Saturday, March 24, 2007

Shashi Tharoor on the "Cricket Problem"

Tharoor in today's New York Times:

Ever since the development of baseball, the ubiquitous and simplified version of the sport, Americans have been lost to the more demanding challenges — and pleasures — of cricket. Because baseball is to cricket as simple addition is to calculus — the basic moves may be similar, but the former is easier, quicker, more straightforward than the latter, and requires a much shorter attention span. And so baseball has captured the American imagination in a way that leaves no room for its adult cousin.
Tharoor ends the piece in utter condemnation of the American disinterest in cricket, a condemnation with which I can easily sympathize.

In the last twelve years that I have lived in North America, I have routinely failed to convince North Americans as how baseball is very similar to, but less than, cricket. Perhaps because I was doing what Tharoor does here too: express utter impatience and disenchantment with their fascination for what appears to me to be a rather monotonous and simple sport when a much more exciting alternative was available. In fact, I could not even convince anyone that there are similarities between the two. Then finally I decided to try something with my 6 year old when I went to watch him play baseball one day. He had hit what his coach called "an amazing hit" - and I told him if he were playing cricket, that would be six runs all at once.. and he immediately said he wanted me to take him to India to play cricket so he could hit a six. And we had an exciting conversation (my only exciting conversation about cricket in North America) about how one could hit six sixes in a row and people who did that set world records. Although we have not taken him to India to learn cricket, a curiosity remains alive in his mind to this day. In the odd occassion that I go to watch him play, he would often ask what his hits would score if he were playing cricket. Perhaps we should write off the adults and start with the little ones?

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