Cricket Mania

For years now, I’ve been experiencing the onset of a slow love affair with cricket. Maybe it’s because I love puzzles (especially the cryptic kind), and here in North America, cricket is usually shrouded in mystery.  It’s viewed as baseball’s exotic, off-kilter cousin whose rules are just a bit too cryptic to figure out, thank you very much, especially if there’s a baseball game on.

As it turns out, just as with cryptic crosswords, puzzling through the rules of cricket offers great satisfaction.  Now that I have a clue what’s happening on the pitch, I can hardly tear myself away.  And the language!  Can any other sport compete with googlies, doosras, yorkers, maiden overs and ducks?

There’s a kind of poetry to cricket.  In honour of the 2011 Cricket World Cup, about to begin in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, here’s my mini-doc on how I came to love the sport:

And my guide to Team Canada appears in this week’s edition of Eye Weekly in Toronto.

This year, from the Canadian perspective, there’s a particular poetry to the Cricket World Cup.  Our team, though not expected to do very well, can hold its head high.  It’s a uniquely Canadian team made up of people from many cultures, just like Canada.  And because cricket is still finding its legs here, some of them have to keep day jobs – there’s a structural engineer and an inventory manager on the team, for example, both of whom are on leave to play at the biggest tournament of them all.

So it’s a team of hard-working, unsung sports heroes.  An easy team to like, and an easy team to cheer for.

By the way, cricket has a long history in Canada.  The first mention of cricket on the historical record – anywhere – is to a game that took place on Ile-Ste-Hélène in Montréal in 1785.  And the first international match on record involved Team Canada, in 1844, vs Team USA.

Go Canada!

P.S. to fellow cryptic puzzle aficionados:

100 runs a wicket? No-win scenario. But what a game! (7)

2 comments on “Cricket Mania

  1. I’ve written a book called “A History of Canadian Cricket: An immigrant’s game?”, which is available from and

    The first Test match was actually played in 1877 between England and Australia. Canada V US in 1844 was the first international match. The seeds for this encounter had been sown 4 years earlier when a team from New York turned up unexpectedly at Toronto. A hoaxer had convinced the New Yorkers that he was from Toronto Cricket Club and the Torontonians would be expecting them. If you want further details, please contact me!

    1. Paolo says:

      Hi Patrick,
      I’ve been seeing you on twitter @CdnCricketHst – I’m @paolopp. Nice to see you here; thanks for the visit and for your comment. Thanks too for the correction about the first Test/first international – I’ll fix that. Great to hear about your book – sounds fascinating! I will look it up.

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