World cricket booms as England face Aussies

Global appeal: Cricket is played in more than 125 countries across the world.

Is cricket the greatest sport in the world? England are taking on Australia in the first Ashes Test match. And as the pros do battle, the game flourishes in all corners of the globe.

For many it is the greatest rivalry in sport. And after weeks of training and a fair amount of trash talk, the Ashes are finally underway.

Nothing gets the blood boiling quite like it. In recent weeks David Warner, Australia’s vice-captain, declared his “hatred” for England, promising them “war”.

Last time England visited, that is exactly what happened. Aussie bowler Mitchell Johnson terrorised them and England lost the series 5-0. Several players never played again. Now England want revenge.

The series is the latest instalment in a rivalry that started over 140 years ago, when James Lillywight took his England XI on a 48-day voyage around the world to face Australia.

In those days cricket matches had no time limit, and players would battle for days on end before the game was settled.

But cricket has changed. New T20 matches, which only last a few hours, have taken the world by storm. In 2016 over a billion people tuned in to watch the Indian Premier League: a short format cricket competition.

But cricket stretches beyond the big money leagues. Website Sporteology estimates that there are 2.5 billion fans of the sport — many of whom play their games on the backstreets of Delhi to the beaches of Brisbane. Even scientists in Antarctica play cricket matches on ice.

So is cricket the best sport in the world?

I don’t like cricket…

Nothing else comes close, some argue. No other sport requires such a range of physical skills or psychological strength. But most importantly: for young and old, and rich and poor, it’s a whole lot of fun.

Absolutely not, others say. How can a game be considered fun when it takes five days to complete and can still end without a winner? It is slow, old-fashioned, and boring. High-octane contact sports like football and rugby are far more exciting.

You Decide

  1. Is cricket the greatest sport in the world?

Activities

  1. Name as many famous sportspeople as you can — they can be from any sport. Out of all of the athletes you thought of, which person do you admire the most and why?

Some People Say...

“I tend to think that cricket is the greatest thing that God ever created on earth.”

Harold Pinter

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Australia are currently ranked fifth in the world test cricket rankings, with England above them in third. England have also won four of the last five Ashes series.
What do we not know?
We do not know who will win, although most experts and pundits expect an Australia victory. Former England captain Michael Vaughan thinks that England will lose the five match series 3-1.

Word Watch

England XI
Although it was the first Test match between the two nations, it is not seen as an Ashes game. The concept of “The Ashes” came about in 1882 when The Observer newspaper wrote an obituary of English cricket after Australia first won in England.
T20
A T20 match consists of 20 overs per team, meaning each side faces 120 balls.
2.5 billion
According to these figures cricket is the second most popular sport in the world, behind football.
Scientists
Australian researchers at the Casey Station research base.

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