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An unprecedented convergence of national pastimes in London

Of all the similarities between cricket and baseball — the throwing, the hitting, the running, the odd devotion to long pants, the shall-we-say languid pace of play — the most striking one is this: They are the only major sports in the world in which the defense has the ball.

At first, this might not seem like a big deal. But it was impossible to ignore after a day such as Saturday, when, some 400 years after cricket was said to have been formalized and about 170 years after baseball played its first recorded game, these stick-and-ball cousins put their connections on display in an unprecedented way.

It was, all told, a repository of runs, a plethora of pitches, as these games have (literally) never been closer. There are just 8 miles between Lord’s Cricket Ground, where Australia played New Zealand in a Cricket World Cup match in the early afternoon, and the Olympic Stadium, where the Yankees faced the Red Sox at night in the first Major League Baseball game in the United Kingdom. It was a distance that allowed anyone — preferably anyone with a lot of sunscreen and a decent alcohol tolerance — to mix wickets and walks, overs and outs.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“To start, you’ll see that Lord’s has the same feel as Yankee Stadium,” said Graeme Lloyd, who is as close to a primary source on both subjects as I could find. Lloyd is Australian, so he has cricket in his blood, and he pitched for the Yankees from 1996 to ’98, becoming the first Australian player to win a World Series. “The sense of history, the sense of importance to the game,” he continued, “it’s the same at a place like Lord’s as at the old Stadium.”

He was right. With the nine stands ringing the playing field, a glorious balcony and a main house that has elegant staircases and crystal chandeliers, a visit to Lord’s can feel as though you’re watching a cricket match in a museum (which, technically, you are: Lord’s has been around for more than 200 years and has a great gallery of art and memorabilia).4

By 2 p.m., the fans milled about, eating and drinking and trying not to melt in unseasonably warm temperatures that threatened 90 degrees. The general sentiment seemed to be one of blissful, leisurely tranquility intermingled with occasional spasms of incredible intensity, such as when the man next to me eating French fries spilled ketchup all over his friend as he quickly transitioned from lazily chatting about the weather to wildly celebrating a diving catch from New Zealand bowler Jimmy Neesham.

The whole scene felt familiar, too, like the cricket version of hearing the crack of the bat, jumping up from your seat and dumping the beer you had in your lap all over the people in front of you. In either case, is it really your fault? When the defense is the side that has the ball, it generally wants to do whatever it can to keep the offense from getting any sort of rhythm. That results in both sports featuring stop-start-stop-wait-a-minute paces, which might hinder the other team but also leaves some fans in a (totally understandable) light daze.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

“Both sports are actually excellent as background noise,” said Kenneth W. Regan, a professor at the University of Buffalo who has written on the intersections of baseball and cricket. “In both sports, there is constant slower movement that is based around the defense trying to take away a relatively small supply of outs from the offense. They’re great to have on the radio while you’re working on a doctoral thesis.”

Now, some describe cricket as more action-packed than baseball, arguing that something happens on every pitch. While that is true, the counterpoint, one quickly realizes, is that cricket also has a lot more foul-ball equivalents, in which the batsman makes contact with the ball but doesn’t hit it far enough for anyone to try to score.