Socotra © stevedavey.com

Yesterday I went to see the first test between England and the West Indies at Lords – the Home of Cricket.

Now Americans don’t get cricket. They can’t see how you can have a game that lasts for five days and then can still end in a draw! This misses the point somewhat. Cricket is not just a sport – cricket is pub entertainment. The whole point is to skive off work and sit in the sun drinking. For five days!

There is even a tradition of fancy dress that grew up to avoid people in the crowd featuring on TV when they have thrown a sickie from work. We weren’t able to wear fancy dress. We were in the members and friends stand for the MCC – the Marylebone Cricket Club, who are based at Lords – where there is a dress code. The MCC is one of the most exclusive clubs in the world. The friend who signed us in has just achieved membership, although his father first put his name down over twenty years ago.

The members stand is littered with rather crusty English men, and the only accepted form of rebellion is to fire champagne corks onto the outfield! Even the Queen was there – wearing a strange purple number and a grotesque hat.

The rules of cricket are complicated and again terribly English. I don’t know of any other sport where they have to play within the Spirit of the Game, as well as within the Rules.

For instance, the fourth of the spirits of the game states:

“The Spirit of the Game involves RESPECT for:
• Your opponents
• Your own captain
• The roles of the umpires
• The game’s traditional values”

If you are still confused, then checkout the laws, especially Law 36, the much argued Leg before wicket!

If that doesn’t shed any light then check out the A to Z of Cricket. It probably wont shed any light, but it might prove that Germans do, indeed, have a sense of humour – sort of!

This got me thinking of other baffling sports from around the World. I confess to being a bit of a secret fan of the Indian Kabaddi – an eclectic form of tag played in the sub-continent. I am also fascinated by the Vanuatu Land-diving on Pentecost Island where people throw themselves off great towers, attached only by vines fixed to their ankles.

Other great sports can be found in this feature on Forbes Traveller and in this blog by Brian Vaszily.

It’s a crazy World out there!

Words and Pentecost picture © Steve Davey 2007
Rules of cricket © MCC