Cricket. The sport is often described as “a gentleman’s game.”
Invented by the British in the 16th century, it is now the world’s second most popular sport (in terms of fans).
Its fan base spread with the British Empire and the sport is particularly popular with countries from the Indian Subcontinent, Australasia and Southern Africa. And now Colombia…
But what exactly is it I hear many of you ask?
There are two teams of 11 players who have the aim of scoring more runs than the opposition.
There is a ball and two bats. And wickets. A helmet to protect your head. Pads to protect your legs. A box to protect your testicles. And a hard ball with the inside made of cork (hence the box and helmet).
One team will field, and the other team will bat. The aim of the fielding is team is to try to get the batsmen out. They do this by bowling (pitching for our American friends) against the batsman (batter) and attempting to hit the wickets (three sticks about hip height).
A bowler has six bowls in an over and then you change the bowler after every over. There is a limit of overs if the format is one day and unlimited overs for five days. Yes, test cricket lasts for five days.
You can also get people out by catching the ball, throwing the ball at the wickets when the batsmen are running between them and if the batsmen put their legs in front of the wickets when the ball is going to hit the wickets (known as Leg before wicket – LBW).
The batsmen try to hit the ball out of the boundary (the outer limit of the pitch) and they get four runs if it goes out over the border on the floor and six runs if it goes over in the air. They also get runs for running from one wicket to the other.
Those are the basics. Buy why am I telling you all this? It is because cricket has arrived in Medellín. Yup, cricket in Medellín.
The Medellín Cricket Club
Medellín Cricket Club was founded by Jake Macmillan, an international cricket impresario from London. A Facebook group was created and now features over 80 people.
Casual pick-up games started in the middle of 2014 between friends (both girls and guys alike and a mixture of nationalities) in Parque Lineal Ciudad del Rio.
This was to the bemusement of locals, who were unsure of how to stop their dogs from chasing after the shiny red ball and why foreigners were burning in the midday sun and occasionally shouting ‘Owzat’ (a term shouted when you thought there is an LBW).
Cricket isn’t that big in Colombia. However, there are three cricket clubs in the country, mainly run by expatriates. There is one in Bogotá, one in Cali and the newly founded Medellín cricket club.
Cali and the Bogotá teams often play each other, but there was a first this past weekend as Medellín hosted the Bogotá team.
One of the main issues with the hosting of the game was the site. Cricket usually has a big oval pitch and a hard surface for the bowling. Turns out Medellín doesn’t have too many cricket pitches.
However, the very nice people at Escuela de Ingenieria de Antioquia, located just on the other side of Las Palmas, very kindly offered up their football pitch. And with a bit of improvisation, a pitch was born.
Medellín v. Bogotá
The Bogotá team arrived on the Friday, and the big first game was on Saturday. It was a perfect setting on what was to be a beautiful weekend.
The Medellín lads were pumped up for the game and adorned snazzy branded t-shirts for their debut.
There was a local fan base enjoying the game, and with blistering sunshine, one or two slightly red faces.
The game itself was played in good spirits, and it soon became apparent that Bogotá had one or two players who had played to a good standard in prior years.
There were also some tired bodies from the game/night before.
One of the Bogotá players knocked over 100 runs (for those unfamiliar with cricket that is excellent), and the team set a very challenging target of 210 for the Medellín team.
The Medellín team were giving a 110 percent but were slightly outclassed by the tourists and lost by 47 runs.
The scores on the board were as follows (note: the highest scorer of runs is first, followed by the best bowling performance which indicates how many wickets he got and how many runs he conceded):
- Bogotá Cricket Club – 210 all out (Chris Lass 108*, Justin Meyer 3-57)
- Medellín Cricket Club – 163 all out (Shaun Gilbert 39, Tom Reeves Sr. 2-15)
In the evening, there was a BBQ hosted by the Medellín team at the Pitstop Hostel and both sides eagerly discussed the games play while munching on tandoori chicken.
The Sunday game proved to be a closer affair. With Medellín upping their performance, however, Bogotá pulled through and won a closely contested match by one wicket.
The scoreboard was as follows:
- Medellín Cricket Club – 140 all out (Balaji Krishnan 97, Olly West 3-30)
- Bogotá Cricket Club – 146-9 (Nick Barsby 58*, Percy Deedes 3-8)
It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend for all who participated, and spectated, and the Medellín team are looking forward to the return fixture in Bogotá.
There were special thanks to all who helped organise the weekend, in particular, Jake Macmillan and Mala Henriques.
If you are interested in joining the Medellín Cricket Club, please join their Facebook page. Both girls and guys are welcomed as are all nationalities and standards. Come on down!