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December 07, 2010

The Rules Of Cricket

My dear friend and lover of such things as knitting, ATP and cricket, Ms Dawn has been following the Ashes with me on my short-thought page (www.twitter.com/Hollyzone) and would like me write up a guide to the rules of cricket seeing as my explanations on the short-thought page were so enlightening or something. So here are the rules of cricket.
 
By “cricket”, I do of course mean International Test Cricket! This is the longest form of cricket and can take up to five days to complete a match, after which there will always be a winner, even if that winner is the weather and not one of the team playing. Other forms of cricket include:
  • County Cricket – look at the word “county”, it’s like “country” but small, and this applies in County Cricket which is only allowed to last up to four days, unlike International Test Cricket’s five, because countries are bigger than counties and deserve more attention (warning, do not point out that the county of West Yorkshire is bigger than actual countries like Lichtenstein or the powers that be will leak all your embarrassing photos to Wikileaks).
  • One Day Cricket – this lasts one day, except it actually only last half a day because 24 hour cricket would be hard on the cricketers who are clearly made of less organised and stern stuff than, say, racing drivers who can manage 24 hours at Le Mans.
  • 20/20 Cricket – this form of cricket is hated by purists, and is rather like 5-a-side football except without the bunching and people running into walls.
     
    The rules of International Test Cricket are pretty easy to follow.

The Pitch

The pitch is big and green. This is because it is covered in grass. The grass serves two purposes, it is cheap, and it makes hilarious stains on the cricketers’ white clothes so you can identify which cricketer has done the most spectacular diving/sliding catches.

In the middle is the Main Bit. This is where most of the stuff happens. At each end of the Main Bit is a pile of twigs with a small and very important twig placed on top. The teams will take it in turns to defend these twig piles. If the very important top twig falls off bad things will happen.

Cricket appears to involve breaks for tea. I am unsure if this means a cuppa or an evening meal. It also has a lunch break. These are clearly signs of civilisation.

There are two teams. They each take it in turns it to throw balls and hit the balls with sticks.


From the BBC – the Blimey Bouncing Cricket people.

The cricketers with sticks each stand in front of a twig pile. This means only two at a time get to be on the pitch and shows the importance of patience in the modern cricketer, although these days the other members of the team are probably playing FIFA or Halo on their X Boxes. This seems plausible as sometimes the TV camera will pan to the side of the pitch and you’ll see three of them sat there, pretending the rest have nipped inside for a pie and will be back any minute.

The other team then spread out across the whole pitch. There lots of names to describe the bits of the pitch, like Silly Mid Off, which sound so obviously made up that you suspect it’s all a joke. Suffice to say if they think the stick man has strong arms they will stand far away, whereas weaklings they will stand near. Sometimes they will make nasty comments to the stick man. This is called sledging which makes sense as sledging, luge, bobsleigh and skeleton are the sports most likely to induce swearing in those who practice them (“I’m sliding down a hill at 100mph, chin first…. SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!”).

One of the spread out team gets to throw the ball at the stick man. If he takes a very long run up he is a Fast Bowler even though his throws will take much longer than a short run up, or Slow Bowler, and so the game will not proceed very fast after all. There is a good explanation for this but it involves physics and the Large Hadron Collider.

The Scoring System

  1. You get 1pt for a mad, arm flailing, run from one set of upright twigs to the other. If you run back again you get 2pts, and so on. In theory you can run infinitely, but the throwing team don’t normally allow this unless they have been bribed by a dodgy betting syndicate (this only happens in about 30% of matches).
  2. You get 4pts if you express your disgust at the commercialisation of the sport by hitting the ball into an advertising board.
  3. You get 6pts if you give demonstrate a socialist attitude and liberate the balls from the grips of the authorities by hitting it to a pleb.
  4. You can also score 1pt if the thrower has a Victorian style attack of the vapours and hurls the ball in the wrong place, like America.


This man did not score enough points and nor did his friends. Sadface.

Unlike in rounders you don’t score a half rounder if the thrower guesses your height wrong and throws the ball at your knee/face.

Out

The stick men continue until they are out. There are over eight million ways to get out but these are the recognised ones. The other ways are kept secret for fear knowledge of them could destroy the world as we know it.

  1. Knocking the very important top twig off the twig pile. If you hit it with your stick or the other team hit it with their ball then you are deemed not sufficiently caring of the twigs to continue. This happens a lot when people run with their arms flailing wildly but the ball reaches their destination pile of twigs first. This is because balls travel faster than humans so one must deceive the ball and convince it one is not going to run rather than risk a flat race.
  2. When a field cricketer catches a ball hit by the stick man then the stick man is out as it’s probably not safe to hit a ball so close to a person, someone could get hurt.)
  3. LBW – no one knows what the letters mean but they are believed to relate to the practice of putting one’s leg before the wicket and letting the ball hit it. The leg is not a stick and should not be used as one. Stop it. Now.
  4. Hitting the ball twice with your stick will get you out. Kind of like volleyball, but fewer tiny shorts.
  5. Taking more than three minutes to get ready to face the thrower. This is common at junior level as it helps weed out youngsters who would be better off playing football as they will take over three minutes to gel their hair, adjust their snood and have an affair with a team mate’s wife.
  6. If the stick man handles the ball they are out. Why they would do this when they have a nice stick is unclear but it takes all sorts. People who do this should be redirected to tennis where handling the balls is acceptable and the balls are fluffy and nicer to touch.


It is not a requirement to look like you’ve shat yourself when you catch a ball.

Winning

When a team is all out, i.e. ten out of eleven of them have managed to fanny it up by doing one of the things above, then the other team gets to use the sticks. Sometimes a team with a really big score might decide to let the other team bat without all getting out – this is called Declaring and is basically the stick team saying “Your turn now” but in a really condescending way.

Each team gets two goes unless time runs out in which case the sun goes supernova and we all die. The team with the most points wins. This isn’t normally the end as there will probably be several games in the series and it’s important to win at least two of these, although five is best. If you win all five this is a Whitewash which is good because it means you can get all the grass stains out of your clothes.

These are the rules of cricket. Now go forth and care about it, at least for as long as England are any good.


December 03, 2007

BBC Sports Personality Of The Year?

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tv_and_radio/sports_personality_of_the_year/7095288.stm

I like the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year. It’s sort of like Eurovision, in that it’s pointless, prone to vote rigging, rarely rewards the deserved winner, and is thoroughly entertaining. Truly, only getting Sir Terry of Wogan to commentate on it (“Oh, would you look at that. They’ve given a nomination to someone who competes in a sport the BBC has the rights to, what a surprise”) could match the two evenly.

And this year’s list is:

- Ricky Hatton (boxing)
- Joe Calzaghe (boxing)
- Lewis Hamilton (F1)
- Andy Murray (tennis)
- Paula Radcliffe (althletics)
- Christine Ohurugou (athletics)
- Johnny Wilkinson (rugby union)
- Jason Robinson (rugby union)
- James Toseland (motorcycling)
- Justin Rose (golf)

First things first, I do not know enough about golf or motorcycling to offer any real insight into Rose or Toseland. I’ve heard of Rose and that’s it. For them to even be on the list suggests to me that they’ve won big in their respective sports. If you’ve not heard of a nominee, or are generally unfamiliar with them, then it’s a fair bet they’ve actually won something.

Interestingly the nomination process seems rather respectable. Newspapers’ sports sections were polled and this produced the ten nominees. That doesn’t mean I’m not about to furiously dispute some of the nominees, but it does seem like a good idea, bringing genuine champs like Toseland to a wider audience.

So, let’s get criticising.

First of all, there are some names on that list I have no issue with, indeed am glad to see there. Calzaghe and Radcliffe are definite greats in their area, and have won stuff deserving of praise. Having said that Radcliffe shouldn’t win. By her standards, as good as her running has been (especially post child) it’s not been her best and hasn’t been in a major competition. She’s won before in more deserving circumstances and could (hopefully) do so again. Calzaghe won’t win because in Eurovision Sports Personality Of The Year (from now on SPOTY, because I am lazy and it’s an amusing acronym) because he comes from the wrong country. There just aren’t enough Welsh to fire him through.

Murray, Wilkinson and Robinson are there more for their abilities than their achievements. Let’s face it, none were ever really in with a shout of winning anything major this year, and the rugby boys are fortunate we are fickle enough to write out the humiliating first match against South Africa from our memories, along with the other uninspiring performances at the World Cup and Six Nations. Yes, turning the Aussies and French will always aid the chances of anyone in a vote which is mostly polled amongst English people. But was it just me who saw the rugby team as finally doing what they should have done for the last four years rather than genuine overachievers? And is it just me who thought Andrew Sheridan was the best player ENgland had out there? England lost some good players after 2003, but not to extent of the failures which followed. I genuinely think that what we saw at the World Cup was how England should have played recently, not the old boys trying for one last gasp. They didn’t exceed, and nor did Murray who cruised along on his natural talent but didn’t exceed (which he needs to do in world of Federer). They all did enough, but it doesn’t not deserve the title. If anything the other Murray brother, Jamie, would be more deserving of a place on this list. He actually won a major this year. I might possibly make a similar comment about GB’s rugby league team and its successes but rugby league makes me want to remove my eyes.

So what of Hamilton, Hatton and Ohurugou? As things stand these three between them are, respectively, the one most likely to win, the one with the best chance of overhauling Hamilton, and the one I think should win.

Lewis Hamilton has epitomised British sports this year. He exploded onto the scene, showed moments of magic and brilliance, the collapsed in a heap under pressure both internal (ah, the British sporting psyche) and external, rowing with the press, colleagues and others. From France to Zagreb, it was a pattern for the British football teams, rugby teams, cricket teams, to follow. He is undeniably talented and has a great future. And he did amazingly well. But he didn’t win and he has himself to blame. He is the perfect example of us and sport, but he’s not necessarily the best sportsman.


Ricky Hatton will only win if he beat Mayweather, and even then, the fact it takes place so late in the day means he still might not be able to swing it. However, if he beats Mayweather then there’s pretty much no question he’d deserve the accolade. Mayweather’s a machine, although not an unstoppable one to someone of Ricky’s ability. If he can do it, then he would be one of the world’s great boxers, never mind one of the BBC’s trophy monkeys.

And Christine Ohurugou? From this list I want to see her win it, partly as a testament to her abilities (she’s a formidable 400m runner), partly in tribute to the way she has bounced back from adversity (see my earlier entry on her ban and appeals) and partly as a “fuck you” to those fools who smear her despite the evidence (The Sun mostly). She’s absent minded and dippy, but apart from that there’s little to dress her down for. To come back, to fight as hard as she has, that’s deserving of a reward for so-called personality, rather than choking with a world title in your grasp.

Naturally there are omissions. My biggest gripe is the omission of Kelly Smith. Yes, I am naturally biased towards women’s footballers anyway, but did you not see the World Cup? The way England, who most didn’t even think would qualify, were inspired, lead and dragged by Smith beyond their wildest dreams. No one else managed to shut out the all powerful Germans. No one else seemed to scare them like Smith, they had more defenders on her at times than they had on the fearsome Marta in the final against Brazil. Considering the difficulty of holding down a fulltime job on top of being a top level athlete, for Smith to terrify fulltimers, and be so damn amazing, is worthy of reward. Her obvious joy and dedication is another sight to behold. She’s not SPOTY material this year (England didn’t win the damn thing, plus ca change) but not even a nomination? When coasters like the rugby boys and Murray are in there?

Similar things could be said about cyclists like Victoria Pendleton and Nicole Cooke, or Andy Priaulx and his touring car wins. But much as we like our fad sports in this country, it’s the big guns – and big names – which usually win out in this popularity contest.

Still, if some Finns dressed as monsters can win Eurovision…

(All photos from BBC website.)


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