An Introduction To Cricket
Bill: Well, Joe, you said you wanted to see a game of cricket, so that you could compare it with your own national game of baseball. Here we are at a test match, England versus Australia at Lord’s. It doesn’t get bigger than this.
Joe: I’m looking forward to it. Now, they seem to be ready to start. Why is that umpire holding his arm out like that? Some kind of delay, is it?
Bill: We can’t begin until exactly eleven o’clock, so we have a few seconds to go. Ah, the arm’s gone down. Now we’re off . . . Oh, I say, the bowler’s lost his run-up. He’ll have to go back and try again.
Joe: Why? He appears to be running at least thirty yards. Doesn’t he have enough time to shuffle his feet or something to get it right?
Bill: No. Look at the disc he put down. That’s his marker. When he’s getting into his stride, he has to land his forward foot at that spot, or his approach will be all awry. Now, here he goes. Oh, dear, he’s had to abort again.
Joe: Now what?
Bill: The batsman isn’t satisfied. Yes, I see what it is. He wants the sightscreen moved.
Joe: Sightscreen? Ah, got it. You mean the big board over there on the boundary. It serves the same purpose as the batter’s eye screen in our game.
Bill: That’s right. It has to be behind the bowler’s arm, so the batsman doesn’t lose sight of the ball in the background.
Joe: Gee, this game takes quite a while to get underway, doesn’t it?
Bill: Sometimes. Here we go again. Third time lucky, Joe. Oh, the batsman still isn’t happy. Ah, I see. He has a wasp or something buzzing around him. Look at the way he’s wafting at it.
Joe: I wish he’d quit waving his arm and start swinging the bat.
Bill: Oh, he’ll get round to it any minute now. See, he’s all set. Oh, my goodness. There’s a spectator walking along the edge of the field, right behind the bowler. Silly man should know better than that. We can’t have the batsman distracted. Ah, the fellow’s sat down. Away we go. Well, actually, we don’t.
Joe: What’s amiss this time?
Bill: The bowler’s just decided to make a couple of changes. I see. Now he wants to operate with a fine long leg and a short square leg.
Joe: His legs look okay right now. And anyway, how’s he going to bowl in that condition?
Bill: Oh, it’s not to do with his anatomy. It concerns fielding positions on the leg side. It’ll be all right in a minute. There, you see. The bowler’s ready to come hurtling in. Oh, not quite.
Joe: Would you care to enlighten me as to his latest problem?
Bill: A bootlace is undone. He must have been failed to fasten it properly in the dressing room. Most likely in too much of a hurry to get out there and start the battle.
Joe: He doesn’t seem to have been in any rush since he ambled onto the field. This is amazing. The spectators have paid a lot of money to come here. Don’t they get exasperated with so many hold-ups?
Bill: Well, most of them understand these little sideshows, but some do become a bit restless at times. Anyway, we’re all set now. Oh no, we’re not. The bowler’s not satisfied about the state of the ball. He’s showing it to the umpires. If they agree with him they might have to produce another. That could take two or three minutes. Ah, it’s okay. The complaint’s been rejected. Now we can get going. Oh, hang on a moment. Now silly mid-on isn’t happy.
Joe: Who or what is silly mid-on?
Bill: It’s that fielder who’s very close to the batsman. I think the position gets its name from the fact that it’s potentially hazardous, so some people think that a foolish man is needed to occupy it. He’s called for a protective helmet to be brought out. It won’t take long.
Joe: Tell you what, Bill. I’ll go and spend a little time in the bar. I have my cell phone. If play starts at some point, call me.
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