Home MLB Web pick of the week: Baseball and Cricket

Web pick of the week: Baseball and Cricket

by Matt Smith

Web-PickWhile some like to set baseball and cricket against each other, many of us live by the maxim: why enjoy just one great bat-and-ball sport when you can enjoy two?

There are many links between the two sports and some of them will be uncovered in the new exhibition at the MCC Museum at Lord’s Cricket Ground. ‘Swinging Away: How Cricket and Baseball Connect’.  

Judging by the Lord’s website and a BBC Radio 4 Today Programme feature*, it looks like being a fascinating exhibition and one that all baseball fans in the UK should try and get to over the next six months or so.  We’ll be publishing some features about the exhibition in the near future.

The exhibition couldn’t have opened at a better time, coming as it does so soon after England’s glorious ICC World Twenty-20 triumph.  The short form of the game is the version most closely related to baseball and this is something picked up by Yorkshire and England great Geoffrey Boycott in a recent article for the Daily Telegraph:

“Some people still tend to take Twenty20 lightly, but in the last few weeks we have seen how skillful the game has become. It’s basically cricket’s answer to baseball. If you count up the average number of pitches thrown in a baseball match, it comes to around 100 per innings – which isn’t far short of the 120 balls we use in this format.

There are plenty of batsmen who will whack you out of the park if you bowl in the area where they like it. So a lot of thought has to go into the field placings and individual strategies for each opponent.

Just like a baseball pitcher, you are trying to stop them hit a home run, and you often need a Plan B and C as well as a Plan A”.

Meanwhile, another England great, Michael Atherton, stated in a recent column for the Times that a certain baseball book has also had an impact on the England cricket team:

“The ECB has a habit of sweeping its bad news so far under the carpet that it becomes invisible. Who remembers Peter Moores now? But Moores had a minor influence on England’s World Twenty20 victory because it was he who gave Andy Flower a copy of Michael Lewis’s seminal book, Moneyball, which has been at the heart of the England team director’s obsession with the statistical side of the game”.

These comments are a good example of how what’s often considered to be the public perception of North American sports often doesn’t reflect the reality. Most specifically, while some may try and dismiss baseball as glorified rounders and American Football as ‘a bunch of softies running around in shoulder pads’ and see them as pale imitations of cricket and rugby, the professionals actually involved in the British equivalents often have an enormous amount of respect and appreciation for the games played across the pond.  Indeed, one of England’s star players in the Twenty-20 tournament, opening batsman and wicket-keeper Craig Kieswetter, may well have drawn on his baseball experience to help his Twenty-20 batting approach. 

Let’s hope that England’s Twenty-20 tournament success and this new Lord’s exhibition help to break down barriers and make more Brits realise that you can love both cricket and baseball and that that two sports are complementary rather than opposing forces.

* (hat tip to Matthew Cranshaw for passing on the Radio 4 link)

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Ron Kaplan May 22, 2010 - 11:06 pm

Had the long-delayed pleasure of playing cricket recently while vacationing in Jamaica, albeit in a very child-friendly setting and using a tennis ball rather than the regulation. While there are a few clubs that play in a local park, I regret there is nothing for beginners (or for people of my relatively advanced age), but I’ll keeping looking.

Matt Smith May 24, 2010 - 5:35 pm

Hi Ron. Glad to read you’ve tried your hand at cricket. Hopefully you’ll be able to find some like-minded people to take your interest forward.


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