The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


(Apologies in advance to non-UK or Commonwealth readers for any technical jargon in this post)

I am writing this with half an eye on the Second Test Match from Edgebaston,

England versus Australia

Australia are "on 82 for 3, chasing 200 more runs with 7 wickets in hand".

I love cricket. I've loved it ever since I came as a schoolboy to England, many years ago. As someone whose only opportunity for sport in Saudi had been soccer on a concrete-hard pitch of compacted gravel and sand, cricket was a luxury. I enjoyed fielding on the boundary, sliding on soft moist grass to stop the ball going over the line, getting grass stains on my long white trousers. We used to get afternoon tea in the clubhouse, tea or orange juice and sandwiches. The sun always shone, the birds always sang, there was the sound of leather on willow, the tension as the sun started to set with the result still in doubt, "There's a breathless hush in the Close tonight - Ten to make and the match to win!" as the famous poem goes.

People from other countries don't usually "get it" with cricket. It's not like football or basketball, where there's a cut-and-dried result after a short period of time. Cricket is like life; it's ambiguous and indeterminate. It's days before you get a result, three or four or five, and even then it may be a draw, or the game may just come to a stop because of the weather. You can go to matches and spend whole days of your life just watching it.

I can never understand why Saudi's don't play cricket - it suits their national temperament. They play soccer very badly, because they have big bottoms and spindly legs, and are not physically aggressive and quick enough. Put our national soccer team up against any UK soccer team and they'd be kicked into the stand. But the pace of cricket, with its late start, regular breaks for meals, and leisurely progress towards some sort of conclusion (perhaps), fits the national personality. You can drive around Riyadh and see games between teams of expatriate Pakistanis and Indians, but sadly we never join in.

Australia are 132 for 4. Ambiguity as always, they may win, or equally lose, and if it rains it will be a draw. No more blogging for today, I've got a game to watch.

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