The Fourth

It’s the Fourth of July here in the States.

Independence Day.

On this day in 1776, a gang of old, white, slave-owning aristocrats decided they didn’t want to pay their taxes anymore.

Sound familiar?


Except for the slave owning part, of course.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my country. And I consider myself to be incredibly lucky to have grown up among the general American comforts of air conditioning and fresh water and antibiotics.

I just wish we all had waited until, say, 1930 to declare our independence, because then we would be cricket mad, just like all the other former British Colonies:

Instead, we get baseball, apple pie, and partisan politics.

Oh well.

Happy Independence Day, America.

Should we talk about the weather?

Today: it is hot. 98 degrees Fahrenheit (36.6 degrees Celsius) in Minneapolis and whoppingly humid.


And, really, I do not feel like writing much. Not because it is too hot, but because, actually, it is too cold.

We are lucky enough to have central air conditioning, and right now it is a chilly 69 degrees Fahrenheit (20.5 degrees Celsius) in our house. It is also very dry, and a little stale, and kind of dark, and not really all that inspiring when it comes to writing about cricket, a sport that is played for the most part in the hottest and dampest parts of the world.

But I made a pledge, and so post I will.

As evidenced by the previous 100 words or so, people like to talk about the weather. Even people that claim they don’t like to talk about the weather still like to talk about the weather. It is the absolutely one and only thing that we all share in common with the people in our general vicinity.

Today in Minneapolis, it is all anyone can talk about: how hot it was yesterday, how hot it is today, and how hot it will be tomorrow.  If it was cold, we would talk about that instead. Same if it was dry, or storming, or foggy.

The weather = humans talk about it.

Which is another thing I think people would like about cricket: the weather is an intergral part of the game. Cricket people talk about the weather constantly, as it really does have profound impact on the outcome of every single match. The ball moves differently in humid conditions than it does under dryer conditions. It swings when its overcast, but not when the sun is out. Sometimes rain wipes out entire matches, and sometimes the heat sucks the life right out of the players.

And that is not even bringing into consideration the wind, or the wicket itself. They swing in England, they spin in India. Sometimes they are dry and friendly, and sometimes they are wet and sticky. It all depends on where you are, and the weather that day.

Cricket matches are defined by the weather conditions they are played under, far more so than any other sport.

Sure, gridiron football is sometimes played in the rain and mud, but those games are few and far between. And, sure, sometimes a baseball game gets rained out, but they just play it the next day instead, no big deal. Those sports just don’t concern themselves with the weather as much – and so the weather is simply not a huge subject of conversation among the fans, players, commentators, and pundits.

But if you like to talk about the weather, if that is your thing, and I know it is, AND you like to listen to other people talk about the weather on the telly, then cricket is the sport for you.  Hands down.


Turn it up:

Streaming Dynasties

A couple quick subjects I would like to comment on, inspired by yesterday’s European Cup final:


Yesterday, in the United States, the final match was not available via over-the-air television. It was on ESPN, and also available online via ESPN3. Now, I am lucky enough to subscribe to the correct ISP to have access to ESPN3, but the vast majority of Internet users do not. And so for those it was either have cable (or satellite), head to the pub, or find an illegal stream.

Based on my Twitter feed, it seemed most folks chose the last option.

Before on the blog, I have talked about what a shame it is that more matches are not made available via legitimate sources to US cricket fans, but I have not talked about watching those same matches illegally. According to Giles Clarke, they are what is killing cricket, as they are stealing revenue from the cricket boards that desperately need the cash. To which most fans, including Jarrod Kimber, respond: fuck you, old man: there is no other way to watch certain matches!

Now, I do not watch illegal streams. If it is not on (which I gladly pay my $20 a month for) or ESPN3, then I do not watch it. I either listen to commentary from the BBC or follow along via Cricinfo.  However that choice has more to do with my paranoia about malware than with any sort of moral sanctity.

With that said, an interesting point arises: I firmly believe that file sharing and the like of music, film, TV…etc., is very much ethically and morally wrong. Those are people’s works that they put their heart, soul, and a whole lot of money into, and it is wrong for the average Internet user to download them from sources that the artist did not approve of.

I might catch a little flack for that from the Internet world, but that is my opinion.

And so then shouldn’t it follow that watching illegal streams is equally as abhorrent? Or is it different because it is a stream, not a download? Or is it different because it is a sport, and not a work of art?

Three great questions that I do not have the answers to, but I think as cricket fans they are questions worth mulling over.

At the end of the day, I think watching or listening to something that you do not obtain through the proper channels is stealing. And so, on this matter, I am in agreement with Giles Clarke, despite the fact that the matches are not available to purchase, even if you wanted to.



Spain won yesterday. Their third major international title in four years.

They were without their best striker and their best defender, yet they didn’t even take their game out of first gear until last night – when they turned it on for 25 minutes or so, just long enough to show Italy and the rest of the world that they were leagues better than any other side in the tournament.

Without any doubt, they are the best international side in a generation. And calling them the greatest international side ever, while arguable, is not an overstatement.

And considering the ages of their core players, they could very well win the World Cup two years from now.

They are, officially: a sports dynasty.

And I loathe dynasties.

I hate it when the same team wins everything, all the time. The Lakers, the Bulls, the Yankees, Liverpool in the 70s-80s…etc. It bores me to tears.

Be there is one exception to this rule: Cricket.

I love dynasties in cricket. The West Indies, Australia…etc. Those mythical  sides that thrashed everyone for a decade or more. I think it is my favorite thing about the sport. As much as I talk about parity, I would love for a side to emerge that can win in every format and in all conditions.

And, truth be told, that team might be upon us.

Despite what I said a few weeks ago, that England were good not but not great, they could very well be the number one ranked ODI team by the end of the current series against Australia. They could also very well win the T20 World Cup again in September. And they could very well beat the Indians in their series this fall on the subcontinent, maintaining their number one test ranking and proving that they can win in all conditions.

If they do all that, and if the core group stays together over the next five years or so (and those are both mighty big asks) then they could legitimately be called a dynasty: A golden age of English cricket that people will talk about for decades to come.

They are not there yet, of course, but they are closer than any other current side, surely.

And I personally hope that they get there, because I think cricket could really use a good old fashioned dynasty.

A Match in Melbourne, an Exhibition in Paris

As we all know, the first test match ever featured Australia versus England and was held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 15th, 16th, 17th, and 19th, 1877. (Beware the Ides of March).

Of course, it was not called a test match, and it was not even technically Australia versus England, as neither side contained their nations’ best players (it was a 48 day boat trip from England to Australia at the time, which accounted for the poor English side). But today it is known as the very first of the 2000+ test matches we have all enjoyed over the last 135 years.

Australia won the toss and chose to bat, scoring 245 all out, thanks to Charles Bannerman’s 165. England responded with a balanced 196.

In the second innings, Australia were all out for only 104, setting a target of 154 for England – which they did not achieve, losing the first ever test match to Australia by 45 runs.

Tom Kendall took seven wickets that day – well known as the “best Australian bowler who never came to England.”

Australia won the second match of that series by four wickets.

Six years later, there was the first Ashes series.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

At the time of the match, as I mentioned, it was a 48 day boat trip between the two countries. But also:

The match took place only 11 years on from the US Civil War, and the Indian Wars were raging in the American West, as was the Russo-Turkish War.

In 1877, the world population was only 1.5 billion – and Leo Tolstoy published Anna Karenina. The life expectancy was only 43.3 years, Thomas Edison invented the microphone, and the very first All England Tennis Championships were held in Wimbledon.

Also that year, French Realist, Gustav Courbet died on December the 31st. His work formed an important bridge to the Impressionists that would follow, and was a life long soldier for freedom and liberty:

“I am fifty years old and I have always lived in freedom; let me end my life free; when I am dead let this be said of me: ‘He belonged to no school, to no church, to no institution, to no academy, least of all to any régime except the régime of liberty.'”

And speaking of the Impressionists, theirs was the dominant movement in painting in 1877. In fact, that was the year the name “Impressionism” was first coined. They were the first movement to exhibit outside of the Salon, incredibly radical at the time, and in doing so changed art forever.

The third Impressionist exhibition opened 12 days after Kendall bowled out England, in a spacious apartment at 6 rue le Peletier in Paris. Cezanne, Degas, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir (among others) participated in the show.

Important works there included Monet’s St. Lazare Station:

Renoir’s Le bal du moulin de la Galette:

And one of my favorite paintings of all time, Gustave Caillebotte’s Paris Street: A Rainy Day:

In Paris, an art opening that changed art forever. And in Melbourne, a cricket game that changed cricket forever.

Charles Bannerman, he of the first test runs, and the first test century:

And his contemporary, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (self portrait):

…both were changing their chosen passion forever, within days of each other, on opposite sides of the planet.

Now, I am not naive enough to think that Renoir knew of the cricket, or that Bannerman knew of the Impressionists, of course. But I always find it fascinating when two separate but equally important events coincide with each other on our global timeline. When the stars align, they align for all of us. Best to pay attention.