Paul Ashford Harris

The Origin of Cricket

Cricket can only be comprehended if it is remembered that it was invented by the English before the arrival of Television. It was invented for a good reason. The favourite pastime of the English, with the possible exception of Morris dancing, is doing nothing. Before television it was hard to think of an excuse for doing nothing. Cricket is perfect. You have twenty two players divided into two teams of eleven. One team bats and the other fields. Of the team batting, nine members immediately retire to deckchairs to sleep, drink tea or read the newspaper. Of the two actually batting only the one facing the bowler does anything; the other one leans on his bat at the other end and makes smart remarks to the slips fielders or the umpire.

Of the team fielding, nine immediately spread out all over the ground and enjoy the sunshine whilst waiting for something to happen. Usually nothing does, so this is quite pleasant if the sun’s out, not that usual in England. If there is any hint of rain everyone goes to the pub, which is even better than cricket, especially as you now have an excuse for coming home smashed at midnight. Of the two remaining players on the fielding side, one rushes up and down bowling and the other one squats in the Budda position behind the stumps like a still life, apart from the occasional acrobatic leap if the ball comes his way.

After each set of six balls has been bowled the fielding side all change positions. This is to stop them getting stiff from standing around and gives them a change of view.

So, from twenty two players the only essentially significant activity is actually performed by only two of the participants, the batsman facing and the bowler bowling. Perfect.

What’s even more cunning of the English is that instead of the game taking around an hour and a half like most sensible games cricket can take all day and even on occasion two days or actually five days. How else could anyone find an excuse for doing nothing for five days? Rounding out the perfection of their scheme, the English deemed that all the really important games will be played for five days. This means that all the spectators now also have a perfectly legitimate excuse for doing nothing for five whole days without the objection of employers or better still wives. You can see why the crowds are so big.

The English were so excited about finding an excuse for doing nothing that they introduced the game to Australians who like doing nothing too, especially if at the same time they can drink beer and shout insults at anyone about who is not Australian. Naturally it caught on.  The English also introduced the game to South Africans, Indians and West Indians, who ruined the whole concept by thinking it was serious and being good at it.

Learning from their mistake the English looked around for other countries to introduce cricket to, especially countries they knew they would be bound to beat. This was not successful. The French didn’t like cricket because it was English. the Germans didn’t like it because no one was killed playing it, and the Italians and Greeks didn’t like it because they were already doing nothing very well and didn’t see why they needed organised nothing, organisation being an unknown commodity in Europe south of Switzerland. The Swiss only wanted to umpire.

The English also tried to introduce cricket to the Americans but the Americans were shocked at the idea of doing nothing. The English should have realised that Americans don’t like doing nothing preferring to do something all the time, “twenty four seven” as they say. The trouble is the Americans, and most of the other countries doing something, do more damage doing something than the English do doing nothing. Just look at the UN which is full of countries doing something, mostly killing each other. Cricket is a better option.

So well done the English, and I propose the UN adopt cricket as their “Sport du Jour” and bring on the first five day “ best of five” contest between North and South Korea, something to really look forward to.

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