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World Ends, America Hardest Hit

The Mayans turned out to be wrong; the world can’t end on December 21 of this year because it ended this morning. That’s when a major American newspaper ran a straight story about an international cricket match, written in pure cricketese without benefit of translation or explanation for those benighted few among us who don’t know much about the game.

The story ran in the Wall Street Journal and it describes India’s six wicket win over archrival Pakistan at a match played in Bangladesh. The piece contains sentences like this one, whose meaning is obvious to any red-blooded American child: “Kohli amassed his total off 148 balls with 22 boundaries and one six.”

In the remote case that any reader of Via Meadia didn’t grow up in an atmosphere of bowlers and overs, a “six” is the cricket equivalent of an over the wall home run and, when used inelegantly and inaccurately as in the Journal piece, a boundary corresponds (roughly) to a ground rule double — though in cricket a home run gets you six points and a double four. Gautam Gambhir, readers will be shocked and disappointed to learn, was lbw for a duck.

I always thought that America would embrace the metric system long before our newspapers started offering in-depth cricket reportage. How wrong I was. The Singularity is here, and life as we knew it is toast.

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  • BillH

    When I was young, living in the Canal Zone, I enjoyed reading the cricket match reports, especially where they stopped for tea (or maybe lunch, or both, I forget which). Sadly, never learned a whit about cricket.

  • Lorenz Gude

    They stop for both lunch and tea with briefer drinks breaks. They play from 10 through to 6 or stumps, with the aforementioned breaks, The first time I saw cricket was on a pathetic little black and white TV sitting on my living room floor. It was 1976 and I was newly arrived in Perth Western Australia Despite being busy with other things I found myself standing there rapt by what was taking place. The bowler seemed to be putting amazing athletic effort into his delivery at the end of his long runup. Whoever he is, I thought, that is an extraordinary athlete. It turned out I was watching Denis Lilly bowl which is about like encountering Sandy Koufax on one’s first glimpse of baseball. Few Americans know much about cricket but as a lover of both sports I can tell you they are more alike than they seem. They take place outside of ordinary time on that field of dreams. You know the one. Much of the action is hidden – psychological, calculated bluff and deception. Has anyone ever figured out how Jackie Robinson stole home on Yogi Berra? I still can’t believe it, and neither can Mr. Berra. Perhaps the most amazing feat I’ve ever seen in Cricket was spin bowler Shane Warne dropping a rapidly spinning ball behind a batsman’s heels causing it to jump up and left at something approaching a right angle and pass through the wicket. Picture a ball hitting the dirt in the batter’s box behind a right handed batter and then turning up in the catchers mitt held at the center of the strike zone. So fear not, cricket will not cause the end of the world as we know it. It is just that old song about an irresistible force meeting an immovable object played in a different key.

  • Tom Richards

    Warne is one of the most astonishing sportsmen I have ever seen – one of the very few who was an absolute joy to watch even while they were destroying the opposition in a one-sided non-contest. Federer might be the closest comparison in that regard. I did some back-of-the-envelope value above average calculations a while back which suggested Warne’s 2005 Ashes tour was comparable in all-round value to Bradman’s of 1930.

  • Toni

    This story might signal the end of days if the Journal didn’t have such extensive global coverage and such a large global readership. Some readers no doubt read the account of this cricket match avidly, and will no doubt indignantly inform the Journal of any errors.

    I don’t give a spit about sports, but I could probably spend all my waking hours, if I chose, reading the Journal’s coverage of American sports. Their covering Anglo-Asian sports surprises me not a whit.

  • Andrew Allison

    Vitai Lampada
    (“They Pass On The Torch of Life”)

    There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night —
    Ten to make and the match to win —
    A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
    An hour to play and the last man in.
    And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
    Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
    But his Captain’s hand on his shoulder smote —
    ‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’

    The sand of the desert is sodden red, —
    Red with the wreck of a square that broke; —
    The Gatling’s jammed and the Colonel dead,
    And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
    The river of death has brimmed his banks,
    And England’s far, and Honour a name,
    But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
    ‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’

    This is the word that year by year,
    While in her place the School is set,
    Every one of her sons must hear,
    And none that hears it dare forget.
    This they all with a joyful mind
    Bear through life like a torch in flame,
    And falling fling to the host behind —
    ‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’

    Sir Henry Newbolt (1862-1938)

  • Kris

    “the world can’t end on December 21 of this year because it ended this morning.”

    I thought the end was when The Grey Lady introduced color.

  • J R Yankovic

    What more proof do we need that the Anglosphere is not only alive and well but resurgent.

  • Tom Richards

    Toni – let’s not forget about Americans of Indian extraction. When OK Cupid examined the profiles of over half a million of their users to see how their interests broke down by sex and ethnic group, cricket was the number one term by a huge margin among men who described themselves as Indian (and 13th among men who described themselves as Asian). I suspect there’s a significant minority domestic audience for it too.

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