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Originally published August 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 30, 2007 at 2:09 AM

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Cricket comes to Magnuson Park

As Glyn Thomas watched the Mariners game Tuesday night, the Englishman concluded that baseball was really baffling. Most Americans probably think...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Cricket basics

The game is played with two teams of 11 players on a field with two "bases." The team scoring the most points by running from the home base and back before getting 10 "outs" wins.

The batter must protect the three wooden wickets (they look like croquet posts) standing behind the home base and prevent the ball from touching them. If the ball touches them, it's an out.

A batter also is out, as in baseball, if a fielder catches the ball before it hits the ground or if he touches the base before the batter gets there.

A "bowler" pitches the ball — usually bouncing it a few feet in front of the batter — and batters can choose to hit it and run when they choose. This partially accounts for cricket's slow pace.

Information

Seattle Cricket Club: www.seattlecricket.com/

As Glyn Thomas watched the Mariners game Tuesday night, the Englishman concluded that baseball was really baffling.

Most Americans probably think the same thing about Thomas' sport of choice, cricket — the game that attracts players clad in pristine, collared shirts and can last for days.

"People have to grow up on it, or be keen on it, to understand it," Thomas said.

Thomas was one of 11 cricket players representing the United Kingdom's Worcestershire Over 50s club, which toured British Columbia and Seattle in the past two weeks.

The players, all over 50, matched up against Seattle Cricket Club on Wednesday for a five-hour-long event at Magnuson Park in Seattle. Worcestershire scored 135; Seattle scored 124.

There was also a break for a proper high tea in the afternoon — complete with little cucumber sandwiches, dainty cakes and, of course, tea — set up right on the playing field.

"It's a social event rather than a competitive one," said Bunti Sarai, president of the Seattle Cricket Club, which plays against British guests once every three or four years.

At the Seattle Cricket Club, formed in the 1960s as part of a competitive league from British Columbia, there are about 100 playing members ranging from 13 years old to 71.

"It's definitely growing," said Sarai, adding that people who grew up in ex-British colonies enjoy the sport because it's familiar. As the Indian and Pakistani bases grow in Seattle, so does the cricket base, he explained.

Cam Thomas, of Underwood, Skamania County, (not related to teammate Glyn Thomas) was the "token American" traveling with the British team. A former ice-hockey player, he got into the sport about 15 years ago because it was "something new and different."

Cricket certainly is different. The bat-and-ball sport is related to baseball, but with major deviations — the pitcher is called "a bowler," the batsman can hit in any direction, including backward, and professional games can last for five days.

"When someone says 'explain cricket to me,' " Thomas said, "I say, 'How much time do you have?' "

The sport's popularity in the United States is also drastically different from places such as the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

In Worcestershire, there are 50 to 60 cricket clubs, each of which may have several teams, the British group said. In Seattle, there are about a dozen teams.

"In the U.K., there's a lot of competition. Here, we're still trying to promote cricket in the U.S., especially in the Pacific Northwest," said Aslam Khan, Seattle Cricket Club's vice-president.

The Seattle club played at Fort Dent Park in Tukwila for more than 15 years but has been "homeless" the past few years while searching for a new location, Khan said. The club finally found a spot this year at the Northeast Seattle park off Sand Point Way.

From Glyn Thomas' perspective, Seattle is "struggling to actually get cricket on the map," but tours like this will help improve the visibility of the sport.

"Nothing's better than a cricket tour," he said.

Christina Siderius: csiderius@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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