26th May: Chennai S. Kings v Mumbai I, 14:30 GMT
24th-28th May: 2nd Test, Headingley
Cricket is one of the most popular and played sports on the planet; it is accessible to a range of countries, classes and crosses gender boundaries. It is also an enjoyable sport for spectators and as a result is a lucrative sport for broadcasting companies and sponsors. There are hundreds of reasons to go to the cricket but here are the ten best according to John Pryor.
1. You get to dress up
Young or old, extrovert or, slightly less extrovert, you get to dress up when you go to the cricket. Some will choose fancy dress; from experience Batman and Robin rarely miss an England game and Santa Claus regularly makes the round trip from the North Pole to Lords.
Some of the more unique costumes of the past include the Grim Reaper, Kermit the Frog and Darth Vader. For others, cricket is the opportunity to wear the most colourful and dashing of outfits, cricket being the only place other than Henley where it is acceptable to wear trousers of every colour of the rainbow: power red is usually amongst the favourites.
Coupled with the traditional Panama hat and stylish sunglasses a day at the cricket gives you the license to dress to impress.
2. Indulge in intellectual conversation
Yes, seriously. At the start of the day the cricket offers the opportunity to discuss topics such as business, politics and the ins and outs of the game. Obviously as the day wears on and the beer begins to flow conversation swiftly moves on to which of the Spice Girls you most fancy (ok, Girls Aloud) and where one will indulge in curry eating on that particular evening.
Whatever the match, you can guarantee an eclectic and entertaining mix of conversation topics.
3. Admire sporting talent
Arguably the main aim of going to the cricket is to admire sportsmen performing at the top of their game, something you can never quite appreciate by watching sport on television.
The pace at which the bowlers bowl, the sweetness of an on drive and, rather strangely, the distance the wicket keepers stand back can only really be appreciated live. These are sportsmen at the peak of their performance; to admire them in the flesh is something special.
4. To indulge oneself in gluttony
Going to the cricket is quite simply an excuse to eat all day long. Traditional snacks include the pork pie, cocktail sausages, a wide selection of crisps and nuts, and, of course, large volumes of rather cheap beer consumed from slightly grubby plastic pint glasses. So put that diet on hold and pack up that picnic basket as nobody goes hungry at the cricket.
5. To have a good sing song
Forget karaoke, The X-factor or Pop Idol, cricket matches provide the opportunity to sing your heart out to a range of cultural (and less cultural) classics. Where else would you get the opportunity to perform ‘Jerusalem’ followed by a chorus of ‘Who Ate all the Pies’ In front of 20,000 people?
6. You can have an excellent nap
This is far from a derogatory statement about the entertainment value of cricket. Rather it is a celebration of the freedom which the game offers to the spectator, liberating them to drop in and out of the action.
Many cricket fans (older men in particular) will speak of the memorable post-lunch time nap they have enjoyed during a Test match. Napping during the cricket is unique because being at the cricket relieves the pressures of everyday life and there is nothing expected of the spectator.
There is no need to keep on top of the action at all times and if an exciting moment happens it will inevitably be replayed when a satisfactory nap has been completed.
7. To behave like a naughty schoolboy
The stewards are an integral part of cricket matches, keeping the crowd under control and ensuring that the day’s play runs smoothly. Nevertheless, everybody enjoys winding them up just a little.
Some realise childhood ambitions of becoming builders by constructing towers made of pint glasses; following construction the challenge is then the preservation of one’s creation, swiftly passing them around the crowd to avoid the steward who takes on the role of the wrecking ball.
Other such childish pursuits include the odd food fight and the musician who will not obey the steward’s orders to keep quite. For the more daring (and drunk) cricket fan there is the opportunity to streak around the field, though this behaviour is never to be condoned.
8. Become at one with nature
The majority of us spend the working week in the office craving the opportunity to spend time outside experiencing the elements. Going to watch the cricket you can guarantee exposure to everything the weather has to offer. The day may well begin with sunshine forcing you to don the sun cream and sport the shades but things can, and do quickly change.
Every experienced cricket fan will pack a waterproof because the rain will always creep in on the day when you forget to pack it. Swirling wind is another delight which some will be lucky enough to experience during a day at the cricket, but hey, at least you’re out of the office.
9. Meet the stars of the game
There’s a hero for everybody at the cricket - the younger fans may get the opportunity to meet their current heroes prior to or after the game, while the older generations could run into stars of the past walking around the ground.
Autograph opportunities abound aplenty and whatever age you are there is no denying that meeting your favourite player, past or present, can make your day.
10. Witness moments of history
It’s not often that you can say about your day, “people will talk about what I witnessed for decades to come.” Going to the cricket has the potential to offer you this opportunity. How many people can say, “I was there when England won the Ashes in 2005,” or, “I saw Brian Charles Lara carve his name in the record books with a score of 501?” The answer is very few.
© Cricket World 2012
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