All over the globe, there are aspects of life that can make noticeable contributions to the very identity of a particular location, and in England it’s the game of cricket. The sport is popular in various pockets of the world such as Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian sub-continent, but in many countries it’s rarely played and sometimes barely even understood. But if you have never really seen what the appeal of it is, perhaps it’s time to try a little harder.
Cricket has been around for centuries, and it’s a huge contrast of a sport. It can be slow-paced and cerebral, yet it can also be wildly exciting and abandoned. On some occasions it rewards patience, yet on others it requires throwing caution to the wind. It has always been thought of as a gentleman’s game, but it produces occasional bouts of ill-temper and gamesmanship that will hit the headlines all over the world.
The rewards in the professional game are plentiful if you get to the top of the tree, but no-one has ever played the game just for the money. Fast bowlers from Pakistan, all-rounders from West Indies and opening batsmen from New Zealand will all tell you it’s the love of the sport that drives them on, not the promise of a hefty pay packet when the game has finished. It’s truly a purist’s pursuit, and that’s why so many people enjoy it.
To be in England when the sun shines
In England, the love affair with cricket goes right back to the birth of the game, and many legends of the sport have become household names over those years. From WG Grace and Jack Hobbs to Ian Botham and Kevin Pietersen, the game has always created superstars, yet it remains a true grass roots phenomenon, and a drive through the nation’s rural backwaters is enough to convince you of its importance.
From Cornwall in the south-west to Northumberland in the north-east, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of village cricket clubs which play throughout the summer. Organised matches have been around for hundreds of years, and wherever you are in England on a weekend in July, the chances are you won’t be far away from a local game, so why not stroll over and take a look at what’s going on?
At one time, cricket was the preserve of the very wealthy, but that all changed many moons ago. These days, a village side is likely to feature accountants and gentleman farmers playing alongside bricklayers and electricians, all brought together by the love of this intriguing sport. Next time you visit England, be sure to head for a cricket match and see why this passionate affair continues.
David Rice is a UK writer and a keen fan of cricket. He often attends matches at the Rose Bowl in Southampton. Car hire in the area is affordable, and so is hotel accommodation.
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