Dr. Judy Melinek is a forensic pathologist (a real one) and TJ Mitchell is an author who migrated here with their children during the height of COVID. They are smart people and were attending their first game of cricket with their daughter.
But even for smart Americans a day at test cricket means there is a lot to learn.
It started off with a brief explanation of what the West Indies meant, before moving on to the sport itself.
Clearly there was a lot to cover. It’s not only that cricket has so many strange rules, but they have nothing on the terminology and traditions of the game. For an American to start the cricket experience via a test match was ambitious.
It started at the deep end with trying to lay out the rules around the Follow On, and why one team was allowed to change the structure of a match. The fair point was also made that it made no sense to pluralise the Second Innings; it’s just one inning. “I suppose it’s like Maths”.
Even the names of the breaks in play brought mirth. They arrived at a break in play called Lunch. I explained the next major break was Tea. And then there were these other, smaller breaks called Drinks. So simple, so English.
There was also amusement at the word “appeal”. Because the does not really seem that appropriate when Wagner is in full voice.
Then we got onto field placements. Why are so many fieldsman standing behind the batsmen? Surely that’s out of play?
This was a reminder that cricket is a 360 degrees sport, and fortunately Tom Latham took a catch in the slips soon after to prove that point.
Why is that a wicket when it didn’t hit the wickets?
This came after explaining why the batsmen didn’t sneak a run when the bowler was slowly making his way back to the top of his mark. That was reasonably straight-forward; especially compared to the subsequent conversation discussing the history of the Mankad and the associated controversies.
And then there is cricket’s obsessions with milestones. Like why did the crowd give an extended round of applause when the West Indies brought up their hundred?
At the Basin Reserve whenever a maiden is bowled the name of the bowler, along with MAIDEN shows up on the Don Neely scoreboard as everyone changes ends. It was hard to define why this is a thing given it has no impact on the game.
And then there was the battle of the birds; well captured by our visitors.
It was an afternoon of mutual education, and hopefully not the last.