Magazine topic: 

Cricket is basically baseball on Valium

by : 
Freddie Hodgson

“Cricket is basically Baseball on Valium”

                  Robin Williams – actor

Exemplary sportsmanship or the height of controversy? Old-fashioned and out-dated or modern and adaptable to change? Exciting or boring? Popular or irrelevant?

All these words mean very different things and yet they are all often used when describing the game of cricket. In fact, very few other team sports divide opinion quite as drastically as cricket, and it may surprise you to hear that it continues to be the second most popular sport worldwide. What makes this statistic even more impressive is that outside of the commonwealth countries (those which used to make up the British Empire), cricket attracts very little interest.

Yes football (or “soccer”) stands out as the world’s most popular sport. It has a huge worldwide fan-base, it is played on every continent and it is the national sport of around 90 countries. Cricket, however, is not too far behind. Indeed, on the 30th March 2011 over 1 billion people worldwide tuned in to watch India beat Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup semi-final. Just as many, if not more, would watch India conquer Sri Lanka in the final some three days later.

These statistics clearly show that cricket is a game that enjoys a vast and growing popularity. Its real beauty, however, is its ability to unite people. It transcends boundaries of race, age, gender, religion and political beliefs. The Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, for example, attended the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup together. This was the first time that the pair had met for three years because political disagreements and arguments had soured the relationship between their respective countries.

So what makes cricket such a popular game?

  •     It has a long and peculiar history. The first international match was played in 1844. In this period there was no limit to how much time a “Test Match” would last. In 1939, for example, a match between England and South Africa lasted for 12 days. The game had to be abandoned because the English team would have missed their boat home!
  •     It is a gentleman’s game. One of the most important and best-loved aspects of cricket is that it is played with a great deal of sportsmanship. The saying “it’s just not cricket” is used to describe something or someone that doesn’t act in a sporting manner.
  •     It appeals to all members of society. You may be young or old. Male or female. Rich or poor. Cricket doesn’t care which country you come from, or which language you speak. Nor is buying cricket equipment very expensive these days. Youngsters who love the game can make their own bat and ball out of any old junk!
  •     It’s a great way to meet people and you don’t even have to play the game to be a member of a cricket club. For many people enjoying a summer’s day watching cricket is a simple pleasure and a treasured pastime. In England, villagers gather at their local village green on Sunday afternoons to support their cricket team as they do battle against their rivals! Matches consist of 2 teams of 11 players and the aim of the game is to try to hit a leather ball as far as possible with a wooden bat.
  •     Relaxing and stress-free. As the Hollywood actor Robin Williams famously put it. “Cricket is basically baseball on Valium.” Spot on. 

All these reasons, and many others too, have combined to produce cricket’s astonishing popularity. However, it is in India that the game enjoys an unrivalled and almost unbelievable status. You can’t walk far through the streets of Mumbai without seeing a match taking place in the street. The generous and welcoming nature of the Indian people might also mean you are invited to join in yourself! This obvious passion for the game sees India’s national players hailed as gods amongst men and this allows them to earn extraordinarily large salaries. Indeed it is almost as if the happiness of a nation depends on the success of its national team!

Recently, however, cricket has had to adapt to a new generation of fans who prefer to watch a match from beginning to end within three hours rather than 5 days. 20/20 is a completely different format to 5-day test cricket, with each team allowed only 20 overs to get as many runs as possible (an over consists of 6 balls delivered by the bowler, which the batsman tries to hit to score a run. The further the ball travels the more runs a batsman gets).  This produces a far more fast-paced and action-packed game. Some people love it; some hate it. Since this format started in 2003, however, it has been a huge success. Games attract huge crowds; players earn vast sums of money, and the public’s thirst for action is quenched.

This historic game has a long future, which everyone can be a part of. If you have never played the game, or if you have never even heard of it, perhaps now is the time. Who knows you may be a future sporting superstar!

Language level: 

Are you a cricket lover? Tell us why you like or dislike cricket.

If cricket is new to you, would you like to have a go?


alina321's picture
alina321 26 June, 2015 - 05:22

I read your all stuff and it great. I am huge fan of cricket and i just would like to say cricket is my lifeline. I always watch matches online when i am in my office. I never miss any match.

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Jo - Coordinator's picture
Jo - Coordinator 26 June, 2015 - 08:31

Hi alina321,
Thanks for your comments on LearnEnglish Teens. This website is specially for teenagers aged 13-17 years old but it sounds like you might be older than that. You are welcome to keep on using LearnEnglish Teens but if you are over 17, please do NOT post any more comments as we must keep this strictly for teenagers to interact with each other. You are welcome to join our LearnEnglish page for adults and post comments there:
Best wishes, Joanna (LearnEnglish Teens team)

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Emperor's picture
Emperor 28 February, 2015 - 09:28

I'm also a cricket lover. I enjoy watching it and playing it in my school. I'm from Sri Lanka and our cricket team had won 2 world cups in 1996 and 2014.In our country all the people loves cricket. It is a very good game to play and it teach us how to work as a team.

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mickoviciqwe's picture
mickoviciqwe 11 November, 2013 - 19:50

As usual there are NO cricket pitches in Montenegro xD i bet that more than half of population in Montenegro didn't even hear for it :/ i think its a fun sport to try when you have some free time :)

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justcricketforme's picture
justcricketforme 24 October, 2013 - 14:05

i'd like to crongratulate all Brits on the Ashes win by England. It was awesome to watch them! Crongratulations English Cricket Fans!

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justcricketforme's picture
justcricketforme 4 September, 2013 - 14:49

I love cricket. Watching and playing are both my favourite hobbies. It's fun and healthy sport. Just can't live without cricket! Where ever I go doesn't really matters if I can follow cricket there! :)

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Natalija's picture
Natalija 1 September, 2013 - 08:28

I'm a cricket lover and I find cricket a very sophisticated sport. I played cricket a few times when I was in England and it was an interesting experience.

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Taqya's picture
Taqya 1 August, 2013 - 13:08

i ADORE cricket.I love to play it and my classmates too. We spend our games period playing cricket.

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mitcheljohn's picture
mitcheljohn 6 April, 2013 - 07:16

Cricket is not so much complicated game as other are. You just need a small introduction what it is and you start to know it. If you know baseball, it is going to be even easier for you.

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Irini Real Madrid's picture
Irini Real Madrid 19 January, 2013 - 17:25

cricket is new for me .
sure that i would like to have a go
can you help me and say how this game is played?

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Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
Jonathan - Coor... 20 January, 2013 - 04:00

Cricket is a difficult game to explain but I'll have a go!

There are two teams with 11 players. Can you see the player in the middle of the photo at the top of the page? He's the batsman. He's trying to protect the three wooden sticks standing in the ground, just behind the man on the left. They are called the stumps, and if the ball hits them, the batsman is 'out' (his turn is over)!

The batsman tries to hit the ball as far as possible, and then run to another set of stumps. This gets him one run (in cricket, points are called 'runs'). If he hits it really far, he scores four or even six runs.

To play, you need a bat and a ball. Cricket balls are very hard and heavy, but you can use a tennis ball instead.

Try it, you might like it! Are there any other cricket fans reading this? How do you play cricket at home in your countries? Write a comment and let us know!

Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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m.tayyab's picture
m.tayyab 2 August, 2012 - 06:02

yes i am a cricket lover. It is really true that cricket is all about th sportmanship.It is a game of love, people loves cricket very much. cricket is not new for me i am playing cricket for couple of years and i like it very much.

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