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WHY, and HOW

Most US cricketers consider explaining cricket to Americans to be a lost cause. They feel that Americans cannot, or will not, understand this "exotic" sport. If Americans were really interested in cricket, they argue, Americans would take it upon themselves to learn the rules, read and understand the Laws, and watch cricket. That they do not, is seen as proof of their essential indifference.
Americans, of course, have not tried too hard to understand cricket either. They see this remote cousin of baseball as a tedious parody of their "real" bat-and-ball sport. "Cricket is like baseball played on Valium", gushed Robin Williams, the well-known American comic, on visiting Lord's for the first time. That, by the way, was one of the more complimentary remarks made by Americans about cricket.

As the Twenty-first Century dawns, however, it is important to try, at least, to achieve a better understanding of cricket among Americans. Cricket is clearly achieving at least a toe-hold in the United States, with more than 10,000 active cricketers playing on a full-season basis. There is also an immense market potential for cricket yet untapped in the USA, especially with global TV hookups to bring first-class cricket via satellite and cable TV to US households which can afford to pay for the privilege...if only they could be persuaded to do so. These are powerful reasons why American audiences should be courted by US cricketers...the question is, how best to go about it.

Well, as the saying goes, "Necessity is the mother of invention".As the need for explaining cricket in America has assumed greater urgency, some successes have been recorded in this endeavor in the USA.

For US Cricket, the breakthrough came with the realization that cricketers had been barking up the wrong tree in trying to get ALL Americans to understand cricket. Only a minority of Americans really understand baseball ...most think they do, but few can fully understand baseball's strategic nuances, and finer points. How could they be expected to comprehend the more arcane rites of cricket? If, on the other hand, cricket was understood by baseballers, there is a far greater likelihood of their being able to communicate their understanding to other Americans. And, given the esteem in which baseball is held in North America, a "seal of approval" from baseball would help to achieve at least a grudging acceptance of cricket among the non-baseball-playing majority of Americans.

For the past twenty years, this approach has been tried on the West Coast….first in Seattle, then in Vancouver BC, California and Arizona. A two-page leaflet explaining cricket to baseball players has been developed, and is distributed to curious baseball players stopping by to wonder what was going on. With such a manual in hand, any cricketer conversant with baseball can explain actual "plays" in cricket to such bystanders with very little difficulty.

How well has this worked? The results speak for themselves. Over time, many baseball players have learned enough about cricket to become interested spectators at local matches, and news reports in the local press have become more educated and informative. There are fewer jokes made about cricket by American spectators on the sidelines of cricket games. These may be small victories, but nevertheless significant when nothing else seems to have worked.

It is clear that similar efforts need to be made elsewhere in the USA as well.

So, here is a three-part strategy for those rho wish to explain cricket to Americans-- or, for interested Americans to learn the basics of cricket bt themselves.

Okay --Start with a simplified version of the *Basic Manual*which has been successfully used in Western USA to explain cricket to baseball players and afficionados . US cricket league and club officers and publicists are encouraged to read and adapt it for popularizing cricket in their own areas. Any person who is reasonably familiar with baseball, we have found, can follow cricket when it is described in the baseball terms used in this Basic Manual-- it is cricketers who have difficulty following the baseball jargon !

The Basic Manual, of couse, will not satisfy the real sports enthusiast who wants to know how strategies are devloped around the rules to win and lose cricket matches, Having undersrtood the basics, they are invited to check out the next web site, which builds on the basic rules and offers an explanatione of the * Strategy of cricket explained in Baseball Terms*. This could come in handy for baseball players who have learned the basic rules but want to understand the finer points of cricket. These two sections, raken together, should provide a complete explanation of the rules and the nuances of the sport.

Third and finally, for those who are eager to learn to speak "cricket-ese", i.e. understand and use the terms that cricketers themselves use, there is *a List of Technical Cricket Terms* which might prove useful to non-cricketers. These are not really necessary for understanding the game, but they may help to deciper the codes and jargon commonly used in cricket broadcasts or in tecbnical discussions with seasoned cricketers, and thus enter into the spirit of the game.

More information and materials on explaining cricket to Americans can be obtained from Deb K. Das, USA Coordinator for CRICINFO, at

Explaining cricket to Americans has to become a prime purpose of all who wish to see the sport firmly established in this country. Perhaps these materials will provide some help, for those who wish to try.

Date-stamped :Jan 30 , 2004 - 20:52