Another cricket match, another controversy over an obscure (and seemingly impenetrable) cricket rule. I’m not going to go into the jurisprudence of handling the ball; instead, I want to pause and allow every cricket blogger (and reader) to acknowledge how much fun these rules controversies have allowed us to have.
I suppose our tendency to revel in arcane laws speaks both to the weakness and attraction of cricket: on the one hand, the complexity of the rules really does turn off entire groups of people; there’s a reason soccer is the most popular sport in the world (i.e., its simplicity). On the other hand, by setting down layers of regulations, cricket forces its fans to pass through rounds of loyalty tests — Do you really like this game? Well, can you explain to me how Law 37 and related addendums affect Law X and Y? While it may encourage pedantry, complexity also rewards a basic democratic impulse — this is a game of rules and laws, accessible to any fan willing to apply basic logic, knowledge of precedent and the give-and-take of interpretation.
Perhaps the greatest satisfaction from all these rules disputes is knowing that we are the inheritors of a set of traditions and laws handed down to us by centuries of experiments, failures and great athletes. The rulebook of cricket, however indecipherable, is a badge of honor — no doubt of dubious (that is, imperialist) origins, but one I’m happy to wear and mould for the next generation.