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Six good reasons to finally take an interest in cricket


The World Cup final of the second most popular sport in the world is played on Sunday in Melbourne. In France, the indifference is total.

Cricket has never really crossed the English Channel. Perhaps because of its complex rules, perhaps because of its image as an aristocratic sport only played by English lords. At a time when the final of its eleventh World Cup is being played – this Sunday in Melbourne, the two organizing teams, New Zealand and Australia, face off – it might be time to get excited about cricket, the sport with a billion fans. The reasons abound.

1] France is the reigning Olympic vice-champion
Velodrome de Vincennes, Olympic Games of 1900. The first cricket match in the history of the Olympic Games sees the teams of France and the United Kingdom compete. It will be the only one. The British are winning by a large margin. The French team was then made up of an assembly of English players on the go in Paris, while the United Kingdom team consisted only of amateurs. Participants who do not even know that they are playing an Olympic match there: the meeting will indeed be officially recognized as an Olympic final twelve years later. After these two matchdays, cricket left Olympism. A return in 2024 cannot be ruled out, however.

2] It is the sport of all sports
The origins of modern cricket date back to the 18th century. It was at this time that the game was codified, regulated and that clubs were set up. “This representation at club level will also inspire all other sports thereafter, reveals Sébastien Darbon, an anthropologist at the CNRS specializing in sport. Cricket is the foundation of so-called modern sports. Clubs which can also be of considerable importance: the Marylebone Cricket Club, based in London, was until 1993 the governing body of cricket, and is still the holder of the rights to the laws of sport. A bit as if PSG had the power to change the rules of football.

3] The rules aren’t that complicated after all
In summary, two teams of 11 players compete in turn. One bats first (the order is decided by a coin toss at the start of the match): the goal of each batsman is to score as many points as possible without being eliminated. For this, several solutions: the first is to send the ball far enough to be able to run and cross the pitch, a strip 20 meters long in the middle of the field. Each time he reaches the other end, the batsman scores a run. The other way to score points is to send the ball out of bounds, a sort of home run worth six points (four points if the ball hits the bounds before going out).

Meanwhile, the opposing team tries to eliminate the batsmen as quickly as possible. Several means are possible here too: the pitcher can try to hit the wicket, the three stakes posted behind the batsman, or the other players can catch the ball before it hits the ground once it has been batted. Once all ten batsmen of a team have been eliminated, the inning is over. The other team beats and must then attempt to exceed the number of points of the first team. Depending on the match formats, there may be one or two rounds per team, the match may end after a certain duration or a certain number of pitches. All this is decided in advance, between gentlemen.

4] It is said to be the “second most popular sport in the world” (thanks India)
The assertion comes up often. After football, cricket is the second most popular sport in the world. Difficult to quantify. But with India’s status as the most popular sport and its one billion population, cricket certainly has a fan base that is hard to top. However, this sport is played in a relatively small number of countries. From the Caribbean to Pakistan to Oceania, the parts of the globe invaded by cricket are reshaping the old British Empire. And its establishment was not a foregone conclusion. Sébastien Darbon, from the CNRS, summarizes: “The British came to India with cricket, football and rugby. Rugby did not take, because with the caste system in India, physical contact imposed by rugby disturbed. Unlike cricket, a more aristocratic sport. Sixty years after the independence of their country, they were 40,000 Indians who came to sing their anthem in the Adelaide stadium for the first match of the World Cup in February.

5] It promotes peace in the world, just that
“Cricket diplomacy” is a formula now used every four years, at each World Cup. Again in February, it was cricket that allowed India and Pakistan to renew diplomatic relations, six months after having interrupted them because of the conflict in Kashmir. After an India-Pakistan match in the first round of the World Cup, the Indian Prime Minister proposed to his Pakistani counterpart to meet his Minister of Foreign Affairs. A proposal immediately accepted. “Historically, whenever India and Pakistan have gone through a period of tense bilateral relations, cricket has come to the rescue,” said cricket historian Boria Majumdar in 2009. This was particularly the case in 1961 and 1978 after a diplomatic rupture between the two countries following the partition of India.

6] French cricket is a sport of the future
Well, we are not going to oversell the French cricket team: it is still far from being able to claim a place in the World Cup. But, little by little, the France Cricket federation, which manages everything related to this sport, capitalizes on its 1,400 licensees and launches several initiatives to make itself known. By introducing cricket in primary schools in 35 departments already: a system initiated in February 2012 and planned to last until 2021.

The French also have nothing to envy the English in terms of class and aristocracy: the Thoiry club plays its matches in the gardens of the Château de Thoiry, under the patronage of the Count and Countess of La Panouse. The France team is trying to climb the level of the World Division 5. It is composed mainly of players of Indian, Pakistani or Sri Lankan origins, and still includes a former professional in India, Waseem Bhatti, and a young batting hope, Zika Ali, 20 years old. Enough to defend the title of Olympic vice-champion in 2024.

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Written by Line Guru

Hi, I'm Line Guru. A True Cricket Fan. I am obsessed with Writing & sharing Cricket News Updates here. I mostly post about Test, ODI & T20I, and League Matches.

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