A beginner’s guide to the world of cricket

It seems, with the opening of the Indian Premier League last week that cricket is back on the agenda.
The sign that the summer has arrived in England is that the cricket season has begun. This column piece will be a brief overview of what is happening in the world of cricket from the domestic game to international matches. This may get a little confusing to those who really don’t understand cricket, but there is no other way around it since the terminology is built around the game.

To start with, I think it would be good to look at the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL) season. The IPL started in 2008 as a high-paying cricket league. India is the most populous country that plays cricket and is consistently one of the best teams in the world. In most countries, domestic cricket is not very popular but packed stadiums watch international cricket. The IPL has changed domestic cricket in India and the world because it has brought large amounts of money to the sport and created a format that people can get behind. Essentially, each team is given a salary cap, like in American football, and they can use this salary cap to buy top international players at auction before the season begins. Most players can declare themselves for auction and basically sell themselves to the highest bidder. This can range from some receiving only $20,000 while others get $2,000,000 for the season. These players will play for the season for one team but can declare themselves for auction each year and play for different teams.

The tournament consists of a series of over 20 games lasting only about two and a half hours each, so that games can finish in one day or can be viewed after work by fans. This makes the tournament incredibly popular and brings in crowds of up to 90,000 per game. This, in turn, makes cricket much more accessible to the general public, which is great for the game. The season is too early to make any certain predictions and it won’t really become clear for another week who is going to make a strong run for the title.

I really enjoy watching cricket and the fast-paced nature of the game, which is code for “I have no real preference for who is going to win and I am not going to support a team just because they are winning.” I just like following certain players, mainly England’s Kevin Pietersen of the Delhi Daredevils.

On the international front, England has only managed to draw their series with Sri Lanka 1-1. It has been a very disappointing winter for the England national team, who has not performed well since beating India last summer. They have the West Indies and South Africa coming to visit over the summer and hopefully they can dominate at home. While India is currently preoccupied with hosting the largest cricket tournament on the planet, Australia and the West Indies are battling it out in a hard-fought contest.

Canada has been playing Namibia in the Intercontinental Cup, not a very important match mind you but at least it shows the variety of teams that are playing. Though what is worth looking out for this winter is going to be the 20 over Cricket World Cup where the top teams and some lower teams will battle for the title. It is always worth a watch because sometimes, usually against England, the lower teams-let’s say the Netherlands and/or Ireland-manage a rare but all too common victory. Its one of the many surprising things about cricket and a good reason not to be an England supporter.

James is a sophomore. You can reach him at jivey1@swarthmore.edu.

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