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T20 Cricket World Cup Qualifying Tournament in the UAE

It will never top baseball in my Pantheon, but Cricket is actually a pretty good sport.

 

Since my wife and I (both BIG Baseball fans) moved to the Middle East, we have missed the taken-for-granted ability to drive to a stadium or turn on  the TV and watch the world’s best sport. Living here is like living in the off-season all year ’round. The two daily English language newspapers are run by Brits, so once you get past the most minute details of every soccer (football) game played from Europe to the Southern Sudan, the sports section has very little room for anything else. They cover auto or horse racing if there is a local angle, and to fill in the space where they cannot sell an ad, they cover Cricket. But Baseball might as well be  a rumor that hasn’t gone viral. I stay up with it using all the modern media, but I do miss the sport in a big way.

Brits try to tell us that Baseball evolved from Cricket. Hogwash. The only thing the sports have in common is they both use  a ball, and the balls are not that much alike.

This is a typical cricket ball. Notice it has two seems. A cricket ball is between 5.5 and 5.75 ounces in weight and 8 13/16 and 9 in in circumference.A baseball is between 5 and 5.25 ounces in weight and 9 to 9.25 inches in circumference.

Before I try to educate you anymore about this sport, let me tell you why I have decided to write about it.

Specifically I have become a fan of Twenty20. This a relatively new type of cricket. Basically, it is the same game. T20 was intended to deliver a fast paced game that lasted about as long as any normal sporting event, between 2 and three hours, well within my attention span.

T20 is practically a brand new style of the sport. It was introduced in England in 2003. It was introduced to bring in young fans. The old guard that still attended 3 or 4 day long “test” matches were dying out, probably from boredom.

Because it is available I have become a fan. The World Cup of T20 has qualifying rounds and this year the UAE is hosting one of these qualifying tournaments. The very first match was to be played mere miles from my home here in Sharjah, and it was between Uganda and the USA! It wasn’t like the Dodgers coming to town, but I still got excited to go.

That made me unique. When I showed up, the only people in the parking lot were a couple of very bored looking security guards. One of them walked up me and asked me for my pass. I looked at him and said “I am just a fan.”  The look on his face should have been enough to clue me in for the rest of the experience. About then, a fancy car with diplomatic plates pulled up. A handsome well dressed black man, expensive suit, shiny shoes, and an air of authority got out of the back and headed directly for the VIP entrance. I knew he was the Ugandan consul, so me, in a T shirt, jeans and flip flops just tagged alongside him. Moments later I was in the VIP seating area of a 20,000 seat stadium.

I  looked around and realized we were it. TWO fans, 2, dos, in the entire stadium. Incredible.

I took a seat right behind the USA bench and started cheering for the red white and blue. Most of the players on the USA squad had Indian or Pakistani names. Probably kids of immigrants to Silicone Valley. There was one really American looking kid named Korns. I yelled out “Hey Korns, you from Nebraska?” He turned around and in the perfect accent said “Houston, Texas”. I would love to hear his story about how he started playing Cricket in Texas.

The two top winners in this tourney get to go to the world cup tournament in Sri Lanka this year. So I started trying to pump up my team by saying things like “Sri Lanka, great beaches, beautiful women and excellent beer”.

Then I realized that with only two fans in attendance (actually the Ugandan Consul guy may have been there because he had to be, so maybe I was the ONLY fan) there was not going to be a souvenir stand. So I started asking the boys on the team to sell me their caps. I was saying “look, I’m the only fan here! I may be the only USA Cricket  fan in all of the UAE, or maybe the whole wide world! C’mon, sell me a cap!”  Finally the manager got up and went to the equipment box and pulled out a cap and a t shirt and tossed them to me. Made my day!

The pitch. In cricket the pitch is a rectangular area of 22 yards in length where the majority of the action takes place during the game. A Cricket field is a giant circle which like baseball has no set dimension, but usually is between 450 and 500 feet in diameter. This picture, (taken with my cell phone, sorry) shows two things if not clearly. One is the empty stadium. The second is that the pitch located in the middle of the field, is always a long way away from the stands. That means there is no real advantage to any seat in the stadium over another, they are all isolated from the action.

USA got severely beaten by Uganda. They got beat by something like 7 wickets, which is really a trouncing.

Learning to enjoy this sport means learning a new language.

Young Cricketer. “Yes, I cocked one off the splice in the gully and the blighter gathered it.”
Father. “Yes, but how did you get out? Were you caught, stumped or bowled, or what?”

I will try here to educate you on terms and rules

“Twenty20” refers to the number of overs each team bowls to the other in their innings.

Uh, what?

OK. OK.

I could go on and on with rules and terms, but I won’t. They all sound so Dickensonian and would just make you wonder why I ever picked up a bug for this game. But give T20 a try sometime, you might find it more exciting than say lawn bowling or Golf.

Thanks for reading. tell a friend, make a comment. I hope you were bowled over. This is a cricket term that means…ah look it up.

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One Response so far.

  1. Rand says:

    Ah, cricket. The poor ex-pat’s pale version of baseball. I was fortunate to see a big cricket match in Bermuda about 8 years ago. It was the annual tournament, and it was pretty much a national holiday. I enjoyed the match– and was especially entertained when, for no apparent reason, both teams walked off the field for a lunch break.

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