Captain Kirk boldly went where no one really wanted to go and in the same way as the Enterprise took his reluctant crew there, it seems time for the grand old sport of cricket to arrive in Germany. How else can you explain this game in association with Germany other than by the use of inter galactic terminology? It's as alien to this region as Sting was to New York! In all seriousness though, it is worth noting that at times the events that happen in and around the sport of cricket are out of this world.
As in football, the game is played with eleven players on each side but pivotally, there are only two of the opposition on the field at times, accompanied by two match officials grandly called umpires. There are targets that are set, innings that are fielded and batted just like in baseball but it's the tactical showcase that often draws comparison to military strategy. Confused? Of course, there are even professional players who don't quite know the rules but once you are addicted to cricket, you are quite literally hooked for life. It's a real life version of chess mixed with some hard hitting, fast bowling and athletic fielding. Believe it or not, but it has made its way to Bavaria!
I am often asked what the state of cricket in Germany is. The extension of that question is all the more interesting when specifically looking at Bavaria. Puzzling questions are a normality here and the general joke is that cricket in the Bavarian region is played in leather pants as opposed to the traditional whites. As the winter arrives in the northern hemisphere and individuals start prepping for winter activities the southern hemisphere has started its full entrée of international cricket played in those traditional whites. Meaning there are a lot of angry wives and girlfriends getting annoyed that, for some reason their significant other is glued to a TV screen, radio or live cricket website. This attention can be held for days on end at times by the significant other, often causing dilemmas such as whether to go out for lunch with the family or find out whether England can recover from the loss of three quick wickets and avoid the follow on? No matter, what purpose you have in the game of cricket - player, umpire supporter, interested bystander, commentator, journalist, administrator - male or female, this issue is the same issue no matter what planet you are on. Welcome to cricket. A 365-day circuit of non stop (relationship) anarchy. Welcome to the game of cricket and contrary to popular opinion, leather pants are only an optional choice of clothing!
Being positioned in Bayern, sports such as cricket tend to be viewed in an extremely objective manner. If ongoing issues like the NHL lockout have become so dramatic that players are searching elsewhere for game time, including Germany, then I don't feel so bad about playing cricket here. In fact, issues like this justify the feeling. Keeping track of international cricket during the southern hemisphere's summer is quite a different story. There is so much drama, politics, hype and flash, that one can't help but feel objective. Cricket, unfortunately, isn't the quiet afternoon game it has always been envisioned as. Increasingly, it seems there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that the romantic image of cricket may well have been nothing more than just an image. There is so much content that can be drawn from one international cricket series that even a film screenwriter would blush with embarrassment!
Over the next few months the following international battles are due to take place: South Africa vs. Australia, England vs. India, New Zealand vs. Sri Lanka, West Indies vs. Bangladesh. Then next on the agenda is Pakistan vs. India, South vs. New Zealand, Sri Lanka vs. Australia...the list continues (throughout the whole year) including a global tournament and a lead up to the infamous Ashes, which for those that don't know is the proverbial Holy Grail of cricket for England and Australia. You'd also be wrong in thinking that these battles involve one format of the game. There is now far more to modern cricket than an exchange of test matches. The inclusion of T20's and One Day Internationals reads more like a 5-a-day list than anything else but when you consider than the exchange of test matches could be as high as five and even then, you sometimes still remain without a winner, it's easy to see why a number of people are struggling to immediately be drawn in by the sport. With all this action, it is worth noting that if you where playing in leather pants, you would be walking around like a cowboy on steroids!
Of course, the on-field events of cricket are the main draw of the game. The events of the administration side though, are at times just as, if not more entertaining. From players falling out with teammates and management, government intervention, public outcries on player selection, to the introduction of new rules and technology (and there are plenty of rules in cricket, believe me) and the odd match fixing saga and drug offence, there are media blackouts and even rogue cricket leagues being contrived and formed as a result of this off-field circus.
It's a time consuming sport and sure a frying pan to the head by a significant other is always a risky obstacle to duck away from (same cricket life threatening events, different country), but it's the entertainment value that remains seriously underrated. Tomorrow the Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke will toss the coin against his South African counterpart to start another epic, five star (and five day for that matter) battle to decide who is the number one test team on the planet. If one coin toss can gather the attention of fans from Australia to Germany, then the world of cricket is truly a global sport that should never be undervalued, underestimated and maybe mostly importantly, understood. Yes, that's right, understood. No matter what part of the planet you are from, finding a reason to justifying standing around for five days in white pants will more often than not lead to a frying pan being violently propelled at you!