Cricket is a uniquely English thing, in my view. To those of you who are not from England (or formely English-dominated colonies), cricket can only be an acquired taste.
Just the basic explanation of the rules leaves the uninitiated completely stumped. (How come there is one guy who is 'not out' when in fact his team overall are 'all out'. What's that all about?)
Because if you didn't get hooked (pun not intended) on cricket when you were young, at a public school somewhere in the leafy home counties, then chances are you never will.
There is one exception, however. Go to any trading floor in the City, and you find the screens are streaming the live coverage from the five-day game as if it were more important than the latest share prices from the world's exchanges. And increasingly, people even from a non-Commonwealth background are prepared to stop their monosyllabic "Buy! Sell!" conversations with their 'counterparties' and watch the fine stroke play exhibited by the men in white. Why is that?
Sure, cricket is dull. It's incredibly dull. Precisely that is it's attraction. Don't get me wrong, I am a fan; I would much rather watch cricket than paint dry. Bankers like cricket, because most of the time, nothing happens. You can relax, quietly sit back and watch the world go by. This is the opposite of the fever pitch (sic) of the trading floor. You can sit outside, enjoy the sunshine (because cricket doesn't even happen when it rains) and if you really want to, still keep on top of business via the Blackberry.
Occasionally, however, there is a flurry of activity, and then it's always necessary to take stock of the new position. It's a bit like closing a new Over-the-Counter trade on the floor, and having to adjust your P&L position. A run scored, a wicket taken - but just reaching some or other record or round number. Because cricket revels in statistics and number-crunchery. And that all appeals to the bankers and accountants out there (just substitute 'run' for 'bean' in 'bean counter' and you know what I mean.)
Last year, during the World Cup, a Dutch colleague owned up to having got into cricket, and said, "It's just so strange - you'd think it would be a action-packed game, but most of the time it's just guys in identical strip either tapping the ground with the bats or rubbing the ball in their, well, you know, groin."
If you're not a a fan and think cricket (like warm beer and caning) belongs to the Dark Ages, then this banker asks you to bring a good book, enjoy the (nowadays typically) cold beer, or better still, the chilled champagne. Or just wait for the streaker.
In the mean time, you could get into the game itself. Because for some of us, it doesn't get much better than that. Howzat?
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