Friday, 26 September 2008

Cricket vs Baseball: Round 3 - Protection

The final round in the colossal firefight between cricket and baseball ends today with a look at the protection required to keep players from injuring themselves. As both sports involve hard balls being thrown at the batsman as fast as possible, you would think that they would have developed a similar style. But no.

What attracted Nightwatchgirl's attention initially was the hat the baseball players wear when batting. Depending upon whether they are left or right handed, the side of the head facing the pitcher (correct term?) will cover their ear. The other side will not. This is annoying. Why not just have both sides covering both ears? Is it frowned upon? Does it use up too much plastic (when has America really cared about unnecessary wastage when it comes to, well, anything?)?

The cricket helmet is the bees knees of ball-in-the-face protection. With a hefty grill covering the front of the face, you could naturally assume that it would protect the head area adequately. Alas, that would be incorrect. For as much as it looks like it could offer some relief from being smashed in the skull by a hard ball, it has abandoned many a player in their second of need. Teeth have been knocked out (New Zealander, Daniel Flynn, two to be exact), scars have been made (Aussie, Ricky Ponting) and wickets have been dismantled (Kevin Pietersen - it was pretty comical).

Then there comes the art of padding in cricket. Almost every area conceivable has its own version of the pad. Legs, arms, ribs, hands, teeth and baby-making equipment each have their own pad design. This also does not offer complete protection from broken bones or nasty bruises.

In baseball, it seems only one player gets the padding and that is for the catcher (is this the correct term?). He gets all the padding in the world, covering him basically from head to toe. His face, his body and his legs are all deeply padded or grilled (this is definitely necessary).

We must now turn to gloves. Only one member of a cricket team is allowed to wear gloves and this is the wicketkeeper. These have a sort of webbing that might be handy for swimming as well as catching the balls left by the batsmen (or if the batsman's unlucky and he does hit the ball, but didn't mean to).

In baseball, all the fielders get to wear gloves. Only on one hand. And they are shaped very strangely. This seems unfair because it surely provides them with a greater chance of being able to catch the ball, because they look more like a giant scooping device.

And there ends the great debate between cricket and baseball. Both sports feature runs, innings, balls and bats but they couldn't be more different. Each have their plus points (food in seats really does appeal) and each have their own negative points (baseball: it's not cricket, cricket: no food in seats - Nightwatchgirl is becoming slightly obsessed).

Nightwatchgirl will stick to cricket for the time being. But it's been an interesting ride along the way and Americans aren't as crazy as previously thought; baseball has potential.

So, it obviously must come down to how many hits on google for each sport. When cricket is typed in to google it gets 84.2 million hits. Baseball gets 237. Million. Bum.


Edladd said...

Americans do seem to have a strange relationship with armour in sport. Look at American Football - basically they're playing rugby in gear that would stop bullets!

Anonymous said...

I guess the fundamental difference is in baseball the ball reaches the striker without hitting the ground - so very unlikely to cause damage by an awkward bounce / cut or turn.

I also do not remember the striker turning to hit on the 'leg' side. That would explain the lack of ear protection on one side. Or maybe because the 'umpire' stands behind
them and they have to listen to their calls.

But I am glad you are still an ardent fan of cricket - and seems will remain one for a long time.

The Nightwatchgirl said...

Don't get me started on American Football...