Opening commenter and uberhostess Karen makes an interesting observation:
Similar to a new language, understanding a sport - especially one played internationally - takes more than just learning the rules.
I think that's exactly right; and that's the appeal of it, ultimately. Cricket is a sport that attracts damn near zero mainstream interest in the United States -- my NY Times link below might be the only major example of cricket coverage in a major US paper within the last twelve months -- but whose following in certain parts of the world is passionate bordering on psychotic.
So what's the deal with cricket? And what's my deal, exactly? I'm a mid-level financial professional and moderately serious sports fan who has now traveled a few times to India on business, and amidst the traffic and the food and the supernally friendly people and the irksome custom of having the beers kidnapped from your minibar on Gandhi's birthday, what's obvious is that everyday people are deeply into cricket. Work sessions stop dead during random ODIs against Australia, and everyone is sent into a ruinous depressive funk when a couple of early wickets fall cheaply; or otherwise serious people utter the names of heroic batsmen like incantations to their secret lovers. If, even as a la-di-da business traveller, you take your cultural environmental halfway seriously, you will be struck by these things, and you will be moved to attempt to understand the what, and more importantly the why.