I was walking across campus with someone who used to school here and we passed a field of 22 men dressed in white. Cricket! “Ok,” I said, “I can make some sense of the soccer scores in the paper but I have a lot of problems with the cricket scores. What’s going on here?” So I got my first education in cricket. A bowler is trying to knock the bale off the wicket. The batter has two jobs: protecting the wicket and hitting the ball for runs. There are fast bowlers and slow (spin) bowlers. They have to throw the ball to bounce once and then strike the wicket. The batter uses the flat bat the redirect the ball and/or hit the ball out into the field. One surprise to an American is that the batter does not have to run after hitting the ball – if he stays in his box (I forget the term) he’s safe. Actually, there are two batters – one at each wicket. Once the ball is hit away, they run, exchanging ends, and each exchange is one run. A pitcher gets 6 pitches which makes up an ‘over’.
The game is defensive in design and take hours and hours to play. A single days game would run from 11 to 1 when there’s a break for lunch, then play from 2 to 4 followed by a break for tea and then play from 5 to 6 after which you’d all have a dinner together. A great excuse to spend a day in the park with friends. Thoroughly civilized.