It’s not cricket

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cricketHow often I heard this phrase, during my youth (many moons ago now). And what does that phrase mean? It means: that’s not fair: not justice; not as it should be; or, as Germans sometimes say, it’s not the English way.

Today, it is seldom heard. Modern English provides countless alternatives.

So what is so special about cricket? you may ask. An immediate response might be that it is very English. Although today, it is played in many parts of the world; especially in countries which were once British colonies, protectorates, etc. Any typical British school boy will tell you that he played football (soccer and/or rugby) in winter, and cricket in summer. Girls played rounders, which has similarities to baseball, however, with a soft ball.

Villages and counties invariably have a cricket team. The perfect picture is of a hot summer’s day with players dressed all in white, on the village green. The group of on-lookers, mostly sitting in deck chairs, would politely applaud an incident of good play, whether by a member of their own team or the rival team. At a convenient break in play the match would stop for tea. Both teams would come into the pavilion where they would be served tea and cakes by the ladies. A polite atmosphere was taken for granted.

But if something unfair did take place there would be an immediate outcry of ‘that’s not cricket’.

All this ‘Englishness’ you might say. Perhaps a closer examination could be interesting. For a start, Scotland, Wales and Ireland have their professional as well as amateur cricket clubs, which makes the game British rather than English, although it’s safe to say that cricket was born in England.

But did you know that Americans were also one time  cricketers? Oh yes. And that baseball was first written about in a diary on Easter Monday in 1755 in the English county of Surrey? And four years earlier a London cricket team had played against a New York team? And that between 1840 and 1855 cricket was the number one ball game in the US? The very first international cricket match was played between the US and Canada.

It has been said that cricket lost its popularity in the US during their Civil War. Other sources say that the typical American didn’t like the then typically snobbish attitude of the English players who were mostly made up of aristocrats and the like. This latter may be, because the original centre of authority was laid down by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).

This club was founded by gentlemen of high society and has been seen as the main authority ever since. Although today, the Indian sub-continent contributes greatly to the international cricket board. the MCC is still highly respected.

Although England may still be seen as the original home country of cricket, the foregoing bits of information may question its pure Englishness. I can already hear some conventional Englishman’s reaction to this blog – ‘Hey, Keith Lewis, how dare you! That’s not cricket!’

Glossary

Many moons ago:  a long time in the past.

County:  an administrative area in Great Britain, such as Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey, etc. Engand has approximately 40 counties.

Village green: an area of grassy land in a village used for sports and social events.

Deck chair:  a chair made of wood and cloth for use outside, which can fold up for storage.

Taken for granted:  accepted without any question.

Snobbish:  this is how snobs behave. Snobs believe they are better than other people.