I have played cricket, not very successfully, since childhood.

How does one describe the game? The first description of the game that I remember was that given by Wrex Tarr, a Rhodesian comic, who called it a “White Man’s Rain Dance”. His explanation went as follows (excuse the paraphrasing):

  • 24 people, 22 dressed in white and 2 others in white lab coats, go to the middle of the field;
  • They plant six sticks vertically, three at each end of an area covered by either a coir mat or very short grass;
  • Atop these sticks they place shorter sticks;

Then they leave the field.  Shortly thereafter:

  • 11 men, plus the 2 in lab coats, return to the field, one dressed with big gloves and leg coverings;
  • Two other men, also dressed with leg coverings, and smaller gloves, each carrying a flat stick with coloured handle then come on the field and one goes to each set of sticks;
  • One of the eleven then walks away from the sticks carrying a red ball. He turns, runs to the sticks and throws the ball at the white man with the club at the other end.

Then the rain starts and they all leave the field. The dance is over. This may well be an apocryphal description but, at this time, it is highly relevant in KZN. The only change since the skit was first broadcast, is in the colour of uniforms and ball!!!

The Americans have an alternative description, based on the fact that they do not understand how any group of men can spend five days throwing, hitting and fetching a ball on a circular ground without dying of boredom. In Tom Clancy’s book Pagan Games a conversation takes place between two Americans, one of who m had been watching cricket on TV. The conversation went as follows:

“Are you ready to go?”

“Yes, I have been sitting here watching their Cricket Championships.

“Do you understand the rules?”

“What! Why do they spoil it by adding Rules?”

“I don’t understand the game!”

That identifies the American viewpoint. Towards the end of the 19th Century the US decided they had to make an effort to develop their own sporting disciplines, to indicate that the country had grown beyond the Colonial power from which they had developed.

To this end they modified “Rounders” and created Baseball;

They decided Basketball was too masculine for ladies and developed Netball as a replacement; and

They combined Rugby Union and Rugby League and developed American Football.

The only game they declined to change was Golf! Why/ I have no idea.

Whatever game you follow and/or play, enjoy it and I hope it gives you great and enduring pleasure.