Cricket and culture

Cultural Insights — By on March 28, 2007 at 2:05 am

The 2007 World Cup of Cricket is currently being played in the Caribbean. The sporting event is not getting much coverage in the U.S., not surprisingly, especially with March Madness going on. Shashi Tharoor, a diplomat and writer who recently published an op-ed column about his passion for cricket, says he is resigned to the fact that the sport will not catch on in this country.

… friends of mine in New York are already planning a World Cup party at the home of an expatriate with a satellite dish. The party will be attended by a raucous group of Indians and Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Brits, Australians and Zimbabweans. But of course there will be no Americans.

What I found more interesting about Tahroor’s op-ed, though, are the points he makes about the sport of cricket and the cultures that are most passionate about it.

In any event, nothing about cricket seems suited to the American national character: its rich complexity, the infinite possibilities that could occur with each delivery of the ball, the dozen different ways of getting out, are all patterned for a society of endless forms and varieties, not of a homogenized McWorld. They are rather like Indian classical music, in which the basic laws are laid down but the performer then improvises gloriously, unshackled by anything so mundane as a written score.

Cricket is better suited to a country like India, where a majority of the population still consults astrologers and believes in the capricious influence of the planets — so they can well appreciate a sport in which, even more than in baseball, an ill-timed cloudburst, a badly prepared pitch, a lost toss of the coin at the start of a match or the sun in the eyes of a fielder can transform the outcome of a game. Even the possibility that five tense, hotly contested, occasionally meandering days of cricketing could still end in a draw seems derived from ancient Indian philosophy, which accepts profoundly that in life the journey is as important as the destination. Not exactly the American Dream.

His piece is a fun read. And, if you are by chance interested in knowing more about the Cricket World Cup, you can read about it here.

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  1. Anju Chandel says:

    Bob, you are the first American who is not “United with the States of America” against Shashi Tharoor for his highly passionate piece (and ‘a bit carried away’ one, too!) on the beautiful game of cricket in his recent NYT column! To me, however, he never appeared as being against America or Americans in particular. Anyway, good that the world has started to forget and forgive:)

  2. ankit says:

    to know everything about cricket in india,from a ranji trophy player himself,just click on this link.

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