By: Ashir Rao
Though it’s not popular in the U.S., much of the Commonwealth is looking forward to the 2023 Cricket World Cup. Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world after soccer, and is most similar to baseball. Each side has eleven players and one team fields, while the other team bats. The fielding team sends a “bowler,” the equivalent of a baseball pitcher, to deliver the ball to the other team’s batter. There are two batters on the field at all times, and they are on opposite sides of a section of the field called a pitch. When a batter hits the ball, they and their partner run back and forth across the pitch to score runs. If the ball hits the boundary of the field, it is worth four runs and if it goes over the boundary, it is worth six runs. Although a regular game of Cricket is limited to 300 deliveries for each side, games often end earlier than this if all the batters get out. Getting a batter out is referred to as“taking a wicket”, since there are three stumps behind each batter. If the bowler manages to hit the stumps with the ball, the batter is out. Similar to baseball, a player can also get out if the opposing team tags them.
This year’s World Cup features ten teams from three continents. The top teams going into the tournament are India, who is hosting, reigning champions England, last year’s finalist New Zealand, perennially dominant Australia, and a young Pakistani team. These teams join dark horses South Africa and Asian powerhouses Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. Notably, Afghanistan is representing their country with the old, non-Taliban flag and anthem. The Netherlands also qualified in a massive upset, blocking multiple time world champions, the West Indies. The West Indies is a combined team of Caribbean nations, and has long been suffering a decline in skill.
Teams will play matches all over India, with the finals played at the controversially named Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, named after the sitting Prime Minister. The top four teams will play semifinals at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai and Eden Gardens in Kolkata. To accommodate an influx of spectators, many venues in India’s less populated urban areas were extensively developed by the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI).
Despite historically tense relations between India and Pakistan, the Indian government granted visas to Pakistani players and fans alike. Footage from the Pakistani team’s YouTube channel shows intrepid, yet curious Indian hospitality workers welcoming them at a hotel in Hyderabad. Historically, Cricket has played an important role in easing tensions between the two nations.
The first part of the tournament is a round robin, where all ten teams play each other. The top four teams in the points table will then advance to the semifinals. It’s still early on in the tournament — time will tell which team will take home the most coveted prize in Cricket.
Sources: (ESPN, Pakistan Cricket Board)