Pros: excellent explanations, funny, good glossary, cute cartoons
Cons: could use some photos
The Bottom Line: An excellent start to understanding this great British pasttime.
There is only one thing I miss about America: baseball. I have been a baseball fan from the moment I was born. I even worked at the Boston Red Sox's stadium (Fenway Park) because I love the game so much. Some people say that baseball is boring, but I believe that they only think it is dull because they don't understand the nuances of the game. People say the same thing about cricket, so I decided that I would join the cricket squad of the London university that I am attending for this spring.
At my first training session in January, there was one other American. Our coach told us we should cheer our fellow players on, so we both went, "Woo!!" Our coach reprimanded us, "Culturally appropriate cheering please, ladies!" It was at that time that I realized how much I had to learn about the rules of cricket AND its unusual customs.
In "Orbital's" epinion of Cricket Explained he writes that cricket is not meant to be understood by Americans and that is part of its mystery and allure. He also states that if someone does not understand the rules of cricket by the age of 15, he or she never will. Well, I may not understand ALL of the rules of cricket in its various forms, but I think that it is certainly possible to learn to appreciate the game (even at my ripe old age of 21.) However, I certainly subscribe to the theory that no one who has never eaten Marmite by the age of three can ever grow to like the taste. (For you people who have never tried the stuff, it tastes like the flavour packets from those instant Ramen noodles-- only stronger and more bitter! EEEWWW!!)
I have talked to lots of British people who don't understand the rules of cricket either! (And most of my hallmates say that it's boring, too.) Remember the part of Bridget Jones' Diary when Daniel is watching cricket and she is disdainful of it and bored out of her mind? Yeah. So, it was amusing to read this book on the Tube because a lot of women shot me sympathetic looks because they probably thought I wanted to learn the rules to impress a man or something. So, I didn't look like a tourist. YAY! (I definitely believe what Pulp says: "Everybody hates a tourist..." so I am constant fear of looking like one.)
One of my American friends sent me this book through Amazon.com for my birthday and it is extremely helpful. How many rule books and instruction manuals are funny and entertaining?! This book is concise and well-organized, starting with a brief introduction about the history of cricket and then launching into a question and answer format. The author has clearly watched many a cricket match with clueless fans who ask lots of questions, so he knows which questions are the most commonly asked.
Examples of questions include, "Who is winning?" (it's more complicated than you might think...), "Why do they all wear white?", "Can the matches last forever?" (yes, test matches can theoretically!), "Why do the bowlers rub the ball on their legs," and lots of questions about terminology. Cricket is really not as complicated as people make it seem-- it is just that there are several words that really mean the same thing. There is also a very helpful glossary with dozens and dozens of colourful cricketing terms such as "googly".
Also, there is a diagram with the names of all the positions. Some of the positions have really bizarre names like "silly mid off." However, you would probably have to watch a match on the telly to really get a feel for where the fielders stand. Also, the diagram of the different umpire signals was not that helpful either. It would have been more helpful to have some pictures in these cases. The author uses cartoons which are cute and funny, but not all that accurate or helpful.
This book is an excellent introduction to cricket or a good supplement to your existing knowledge. However, I regret to say, I played in my first match on Sunday and it was rather boring. And we only played 30 overs! I can't imagine playing in a test match that lasts five days!
But I am definitely glad that I took up cricket since it is a good "cultural experience." :) I even got to play in the indoor nets at the famed Lord's Cricket Ground in London. That would be like using the batting cages at Fenway Park to you baseball fans. I am looking forward to playing softball when I get home this June, but I will have fond memories of my brief cricket career.