Do They Play Cricket

Any criticism of cricket is justifiable grounds for regime change and nation building. As agreed in a recent college class on terrorism, cricket when played properly (i.e. to lose) is the drinking man's baseball. For the sake of clarity, no Englishman can discuss terrorism and cricket at the same time, because global terrorism is quite simply "just not cricket".

Cricket can be contrasted to modern foreign policy because, played properly, the very idea of a "we win, you lose" premise is not an issue. Cricket, particularly global-village cricket, has to be played with either a lose-lose or lose-win philosophy. The exceptions to this are Australia and South Africa who both practice beforehand (which is unsporting) and cannot tell the difference between cricket and foreign policy anyway. See John Howard's technique for presenting winners' medals*. Countries that do not play cricket are seldom successful in the foreign relations aspects of government.

Lose-Lose cricket is played when a team travels a long way, only for the long and very dull game to be declared a draw. It is also associated with poor quality meals, no sense of humor, little or no alcohol and little in the way of entertainment. Some individuals (not this author) maintain that Pakistan has suffered criticism in this respect. It is to be hoped that Pakistan's recent defeat by the Republic of Ireland will encourage the consumption of Guinness in Islamabad and increase the longevity amongst cricket coaches.*

The Win-Lose policy is only maintained by sides that actually think the result is important. In this situation the losing side, usually the home side, out of consideration for their guests, will merely watch with amused detachment while the other team, who have obviously been practicing, run themselves ragged in a maniacal desire to win. Naturally after the game is over the home side is full of praise for the victors, safe in the knowledge that when they have gone home, not much will have changed and they can go on as before. Any resemblance to US policy in the Middle East is purely fortuitous.

As everyone knows the British have perfected the Lose-Win philosophy to a fine art. Apart from 1966 when England won the world cup and again in 2003 when they won the rugby world championship in Australia (just to piss-off John Howard) the British have skillfully lost just about everything. The thing is they have done it so politely and with such sensitivity that nobody except the English realizes it.

Some individuals have perceptively compared England's loss of cricket games to countries like Ireland and Sri Lanka as similar to the loss of an empire and previously the loss of the new-world colonies. The contention was that the captain of the global-village cricket team, called George #3 and generally recognized as "one stump short of a wicket", lost the new world colonies in a game of hazard while waiting for the rain to stop. It didn't help that the French do not play cricket. Come to think of it, what do the French play? Oh yes! They play: Football, rugby, losing wars, breathing garlic fumes, surrendering, getting married, disagreeing with everybody and unacceptable interference in foreign affairs.

I digress.

England (I purposefully exclude the hostile colonies of Scotland and Wales) lost its empire that had been built up by a sensitive and caring policy of assimilation, physical abuse, commercial rape and democracy. Actually that was very unfair about Scotland and Wales and I unreservedly and insincerely apologize. Both these countries now have a degree of self-determination, totally financed by the English taxpayers and now have double representation without taxation (they are all unemployed). The Welsh coal mining industry was decimated by a Canadian and a well-balanced Yorkshireman (he had equally sized chips on both shoulders). So with little to occupy the minds of the Welsh people, the local sheep became very preoccupied and anxious.

Once the offshore reserves of fossil fuels were gone, Scotland was also given its own assembly. The Scots are now freely able to smoke heavily, fight in pubs, eat saturated fats and support England's opponents in any sporting event. You will note that both these countries do play a little cricket, but neither plays it well enough to gain a meaningful contribution to the international community - although both teams could beat Canada. If it seems I have a "down" on Canada you are perfectly correct. As a communications major I have learned to despise all the communication experts that country has birthed. Sorry Mr. McLuhan and Mr. Innis but my message is not in the method and I don't care two hoots for Minerva's Owl. Also, although Canada does have a cricket team, it is entirely made up of immigrants from the Caribbean and the Sub-Continent and Canada is too far way from anywhere else to engage in foreign affairs. They do think winning is important but cannot remember why.

If Afghanistan weren't so hilly the English would have succeeded in their 19th century invasion and they would have taught the tribes to play cricket, thus allowing them to vent their aggression on the field of play instead of killing each other. Afghanistan would have then become independent but would still have liked England because they would win their cricket games against them. It is important to realize that the Soviet Union never played cricket. If they had the West would have lost the cold war, but would never have realized it because it would have been done so politely and sensitively.

England taught the hotter parts of the empire to play cricket and taught Canada how to brew ale. Unfortunately the Canadians then passed legislation that made it next to impossible to buy it. This legislation was relaxed during the United States period of prohibition to allow the alcoholic equivalent of sixteen Niagara Falls to flow into the United States every 8.73 minutes*. Had the Canadian weather been better and they had been taught to play cricket earlier, the French would have left much sooner (taking Quebec with them) to pursue foreign policy in Syria and Lebanon. If that had happened the area would be much more peaceful now and that nice Mr. Rumsfeld would have been repelled by a wave of garlic fumes that would make WMDs redundant.

I trigress!

Once the English taught these countries of the benevolent empire to play cricket or brew ale, then it was clear they would practice these skills and eventually the Brits would be forced out. Properly coached in the art of wrist-spin bowling, Gandhi could have played cricket up to UN standards - he might even have been good at it. Of course that white frock he always wore would have to go, unless they moved the UN HQ to San Francisco, Sydney or Mykonos.

It will now be clear to readers that have tolerated me so far that I am inclined to wander from the subject. I hesitate to use the word "deviate" on the same page as Mykonos. I will no longer apologize for this, for your erudition, it is caused by an undisciplined brain and some extremely ordinary chardonnay. Actually I now have no idea what subject I have strayed from but this has never stopped me from writing before.*

Cricket and foreign policy are the two inextricably linked phenomena invented by the English that have irrevocably changed the world for the better. If we could only get the latter to take place in the middle of a green field and the former to be played in government buildings worldwide, how much more peaceful would this planet be. If Dick Cheney were to be "standing in the gulley with his legs apart waiting for a tickle", would anyone take his invasion plans for most of the Middle East seriously? Mind you the sheep in Wales might be worried if American Football became popular, the very idea of a tight end and a wide receiver! Then again...?

The consequential question that now springs to mind is how did the United States of America gain independence without knowing how to play cricket, how to brew ale or how to practice foreign affairs? All sorts of sophisticated theories have been put forward, but in fact the answers are all down to series of pragmatic expediencies. Forget taxation without representation, put out of your mind payment for Indian French wars and obliterate pompous Declarations of Independence for ever.