Saturday, May 31, 2008

The apparent state of American cricket

It seems logical that, if an American wants to get a measure of cricket, he should find out how the sport's doing in his own country; and fortunately events are cooperating to give an idea how that's coming along.

There is indeed a United States of America Cricket Association, whose website bespeaks the amateur nature of the sport in this country; it's essentially a support organization for the various amateur leagues around the country, and does development work at the youth level, but it's also in charge of the various national teams in the sport.

Yesterday the USA cricket team represented its country, in Division 5 of what the ICC calls its World Cricket League; essentially an elaborate stepladder qualifying tournament for the 2011 World Cup. In practice, none of the teams at this level has a chance in hell of actually getting there to face off against the Test-playing nations, but hey, competition is where you find it.

Evidently the Americans making the trip at all is a bit of a pleasant surprise; an interview with team captain Steve Massiah seems to imply that the team's fallen on hard times in recent years, evidently as the result of some administrative issues with the USACA that have since been sorted out.

In any event, the USA acquitted itself admirably, winning four qualifiers in a row (and, like, totally pummeling the Norwegians) before their final rained-out group match against Nepal. They advanced to the semi-finals against the hosts Jersey (the Channel islands, of course, not the state) before bowing out.

Sadly, the USA's loss means that they won't advance towards the World Cup; it also deprived us of the tantalizing possibility of a final matchup against Afghanistan (who as of today's writing have apparently won the tournament).

The Afghanis have apparently come to cricket in many cases as a result of having fled from the turmoil at home; first the Taliban and then the war. Some of them ended up in Pakistan, where cricket is king, and so the Afghanis learned the sport there and brought it home. Judging from initial reaction, the team were looking forward to playing the Americans, and not just for the obvious political overtones; they're using it as a kind of measuring stick as to how far they're progressing as a nation; and, fair play to them, their success will get a lot more notice at home than the USA winning would have. Zindabad Afghanistan, then, if you can say that. ;)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The beginning of summer

So this is an experiment of sorts, born of my own fairly recent and sudden compulsion to follow cricket in a semi-dedicated way despite a few nigh-crippling limitations (stunted knowledge of the sport's nuances and history; my inability to follow high-level cricket either in person or via television; the fact of never having actually attempted to play cricket) and encouraged by the splendid and brilliant S., who suggested giving this compulsion a home and a place to breathe.

Disclaimer: as this will be the meanderings of the unlearned and occasionally clueless, some of this may seem didactic or repetitive to people who actually know the sport in detail.

Also, this will be somewhat discursive; IMO one of the useful things about cricket is that it provides a springboard to talk about lots of other neat things going on in the world. So I will. You have been warned.

Onward we go.