A rather surprising email arrived at the Dennis Does Cricket Headquarters this week.
It was from the communications department of France Cricket, asking whether I could write something to help them grow awareness for the game in their country.
‘What the hell do I know about cricket, let alone when the French are involved?’
Anyhow, I agreed. Mainly because I needed some inspiration for this week’s article. For clarity, it wasn’t a paid gig. They were just hoping to have some more people become aware that cricket in France existed.
A noble cause.
The country of Richie Benaud’s ancestors and the place where he spends half the year.
With this kind of tenuous link to cricket royalty, surely France must have an amazing cricket pedigree?
Let’s find out.
To kick off my French cricket education, I called my German friend Heinz to see if he knew anything?
Just google “Great French Cricket Victories”
Google responded with ‘Do you mean Great French Cricket Defeats?‘
This was going to be a hard slog.
What about Wikipedia?
Why a rooster for their logo?
I expected something traditionally French like two people kissing or a frog or a breadstick or Gerard Depardieu or the even bigger Andre the Giant. Andre was a massive cricket fan as this article attests to.
Is it just me, or does Andre look like Jermaine from Flight of the Concords?
He does, doesn’t he?
So, moving on, or as the French say it, ‘se déplaçant sur’, I delved further into the French Cricket Wiki page.
Wikipedia seem to suggest that the French team consists of only four players. Only four? What happened to the rest of them?
Did they get told their next match was against the Germans so they just quit?
The remaining four brave men don’t have what I would deem classically French sounding names.
Arun Ayyavooraju (c), Abdul Rehman Qureshi, Ramesh Sithambaranathan and Williamdeep Singh.
Maybe the French subscribe to the English theory of getting your players everywhere but from home? It appears that there are no South African’s, Irish, Zimbabwean’s or New Zealender’s though. But who can really tell from a name? Benaud is French after all.
As a kid, I knew that French cricket was a thing. In fact, we played a version of the game called, funnily enough, French cricket.
Your legs were your stumps, and you faced the bowler square on.
Just don’t get hit on the legs or get caught, That was about it.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul seems to want to bring this form of the game back.
So does Craig McMillan.
Chris Cairns was the non striker in that video. Not that I’m suggesting anything, but he probably paid McMillan to bat like that.
By the way, did you know that cricket was played in France as early as 1478?
Me neither. I just read it on the ICC website.
A batsman also died that year in France from a ‘pitch invasion’.
Let’s think about this for a second.
That guy who died had a bat in his hand when the pitch invasion occurred.
I don’t know about you, but where I come from, a cricket bat in your hand usually equates to survival in a game of pitch invasion roulette.
Perhaps he saw the marauding crowd coming and just lay his bat down.
For completeness, I researched German cricket history to see if I could find any recorded occurrence of them Blitzkrieging a French cricket match in 1478.
Totally unrelated, did you know the term “French Cut” was introduced as a way to mock the French and their ability to play cricket? Well, that’s what Wiki says.
The English have since raised the bar, selecting Jade Dernbach whenever possible, for the sole purpose of mocking cricket as a whole.
Speaking of the English, they are the reigning Olympic Gold medalist in cricket.
Well, actually, there has only ever been one match of cricket at the Olympics.
The French lost it to the English in 1900.
They probably just surrendered.
I guess that makes the French the reigning Olympic Silver medalists?
To finish off your French cricket education, here are some cricket things in French.
Firstly, the rules:
…and here are some useful cricketing terms in French.
These will be useful when the Canadian Premier League kicks of in Quebec. Apparently they may speak French over there too. Who knew?
Batsman – Batteur
Bowler – Lanceur
LBW – Lambe devant guichet
Silly Mid Off – Milieu fou
Sticky Wicket – Wicket gluant
Maiden over – Fin de serie d’une jeune fille
My mother could have hit that with a stick of rhubarb – Ma mere pourrait avoir frappe avec un baton de rhubarbe
That’s just not cricket – Ce n’est pas le cricket
Howzat! – Howzat!
Viva La France Cricket!