On Thursday evening, Dave and I waded into the great global tradition that is cricket. We went to Lord's Cricket Ground, which from what I gather is the Yankee Stadium of cricket -- hallowed ground to fans the world over. (Hey, down in front!)
Before we went, I didn't know the first thing about cricket. All that batting and running between wickets was a mystery to me. Like many Americans, I suspect, I couldn't help comparing everything to baseball. But Dave's colleague Gordon, who plays cricket himself, was there to explain things to us.
Apparently the match we saw, between the Middlesex and Surrey teams, is a sort of abbreviated form of cricket. Test cricket matches, the more traditional form in which players wear whites, can go on for days, as I understand it. Our game was shorter and flashier -- there were flag-waving fans, sequined cheerleaders (!) and players in bright jerseys.
I shouldn't try to explain the game as I grew to understand it over the course of the evening. I know I'll get it wrong, and cricketers everywhere will protest. But I was fascinated by the fact that the game is played in the round -- when the batsman hits the ball, it can fly or roll in any direction, even behind him. The batsman's job is to defend his wickets, which the other team tries to knock down -- if they do, the batsman is out.
While we were watching the game, I was also trying to absorb some of the ambience of Lord's. This is the media center, which looks like a giant space-age Tic Tac. The hotel where Dave and I stayed when we first came to London is just across the street, and I remember wondering what the heck that big lozenge on stilts could be.
This is the Pavilion, which I believe is the oldest part of Lord's. Gordon said that's where the fancy people sit. Needless to say, we did not sit there.
The game was fun, but it was incredibly chilly -- 59 degrees with an even cooler wind. I brought a sweater and I was still freezing, despite consuming about half a bottle of cava. (We also brought boxed dinners. How great that fans can bring their own food and drink!) The game got postponed twice for rain, and finally Dave and I called it quits and went home during the second half. I have no idea who won.