Before I came to Australia, I’ve never wanted to punt a joey, chug Vegemite, or jump naked into a pool of hammerheads.
Then again, before I came to Australia I’d never watched cricket, either.
But after a cricket-filled afternoon last weekend, I’m sure I’d do anything to avoid watching it again, including taking home a pet funnel-web spider. Because, my friends, the rumors are true — cricket is really that mind-numbingly, tear-jerkingly, face-cringingly boring.
And trust me, I know boring sports. I got plenty of flak in high school for being a baseball fan. "After all," they would say, “isn’t baseball just a dreary ol’ ‘pastime,’ brimming with fatsos and unathletic dimwits? Can any game where Marshmallow Man-ny Ramirez thrives really be considered a ‘sport?’ ”
Since I wasn’t on the debate team, my responses generally utilized the phrase “your mom” (and if you’ve met me, you know that still rings true). But if I had better prepared my insult-ability, I would have simply carried the rulebook for the “sport” of cricket, doling it out to those who considered baseball tedious and tiresome.
Actually, on second thought, I probably would have brought someone who knows the rules, because to a layman like myself, cricket is about as understandable as a drunk Nigerian discussing quantum physics.
Through some TV marathons, however, I’ve pieced together a couple things about cricket, but you’ll have to bear with me. It looks like a batter, wielding a spanking paddle and a fencer’s helmet, takes a swing at a speeding, bounding ball, which is thrown by the pitcher. Actually, thrown isn’t the right term; “windmilled” is more like it. These pitchers, affectionately called “bowlers,” look like they belong in a ballet troupe as they contort their bodies into all kinds of artistic, unnatural poses.
So this batter, standing in front of some broken sticks, spanks the ball, sending it anywhere on the field — in front, behind, it doesn’t really matter — and runs about twenty feet away to some more broken sticks. The teams rinse, lather and repeat for days on end, until for some reason they switch sides. Once the squads have had enough naptimes, they count their “overs,” “runs,” and, I’m assuming, gallons of tea consumed, to determine which side came out on top.