored.

    American is the only sport loving country in the world which also hates a lot of sports.

  • rj on July 23, 2008, 13:32 GMT

    "The American psyche is largely ill-equipped to deal with the concept that another country is better than them, even if its just on the day."

    No, we just don't like the game.

    The author amuses me. He asks for fair treatment for cricket and then fails to give it for baseball and American football. Maybe if the snots around the world would realize that one of the biggest turnoffs of cricket is the sheer arrogance of its members, it just might be more popular.

    And for the record, cricket is not becoming more popular here - we're just having more Indians move here. That does not mean it's popular. I checked into a league in a city near me and it had a grand total of one white person (from Australia) out of a league with 12 teams. The number of natives playing were a full round zero.

  • dsit86 on July 23, 2008, 13:02 GMT

    It's plain and simple. The American brain is not developed enough to understand the concepts of an intelligent game like cricket.Neither can they see the artistic side of it. Poor Souls...

  • Rainman on July 23, 2008, 12:40 GMT

    I heard Barney Stinson above me somewhere.

    True story.

  • Joel on July 23, 2008, 12:29 GMT

    Fahad, you have cottoned on to a very important point. Stanford is trying to do what the ICC couldn't do for a century; make cricket watchable by the American public. If he succeeds, then "beware the sleeping giant" as the Japanese once said.

  • Fahad Khan on July 23, 2008, 11:15 GMT

    Interesting, but things have changed quite a bit in the past few years. Anyone with Directv or Dish Network will see commercials for upcoming cricket series and Fox Soccer Channel shows Sky Sports News at 7pm which shows highlights of cricket matches as well. Funny to read this, I remember during the '99 World Cup, there was an article about India beating Pakistan in the Washington Post Sports section. They also had a (small) article when Australia beat Pakistan in the final. Also, Allen Stanford is a smart guy, and when his tournament takes off, he will find some way of it being broadcast in the US. He had broadcast the 2008 Stanford 20/20 in a city in Colarado and had promotions for it all over the city's bars and restaurants, which all showed it. Since more money's involved in the new series, he must have some ideas about televising it.

  • Michael Pollock on July 23, 2008, 10:07 GMT

    Hey Rishi...since when has ANY sports coverage been balanced and unbiased? Thanks for the article - can you imagine what the Yanks would do to Tests?

  • Ross on July 23, 2008, 8:55 GMT

    I think its really simple why pretty much all team games played against other countries are given second-class status in the US- they don't like losing to other countries (note that individual sporting events are ok to compete against other countries- if they lose its the individual that loses, not the US) . The American psyche is largely ill-equipped to deal with the concept that another country is better than them, even if its just on the day.

  • R.Narayan on July 23, 2008, 5:39 GMT

    It cuts both ways. When I was playing league cricket in England, our opening bat was a Jamaican Lawyer who was later transferred to New York. A month later I got a message from him saying "You guys should move here: It's great, they play a game called Baseball where they can only bowl full tosses!".

  • Francis R Harvey on July 23, 2008, 5:27 GMT

    I think it's a heredity thing. Having kicked the Brits out during the War of Independence, why would you want to adopt their national game? It's a pity because I have a grandson who was cricket mad before his American Dad told him he hated the game. I reckon we've lost a potential Matthew Hayden. Shame!

  • cricketwithballs.com on July 23, 2008, 5:15 GMT

    I knew a pig that could fly.

    True story.

  • Steve on July 23, 2008, 4:44 GMT

    Who cares if the USA don't get it, do we really want 7 foot American bowlers taking our heads off? Ask anyone who faced Joel Garner and I bet they would say, let the US play their baseball and Basketball and stay the hell away from cricket. lol

  • R. Thirucumaran on July 23, 2008, 3:18 GMT

    I was thinking precisely about this! There are so many people who take a dig at cricket just because it 'involves so many rules' and 'takes 5 days'! What does this show about people who don't watch cricket? That they're just a bunch of lazy-minded oafs who don't have enough attention - span to watch a match for 5 days and don't have the learning capacity to learn the rules. No wonder soccer is so famous worldwide because of its relative simplicity and the short time-frame of a game!

    A good ammo for those of you who want to justify your interest in cricket and the fact that its played by few nations could be that, because of the above - mentioned factors, its such an exclusive sport, and those of you who manage to appreciate a good game of cricket can join this exclusive club!

  • Rishi on July 23, 2008, 3:09 GMT

    In fact,over the last 10 years in the US I have revelled in these differences between all the American sports, drawn by the same brush,and my beloved cricket.Since when has American sports coverage been balanced and unbiased?

  • Sumant on July 23, 2008, 2:47 GMT

    Nice one.One thing,though some of the ny times archives back in 70s actually carried reports of cricket matches with small scorecards,however even that has disappeared from the media now.Cricket was a sport that featured atleast in the sports columns some 50-60 years back and then slowly disappeared.Given that one of the first cricket matches was between usa and canada,one wonders why did the game find out.Did they find it too tedious to watch compared to their games?Not sure,will need investigation .

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  • Sumant on July 23, 2008, 2:47 GMT

    Nice one.One thing,though some of the ny times archives back in 70s actually carried reports of cricket matches with small scorecards,however even that has disappeared from the media now.Cricket was a sport that featured atleast in the sports columns some 50-60 years back and then slowly disappeared.Given that one of the first cricket matches was between usa and canada,one wonders why did the game find out.Did they find it too tedious to watch compared to their games?Not sure,will need investigation .

  • Rishi on July 23, 2008, 3:09 GMT

    In fact,over the last 10 years in the US I have revelled in these differences between all the American sports, drawn by the same brush,and my beloved cricket.Since when has American sports coverage been balanced and unbiased?

  • R. Thirucumaran on July 23, 2008, 3:18 GMT

    I was thinking precisely about this! There are so many people who take a dig at cricket just because it 'involves so many rules' and 'takes 5 days'! What does this show about people who don't watch cricket? That they're just a bunch of lazy-minded oafs who don't have enough attention - span to watch a match for 5 days and don't have the learning capacity to learn the rules. No wonder soccer is so famous worldwide because of its relative simplicity and the short time-frame of a game!

    A good ammo for those of you who want to justify your interest in cricket and the fact that its played by few nations could be that, because of the above - mentioned factors, its such an exclusive sport, and those of you who manage to appreciate a good game of cricket can join this exclusive club!

  • Steve on July 23, 2008, 4:44 GMT

    Who cares if the USA don't get it, do we really want 7 foot American bowlers taking our heads off? Ask anyone who faced Joel Garner and I bet they would say, let the US play their baseball and Basketball and stay the hell away from cricket. lol

  • cricketwithballs.com on July 23, 2008, 5:15 GMT

    I knew a pig that could fly.

    True story.

  • Francis R Harvey on July 23, 2008, 5:27 GMT

    I think it's a heredity thing. Having kicked the Brits out during the War of Independence, why would you want to adopt their national game? It's a pity because I have a grandson who was cricket mad before his American Dad told him he hated the game. I reckon we've lost a potential Matthew Hayden. Shame!

  • R.Narayan on July 23, 2008, 5:39 GMT

    It cuts both ways. When I was playing league cricket in England, our opening bat was a Jamaican Lawyer who was later transferred to New York. A month later I got a message from him saying "You guys should move here: It's great, they play a game called Baseball where they can only bowl full tosses!".

  • Ross on July 23, 2008, 8:55 GMT

    I think its really simple why pretty much all team games played against other countries are given second-class status in the US- they don't like losing to other countries (note that individual sporting events are ok to compete against other countries- if they lose its the individual that loses, not the US) . The American psyche is largely ill-equipped to deal with the concept that another country is better than them, even if its just on the day.

  • Michael Pollock on July 23, 2008, 10:07 GMT

    Hey Rishi...since when has ANY sports coverage been balanced and unbiased? Thanks for the article - can you imagine what the Yanks would do to Tests?

  • Fahad Khan on July 23, 2008, 11:15 GMT

    Interesting, but things have changed quite a bit in the past few years. Anyone with Directv or Dish Network will see commercials for upcoming cricket series and Fox Soccer Channel shows Sky Sports News at 7pm which shows highlights of cricket matches as well. Funny to read this, I remember during the '99 World Cup, there was an article about India beating Pakistan in the Washington Post Sports section. They also had a (small) article when Australia beat Pakistan in the final. Also, Allen Stanford is a smart guy, and when his tournament takes off, he will find some way of it being broadcast in the US. He had broadcast the 2008 Stanford 20/20 in a city in Colarado and had promotions for it all over the city's bars and restaurants, which all showed it. Since more money's involved in the new series, he must have some ideas about televising it.