When I moved to Hong Kong almost a decade ago, all I knew about cricket is that it’s played by mostly Commonwealth countries over five days, in tidy white outfits, and that it kind of looks like baseball. However, my sports-mad partner watches the sport constantly, live or in replay, a devotion that is only to be interrupted by another Commonwealth sport, rugby.
I now know more about cricket than I ever hoped to know in my life. To this day, I still don’t really get all of it but then that is something even the most avid fan will say. However, I will give it a try:
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The basics, from a basic
As confusing as it is, the main objective is to score as many runs as you can, in the number of balls allowed. You as a batsman score a run by hitting a ball that is bowled to you by a bowler. it’s called a run because you are counting how many times you can run across a pitch, and the number of runs awarded is based on how far you hit the ball. Out of the boundaries, you are automatically awarded six runs. The bowler is trying to get you "out" by trying to dislodge the bales on top of three wickets; you are essentially trying to protect your bales by hitting the ball away from it. When you are out, another batsman replaces you until the team runs out of batsmen, then it’s the other team’s turn to bat. In the longest form, Test cricket, a team’s players always wear white and have to play 90 overs per day over five days and each inning lasts until 10 players are declared out. In the shorter form, each inning is either 50 or 20 overs long. In all forms, an over has six balls each.
While Test cricket is like watching paint dry, my partner and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch South Africa at the Cricket World Cup (CWC) in London. Held over the summer all over England, the 12th edition of the CWC had 10 countries participating with a global audience of about a billion from the group stages to the final. It was so close up to the last ball that was thrown until England won on a technicality—how is that for exciting? Celebrities in attendance included Damian Lewis of Billions fame, as well as Rihanna and Ed Sheeran.
A day at Lord’s
Over the years, I’d picked up a good knowledge of the game that’s very useful for trivia nights. I have even picked up a favorite player—the inimitable and unflappable Hashim Amla, former captain of South Africa. Mostly, I was going to support my very hardworking partner, watching his team, and for the opportunity to watch my favorite player. The timing couldn’t have been better; my partner’s team, South Africa, was playing in London at the World Cup, the weekend before an important conference to be held in the city.
We walked a good 10 minutes from the train station to Lord’s, widely considered as the home of cricket. You could already feel the crowd’s excitement from a few stations before where we were to get off. Walking to the venue, crowds were singing anthems, cheering and sometimes heckling the other side (all in good fun. of course).
The day starts with a breakfast at around 9am, takes a break for lunch at 1pm, and if the game is long enough, for afternoon tea. I don’t know of any other sport that has better catering. It is, if anything, civilized. We were lucky enough to have access to the Captain’s Lounge and meet a former England Captain, Mike Gatting. He sat with us through breakfast and gave us his take on the day’s match as well as his view of the tournament.
While South Africa did not win, it was a great day to be out at Lord’s. Pakistan played exciting cricket and took home the win. It was a fine English summer day of warm sun and some strawberries and cream. The crowds were animated, cheering every four and six, and groaning with every out. There is nothing quite like cheering for your nation at sport that brings out the loudest cheer. (Okay, except maybe Ateneo versus La Salle at the UAAP.)
I was in awe of the history of Lord’s, the game, and what it all meant to my partner.
Bringing it home
Our love for the sport extends to supporting a team of our own. My partner and I had heard about the first all Filipina cricket team in Hong Kong, The SCC Divas. They are lead by their captain, Josie Arimas who was a former Philippine national softball player. Since moving to Hong Kong, Josie learned the sport by playing for the Hong Kong Cricket Club.
A few years ago, she started her own team with her friends. Now, through word of mouth, the Divas have two teams, one each in the main league and the development league. They have been champions in the latter in the past two seasons even if they can only come together on Sundays on their day off. They are coached by the former coach of the HK national women’s team, and managed by an experienced cricket umpire and player who grew up in Hong Kong.
With their recent winning streak at the development league, The Divas plan to come home to the Philippines in this December to compete in a league that is being organized by the newly formed Philippine Cricket Association, with the hope that some of them will be selected for the first national squad.
For my partner and I to sponsor and work with the Divas was an easy decision to make. It gave us an opportunity to combine my passion for working with my kababayan here in Hong Kong, and my partner’s love for the sport. We hope that some of our friends at The Divas will be selected for the new national squad; it would be an honor to one day see a Diva or two represent the Philippines at Lord’s.
For more on the SCC Divas, visit their Facebook page.