Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Cricket vs. Baseball

Like many a cricket fan stuck in the US and bored to death of summer TV, I took to watching baseball more by default than out of any inherent fascination with the sport. (BTW, I've always held that cricket is the ultimate made-for-American-TV sport, with its built-in commercial breaks every 4 minutes. But that's a story for another day.) Over the years, however, I have come to appreciate -- prepare for sacrilege here -- some of baseball's advantages over cricket, despite being slower-paced, limited in tactics and lacking in strategy.

The key area where baseball wins is in suspense and drama and this can be traced to two elements of the game:

1. The At-Bat: Each at-bat, while often meaningless in the grand scheme of things, nevertheless builds tension through the balls-strikes sequence. Even if a hapless Adam Melhuse is facing Pedro Martinez down two strikes in a hopelessly lost ballgame, we still find ourselves filled with an insatiable curiosity to know what happens next. (It is as if every at-bat is a musical piece that keeps building tension until it ends in the "key" of an out or a hit.)

2. The Inning: Baseball's other big advantage is its use of innings to lend weight to many at-bats. With the prospect of stranding men on base at the end of an inning, at-bats suddenly become more crucial and weighty. (And if you are an A's fan, agonizing.) Moreover, we get to monitor the progress of both teams on an inning-by-inning basis making it easy to figure out, at all times, which team is ahead in the race.

In contrast, one-day cricket suffers from the fact that the first inning is bereft of competitive suspense, since we often have no clue as to which team is doing better. While one might argue that this is exactly what makes the game strategically complex, it also serves to lower the interest of the casual spectator, especially when the other spectator attraction -- superlative displays of batting prowess -- also comes a cropper in the middle overs. Come to think of it, watching the first inning of a cricket match is not too different from watching the opening moves of a chess game; it's all very interesting if you can follow what's going on, but it may be none too exciting otherwise.

More on what cricket needs to do to fix itself in a later post.


Blogger Krishnamurthy Viswanathan said...

Another redeeming or even uplifting feature of baseball is the drawn out tension in a close game - particularly in a postseason game.
In one-day cricket it probably lasts 2 overs - max. 15 minutes.
But you are on the edge of your seat much longer in a close baseball game.
The tension builds up to a crescendo.
My nerves have never been as taut as when I watched Tony Clark face Foulke in game 6 of last year's ALCS.

5/26/2005 11:05 PM  
Anonymous anuragsahoo said...

u people r crazy, cricket is much more action packed and has much more suspense, and requires alot more skill, i amean its hard to finda 3-2 victory fun when u see brian laras 400 filled with fluent and graceful shots compared to the slog in baseball. u cant find a strike zone fun when compared to boucers and yorkers.

8/02/2006 6:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when comparing the two sports, i believe we should always use the "monkey" theory,

Question should be asked.. can a monkey ever DO THIS?

lets take baseball for example:

Pitching: throwing or pitching, im sure a monkey can throw couple of pitches off the mound, might not be able to throw a slider or a 2 seam fast ball but bottom line is it is possible.

Hitting: monkey might not be able to break big macs or bonds records and might not be able to swing at a pitch thrown at 100mph, but im sure if we give him a bat and throw some light pitches(possibly underhand pitches) he i can probably make contact with some of those pitches.

Bowling: can a monkey bowl an overarm ball with a short run up? it can prob be done but would require WHOLE LOTTA practice and effort, as bowling overarm /plus with a runup does not come naturally to person.

Batting: Here is the KEY to this argument,
batting in cricket is all about CONTROL, a good batsman has to be able to hit the ball along the ground, that is the core point of batting in cricket, as in cricket batter should be able to guide a ball between the 2 fielders, unlike in baseball batter would generally hit the ball or guide the ball in one of the three locations right center or left.

now to teach a monkey on how to vary the bounce and length of the pitched delivery and Ontop making contact with the ball and keeping it along the ground.. imo that is just not feasable.

10/17/2006 3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an American who "discovered" the joy of cricket while travelling abroad, I cannot help but wonder if the legions of baseball's detractors have bothered to truly learn the game in depth.

I love cricket and I'll admit that it took me time to learn the basics of the game. It took years to start understanding the complexities that make it such an enchanting sport to watch. I can say the same for baseball.

Baseball is not as simple as some cricket lovers tend to think. The playing surface, dimensions of the field, condition of the ball, limited opportunities at bat, and myriad of defensive strategies, make baseball more than the "slog-fest" that so many seem to think.

I love both sports and respect them equally. I wish more baseball fans would learn to watch cricket. I also wish more cricket fans would learn a little more about baseball before dismissing it so readily.

3/26/2007 12:43 PM  
Anonymous slowpoke said...

Cricket is chess, baseball is checkers. Cricket is an art form, a master craft. Baseball is a past-time. Both fun, but both very different.

12/30/2007 1:18 AM  
Anonymous sobu said...

Both are great bat and ball games but it would be unfair to call Cricket a slow paced or boring sport especially since Twenty20 is in. There is action all the time.

1/12/2008 9:37 AM  
Blogger Simon said...

I am English so I'm obviously a cricket fan first and foremost. I do like baseball though and the two games are clearly related. On this issue of suspense in the first innings in cricket, it's only not clear how a team is doing if you don't know much about cricket. I am enormously impressed by the level of skill in MLB, particularly the fielding. I also have to admit that hitting a 95MPH fastball is super hard. Having said that, baseball lacks cricket's finesse. A top batsman can direct the ball with amazing skill and delicacy, but in baseball it's either a slog or a bunt with very little control over direction.

There is also a lot less variety in pitching than in bowling, principally down to the fact that every ball is a full toss (for non cricket fans, that means it doesn't bounce on the ground).

Having said all that, they are still great games with real heritage behind them and I'd rather watch baseball than any sport other than cricket.

4/12/2008 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Lori said...

Baseball is not as easy as some of you might think, it also is like a chess game. Each pitch sets up the next pitch, pitches also vary in speed and location. The pitchers motion starts out exactly the same each time but rarely does he throw the same pitch. As Rick Monday former MLB player once put it "hold out your car keys waist high and then drop them" that's how much time a hitter has to decide if the pitch is a fastball, curve, changeup or whatever. He also needs to guess if the pitch is going to be inside, outside, high or low. Baseball players also "direct" alot of their hits. "Bloop hits" as they sometimes are called are an art, hitting the ball just over the infielders head but sinking to fast for an outfielder to catch it. Drag bunts are also difficult
(and incridable sneaky if you can pull it off) especially if you have a man on third and employ the suicide squeeze which (hopefully) allows the runner to score. Base running and stealing is also an art. Runners on the base paths can drive a pitcher nuts. Some runners are good at "stealing signs". A runner on second base will relay the coming pitch to his teammate at the plate via signals. Knowing what's coming is a definate advantage for the hitter. The thing I like most about baseball is that the players will lie, cheat and steal to score a run. The rules are there ain't no rules unless you get caught.

5/05/2008 2:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm an American and have discovered the game of cricket. I ordered up a bat, wicket and ball on eBay and have been to four games so far. I play with my brother and have the rules down pat.

Cricket may be action-packed and all, but baseball is much more exciting. Many times I think I'm going to die of a heart attack watching baseball. I'd have not trouble watching a 6-hour cricket game, but it just doesn't match baseball. Don't say I haven't been to an exciting cricket game, I saw one with a six to win the game. I've seen T20. It's more exciting than 40 overs, but it's just not the same as baseball.

Baseball crowds beat cricket crowds anyday. Baseball uniforms beat cricket uniforms by a long shot, also. Baseball hasn't gotten wrapped up in advertising as much as cricket.

I like the fielding in baseball better also. I like to see players make the catch rather than see them cringe and then celebrate like crazy. Cricket batting beats baseball batting, just because it's more strategic. Bowling just isn't as good as pitching. There's so much more flexibility with pitching. I think bowling is great, though.

As to which one is harder, cricket wins, though baseball is a hard game to play, too.

Now don't get me wrong. I love cricket. I've just been highlighting why I think baseball is better.

9/07/2009 7:13 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

There are some very interesting comments here. As an Englishman who loves both games it's interesting to read an American perspective.

I completely agree that there is more tension in baseball. On a 3-2 count, 2 out with the bases loaded one pitch can turn a game. That very rarely happens in cricket and it's one of the reasons I love baseball. Baseball is more unpredictable as well. Look at the first two games of the last BOS vs NYY series. 20-11 to the Yankees in the first game, 14-1 to BoSox the following day!

However, much as I appreciate good pitching, there really is nowhere near the variety of pitching compared to bowling. In baseball, almost every starter has a 4 seam fast ball and then two or three other pitches. They may be a ground ball pitcher throwing sinkers or whatever but compare that to cricket. There are pure speed merchants (don't forget that in cricket bowlers are allowed to bowl at the batsman), swing bowlers aiming to get the ball to swing or reverse swing in the air, medium pace bowlers relying on good line and length, spinners (leg and off spinners) etc. One spin bowler like Shane Warne has more types of ball in his repertoire than all MLB pitchers put together.

As to which is harder, I think that they are equally difficult. You don't get to the top of any sport without a lot of skill and effort and that is exactly the same in both games.

Cricket and baseball are two great games, it's a shame the seasons are drawing to a close...

9/08/2009 3:33 AM  
Anonymous Crooked Ruler said...

Definitely CRicket! the overarm flow is so much more graceful.

10/07/2009 9:24 AM  
Anonymous GD said...

No offense to baseball, but i guess an average person could take up baseball and could do well (not master it offcourse), but same cannot be said for cricket.

And its human nature that things that are difficult to master has a all together different charm to it.

I guess a cricketer could easily take up baseball and do good, not sure same cannot be said for a baseballer. (Chucking is not allowed and no body bowls full tosses) - Yeah baseball fielders are better than cricket fielders any day !!

1/10/2010 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cricket is baseball is played in 2 countries i guess(correct me if i m wrong) US n is much bigger n the T20 version is gaining so much popularity among the non cricketing nations....both sports r fun........but cricket beats baseball in most aspects

3/01/2010 10:00 AM  
Blogger Jashan83 said...

I tried to see a baseball game and never found them exciting. The batting is so boring rarely runs being scored. People just keep getting out and once in 2 or 3 innings you finally see a run being scored. People I believe find it interesting than cricket just because from childhood they have rivalries associated with teams. Cricket on the other hand historically had been boring due to first Test for 5 days. Then it picked up when 50 over format came in. Still it was lengthy coz it ran for whole day. But now with 20-20 coming in, it has got everything, shortened length, firecrackers all the way & money.

To me Cricket is much more interesting. Initially both games struggled to spread it beyond the traditional bastion but now with shorter forms coming in, cricket surely is winning its way. I hope both games flourish, and cricket spreads into US, China and baseball into India. :)

5/16/2010 3:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wat i feel is cricket is much better than baseball......but wudnt mind trying my hand in baseball........

5/21/2010 2:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

both are great, and yes cricket could be boring for people who cannot keep up with its complexity (i guess same can be said to baseball too). For sure cricket beats Baseball in many aspects like variation, precision, control, ways to get a wicket & just the governing structure & rules, and imo baseball isn't that mature(yet). Baseball is like shooting with a paint ball gun & cricket is like using a precision sniper. but thats just me.

8/04/2010 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me one aspect of baseball that gives it a clear edge over cricket is baserunning. The fact that there are 4 bases creates a dimension that cricket lacks - where you have 2 guys just running back and forth.
Runners on base open up a vast area of strategic decisions for both managers - stealing a base, bunting a runner over, taking an extra base. Defending against the running game requires a very high level of skill, concentration and perfect execution.
When you have a good basestealer on base, and everyone knows that he's going to try to steal, there is a constant mindgame going on involving the runner, pitcher, catcher, and managers.
All this adds to a level of excitement that doesn't exist in cricket.

8/18/2010 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ignorant comments here from both sides of this really rather tiresome argument, to be honest.

If you grew up with cricket, you think cricket is better. If you grew up with baseball, you think baseball is better. It's laughable that anyone here thinks they are making objective points about the relative merits of the two games.

People who are claiming their preferred sport is better are just ignorant of the other sport. They might have seen it played, but they fail to understand it. The tempo and logic of cricket is pretty much opposite to that of baseball.

This debate has no merit. It is just a proxy for nationalism and xenophobia, and frankly it makes me sick everywhere I see it.

9/12/2010 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Simon said...

That's pretty harsh. For one thing, few of the comments have been particularly negative. For another, several people have explicitly said they liked the other game.

I'm English, I went to a public school (what is called a private school in the US) and of course, like all public school boys, I grew up with cricket, a game I love.

However, as I said above, I love baseball too and I've watched two full games in the last three days. I must have seen about a hundred games last season and probably at least 80 this season. I've watched Ken Burn's monumental documentary, Baseball. I've read numerous books and articles about baseball etc.

Tell me again how I'm xenophobic and don't understand the game.

9/12/2010 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baseball - the batter has but one quarter of the compass in which to play the ball, whereas in cricket the whole 360 degrees are fair play

Baseball - every pitcher is a "chucker". In cricket checkers are derided and howled out of the game.

Baseball - the fielder's all have an enormous glove with which to catch to ball. A little bit like having grainy wheels on a bike.

Baseball - what's with the 3 strikes and your out thing? In cricket - miss one ball that's on the stumps and that's it - your out - no second chances!

Baseball is tip and run.

8/26/2011 10:47 PM  
Blogger sumanth said...

I am a novice when it comes to Baseball, these are just some of the things i felt with minimal exposure to Baseball (2 seasons of MLB).

Good things about Cricket

1) To me, a game is good if it has a good combination of attack and defense. Cricket, to me, is better in that aspect. In Baseball, you just need to play one-dimensionally (attack!!). Let us say if the pitcher is on a roll, you just can defend him for a few minutes and attack him once he tires down. The pitcher may have a defensive way of bowling, but the batter has no option. If you take a 100 instances in both the games, it is likely that Cricket will be more even when it comes to number of instances won by a batter/batsman and pitcher/bowler (anyway, this is assuming both are of equal skill and it isn't a one sided match).

2) Baseball cannot be played by people who aren't physically strong. You need strong shoulders. There's place for all sorts of players (all 3 formats put together) in Cricket.

3) Whatever the players do in Cricket is a super set of what the players do in Baseball. Bowlers do lot more things than pitchers as they land the ball on the ground. Similarly, batsmen in Cricket have a 360 degree of freedom and they can hit the ball anywhere, anyway they want.

2/06/2012 4:17 PM  

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