Our First Cricket Match

Last Saturday we went to our first cricket match, and it was an absolute blast.  The home team, the West Indies (nicknamed “the Windies”), was playing England in the Grenada National Cricket Stadium here in St. George’s.  The Windies are made up of players from 15 Caribbean nations/territories ranging all the way from the USVI to Guyana. 

Cricket matches come in different formats.  The match that we attended was a Test match; Test cricket has the longest match duration and is considered the highest level of cricket.  Think of it as the World Series in baseball.  Test cricket is just that:  a test of the team’s endurance over a physically and mentally grueling series of consecutive days, sometimes as many as five days in a row.  Depending on a variety of factors, the play runs for about 8 hours a day with a 40-minute break for lunch and a 20-minute break for tea.

This was an exciting and unusual opportunity to see a Test match, as there hasn’t been one in Grenada in the last 7 years. The news piece at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVSzmAGOZrc captures the excitement surrounding this match.

We attended the third day of what turned out to be a four-day Test match here in Grenada.  I am not going to try to explain the rules of cricket, because I have a pretty tenuous grasp of them as it is.  Trust me when I say that it is a relatively fast-moving game with quite a bit of strategy.  We found it incredibly enjoyable to watch in person.

I realize this just looks like a bunch of guys in white uniforms on a nice field. But the Grenada National Stadium is surrounded by gorgeous hills covered in colorful houses, with the ocean a stone’s throw away, and being at the match was so much more than just sitting on a hard seat and watching the game.

There was a large home team turnout that roared their approval at every Windies wicket (essentially an English batter striking out), but there was also a sizeable England contingent present.  We saw that many of them were on special sporting tours, so they came to Grenada just to see the cricket.  We ended up sitting in the middle of the Barmy Army, an English cricket club, and it was a crazy and fun experience.  They bring banners from their home football teams to hang; they have songs that they all know and sing at certain times or for certain players; and there’s plenty of shouting of encouragement.  There was even a fan playing a trumpet to stir everyone up.  It was really a hoot.

The wind was blowing pretty hard, so the banner is hard to read. It says “England all day, barmy all night.”

True to the Grenadian party spirit, over the lunch period there was a parade featuring drummers, dancers, and a man on stilts.  It was essentially a mini Carnival, including Jab Jab masqueraders covered head to toe in black oil.  As the day wore on, the drumming section got louder and louder during pauses in play, and by the end of the day, it was a full-on party.

We stayed in the stadium for a little over seven hours and watched every play.  It ended on a high note, with an avalanche of Windies wickets that set them up nicely for the next day’s match.  The next day, the Windies won the final match and beat England for the Richards–Botham Trophy.