The Game of Cricket: Why I Played for My First and Last Time

Gene ZarnickCorrespondent IMay 2, 2011

What did I get myself into?

I asked myself that question almost immediately once I concluded the 15-mile drive to go play cricket for the first time in my life.

I’m sure other people have been in the same predicament as me.  The idea of something new sounds good at the time, but once it’s time to actually do it, it’s a different story.

The funny part of this situation was that initially I thought I was going golfing.  I was speaking earlier in the week to my old manager and he mentioned that we should go golfing soon.  A day later he IMs me and says, “Want to play Cricket Saturday?”

Thinking Cricket was a name of a golf course I replied and told him “Definitely.  Anytime works for me.”

Twenty minutes later I learned our proposed Saturday tee time was in actuality a cricket match.  I already said yes.  I wasn’t going to back out now.

When I arrived at the park where the cricket match was to take place there were only four people in the field warming up and setting up the field.  I decided to sit in my car and wait for my manager to arrive.

I knew beforehand that we were playing with all Indian guys from work, only one or two of them that I had actually met before, but I never realized how out of my element I’d really be in.

My manager arrived and we walked to the field to join everyone playing.  We got a crash course into cricket from one of my co-workers and took a few swings to try to get acclimated to the new style of swinging.  The first pitch I crushed for a home run or whatever it’s called in cricket.  All I knew was that it was worth six runs.  The next five pitches or bowls didn’t go as well.

The time had come to finally get the game started and of course they picked the two white guys to be team captains and select teams.

Is there any better way to make me feel more uncomfortable then to have me choose players for my team whose names I can’t pronounce so I have to select by calling people based on their clothing?

I’ll take red shirt. Okay give me blue jeans. I guess I’ll take tattered tee.  That’s seriously how I had to choose.

The game started and my team took the field first.  I stood in the outfield just hoping I’d catch the ball.  Immediately I was confused.  The batter would hit the ball, but would just stand there in the batter’s box.  After some more instruction, I learned that if you don’t think you can score a run (run down to the bowler, while the other runner comes to the batter’s box), then you can stay in the box.

After watching the same two batters (batsmen) go back and forth for what seemed like 10 swings a piece, someone new finally came up and I was always to capture the first ball that came my way.

Eight more batters and 44 runs later, my team finally got their chance to bat.

Our team’s first two batters scored multiple runs for our team.  It was now my turn to step up to the plate.

I stepped in, had my cricket bat in hand, and waited on that first bowl.   I connected with a nice line drive to the outfield.  Unfortunately I reverted back to my baseball days and dropped the bat, not remembering that I was supposed to run with it in hand.

Quickly I turned around to get the bat and run back toward the pitch, but it was too late.  My day was done with one out thanks to my base-running, bat-dropping error.

The team finished strong and we ended up winning 45-44.  Little did I know that a cricket game only consists of a single inning.

I can definitively say that the cricket game was one of my most disappointing sport experiences in my life.  I was bored, didn’t understand it, and from what I did understand, didn’t like it.

My day would’ve been much more gratifying if I would’ve participated in a pogo stick contest, hopscotch or a four square match.  That’s how much I disliked this game.

As I took the 15-mile drive back home I was contemplating why I even came.  Was it because I accidentally seemed enthused to come?  Did I do it because my manager asked me to?

The real reason I participated was that I wanted to try a new game.

Just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean I wasn’t glad I went.  I may have felt that way initially, but reflecting now I’m glad I got to somewhat understand the game of cricket.

More importantly I got to see the passion a different culture has for a game that we barely understand.

Most of the Indian guys were extremely competitive throughout the day.  There’d be conflicts about if a ball was wide, which scored a run, or if the wicket was knocked over in time.  Some verbal arguments ensued which were interesting, even though I couldn’t understand them since the combatants were speaking in Hindi.

Cricket was an experience that I won’t forget in a while.  I’ll probably never play it again, but that’s okay, at least I tried a game that is part of someone else’s’ culture.

Tomorrow I’m going golfing to play what I originally thought I was doing on Saturday.

Can you get anymore white than that?