In the United States, when people mention the Cricket World Cup, most probably visualize a circus soccer tournament played by insects…and why not? Elephants play soccer. But, the truth of the matter is that Cricket is gaining more respect and becoming more international over recent years.
First, a little about Cricket in a nutshell. The game, played on an oval field, resembles baseball somewhat, mixed in with a little of the child’s game ‘running bases’. There are 11 players per side and substitutes are allowed in only for injury or illness. As in baseball, there are pitchers, known as bowlers, batters known as batsman, runs, outs and innings. The bowler’s job is to strike what is known as a wicket, which is made up of three wooden stakes called stumps connected at the top by wooden crosspieces called bails. The batter’s job is to protect the wicket by hitting the ball off a bounce. If the batsman is out, then he has lost his wicket and the bowler is said to have taken his wicket.
Cricket, known as “The Gentleman’s Game” must be viewed in order to be understood and enjoyed. There is much finesse in the way bowlers try for wickets and since there are no foul lines, batsmen look to place the ball instead of hitting it out of the park. Ty Cobb and Ted Williams probably would have been great cricketers.
The governing body of Cricket is called the International Cricket Council or ICC and is what FIFA is to soccer. There are over 100 countries included in ICC membership and much like World Cup Soccer, there are qualifying games or fixtures between countries, called “Test matches” that ultimately lead to Cricket Word Cup eligibility.
The Cricket World Cup is the fourth largest and most viewed sporting event. Australia is to cricket what Brazil is to soccer. They have won the Cup 4 times and are the current reigning champions. Some of the players to watch in this year’s tournament are Australia’s Ricky Ponting, India’s Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, and West Indies’ Chris Gayle.