Cricket for Americans, 1 Jan. 2019: The show that never ends

Welcome to the show that never ends.

And by the show, I mean cricket.

I have followed the game since April of 2007, and I still have not gotten use to the game’s relentless pace of matches. There is always something happening, and always something on the horizon. Right now, for instance, India is touring Australia, Pakistan is touring South Africa and Sri Lanka is touring New Zealand. Plus there is the Big Bash League, the Women’s Big Bash League, the Bangladeshi Premier League and on and on. Down the road, just this year, there is the Indian Premier League, the Ashes and a World Cup. What does that all mean? We will get to that later.

It’s going to be a great year. And I hope to be your guide going forward.

As I said, I have followed the game since 2007, and I have written about the sport since 2011. I am by no means an expert. But from the perspective of my friends who know nothing about cricket, I sort of am. And so that’s what I decided to write about going forward: daily posts about the happenings in the sport for anyone who wants to learn more. But it’s not going to be a daily vocabulary lesson, it’s going to be: here’s what is happening, and here’s why I think it’s cool, and here’s why I think you will like it. In that respect, it will be just as much for the lifelong cricket fan as it will be for the cricket newbie.

Because, the thing is, there is always something to learn about the game. Always a new opinion to take in, swallow, and accept or spit out.  And that’s why the sport is infinitely interesting and infinitely entertaining. The game itself is not a straightforward lay up or home run, it’s this opera of plot twists and tunnels and open roads. It’s like baseball only the team in the field is on offense (wrap your head around that). There are heroes and villains and cheating and glory. And it isn’t just one format, or one league, it’s this unending cycle of tournaments and tours and cups and trophies.

There is always something happening, and it’s always worth knowing about.

Matches happening today include a handful of Big Bash League games and a full suite of Ranji Trophy ties. The Big Bash League is a domestic league in Australia that attracts international players from all over the world. The league uses the T20 format which is only a couple years older than Twitter. We will get to that later. Plus the Ireland A squad is in Sri Lanka. Ireland just recently was promoted to Test status, which means they hang with the big boys now. England, Australia, India, South Africa, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, the West Indies (not a country, more of an area), Pakistan, the aforementioned Ireland, and Afghanistan — also a recent joiner of this elite club. These are the heavy hitters, the show. They each have their own domestic leagues — some more popular and/or historic than others — and they also tour each other’s nations now and again for international play. The Ashes, for instance, is a trophy given to the winner of the Test series between England and Australia. These series that happen every couple of years or so. Sometimes every year. Sometimes in the same year.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

The next matches of note include the first day of a Test Match between Australia and India in Sydney at 17:30 central time tomorrow, the first day of a Test Match between South Africa and Pakistan in Cape Town, and a One Day International (ODI) that sees New Zealand playing Sri Lanka in Mount Maunganui. The Test Matches are the five day matches with the sweaters and the white uniforms that you probably picture when someone says “cricket.” The ODI is a shorter form of the game that takes place, funnily enough, on a single day. It’s like the cricketing equivalent of a short story, and is a new format but not as new as the T20, which is about the length of an American baseball game. All three formats have their plusses and their minuses. Well, except Test cricket, which has zero minuses.

And that’s just tomorrow.

It’s the show that never ends. And it’s one helluva ride. And you picked a great time to hop on.

For viewing in America: ESPN has some matches, but you need a subscription to ESPN3 or whatever they call it now, and I am not entirely sure how one goes about getting that (does anyone really know? or is it one of those human mysteries like Stonehenge that we will never solve?), and Willow.TV. The latter is a funky little homegrown streaming service that seems really shady but is apparently perfectly legit and priced right and brings you a ton of cricket. I’d recommend it.

Honestly, though, the game is just as entertaining in a text based environment. For that, I’d recommend ESPN Cricinfo. They do ball by ball coverage of every match on the planet. Bookmark it. It’s a great way to get to the game and its vast lexicon.

And then there are the blogs. But that’s a wormhole for another day.

This is going to be fun.

Until tomorrow.

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