Offbeat June 7, 2010

Cricket takes root in France

The French are coming and they want to conquer Lord's

The French are coming and they want to conquer Lord's. Banned as an alien sport by the Vichy regime 70 years ago, cricket has been introduced in primary schools in France, where, Adam Sage writes in the Times, “pupils are getting to grips with le coup d’équerre (the square cut), la balle courbée vers l’extérieur (the outswinger) and a triumphant cry of et alors (howzat).”

The prevalence of a sport traditionally mocked as an “incomprehensible activity practised by British eccentrics” can be put down to the widespread immigration of Britons and South Asians, who make up the bulk of France’s cricket-crazy community. The country has also established a state cricket diploma, which is expected to received official approval this year, in order to develop its own professional coaches.

To help its new coaches understand the MCC’s 42 laws and five appendices, France Cricket has translated them into French and published the translated version on its website for the first time. If you have ever wondered what the French term for bouncer is, the answer is rase-tête, which literally translates to head shaver.

Tariq Engineer is a former senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo