There's turmoil in the world of cricket following allegations that Pakistani players are involved in match-fixing. Fans are shocked but in this Postcard from England, Lars Bevanger explains why he's non-plussed.
Pakistani cricket players are quizzed over a betting scandal
I'm going to put all my cards on the table right now - I don't like cricket. I don't understand its rules, execution or purpose. It's too slow and it's too long. Maybe it's because I'm Norwegian. I know exactly what ski wax you should use when the snow temperature is between minus 6 and 8 degrees. But I can't tell you which team won a cricket match - even when I've heard the score. So to me the latest disastrous scandal to engulf the world of cricket - not my words, but those of a collective Commonwealth media - seems somewhat inflated.
Apparently this latest alleged indiscretion has thrown the sport into deep turmoil and crisis. I remember the last time cricket was thrown into crisis. It was only four years ago, when Pakistan doggedly refused to return after a break to play England because Pakistani players had been accused of ball tampering. I'll come back to ball tampering later...
Lars Bevanger doesn't understand all the fuss - or the game
Now, I probably understand as little about what a cricket crisis really means as I understand the rules of the game. But it does seem to excite sports journalists more than the players. The game, you see, simply goes on. And on, and on, and on. Who can seriously follow a game which goes on for days? At least this year's epic 3 day Wimbledon tennis match between Nicolas Mahut and John Isner was non-stop action. As far as my untrained eye can tell, cricket is as action packet as a Samuel Becket play.
Now, if someone has actually tried to lose games for their national side in order to make money with the bookmakers, it's a terrible state of affairs, I agree. But cheating goes on in all sports. How many times has the course of a football match been altered by a player feigning injury or a foul? How many track and field competitors or cyclists have been caught taking performance-enhancing drugs? We ought to know by now that no sport goes into a real crisis which could alter the future of the game. Not even cricket.
I promised to come back to ball tampering. It's a concept which makes this sport even more alien to me than it's cryptic terminology of overs, innings, all out and centuries. Apparently you can win or lose a game of cricket if you - pardon the expression - fiddle with the balls. The aerodynamics can be altered by moving the seams around. Or you could eat a lollipop - bear with me here - and produce sticky saliva which you rub on the ball to increase it's reverse swing. Do they teach this at cricket school? Because if they do, I think I'd like to go and learn after all. I like sweets.
Author: Lars Bevanger
Editor: Helen Seeney