With Tiger back on the prowl at number one, Webber and Vettel locking horns again and the European winter overrunning into summer, it is cricket that seems to be clawing its way back into the interest of many in the northern hemisphere.
A challenge I have faced whilst in Germany is developing a better understanding of the game of cricket. Statistics, names, countries and records all seem to fall on deaf ears. Rules are more confusing and the consumption of time that the game actually takes just leaves individuals with either puzzled looks or raised eyebrows! As if the German challenge wasn't hard enough, I thought I would further test myself with an Estonian!
Welcome back to my never-ending conversations explaining the game of cricket!
Estonia is not known for its cricket and nor should it be. A country on the financial and technology rise, cricket is the last thing on the mind of the average Estonian. Then again the same could be said for Germany. However, I find myself sitting in Bavaria of all places explaining the life and times of the cricket to non other than an Estonian!
His thoughts on the sport at hand hardly inspired me. "A long, evil game with no emotion," is how he started. Watching online clips of cricket and trying to explain the game as a combination of chess and baseball (a term I find myself saying on a regular basis these days) seemed to help. He translated this as "boring." It was proving tough going.
I needed the support of Tony Mayger to help portray cricket in fighting terms but he was nowhere in sight so I opted for YouTube instead and it proved to be fairly close to a boxing press conference.
I turned to some real life examples in desperation. The South African cricket team affirming their number one test ranking status in the game with a series win over Pakistan was my first port of call. The second, the efforts of Michael Clarke as both Australia captain and run scoring machine. Then, most recently, Monty Panesar being involved in another last wicket survival feat which allowed England to save a test series against New Zealand.
The Estonian remained muted. I was running out of ideas. I spoke about the antics of the Indian team beating Australia in four consecutive games and then of course that the West Indies squashed Zimbabwe. At this point he tried to divert the conversation to football. So in true boxing style I countered. Putting forward the fast aggressive deliveries of fast bowlers, I threw my last hopeful throw of the dice.
This got his attention. As I started to mention speeds of 140km/h and above, he seemed to perk up. Sending a cricket ball down at express pace seems to be the ticket when speaking of cricket to a foreigner of the game.
It is true, cricket is a marathon game that takes hours if not days to complete and still on a regular basis ends in a draw! However, it is fast paced and dangerous - which to the appetite of any sports fan is exciting and inviting to watch. This brought emotion to the table. Cue the left hook.
The point is no matter how confusing cricket is to explain - even to an Estonian - it is the entertainment value that sells a sport ahead of the stats, the names, the countries and the records. People want to see flamboyance, aggression and most importantly, action. Cricket, though time consuming, is very much all of those things and more.
The Bavarian cricketing season starts on the 28th of April! Keep an eye out for us!