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Q-C cricketeers: If your game won't kill me, I might want to play
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Q-C cricketeers: If your game won't kill me, I might want to play

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I am not a big sports guy. This might come as a shock to those of you who look at my picture and naturally assume that I'm a buff jock.

In this world, there are those who play sports; there are those who watch other people play sports; and there are those who were too busy DJ-ing the post-game dance to even worry about what kind of game was being played. When it comes to athletics, I always have been, and always shall be, woefully inept. 

Occasionally, though, sports can be fun to watch, especially if you have no clue what's going on.

Last Saturday, my friends and I were heading out on a much-needed aimless joyride when we stumbled across something I'd never seen before in the Quad-Cities: a cricket match. There, in the fields of Jacobs Park in East Moline, a handful of guys stood around gleefully cricketing away. None of us had seen a live cricket match before, so we decided to pull in and spectate for a bit.

Cricket is somewhat of a distant cousin to baseball, in that both sports involve batters trying to hit balls that are pitched their way. Instead of a diamond, cricket is played on an oval field with defenders surrounding the batter on nearly all sides. There's a whole lot of standing around and not doing much. In other words, cricket might be a sport I could handle.

When I got home that night, I researched cricket to figure out the rules. It turns out this simple-looking game is a bit more complex than it appears, and comes with its own incomprehensible vocabulary — such as this, from Wikipedia: "The ball can be bowled so that it bounces on the pitch, is a yorker, or a full toss. A no ball or a wide does not count towards the six balls in the over." Huh?

Wikipedia also informed me that when it comes to determining whether or not a batter is out, "even though the wicket may have been put down, or the ball caught, the batsman is not actually dismissed until the fielding team appeals to the umpires for a decision, traditionally using the phrase 'How's that?' or 'Howzat?'"

After reading that, I was more than ever convinced that cricket could be my sport. I might not make a good ball catcher or a good wicket put-down-er, but I'm pretty sure I could make an exceptional Howzat-man, should any team need my services.

I honestly did want to learn more about cricket, but had no idea where to turn. Then I had an epiphany. Unfortunately, it might have been a slightly racist epiphany. At the end of my block is a gas station that I frequent daily, and over the years, I've become friendly with the Indian family that runs the place. Cricket is popular in India, and I had a feeling those guys knew everything about the sport. But would it be an uncool stereotype to assume so?

So yep, I started a conversation with the phrase, "I apologize if I'm making a bad stereotype here ...," which always means, "I'm definitely making a bad stereotype here." Thankfully, my inquiry was met with a smile.

"Sorry, dude," my friend said. "I'm not very sporty," which is probably why we're friends. But he did know everything about the rules of cricket, and he told me all about how it's played. 

Even more convinced that I'd finally found a sport I could get along with, I decided to check out some cricket videos on YouTube. Right next to all the "how-to-cricket" videos were dozens of videos with titles like "HORRIBLE CRICKET INJURY!" and my personal favorite, "TOP TEN CRICKET DEATHS ON THE PITCH." Whoa.

I'd like to say that I was respectful and classy enough to skip the shock-and-awe videos and focus only on the educational videos. Nope. Instead, I sat there for a half-hour watching the sport of cricket maim people. I saw teeth fly out of mouths in slow motion. I saw groins that never will be the same.

Over the years, I've learned a few simple Laws of Shane. An important one: If it's possible for something to injure me, it most likely will. Cricket seems fun, but so does keeping all my teeth in my mouth. I've seen all the safety equipment you should be wearing to play cricket, but I didn't see much padding going on at Jacob Park.

Before I discover my inner jock, I want to watch a few more matches. When it comes to cricket, I might make a better spectator than player. If you're an area cricketeer and you're playing soon, shoot me an email, and maybe I'll come check it out. Howzat?

Shane Brown is a columnist for the Dispatch•Argus•QCOnline. Email him at sbrown@qconline.com or visit his blog at shanebrown.blogspot.com.

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