Monday, May 10, 2010

W Indies v Australia Cricket

We finally made it to a cricket match! I've been wanting to go to one since we got here but, honestly, didn't want to pay for it (didn't think we'd like it). For the past few days, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has been having women's matches and soon it'll be heading to St. Lucia I think. There have been 2 per day, and yesterday we made it to the one between Australia and West Indies (made up of the islands of Jamaica; Barbados; Guyana; Trinidad and Tobago; Antigua and Barbuda; St. Kitts-Nevis; Dominica; St. Lucia; St. Vincent & the Grenadines; Anguilla; Montserrat; and Grenada). Unfortunately, W Indies lost, but it wasn't a blow-out or anything.

We knew we could get in for free, but didn't realize we still needed tickets so were lucky to run into a friend with an extra one. Michael needed a ticket, I did not since it was Mother's Day. They asked me if I was a Mom while I was getting patted down entering the stadium, and I figured that although I wasn't one, I had one, so surely that counted for something.

Once in, we ran into a bunch of folks we knew and hung with them. We had planned on going to the game, getting bored after an hour, and then heading to the beach, but were having so much fun we stayed until the end. We forgot our horn, but luckily this guy had one. Oddly, that was the British team (which had just won) and at this moment, the guy was playing "My Country Tis of Thee..." That's ok - when Michael heard the national anthem for Australia he asked why they weren't playing the Sound of Music. When I gave him "the look," he sheepishly said "Austria...Australia...close enough." Exactly, just like our friend from Sweden is Swiss...Airhead.

Michael was all set with his visor, number cards, beer, and boiled peanuts (sounded gross, but kind of tasted like salty potatoes).

These 2 had been there since the morning and were already a bit...happy. But it certainly didn't stop there as here came one round...

and another...

and another...

Oy. I finally gave my liver a break and designated myself the driver later, so begged off.

The stadium is pretty cool with great views. Although you do have to move around to keep out of the sun as it moves. We'd been here before for the Music Festival, but hadn't seen it in the daylight. By the end of the game, it was actually pretty full.

There was a tent full of steel-pan players, which were pretty good.

and a scoreboard someone had to climb into to post scores.

As I mentioned, the match was between W Indies and Australia, duly represented by their respective citizens (these 2 work together, so no fist fights - + this is a "gentlemen's game"). Every time the Aussie's would score, the band would play Men at Work's Down Under song.

The W Indies had their own song just for cricket and we got really familiar with it. You can too.

Luckily we were surrounded by Brits who knew the rules and tried to impart them on us (although it was hard to hear them over the ever-present blaring speakers). Of course, the rules change depending on the kind of match, but we got the idea. Very basically speaking - you've got a dirt area in the middle called the pitch. On both ends of the pitch are a "wicket" made of 3 sticks, or "stumps." The batter, or "batsman," obviously tries to hit the ball when it's tossed at them (by the pitcher, which in this game is called a "bowler"). There are actually 2 batsmen on the pitch, one at each end, who alternate hitting. The batsman is trying to hit the ball past the boundary, in this case a rope encircling the outskirts of the field. Out in the field are, well, fielders who are supposed to catch/stop the ball and send it back to the pitch. There are a total of 11 players on each team.

The way you earn points/wickets (yes, the stumps at the end of the pitch are wickets and the scores are also called wickets) is that you...

1) hit the ball but it doesn't get anywhere near the boundary so you run between the wickets/stumps a # of times (both batsmen do this) while trying not to get out by a fielder (who will knock over a stump).

2) hit the ball and it bounces or rolls across the boundary/rope. That's 4 points (or wickets) and we all hold our signs up showing the #4.

3) hit the ball and it goes over the boundary/rope without touching the ground first (kind of like a home run). This earns you 6 points/wickets and we all enthusiastically hold up the #6-side of the sign.

You're out if anyone catches the ball, knocks down a stump while one of the batsmen is in the middle of the pitch/field, or if the bowler (pitcher) hits a stump while throwing the ball for the batsman to hit. That last one adds a dimension to the batsman plight because he/she is not just trying to hit the ball, but must also protect the wickets/stumps they're standing in front of. If they swing the bat, miss the ball, but the ball goes into a wicket/stump, they're out. You'd think this would be pretty easy for a bowler to do, but you'd be surprised.

In this match, there were 120 innings (how many chances a batsman gets to try for points - I kid you not) and there were 10 outs. And the teams don't alternate or anything. The 1st team actually does bat all 120 innings first. Then the other one, who's been fielding all this time, has to play their innings and basically catch up. They have to score more points/wickets than the 1st team did before they run out of innings or outs. As soon as they've amassed enough points/wickets to win, the game is over. In this case, W Indies came up a bit short - boo.

What was interesting about the way the bowlers throw is that they do so using 2 methods (both are overhanded and bounce first before the batsman takes a swing). They either go waaaaaaay back and then go running forward like pole vaulters to get speed to throw the ball or they calmly throw it but put a spin on it. And none of the fielders wear gloves, so catching this cork-based, leather-covered ball has to be pretty painful (why most think it's more fun watching the men whose hands can take such a beating better).

Next month, the men's Test Match between South Africa and the UK is coming. It's a 5-day affair which includes, both lunch and tea breaks each day. Yep, tea breaks.

It was fun. We'd definitely do it again (but we'll wait for the final day). Do we bring our own tea-bag and thermos of boiled water?