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Cricket vs. baseball: Which is the superior sport?

Monday, May 4, 2009 | 10:03 a.m. CDT; updated 4:39 p.m. CDT, Monday, May 4, 2009

It’s time for a showdown. Long days and nights of summer sporting affairs are opening up before us, and, until recently, I would have said that there was only one game worth courting: baseball.

But after spending the last two summers playing cricket in England, I can feel my mind’s eye, once so faithful to America’s favorite pastime, wandering. I feel it lusting after country fields and tea breaks at the very moment I eat my good ole hot dog on the third-base line. The question continually raging is this: Are these just phantom yearnings or does cricket really have something over baseball? Which is the greater game?     

There are myriad factors to consider, some more superficial than others. Here, follow some of the categories (and their winners) that might best help lead us to an answer.

Position Names: Cricket. At any given time, 11 players from one cricket team are fielding while two batsmen from the other try to score. Should you refer to the position of one of those fielders on the so-called cricket pitch, you might reference any of the following: wicket keeper, gully, fine leg, square leg, third man, slip or silly mid-off. It’s a veritable linguistic circus, hardly to be rivaled by the achingly literal “pitcher” or “catcher.”

Length of game: Baseball. Baseball games might seem longer than those of other American sports, but they hardly hold a candle to the four days a cricket game often takes to complete. If baseball is a TV movie, cricket is an all-weekend Lifetime marathon. As engrossing and rewarding as it might be to invest that much time in one event, it’s a logistical nightmare to set aside that much time for anything week after week.

Outfits: Cricket. Cricket uniforms, which invariably consist of plain all-white pants, tops and shoes (with floppy white hat optional), are easy on the eyes. The players manage to actually look classy while playing competitive sports in their ribbed sweater-vests, and that accomplishment outweighs the monotony of their duds.

Baseball uniforms, while perhaps not so elegant, can be an extra source of pride for the team; players bear their loyalties on their chests in team colors of their own. However, some baseball players have recently (and ominously) donned distracting logos, too. If only for the World Baseball Classic, the Puerto Rican team sporting bright-yellow Best Buy tags the size of guinea pigs on their shoulders, I'm going to give this one to the cricketers.

Throwing: Baseball. The cricket equivalent of pitching is called bowling, and each requires its own nuanced skill set. Throwing the right type of ball at the right moment requires thoughtfulness and precision in both cases, but baseball takes this category for two reasons.

One is that the American game wins in terms of speed. Although this is due purely to throwing style, the fastest bowlers rarely make it into three digits, while pitchers regularly top 100 mph. The other reason is versatility. Although bowlers and pitchers might need to master similarly diverse throws, a bowler lacks the added dimension of picking off base-stealers. And everyone loves a nice, old-fashioned runner-pitcher face-off.

Catching: Cricket. The balls in baseball might be going slightly faster when they cross the plate, but baseball fielders have big leather gloves they can use to catch the subsequent hits. Cricket fielders stop those blazing shots sans glove (or any other protection for that matter). However much cricket players might look like sissies prancing around in their white outfits, there’s nothing as gutsy as their taking line drives with the palms of their hands. 

Ambiance: Baseball. On a big-league basis, the games have much in common; thousands of fans gather en masse and pay outrageous prices for mass-produced food. On a smaller level, though, the atmosphere is palpably different. At local cricket games, people bring blankets and lounge on the sidelines, entertaining themselves during the hours of lulls that come between great moments of action in the game.

Although excitement might not be lacking overall, wild cheers are: There are instead polite claps and similarly demure sandwiches eaten halfway through the match. Baseball, while not as thrilling as, say, European soccer games (filled as they are with unified merry-making and spirited abuse), does supply a sense of community and continual tension that cricket doesn’t always provide.

And that ambiance (drum roll please) is what leans my scales toward baseball, despite my cricket itch. Well, that and my imagination tells me I would be tarred, feathered and made to mingle with the business end of a bat if I didn’t show some serious American loyalty during playoff season.

Katy Steinmetz is a columnist and reporter for the Missourian. She moved to Columbia after spending two years teaching in Winchester, England, and one year in Edinburgh, Scotland. She has freelanced for a variety of publications, including 417 Magazine in Springfield, Mo., and the Guardian in London. Katy plans to complete her MU master's degree in 2010.

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Comments

Prodyut Sampath May 7, 2009 | 2:56 p.m.

Katy, it’s an interesting topic and one which I debate with my fellow peers and friends on an ongoing basis. You do a great job in capturing the dilemma. However, having played competitive cricket and witnessing baseball games, I can safely say cricket is far more exciting, action packed and entertaining.

There are some factual errors in the article. Firstly, the length of the game; not all cricket games formats are of the four or five day variety. There are three formats of cricket; namely, Test cricket which can last five days. One day cricket which last six hours and 20/20 cricket which last three hours. Lately, the 20/20 format is proving to be far more popular. Secondly, only Test cricket attire is all whites, other formats of the game require one to wear their team jerseys with logos, as in baseball. However, I do agree the white with the sweater-vest makes the players look classy.

I would not let watching a cricket game in England form one’s opinion. Cricket being a far more global game has its true heart in South Asia. It would be hard for a baseball ambience to match the cacophony of noise, colors and cheers as in India, Australia or South Africa. I would recommend watching an Indian Premier League (IPL) game which has similar ambience to a Football game.

Nevertheless, baseball has good in-between entertainment which cricket cannot match. Is it mustard, ketchup or relish to the finish line.

(Report Comment)
Matt Power June 10, 2009 | 8:28 p.m.

Cricket... hands down!

(Report Comment)
jeff nikosey June 22, 2009 | 8:42 p.m.

Please take no offense Katy, but, it is rather female of you to compare two sports based on the criteria of outfits, position names and ambiance and leave out the most important aspect of the game, hitting. You are nonetheless a female. A rather pretty one, if I may say. I'm happy that you came in on baseball's side, at the end. I don't claim to know anything about Cricket, but I've been recently curious to the rules. Thanks for the head start.

(Report Comment)
Barathi Chellappan June 29, 2009 | 9:33 a.m.

I've played only around 10 baseball games all my life so do not have the right to compare it with cricket.
I have played a countless games of cricket for more than 15 years. I spent almost every day of high school playing cricket matches. None of the matches were more than 3 hours long. If you are comparing a test match (the 5 day version of cricket) you are not doing justice. If cricket is ever going to be compared with a baseball game, then please compare t20 game of cricket and baseball.
For me personally, a T20 game is much more thrilling to watch than a baseball game. But thats just me.

(Report Comment)
Fazal Abbas February 3, 2010 | 9:31 a.m.

Hands down cricket.

Cricket is more technical and has more to offer that baseball just don't offer. Baseball hitter has just one kind of short, aiming for home run. In cricket pith is in middle of ground and you have 360 degrees area to hit/diverge ball of speed 100 miles. Baseball just don't have concept of divergence.

Ball coming from pitcher is obvious from a distance but in cricket, ball pitches first, making it very difficult to react a ball that swing from it's line just couple of foots infront of cricket batsman. Baseball pitcher target area is small but in cricket the target area is lot bigger for bowler. Bowler has to carefully select speed, depth and height/bounce to trick batsman.

Good that someone talk about cricket but this cricket comparison is far from reality.

(Report Comment)
Abbott Katz February 19, 2010 | 9:57 a.m.

Katy Steinmetz will be amused to know that this American has conscripted her piece for a word-processing class I'm teaching here in the north of England. We're using its text as a document on which to practice students' nascent skills, and stoke a bit of cross-cultural controversy besides.

(Report Comment)
garry barr January 3, 2011 | 1:28 a.m.

hmm intersting, i would like to comment on the bowling pitching argument, i agree the pitch is a faster delivery but lacks skill in the sense the pitcher throws in a straight line. a bowler be it seamer, fast or spin runs towards the oposing player heaves the ball over his shoulder and hurls the ball, creating spin which he alone controls, that is an art, also most good fielders can hit the stumps from a distance, usually outrunning the player
. bear in mind cricket is the worlds second biggest spectator sport after football, association that is...and dates back 6 hundred years or so, and baseball is a derivative of cricket , so on that argument i think cricket wins..

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley January 3, 2011 | 2:19 a.m.

Isn't the Bowler allowed to have tea and crumpets on the field while he is waiting to bowl? LMAO!

Never played Cricket and don't know the first thing about it. So I am not trying to compare the two sports.

I am just being humorous or offending the Brits, which is the same thing; I think?

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
praseed thappar March 8, 2011 | 10:21 a.m.
This comment has been removed.
Ram PV March 17, 2011 | 5:10 p.m.

Thanks for the article. As was rightly pointed out by others, it's fair to compare Baseball with a Twenty over each match of cricket, or at the maximum with a one-day international.

To me, the biggest point of difference in the two games, to start with is the dominance. Cricket is clearly a batsman dominated game, it's not uncommon for a batsman to play all 50 overs in a one day match or much longer (all 5 days) on a traditional 5 day match.

In contrast, in baseball, clearly the pitcher is the king, and both balls and strikes are counted giving a balance. Miss 3 times and the batter is out, putting a definite onus of performance on the batter.

But really, the comparison only exists
in the mechanics of the 2 games.

In terms of stature, cricket is clearly a dominant international phenomenon. Governance of cricket rules and modifications are all international, and it is dealt with like a matter of diplomacy itself. Baseball doesn't come anywhere close to this.

Coming to the aspect of spirit, current cricket while being competitive to the core still maintains the spirit more than just results. Baseball pales in comparison to cricket in terms of decency by a wide margin, in my opinion.

Bowling in cricket is also rooted in the fact that specific throwing or chucking can make it subjective and unfair to the batsman -which happens all the time in baseball with eye contact and communication between pitcher and catcher. No such communication is allowed in cricket bowling with the dynamic bowling action and the distance between the stumps and wicket keeper, which makes it all the more difficult and objective to earn the true prize of a wicket.

Talking about ambience, I think the author is not comparing aapples to apples. 5 day games in England where cricket is no longer a number one game - should not be the benchmark. If you want to compare to the passion or ambience of baseball games in America, go to India or even sometimes Australia to watch cricket - and you know there is no comparison between that and any other widely known sport.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 17, 2011 | 5:24 p.m.

"Ram PV," is that a legitimate name? Having worked in Trinidad & Tobago. where a high percentage of the citizens are of Indian origin and where cricket is very popular, I recognize "Ram" as a legitimate male first name, but "PV"?

C'mon, Missourian, enforce your rules.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 17, 2011 | 5:37 p.m.

Ellis, I've also worked with many Indians (go figure, in the technology field) and the Missourian may not have enough space in the strings to contain the name. Maybe.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire March 17, 2011 | 5:39 p.m.

Oh golly. Someone must have said something someone doesn't want someone to read.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 17, 2011 | 5:53 p.m.

I'm back on my medications, Paul, isn't it time you did the same?

John Schultz: What you suggest is a possibility; some Indian family names are quite long. I have no problem with what this person had to say. It was interesting.

To me, cricket is like Scotch whiskey: you either like it or you don't. There's no in-between.

(Report Comment)
Yves Montclear March 17, 2011 | 7:02 p.m.

My guess is Ellis, that you don't.

Ellis wrote:
--is like Scotch whiskey: you either like it or you don't. There's no in-between.--

You've just insulted about every single malt Scotch drinker by improperly spelling 'whisky'. No real Scotch drinker would be caught consuming anything with a spelling of 'whiskey' on the bottle.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 17, 2011 | 10:34 p.m.

You are correct. Hopefully everyone will get over being insulted. Actually I don't mind Scotch; it's Bourbon that I can't abide. A touch of Tequila now and then. For some reason Gringos insist in mispronouncing the name of that beverage. The correct Mexican pronunciation is "to-kill-ya."

(Report Comment)
Lancelot Lightfoot March 18, 2011 | 10:44 a.m.

Test Cricket is the Superior form of the game - ask any professional cricketer. The nuances in the game -i.e. the weather conditions, the pitch (wicket) conditions, the composition of the bowling attack all add to the complexity of the tactical and in the case of a Test Series, the strategic decisions made by the team / captain. It is unlikely that Cricket will ever appeal to the American Pysche, given their complete incomprehension at drawn games. Indeed these can sometimes be the most exciting spectacles.

In short Cricket and Baseball is like the comparison between Virtue and Sin. People sin because the rewards are instant gratification; whereas the rewards of virtue accrue over a lifetime of patient endeavour.

(Report Comment)
Ram PV March 19, 2011 | 12:54 a.m.
This comment has been removed.
Yves Montclear March 19, 2011 | 1:53 a.m.
This comment has been removed.
Lancelot Lightfoot March 19, 2011 | 4:47 a.m.

Mr Montclear,

You sound French however, given that your insults are not only boorish, vulgar and lacking in finesse, one can only conclude that you are in fact North American.

The art of the insult is best employed with a rapier and not a broadsword.

Lightfoot

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 19, 2011 | 6:01 a.m.

I suppose we are to assume that "Yves Montclear" and "Lancelot Lightfoot" are real names. I'm willing to buy Ram's explanation of his name, for reasons I've given above. Apparently the Missourian has stopped attempting to enforce is rules.

Yes, Americans (from America del Norte) can be boorish, vulgar and lacking in finesse. Let's also throw in "demanding" and "impatient," terms I'm used to hearing.

BTW my daughter is a fencing coach: epee, not saber. Some women do enjoy fencing saber. Saber seems to be popular with divorcees. :)

(Report Comment)
Lancelot Lightfoot March 19, 2011 | 10:05 a.m.

Ellis - sir / madam - not sure which as your name is more usually a surname back here in Blighty, most commonly found amongst that sub-strata of homo sapiens known as the Welsh.

First, "Lancelot Lightfoot" is a real name. If "Yves Montclear" is a pseudonym then clearly its owner is seriously lacking in imagination and originality and as such, his family and friends should consider euthanising him.

Second, I made no disparaging remarks about "Americans" - Canadians are not Americans and neither are Mexicans (Mexico is part of continental North America). I merely pointed out the particular idiosyncracy that you have for deploying insults in a particularly base manner; but again since your politicians excel at this, perhaps it is no wonder.

It would be good if we could get back to the Cricket as I am sure the editorial staff of this fine paper are laughing their A***s (English Spelling) off at the way this blog has developed.

If anyone has anything pertinent to say I would be delighted to respond.

Lightfoot

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 19, 2011 | 11:02 a.m.

Thanks for the information. Last time I checked I was male. Ellis is a reasonably common surname in the United States. My name comes from Ellis Island, to which my paternal grandmother arrived from Germany. She named her only child (also male) Ellis, then I was also named Ellis. I don't think there's Welsh blood in our family: English, Scottish, German and Polish.

Can't help you with cricket; don't know anything about it. Have worked in a place where the only sports news was either about cricket or "football" [soccer] and I might literally have killed to get my hands on the current scores of U. S. college and professional football games.

Americans (U.S., Canada) tend toward contact sports: football, ice hockey, sex...

I'm sure the staffs of both local newspapers are used to having blogs go far astray.

(Report Comment)
Jake Sherlock March 19, 2011 | 11:23 a.m.

Ellis,

I have independently verified Mr. Lightfoot's identity (LinkedIn and Facebook are wonderful for that), so I believe him to be a legit real name. The other questionable names have had their comments removed and an email asking for verification of their real names has been sent.

I'd gently remind you that nowhere in our policy does it say that comments will be taken down within a set amount of time. We do occasionally like to give people a few hours off.

As for the other commenters on this string, we do have a few rules here. We don't engage in name calling, and you are required to register under a real name. Follow those two rules, and you'll find that we have some pretty good community conversations here without the comment strings turning into a cesspool, as happens on many other sites.

Thanks, everyone.

Jake Sherlock
Opinion Editor
The Missourian

(Report Comment)
Yves Montclear March 19, 2011 | 12:51 p.m.

As Ellis so elegantly typed in an earlier post:

--Hopefully everyone will get over being insulted.--

If not, SEND THEM TO LIBYA! It looks like we are starting a new war campaign there.

We will blow the hell out of their infrastructure, then give them billions of dollars to rebuild it. What a plan.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 19, 2011 | 1:11 p.m.

"We will blow the hell out of their infrastructure, then give them billions of dollars to rebuild it. What a plan."

What an irrational, nonsensical, liberal, post!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 19, 2011 | 1:19 p.m.

Does anyone remember the 1959 motion picture "The Mouse That Roared," starring Peter Sellers?

There's a great scene in that movie where someone points out to Sellers that if a country can manage to go to war with the United States and then lose that war, the United States will shower economic and humanitarian aid on the loser. When that British-made motion picture played in American movie theaters, Americans were rolling in the aisles with laughter. Everything old is new.

(Report Comment)
Yves Montclear March 19, 2011 | 2:04 p.m.

The Mouse That Roared...I do remember that movie.

Although we are both dating ourselves by admission of it, Ellis.

And Frank, I'm too damn old to be a much of a liberal anymore. But, we have enough problems in this country today that need fixing, and our leaders can't even get that done. What has led you to believe they should be trying it with other countries in the world?

Not to even mention the many young Americans, who have gave their lives on foreign soil. For our recently past, and now present, leaders follies.

I could have swore that now elect President Obama promised to bring the troops home in his campaign rhetoric. He has not done that. Now it appears, it is only going to get worse. If you know why, explain it to me.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 19, 2011 | 3:33 p.m.

Yves - I'll start at the beginning. Age has nothing to with the definition of a liberal and you added "anymore".

It seems to me, only the liberal fails to ever include "safety of our citizens" as a reason for these wars. They do always perceive al-Qaeda and radical Islamics as Not being a threat and they do despise the idea of money spent elsewhere than here at home where it is more easily confiscated for their use, personal, as well as public, more often than not. France (would not help in Iraq because of business dealings with Saddam)seems to be taking the lead in Libya. When a mad dog is loose it must be destroyed.

Maybe, just maybe, Obama saw when he got "first hand" that "it" was not just about oil, revenge for HW Bush or WMD, but to quell a serious threat to the safety of Americans at home.

WW2 "got worse", did it not? Do you chastise those leaders for the money and lives (many not volunteers as is the case today) "wasted" to stop and destroy a pack of mad dogs?

(Report Comment)
Lancelot Lightfoot March 20, 2011 | 7:36 a.m.

Now then, Ellis - busy watching the Rugby and Cricket yesterday so unable to respond to your point of 11.02am on the 19th. But first, a word of thanks to the Glorious Editor. I am of course reasssured to know that I exist; however to make absolutely certain I have asked the Daily Telegraph to check their obituaries and confirm that I am in fact not dead.

Well Ellis, you have stated that your surname is Ellis, presumably this means that your First Name is Smith and you prefer to be addressed in reverse. If this is not the case, I suggest you check your gender again to be certain you are not a woman with the First Name Ellis.

You have stated earlier that you "know nothing about Cricket" and so I am sure you must agree that your opinion therefore is about as much use as a perforated condom. Further, why you should bother to opine on this blog must confound even the most brilliant mind.

Furthermore to correct a number of your misconceptions, I make the following points in no particular order.

(1) Unlike baseball, it is perfectly legitimate in Cricket for the bowler to target the batsmen; indeed cricketers have been killed and seriously injured as a result. In these circumstances the batsmen's courage, resolve and technique are tested.

(2) You state Americans prefer contact Sports. Presumably you are unaware that modern boxing has its oirgins in The Marquis of Queensberry Rules in the UK - can't think of a current American world boxing champion - can you? - got a couple of British ones including David Haye.

(3) You are probably unaware that American Football is directly derived from Rugby, a game founded at Rugby School in England circa 1820/30 purportedly by "William Webb Ellis", a pupil at the school. Ask Katy Steinmetz about Rugby since she was a schoolmistress at Winchester College one of England's Oldest (800 years) and finest schools (although they have shirked on the VC front - preferring scholarly pursuits to a good scrap). In addition, protective armour and helmets are not permitted in Rugby.

Suggest you check your facts before shouting the odds.

Lancelot Winthrop Lightfoot

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 20, 2011 | 9:06 a.m.

Well, Lancelot (I assume I may address you as "Lancelot," whereas you may now address me as "Joe Miner"), since they've verified that you reside in the UK it so happens that I've a granddaughter who in September of this year will be an exchange student at Nottingham University.

Perhaps if she gets a break in her studies she can look you up. That of course will require your supplying an address or at least a phone number.

You aren't one of those dirty old men, are you? ;)

(Report Comment)
Lancelot Lightfoot March 21, 2011 | 5:43 a.m.

Ellis,

it is only fair that I should be able to "take it" as well as "dish it out". So fair enough however, try and add a little more panache to your efforts.

Incidentally, since you have a granddaughter at university it is more likely that you are the old man, old boy.

Regards

Lightfoot

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 21, 2011 | 1:42 p.m.

@ Lancelot Lightfoot:

The fact that one has a granddaughter in college is not a guarantor of one's age. In this country some folks located in certain geographic locations still marry very young.

The marriage ceremonies are quite nice and worth a foreign visitor's viewing. There's the ring bearer, the shotgun bearer...

Shotgun weddings even occur at American institutions of higher learning: we had one at University of Missouri in 1870, but the union hasn't turned out all that well.

(Report Comment)
Lancelot Lightfoot March 21, 2011 | 3:21 p.m.

Good for you Ellis, or "Bully for you" as I believe Teddy Roosevelt might have said.

Hope your Wedding was the ring bearer variety rather than the shotgun type, as clearly you declined the suicide pill. Alot of British wenches have kids young here too, without bothering to get married and usually end up dispensing with the Father before the little chaps are born, so perhaps shotgun weddings are no bad thing - certainly if you are a taxpayer in this country and end up having to pay for fatherless little f******.

Clearly your granddaughter is bright, as Nottingham is a good University, known as a good law school; although I would advise against this career since it requires neither courage nor character and generally entails making other people's lives a misery with the added bonus of doing so with impunity. Of course some depraved people enjoy this sort of thing.

Been to the States alot - alas mostly East Coast; Westport Connecticut, NY, NY, Mass, Martha's Vineyard, Washington (DC), Florida. Did spend a week in California, great weather, great scenery and a fantastic place to live if you're considering a career as a Bullsh*t Artist or con-man.

Back to the Cricket. Suggest you try and watch the Indian Premier League Cricket online (try ITV.com) which starts next month I believe - you might like it as it will be the shortest form of the game about 3hrs.

Regards

Lighfoot

(Report Comment)
uncle pennybags April 6, 2011 | 10:43 a.m.

I prefer baseball over cricket but I like to watch cricket too. its a great sport. actually all sports are great, im actually a football (soccer) player but i started to love baseball. hm, in cricket, what i like about it the most is that an out is like a diamond in a game, its so hard to get.

(Report Comment)
Sanat Kumar April 28, 2011 | 2:02 a.m.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha .what a bad comparison ..Cricket requires a lot of skill,whereas baseball is nothing just throwing ball at batsman head.It's far more exciting.Batsman in baseball looks lile a dumb person just watching the pitcher.

(Report Comment)
Geoffrey Plumridge November 10, 2011 | 2:42 a.m.

I am an Aussie who has played both sports competitively and wanted to share a relatively informed comparison..

Cricket is harder, longer and more dangerous. But baseball is very challenging too in it's own right, the ball travels faster off the bat and having 4 plates to throw to instead of 2 complicates the fielding.

In some ways they are mirror images of each other. Swap wickets for home runs (both equally hard to get) and you really can get a comparison. Offence and Defence are inverted between the two sports.

That said, nothing in baseball compares to a fast bowler going after a batsman.

If people can please peruse the following clip and provide some feedback I would be most interested to read it. It is one of the more vivid examples of the physical assault (who says cricket is a non-contact sport??!!) I am referring to.

Note also how far back the keeper (catcher) is standing and where he takes some of the shorter bouncing deliveries. You will get an idea of the force behind the ball.

I love both games but cricket is like the older hairier brother with bigger balls.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-f5pfBgpNE

(Report Comment)

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