Baseball: Cricket's Little Brother

Colin MehiganCorrespondent IJanuary 27, 2009

To the average baseball fan the sport of cricket must seem like an alien concept.

With its white colored clothing, breaks for lunch and tea, some games lasting five days, it is no wonder that cricket doesn't feature regularly on Sportscentre or that President Obama doesn't weigh in with a cricket opinion or two, unlike his desire for college football playoffs.

But cricket and baseball have much in common. Both involve throwing, hitting, catching, bats, innings, and running. The basic fundamental of getting a batter/batsman out by catching the ball before it is grounded applies to both sports.

However there has been something of a conspiracy afoot. Without cricket, there would be no baseball.

Ed Smith's wonderfully written book "What Sport Tells us About Life" informs us that prior to the American Civil War cricket was the predominant sport in America. the first ever cricket international was between the United States and Canada in 1844.

A very small consequence of the social upheaval engendered by the Civil War was that cricket lost its appeal as the chosen sport of the people. Legend has it that soldiers on both sides found it much easier to play with merely a bat, ball and bases rather than cricket's more cumbersome equipment involving stumps and pads.

Smith articulates that thereafter a gradual erosion of cricket ensued as it was viewed as the sport of the English, the former colonial masters. Baseball became the patriotic All American sport while, in essence, cricket became extinct. In fact the man most responsible for baseball's success was A.G. Spalding.

According to Smith Spalding was the founder of the eponymous sports goods manufacturing company so the sale of baseball equipment was always in his best interests. His "All Star" baseball tour of 1850 catalysed baseball as the sport of the people rather than the perceived upper class English sport of cricket.

Now however, thanks in large to the Asian communities in the United States, cricket is making something of a comeback, albeit a small comeback.

The recent $1,000,000 take all game between England and the West Indies was broadcast live on ESPN2 and last year ESPN purchased the premier global cricket website,

Curiously last December the Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball acquired two Indian pitchers to complement their playing staff for next season. Both players won a "Million Dollar Arm" contest in their cricket crazy homeland.

How long then I wonder before America sends a spin bowler or middle order batsman to the world of cricket?

The sports world is a strange and ever changing place.