Cricket. What is Cricket? Not the grasshopper type insect but the game.
The definition of “Cricket” by Sports Definitions is as follows:-
Cricket is played on grass between two teams of 11 players, the aim being for one side to score more runs than the other team.
“A specially prepared rectangular wicket (very level, and with close-mown grass) is placed in the center of the cricket ground with a set of three stumps (a wicket) at either end, exactly 22yd apart.
The captains of each team toss a coin to decide who is going to bat first and who will field first.
Two batsmen from the same team take turns facing six consecutive balls from the same bowler, until either of them is out.
Meanwhile the 10 remaining players on the other team are positioned tactically around the cricket field to try to prevent the batsmen scoring runs and to try to catch him out.”
But for the fellow Bajan cricket is part of the essence of society. When Cricket is playing on the island, work on a whole comes to a grinding halt. Everyone is either huddled around a radio, a TV, or watching live at the cricket ground.
I used to dislike Test Cricket as it took 5 long days to play and often the game ended in a tie or a draw. I found it was comparable to watching paint dry. Needless to say you couldn’t pay me enough to go and watch a match.
In 2003 in Great Britain the first Twenty20 Cricket (T20) Game was played. A much shorter version and a much more exciting game. In 2006 the notorious Allen Standford (now incarcerated for running a Ponzi scheme) organized the first Stanford 20/20 Cricket Tournament in Antigua. And the face of the game for me changed.
I now love T20 Cricket (some die hard Cricket fans say this is not true Cricket and maybe not, but it is Fun Cricket).
This week Barbados is holding three T20 games between the West Indies and England and I was privileged enough to attend the first game on Sunday March 9th, 2014.
To attend a Cricket game at the Kensington Oval is an experience in itself. The stands were packed with spectators from Barbados, as expected, as well as a large contingency from England. The English spectators came out in full form.
The stands where draped in the large white flags with the bright red crosses of England. Some groups were dressed in costumes for the occasion…the ones that were the most outstanding were the group dressed in bright orange dresses with black spots like Fred from The Flintstones.
The atmosphere was alive with expectancy. The noise was overwhelming from the West Indian spectators that ranged from all over the Caribbean with large groups of Trinidadians and St. Lucians. All waving their country flags and screaming encouragement to the respective teams.
The field was bright emerald green with the prepared wicket in the center of the field. The sky brilliant blue and the sun scorching hot.
The coin was tossed, the decision was made for West Indies to bat first and the game started. The power play set up in motion. The crack of the bat against the ball, the ball exploded through the air and rolled to the boundary for four runs and the crowd went wild.
Because the team only have 120 balls to hit in the game…every ball counts, so the balls were flying through the air and out of the ground for 4 or 6 runs and sometimes in the exuberance the balls are caught by waiting fielders and the batter was deemed out.
For those of you who have never been to a game…when the batter scores a 6 or 4 the entire stadium erupts into a carnival like atmosphere with calypso or soca music blaring.
The crowd was screaming and dancing… and the conch blower was blowing his shell. it was a mass of noise and excitement that was so contagious, that even if you plan to behave in a lady like manner, you quickly find yourself screaming and dancing with the rest of the spectators.
In between when the English team scores, the English spectators all sang English pub songs at the tops of their lungs.
The nut sellers scrambled through the crowds hawking their baked nuts for sale. Then the drinks guys come through with huge coolers selling bottles of water and occasionally, even the fish cake lady passed by plying her fish cakes.
The atmosphere was very carnival like. I love it.
Sometimes if you are lucky a Tuk band will come marching and dancing through the crowds with the shaggy bear and the Mama Sally with her big bam bam.
Well to our greatest pleasure the West Indies won their game on Sunday. There was lots of noise and celebration from the spectators over this.
They have to play two more times this week and I wish team great sportsmanship and success.
Update: West Indies won the second game. Wahoo…two down one to go.