Wednesday, April 29, 2015


West Indies Cricket logo - so kewl

April 14th, 2015

Yesterday we attended our first ever live cricket match.  Ten cruisers ended up going in our group.  Six Americans, three Australians, and one Canadian.  Five of us were crickets virgins.  

Sir Vivian Richards Stadium - one of the greatest cricketers and Antigen 
This was a test match meaning it lasts five days.  Everyone we talked to seemed to get so worked up about this.  "Omg - test matches last five days.  Did you know that?  Omg - What you really want to see if 20/20 match or another type single day match"  Well guess what?  Those types of cricket weren't being played and a big test match was... so we went.  And as Tom would point out "You get to go home at night.  The players get to go home at night.  No one is forcing you go attend the next day!"  Sheesh, chill people.  Another way to look at a test match is like a golf tournament - many days of play for a winner on the final day.  After Tom would point that put, people would go "Good point.  I never thought of it that way."
First view inside the stadium - oooooo
We arrived at the stadium early because we didn't know what to expect in crowds and we wanted to see the first ball being bowled.  It was a 10am start.  This game was such a big deal that Government of Antigua and Barbuda declared 1/2 a national holiday (noon on) so people could attend.  Many, many businesses closed so employees could go.  Seven out of ten of us opted for lawn seats ($5.50 US) and one guy had stand seats but sat with us on the lawn.  The Auzzies sat on either end of us cricket virgins and tried to explain the game.  It is very complicated.  Tom and the others started getting the basics.  I didn't so much but who cares.  It was more about the experience than learning all the rules.  Our lawn seats were in full sun but luckily we had light clouds until around noon.  Our umbrellas helped shade a bit as well.
Lawn seating

Our lawn seating
England batted first.  This meant there were two batters from England on the field at a time and then all the West Indies team fielding.  They were all wearing white pants and shirts so you just had to know that.  The bat is actually a flat paddle.  The ball is similar in size to a baseball and just as hard.  They don't wear gloves.  Let me repeat that.....they don't wear gloves which means they are catching the ball with their hands!  Hitting the ball is not as easy and you might think.  With a baseball bat being cylindrical, it will hit the ball as long as you make reasonably good contact with it.  Not so with a cricket paddle.  Since it is flat, the batter really must hit it dead center.
West Indies bowler

England batting

Mid morning there was the official break for tea.  We didn't actually see anyone drinking tea but that is what the break is for.  
Light rain lasted all of 5 mins

Rain and sun shade
England was well represented in the stands.  There is something called the Barmy Army.  These are rabid cricket fans that travel all over the globe to see England play cricket.  Most had on white polo shirts with funny cartoons and saying on the back from whatever match they had gone to see in whatever year.  There were well over 1000 Barmy Army people - several tour groups of them.  They sang a little song after the first pitch/ball.  They seemed well behaved while having fun.  Even without their shirts, they were easy to pick out as they were all pasty white and then by 11:00 tender pink and by the afternoon tea break full on sunburned.  I don't know how they were going to watch five days of cricket in the sun.  One of them said "many have seats in the shaded stands but they are over here on the grass to get some sun before returning home to mother England."  Some sun indeed.  
The Barmy Army singing their song

Barmy Army....ite
Most of the food and drink stands were directly behind us.  Caribbean food - chicken, ribs, rice, Johnny cakes, pasties (Jamaican meat pies), fish, homemade ice cream (coconut, golden apple, tamarind) plus hamburgers, hotdogs, and fries.  Oh and a couple of booths had lobster.  That is right, grilled lobster.  I didn't see any locals eating lobster, only one tourist.  A few vendors worked the stands and lawn selling peanuts, chocolate and bananas.  One Rasta guy came around selling bowls of  fresh fruit.  He's sales pitch?  "Eat de good food before de bad."  We had a good laugh about that, including him.  A variety of drinks was available - pop, water, juice,beer, rum punch, rum and Hennesy.  Hennesy?  Who rolls into an all day cricket match and drink Hennesy all day?  I never could figure that out.  Many locals had their own rum punch in big jugs.  Hey, it's a Caribbean ting!
A little lobster with your cricket mate?  Correction a lot of lobster!

Cricket food
The actual play in cricket is slow.  Thing Major League Baseball slow and then slow that down some.  When we began to ask various people who they thought would win, we learned "Both teams are rather crap this year so who knows.  It might be a draw."  Yes, it seems they can play five days and the match could end in a draw.  Wow.
Still England batting
As you can imagine, the places really filled up after noon, being a national holiday and all.  Our group opted to meet up again during the afternoon tea break.  We all decided we had seen enough and called for a cab.  The score was really low for a cricket match - something like 83-3 England because of course they were batting first and still batting when we left.  West Indies didn't even get to bat until well into the next day.  

WI bowler caught a lot of grief from local fans for bad bowls
Young fan headed into the stadium in the afternoon
On the drive home we all jokes and laughed about all we had seen and learned and how much we really don't understand cricket.  Even the local cab driver admitted he didn't fully understand it and he's a fan.  But we all had a great time so it was a good day.
The cricket gang
Score Update - After five days of play it was a draw.  The teams now move onto Grenada to play another test match and then Barbados for the final test match.
Additional Score Update - England won the Grenada test match by 9 wickets.  Play starts in Barbados May 1st.  Go West Indies!!!
Statue of Sir Vivian Richards - Antigua's famous cricket star

Regarded as the Greatest One Day International Batsman of all time and more

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