For years now, I’ve been experiencing the onset of a slow love affair with cricket. Maybe it’s because I love puzzles (especially the cryptic kind), and here in North America, cricket is usually shrouded in mystery.  It’s viewed as baseball’s exotic, off-kilter cousin whose rules are just a bit too cryptic to figure out, thank you very much, especially if there’s a baseball game on.

As it turns out, just as with cryptic crosswords, puzzling through the rules of cricket offers great satisfaction.  Now that I have a clue what’s happening on the pitch, I can hardly tear myself away.  And the language!  Can any other sport compete with googlies, doosras, yorkers, maiden overs and ducks?

There’s a kind of poetry to cricket.  In honour of the 2011 Cricket World Cup, about to begin in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, here’s my mini-doc on how I came to love the sport:

And my guide to Team Canada appears in this week’s edition of Eye Weekly in Toronto.

This year, from the Canadian perspective, there’s a particular poetry to the Cricket World Cup.  Our team, though not expected to do very well, can hold its head high.  It’s a uniquely Canadian team made up of people from many cultures, just like Canada.  And because cricket is still finding its legs here, some of them have to keep day jobs – there’s a structural engineer and an inventory manager on the team, for example, both of whom are on leave to play at the biggest tournament of them all.

So it’s a team of hard-working, unsung sports heroes.  An easy team to like, and an easy team to cheer for.

By the way, cricket has a long history in Canada.  The first mention of cricket on the historical record – anywhere – is to a game that took place on Ile-Ste-Hélène in Montréal in 1785.  And the first international match on record involved Team Canada, in 1844, vs Team USA.

Go Canada!

P.S. to fellow cryptic puzzle aficionados:

100 runs a wicket? No-win scenario. But what a game! (7)