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Reading about cricket is a language all its own

At one point, maybe when I was 4 or 5 years old, I knew nothing about football or baseball. I didn’t really start paying attention to basketball until my teens, and soccer was a mystery until I started covering high school games 20 years ago.

Some people might argue that I still don’t know anything about those sports.

Over the course of a lifetime, though, the rules and nuances of those games have been burned into my brain. Watching games on TV or in person, you pick up on certain rules and tactics, listen to the announcers explain things, read game recaps and eventually understand things.

It’s hard to imagine a life where I can’t at least vaguely grasp what’s happening on a playing field — until I start reading stories about cricket.

For the uninitiated, cricket is baseball’s British cousin. It’s got bats, balls and innings, as well as wickets, overs, bowlers and boundaries. Since it’s a British game, it’s popular there and in England’s former colonies and possessions such as India, Pakistan, New Zealand and Australia. We Americans, as we are wont to do, did our own thing and turned it into baseball.

Matches are insanely long. If you think a 4 ½-hour Yankees vs. Red Sox marathon is a slog to get through, imagine hanging on the edge of your seat for an 8-hour day at the cricket park.
Scores are high. Run totals of 300 or more are common. I’m not sure, though, if that means the cricket ball is juiced.

Mostly, though, the biggest difference is in terminology. If you write about a baseball game, saying Ronald Acuna hit two home runs and the Braves beat the Phillies 5-4 makes sense to Americans.

This, meanwhile, is an actual sentence from an Associated Press story on a Cricket World Cup match: “MS Dhoni (50) and Ravindra Jadeja (77 in 59 balls) gave the Indians hope by putting on a World Cup-record 116 for the seventh wicket, but India was dismissed for 221 with three balls remaining to give New Zealand an 18-run win.”

I guess that means India made a huge comeback before losing to New Zealand, but darn if I can tell you how

Sports have a language all their own. The sentence, “Drew Brees passed for 300 yards and three touchdowns” would be like trying to comprehend Russian to some people. After a lifetime of learning what it does mean, however, it’s strange to be right back to square one.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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