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In Defence of the Gentleman’s game | Rob O’ Sullivan

Film Editor Rob O’Sullivan highlights why cricket doesn’t deserve the stick it gets from an Irish audience…

“The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity” said Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw.

Cricket is a game played between two teams of upstanding gentlemen who must wear formal clothes at all times, lest they be cast away and labelled social pariahs. The game is won by whichever team can out hit the other team, or whoever provides the most biscuits to the umpires!

A game of cricket is played over the course of a fortnight, with liberal breaks for tea & crumpets.

Before playing cricket, one must swear an oath of allegiance to King George VI, despite him being dead for well over 60 years. One must also own at least 60 acres in the countryside (with room for a pony), and possess a degree from either Oxford or Cambridge. A royal honour, such as an OBE, is advised but is not mandatory.

It’s a sad state of affairs that most of you have gotten to this point in the article without knowing that I was joking. What I’ve detailed above is a brief summary of everything I’ve heard whenever I say that I play & enjoy watching cricket, omitting the rather frequent remarks from my compatriots questioning my patriotism or my chosen denomination within the Christian faith.

Cricket really does not deserve the flack it’s given. Like any modern sport, it requires a huge level of athleticism to play at any level. A frequent comment is about the level of protection worn by cricketers, typically followed up by a comment like “those cricketers are delicate little flowers, aren’t they?” The batsman, when the ball has been thrown at him, has (on average) 0.06 seconds to decide where he’s going to hit the leather missile speeding at him at around 88mph, how he’s going to hit it etc. Timing is essential!

However skilled the cricketer is, every single person to play cricket has at least one story of how they were slightly off in the timing of the shot, and instead of the ball being smashed into the blue horizon it smashed into their: leg, arm, chest, face, genitalia…believe me, it happens more than you’d like to assume. I once broke my foot in a match at the beginning of the day (so around 12pm) and played to the very end (so around 6pm) of the match and I only cried once…

Cricket was invented by the English in the 16th Century, although contrary to what Mr. George Bernard Shaw stated above, it does not go on for an eternity. There are 3 forms of cricket: Test cricket, One Day cricket and Twenty/20 cricket. Test match cricket is the one that goes on for 5 days and where the players wear white. For those bored by just the thought of Test cricket, T20 is a fast-paced alternative, where flash & showmanship take centre stage in an exciting contest between bat & ball.

There’s so much more I could say about the “Gentleman’s Game,” possibly about the wonderful jargon used but alas, another wicket has fallen, a right jaffa of a googly on a sticky wicket that clipped the nightwatchman’s bails right off of the stumps. I’m next to bat, and I’m due for a good slog down to cow corner…