I’m not sure how many local viewers would have been tuning into the recent broadcasts of the Global T20 Canada cricket matches, but I watched a few.
It’s not that I was a fan of cricket. In fact, past the briefest introduction to the game when the Yorkton team that existed a few years ago held a sort of hands-on evening to raise some awareness, I knew very little about the sport.
The local experience, where people were given a chance to swing a cricket bad, did show me that swinging a baseball bat does not mean you can use a cricket bat. There is even a photo on Facebook showing my lack of form with a cricket bat.
That small taste did suggest to me that cricket batsman are rather good with the bats, as they spray hits all over the circular pitch. Of course successful hitting is critical to the sport because it not only accounts for scoring runs, but the batter must protect the wickets. If a wicket is hit by a pitch, the batter is retired.
Now I might well be missing a lot of the intricacies of the game, but in watching games in the T20 I have to say it was the bat control that held my attention most.
For those not aware, T20 is basically an adapted, shorter form of cricket. Each side faces 20 ‘overs’ each having a pitcher throw six pitches before switching to another thrower. In general terms the batting team sees 120 pitches to score on.
Even as a shorter form, I found the games were a tad longer than my attention span as a very casual ‘fan’. It might have been better had the short form been T16. Even the game announcers were suggesting things such as pitch clocks to speed the game.
Frankly, any sport that pushes past three-hours is dragging beyond modern day attention spans in my mind.
I have thought for a while now that cricket is a sport that will eventually have a professional league. The sport has a huge following in places such as South Africa, Australia, India and Pakistan. There has been significant immigration to North America from several countries where cricket is popular, meaning there is an existing potential fan base based on cultural interest in cricket.
The Global T20 drew on that fan base, but for only a couple of weeks, as the event is a tournament event, with teams representing Canadian cities, but made up largely of players for-hire from around the world.
Eventually, whether just in Canada, or a broader North America-based one, a more traditional city-based league is going to happen. It is the norm in terms of marketing on this continent, and eventually it will happen.
So, after a few games on TV would I be tuning in to a weekly game?
If there is a Canadian team I would be at least curious, although they would likely need to tighten up play to speed games. I’ve been a baseball fan since I was old enough to watch games with my Dad, so more than 50 years and increasingly I find the ridiculous number of pitching changes and other factors being a drag on the game as it slows beyond its normal casual cadence, and games lengthen.
It is likely that T20 Canada 2020, already announced, will get me DVRing a game or two, as I delve more into the sport, and in that regard I suppose cricket may one day have a new fan – time will tell.