FanDuel - WFBC

December 27, 2011

"In the white spaces. I think about the silence at Lord's, and I understand. Test cricket is different from the rest of the world because it was designed to be." : Having travelled to India for the World Cup (as mentioned here), Wright Thompson visits the home of cricket and meditates on the nature of the Test match.

posted by etagloh to other at 07:18 PM - 9 comments

I try to suspend my tendency towards frustration when I read any "American writing about cricket" article. Unfortunately in this case my good intentions broke down before he got to the start of day 1.

Sigh. Considering in the last two to three months we've seen some startling and wonderful Test matches in several continents, this article really is a shame.

posted by owlhouse at 08:08 PM on December 27

The "what does it mean?" stuff grates on me a little, as it did for his World Cup piece, but it's still interesting to see cricket given that kind of long-form American treatment. Yes, the core is covering a conversation that's been going on for a while -- the inexorable rise of T20, the international schedule stuffed with unwanted 50-over contests, the economic casting vote of the Indian market -- even as Test cricket stubbornly continues to deliver truly great contests, perhaps better than we've seen for many years.

But be generous: Thompson gets well beyond "it goes on for five days and can end in a draw?" and more or less understands that a day at the Test is all about having one eye on the cricket and the other on whatever else might be going on. And enjoy the fact that 70,000 turned out at the MCG on Boxing Day, while Sri Lanka and the Saffers are trading blows to equally decent crowds.

posted by etagloh at 11:21 PM on December 27

That part of it is fine. It's the "me, me me" perspective through the piece - talking about his stupid gadgets, the faux Buddhism metaphors, the ethnic buzz he gets from talking about a foreign sport played by foreigners. I couldn't care less about him, but I care a great deal about cricket, and the way it is changing.

/Absorbing Test match in Melbourne at the moment. No TV coverage here so I'm watching it on Android app updates.

//Shoots self.

posted by owlhouse at 12:35 AM on December 28

//Shoots self.

Well, that's it for owlhouse, then.

Consider a different perspective: as an American I find this is a huge improvement reading something about cricket from a fellow American. Many simply don't grasp the huge linguistic and conceptual barriers that cricket has for Americans. To an American most cricket writing is literally undecipherable - the words look like English but they don't parse. The meaning is lost, too much cultural knowledge is simply assumed by the writer which doesn't exist in the American reader.

I went to the "swinging away" cricket exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown earlier this year, a co-production with Lord's and a Philadelphia area cricket history collection. I was literally the only person I saw looking at the cricket exhibits most of the time. Most American baseball fans simply aren't interested in the history of sports beyond the narrow parochial myths, stories and stats of American baseball. "It takes five days to play and can still end in a draw" is literally the only thing most of them know about cricket. I heard an American child watching a video of a cricket match for the first time: "that's so WRONG!" ...a childish attitude most never grow out of. I mean literally most adult sports fans still feel this way; they know what they know and they don't want to learn anything new.

It's nice to see any American sports writers take these sorts of things seriously. The parochial nature of American sports writing is overwhelming. The internet and greater access to the sporting world outside of North America has changed that somewhat. In short he can talk about himself all he wants, so long as he conveys the new information in a language I can understand.

posted by dave2007 at 12:41 PM on December 28

I was literally the only person I saw looking at the cricket exhibits most of the time.

And that's a pity, because a hundred years ago, Bart King was reinventing fast bowling with his team of Philadelphians on their tours of England, using techniques that were at least partly drawn from the pitcher's mound. The myths of sport are too often revisionist in that parochial fashion, when the reality is more complicated and more interesting as a result.

posted by etagloh at 02:29 PM on December 28

Probably the same kid wonders why they call soccer "football" in the rest of the world. Many Americans are so ingrained with the four major sports and can't fathom how fans go bonkers in Canadian curling or UK darts.

posted by jjzucal at 02:31 PM on December 28

To an American most cricket writing is literally undecipherable - the words look like English but they don't parse.

I have to second this. I tried like hell to get through "Beyond a Boundary" but gave up not so much because I was bored by it as because I could tell I was missing so much of the subtext and metaphor due to words I didn't understand in context.

posted by yerfatma at 03:24 PM on December 28

I would think if you were interested in learning about test cricket, you wouldn't read something by an American first-timer. Thompson is supposed to be a good writer, and I thought the piece had some interesting perspectives, but that wasn't really about test cricket. That was about Thompson and that's perfectly fine.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:31 PM on December 28

I would think if you were interested in learning about test cricket, you wouldn't read something by an American first-timer.

True, but if you were interested in some perspective on the allure of the TV-friendly three-hour multimedia-augmented sporting event, you might.

posted by etagloh at 06:22 PM on December 28

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