The English are often said to be obsessed by the weather, so it’s no surprise that one of their favourite sports is utterly dependant on it: Cricket.
Gentle and Serene?
When thinking about cricket in England, green and white are the colours that come to mind. Lush, verdant village greens hosting young (or middle-aged) men wearing pristine flannels; thin slivers of the freshest cucumber, sandwiched between slices of crustless, soft white bread…That’s right, cricket is one of those rare sports that features official meal breaks. Strip away the clichés, however, and it’s possible to see that cricket can be tough. Even brutal.
A cricket ball fits neatly into the palm, is made of cork surrounded by leather, and is very hard. A particularly ferocious bowler can propel this object at speeds of up to 90mph. Yes: Ninety. It only has to travel 20 yards or so before it reaches the hapless batsman. It will usually bounce on the way there, but due to the ball being held together by a prominent stitched seam, it might not bounce in a predictable way. Due to the deterioration of the leather on one side of the ball and the expertly shined surface on the other side, it might ‘swing’ in mid-air. Especially if the weather is overcast, which it nearly always is in an English summer. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s the constant ‘sledging’ – the systematic verbal abuse from close fielders, designed to undermine confidence. Yes, batsmen are brave men indeed, and cricket can be a cruel, cruel game.
It can work the other way too, of course, and less proficient bowlers can be humiliated by a skilful batsman ‘hitting them out of the ground’.
Rain Stopped Play
The only respite for a cricketer having a bad day comes from the fabled English weather. While being a regular source of frustration for paying spectators, the rain has come to the rescue of many a downtrodden English cricket team trying to avoid defeat. There can be no other sport so intrinsically linked with the English way of life than cricket.