| Tavita |
TODAY sees the start of cricket’s biggest attempt ever to hit the global front page.
New Zealand versus Sri Lanka in Christchurch and Australia versus England in Melbourne.
Fifty overs ODI. World Cup Cricket 2015.
The tournament lasts until March 29. Six weeks of non-stop action. Fourteen teams will play 49 matches on 14 grounds throughout Australia and New Zealand for a total prize money of $10 million.
Each team, from current holders India and powerhouses such as South Africa to unknown qualifiers Afghanistan and little known outfits from Scotland and Ireland, will play a minimum of six matches each in the group stages.
Then come the quarter finals, semis and final.
ICC has sold the TV broadcasting rights for US$2 billion.
They hope to make it the most “fan-friendly” festival of cricket in the history of the game.
They aim to take the game slam-bang into the tweeting, Facebooking, punditised, superspace of the 21st Century.
Quite a challenge.
Cricket’s always had a hard time making the headlines, even though, in cricketing terminology, it’s been at it for several centuries.
This year marks the 404th Anniversary of cricket’s first front page appearance in England.
That was when two heathen deep fine legs were prosecuted for opening the batting on a Sunday instead of forward driving off to church.
No one knows what happened to them but presumably the square leg vicar lifted his umpire’s finger and declared the pair of them totally out.
After that, it became a quiet inter-village game and was played during lunch intervals in the Civil War.
It only made the headlines if Oliver Cromwell spotted them.
“Wicket keeper hung, drawn and quartered!” the Westminster Puritan twittered.
“1st and 2nd slips hung, drawn and halved!” went the breaking news. “Leg before and caught behind.”
Happily for cricket lovers, Cromwell was run out towards the middlish end of the 17th century,
England was taken over by everyone who hadn’t been hung, drawn or chopped into sixteenths.
They were very keen on cricket.
It offered extremely long lunch and tea intervals in which they could spend the rest of the 17th Century and the coming 18th one practising the number one national sport – gambling.
This rapidly led to the arrival of county cricket and a fair amount of press coverage.
“Latest! Latest! Yorkshire 6-4 on … Rutland 200-1 against,” read a typical front-page report at the time.
It resulted in bankruptcy for anyone betting on Rutland and two new technical terms for cricket.
“It’s over! Rutland fans declare!”
Various Lords carried on for the rest of the 18th Century at the Star and Garter Club, where they stared at the barmaid and bet their garters on who would first hit middle stump and end up clearly stumped.
During the breakfast interval the following morning, they invented the Laws of Cricket.
It led to lots more technical terms.
They emphasised the importance of “batting” and “bowling” which they practised by batting their butlers down the stairs and bowling over their chambermaids.
They also stressed the art of “catching”.
This was what was required with a chambermaid before bowling one over.
It was usually done in the nearest field, giving rise to another essential cricketing term, known as “fielding”.
These were never reported, though. The butlers felt that it went with the job. So did the chambermaids.
By then, it was the 19th Century and the country was hung, drawn and permanently divided into winners, known as the MCC, (Masters at Clobbering Commoners) and losers known as useless, good-for-nothing knuckleheads.
The MCC spent most of their time in the nets, practicing spending their time in the nets. The useless, good-for-nothing knuckleheads were deported to Australia.
The media were quick to report it.
“Cricket goes international!”
In this way, the game spread to outstandingly useful parts of planet known as “sticky wickets” like the South Pacific, the West Indies and South Asia.
It missed out on a dead cert major scoop, though … it forgot to spread to Bulgaria.
Lots of progress. Growing media interest.
This is because of the emphasis on what used to be referred to as “batting” but is now technically known as “bashing”.
It involves swinging, driving, hooking, slashing, cutting, heaving, slogging and nicking. It was developed in the 29th Century, first on Prussians, then polished on Italians and, finally, it was perfected on Russians. It’s the biggest seller on the block.
Last year India’s Rohit Sharma 264 in an ODI against Sri Lanka. Earlier this year, South Africa’s AB de Villiers hit a century off 31 balls against the West Indies, the fastest ever one-day international century.
It may be just not cricket … but the sponsors hope it goes viral!