I am watching the Marlins v the Phillies on ESPN3 as I type this…and it brings to mind a question: just how similar are baseball and cricket anyway?
Now, many folks will debate which is better, but I feel no need to slag off one at the expense of the other, as I honestly do enjoy both sports, and I think it is quite possible to love both, that you don’t necessarily need to choose one. I actually think they compliment each very nicely, in fact.
They are just similar enough for me to sincerely answer the question, “so, cricket, that’s like baseball, right?” from my cricket ignorant American friends with a “yeah, I guess, kind of.”
Sure, they both have a bat, and a ball. And they both have a pitcher/bowler and a batter/batsman. And runs are registered in a similar enough manner, as are outs. They both have innings, they both thrive on statistics, and they both make grownups wear silly little hats.
But, really, once you get past the surface the games are inherently as different as night and day, as American football and European football even.
In baseball, generally speaking, the pitcher is on the defensive, while the hitter on the attack. The opposite is true, for the most part, in cricket.
Generally speaking, hitters in baseball want to clobber every pitch as long and as far as they can. Sure, they might take a few pitches, wait for one they want, but in the end: they want to send it screaming into the night.
Batsmen in cricket, however, have to defend their wicket as if their life depended on it, especially in the longer forms of the game. Every bowled ball is looking to get them out, not looking to get hit into the seats, as it is in baseball.
And once you are out, in cricket, you are out. Your day is over. It limits the batters, while freeing up the bowlers. In baseball, one swing and a miss does not mean a whole lot – it gives baseball batsman the freedom to attack, attack, attack.
And because of the above, there is a major role reversal in each respective game: a bowler can change an entire cricket match with one delivery, this is patently untrue in baseball.
In baseball, a hitter can change the complexity of a game with a single swing – which is simply impossible in cricket.
Pitchers in baseball need hours to prove their dominance of a given game – the same is true for batsman in cricket.
And bowlers in cricket need only one decent ball to become heroes – just like baseball batters only need one good swing.
This sums up the difference between the two sports – they are oceans apart at the cores because of these role reversals.
And because of that, I don’t think the two sports can really be compared to each other, fairly. (Even though many folks have done so, including me, on many an occasion.)
All of this is just my opinion, of course, and you are welcome to disagree – but I do think that like most American cricket fans, this is one subject I am uniquely qualified for.
Back on the pitch: so much has happened that I have failed to write about.
Sri Lanka v England, West Indies v Australia, the IPL, County Cricket, The Two Chucks the list goes on.
And it is a golden age for an American cricket fan, as well. Cricinfo has ball by ball coverage of County Cricket, while Willow.TV has been “televising” both #slveng and #wivaus on their website (not youtube.com/willow, but on their flagship, willow.tv).
Now I am just counting down the days until the English international summer starts – the first test at Lord’s against the West Indies is only one month and six days away. To get me through, I still have two more test matches down in the Caribbean to enjoy – nothing makes a work day better than a test match to keep track of.
Until next time. Thanks for reading.