Cricket for Americans: 20 Jan. 2019: What did I miss?

Okay, so what did I miss?

New Zealand continued their winning ways with a T20 win over Sri Lanka, South Africa beat Pakistan in a Test match and in a One Day International, and Australia lost two ODIs to a rampant — rampant — India, an India who appear to grow into World Cup favorites more and more every time they take the pitch.

Plus there were matches in the ACC Western Region T20, the CSA Four Day Franchise Series, Three-Day Provincial Cup and One Day Provincial Cup, the Sri Lankan Premier League, the Ranji Trophy in India, the Bangladesh Premier League, the Big Bash League, Super Smash League, and a whole lot of tour warm-up matches across the globe.

And those were just the men’s matches. Last week alone saw action in several women’s international series and domestic competitions — T20Is between Thailand and Nepal, and Myanmar and Hong Kong, and Indonesia and the UAE and more in the Thailand T20 Women’s tournament; and domestic competitions in South Africa’s Women’s Provincial ODI and T20 leagues, New Zealand Cricket’s Women’s T20 League, and the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia. It’s a post for another day, but the Women’s game continues to grow in leaps and bounds, as does the mainstream press’s coverage of it (though that’s a bit of a ‘chicken or the egg’ situation) and therefore must be part of any conversation with regard to the ‘future of the game.’

Off the field, there was news off a new CEO at the International Cricket Council (ICC), Scotland got themselves a new coach, Darren Bravo announced his return to the West Indian fold, there was lots of talk about MS Dhoni’s role in India’s World Cup squad, and the news that Logan Cup matches were called off due to civil unrest in Zimbabwe.

That last part deserves a little more attention.

In my last post before my vacation, I wrote about how Cricket was not a European sport, but the sport of a dead Empire. And because of just how vast said Empire was, cricket is popular in every corner of the globe, including in several places that aren’t entirely safe, are deeply corrupt, and that do not maintain the infrastructure — physical or economical — needed to fix those things. Zimbabwe is one of those countries. There have been general strikes happening throughout the country due to fuel shortages and rising costs of living, and with the announcement that the government would be further taxing gasoline, travel within the country has become dangerous and in some cases due to the lack of commuter Omnibusses, downright impossible. Furthermore, the government has suspended access to the internet in the country, making communication with outside organizations like ESPN — which has been trying to get in touch with Cricket Zimbabwe for clarity on the situation — very difficult.

And so while similar but far more innocuous protests in Paris receive global attention, the protests in Harare and its suburbs are largely under the West’s radar. ESPN is making efforts for information on what is happening, but is CNN, the BBC? Of course, they are, but it’s not news, it’s buried deep behind the American shutdown and Brexit.

This is why cricket is important: it is played just about anywhere in the same area code of a former English colony, so it sheds light on the corruption and poverty and government overreach that otherwise might go ignored by those of us in the West, including those of us who consider ourselves well informed. It’s a big old world, and there’s more than just Washington and London and Paris, it’s also Harare and Colombo and Lahore.

Cricket helps us remember that. It shines a light into dark places, and forces us to see the world from a broader perspective. Would I know about the problems in Zimbabwe if I hadn’t been a cricket fan? Maybe. But probably not. And that’s true for most Western-based cricket fans. Getting out of our bubble is important, and that includes the bubble of Western sport.

2 Replies to “Cricket for Americans: 20 Jan. 2019: What did I miss?”

  1. The WBBL semifinals were everything sports is supposed to be. I have no rooting interest, but it completely captivated me, and after the second unbelievable game-saving fielding play that day, I am ready for absolutely anything to happen in the final.

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