Cricket for Americans: 11 June 2019: Another World Cup update.

Rain again today. The third washout of the tournament, and the second day in row. Today it was Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, yesterday it was South Africa v West Indies, and back on June 7 it was Pakistan v Sri Lanka. You have to feel for the Sri Lankans, losing two full matches to rain, but honestly they probably would have only won one of those matches — maybe — so the 2 points from the no-results is probably fair or even more than fair. But I am sure they players and their fans would much rather the games were played.

The Bangladesh coach bemoaned the lack of reserve days at the tournament. I get where he is coming from, but logistically I don’t know how possible it really is. It would be a nightmare. But, also, doable. There is a lot of money at this tournament — more on that in a second — and you’d think that the ECB and the ICC could have figured out a way to make it happen. The sad part is that if no-results start happening every other day for the next few weeks — something probable but unlikely — then it might cost England a chance at hosting a future World Cup. The ECB, by not pushing for reserve days, might have really shot themselves in the foot. Here’s hoping for sunnier weather.


Also for today, I recommend an article about the match day ‘experience’ from Alex Ferguson over at The Full Toss. It’s a disappointing read. Not because of Alex’s report, but because of stuff like this:

Every five minutes it seemed you were told to jump up, wave at this, scream at that – all because the ICC wanted someone to do that at the behest of a sponsor.

And this:

Look, we didn’t mind the ‘hydration break’ (sponsored Powerade, the piss-poor version of Gatorade), because that happens at test matches. We don’t mind an Arab airline sponsoring the big screen so we could tell who was out and not out. We get corporate sponsorship because that’s what happens during other sports. We get it: In our consumerist society people are going to try and sell you ****, and you get on with it.

However, during cricket matches getting overly advertised to is an absolute pain-in-the-ass. It was like the ICC had looked at the IPL and thought: “How can we make this EVEN MORE ANNOYING?” without the cars, cheerleaders and stupid time-outs?

Well, somehow they managed it.  Every two or three overs, it was imperative that people were told to jump up and down to get their faces on a camera. Or wave their sponsored ‘4’ and ‘6’ signs. Or show who you were supporting by ‘yays’ and ‘nays’.

I hate that kind of stuff at games, no matter the sport. T-shirt cannons and rock music and everywhere you look some sort of corporate dystopian nightmare that David Foster Wallace would have been proud of.

It’s a shame. Cricket doesn’t need this.

The good news is that it’s not entirely apparent what all is happening when watching on TV from afar. The loud music between overs and the constant shots of people mugging for the camera get old, but the cricket is always the priority. Because, at the end, that’s all that matters. Again from Ferguson:

Thankfully the game itself was fantastic. Australia looked like they were going to get wiped off the face of the earth until Steve Smith, Alex Carey and Nathan Counter-Nile rescued them. And then the Windies – who had looked comfortable – started to look less like a team of World Cup players than a team full of IPL players (Shai Hope apart).

And that’s the beauty of cricket: even in the face of all that ridiculous late-stage-capitalism nonsense, the game shines through.


Lastly for today, last night I watched game 5 of the NBA Finals (stop laughing, I have a friend from Toronto here in town), one moment sticks out: The Toronto fans cheering when Golden State superstar, Kevin Durant, went down injured. My first thought was: that would never happen in cricket. For all the eye rolling we all do at the “spirit of cricket,” it really does keep the stuff we saw last night in Toronto out of the game. When an opposing player scores a beautiful 100, for instance the fans for the other team applaud for him. It’s really remarkable.

There is, of course, at this tournament, some booing being directed at Australia’s David Warner and Steve Smith for their participation in a ball tampering incident last year, but I really think that that is apples and oranges. It’s one thing to cheer an injury, and something different entirely when it is booing players who have cheated. The latter might happen in cricket, but the former never would.

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