Originally, cricket is English. When officers in the British army left for the countryside, they never forgot to bring their bat in their pack. This is how the game became popular in all of the British colonies. So it’s not a surprise that the best teams in the world are Australia, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka! Since colonialism, cricket has really grown and is now played in about 100 countries all over the world, including Belgium.
Cricket for dummies
Cricket is simple, well, in the beginning. Two teams of 11 people play against each other on a field. Now it gets a little complicated. Unlike football or rugby, the two teams play one after another. A little like if we spent the first half of a football match on offense and the second on defense.
The objective for the team starting on defense is to score at least one point more than the opponents when it’s their turn to attack.
Like with baseball, the batters score points by making runs, while the field players try to get the ball back as fast as possible. No home runs in cricket, but points are awarded when the ball goes outside the boundaries of the field with or without bouncing.
The game pauses and the roles reverse when the team has used up all their wickets. Wick-what you say? A wicket is composed of three vertical bars dug into the ground. A bail is a wood piece that lies across the top of the three wickets. The batter does everything possible to defend his/her wickets with the bat. Usually rain stops the game… but not in Belgium!
Does everyone understand? Or should we watch a short video?
Cricket in Belgium
The first cricket match in Belgium is older than the country itself! We are talking June 12, 1815, six days before the famous Battle of Waterloo. In Enghien, 30 kilometers from Brussels, the officer from the Brigade of the Guards of the Duke of Wellington play a game of cricket between themselves before sticking it to Napoleon.
But Belgian cricket history could be even older than that! According to certain recent studies, cricket could have been invented in Belgium and imported to England by Flemish shepherds and textile workers. This ancestor to cricket is said to be found in the background of one of Bruegel’s paintings.
Belgian cricket is organized by a federation that includes about 30 clubs and three divisions. We can even boast about our national team that is consistently in the top 10 in Europe.
And in Brussels?
Very quickly after its creation in 1866, the Bois de la Cambre became a place for exercising and activities. The expansive lawn that goes down towards the Chalet des Rossignols that would become the Winter Wonders area is regularly occupied by English people practicing cricket or tennis.
Even if the Royal Brussels Cricket Club played in the Bois de la Cambre green space for a long time before moving to Lasne, the 12 Stars Cricket club still practices in Brussels in winter before heading to their summer home in the Walloon Brabant. Just outside of Brussels there are also clubs around Meise and Waterloo. The entire list is on cricket-belgium.com.
BrusselsLife.be tries cricket
When I arrived at 12 Stars Cricket Club, I was not really sure what I was getting myself into... Christopher and Rajnish reassured me and helped me get over my butterflies. Christopher: Being both a team and an individual sport, cricket is a lot about strategy… That’s why I like it, and for the social aspect.
Explanations are never-ending, and the conversation is peppered with some typical cricket expressions that we can even hear in the very serious House of Lords in London. I felt pretty good, until Rajnish took out his protective gear from his bag…
It’s my turn to cross the pitch and defend my wicket. Pitchers throw the balls. Bushan warns me he’s going for a so-called “normal” pitch… I should have been worried, but it was too late. My wicket was on the ground, and I was sent to the locker room.
Christopher concluded: Only if the charm of cricket was found in the tea time between the two innings… and my teammates’ curry is delicious! Want to join the 12 Stars? www.12starscricketclub.com or [email protected]