How does one describe a Sunday on which (1) England defeats New Zealand to become Cricket World Champions; (2) Djokovic beats Federer to become Wimbledon Champion; (3) World Motor Racing Champion Lewis Hamilton wins his sixth Silverstone race; (4) Algeria and Senegal beat Nigeria and Tunisia respectively to reach the final of AFRICON 2019?

The funny thing is that if one only read a bare recitation of these events, one might shrug one’s shoulders and say, “So what?” But you will see, after I have put flesh on the bare bones of the items, that unembellished facts can, by themselves, sometimes hide happenings that exist in epic proportions.

So then, first, to the cricket. Now I know that not many of my readers will have the slightest idea of what cricket is about. For – rather unfortunately for “British West Africa” — cricket couldn’t get as much a grip on our people as it did in other former British colonies. Cricket is the most popular game in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the West Indies – all of which are countries that provide evidence that cricket is not a “whiteman’s sport” enjoyed only by the people of former “white” British colonies, such as Australia New Zealand, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

 In fact, conversely, Kenya, which had a large white population (plus an Indian sub-segment) never really got to excel in cricket, although it once united with Uganda to send a team to the Cricket World Cup. (In that team, by the way, was one of my oldest friends outside Ghana, the writer, John Nagenda of Uganda, with whom I have been known to sip champagne occasionally at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London!)

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I have many cricket stories to tell, but there is no space here for it. So let me just tell you that when a cricket ball is “bowled” to a “batsman”, MANY things can happen, each of which provides its own thrilling moments.

Just imagine a football player kicking the ball and apart from either scoring a goal, or, say, hitting the ball against an opponent’s hand to obtain a free-kick or penalty, there are TWENTY or so other incidents that can count towards the eventual victory or defeat of his team!

Well, here goes: when a cricket ball is bowled by a bowler, the bowler himself can be penalised if he steps over a line drawn in front of the opposing batsman (that punishment is called a “no-ball” 😉 if he bowls the ball too far away from the batsman it’s a punishable “wide”; If he bowls the ball too high and it goes very close to the batsman’s head, that’s a “beamer”.

The bowler, remember, will get penalised for engaging in any of these practices – usually, by being asked to bowl the ball again, after the opposing side has been awarded an initial “run”. So the opponents get an extra opportunity to make runs.

If the batsman manages to hit the ball it so hard that it reaches the “boundary” rope that’s stretched all around the playing pitch, he gets four runs; if it goes HIGH over the rope without touching the rope, the batsman gets six runs. If the batsman and his companion at the other end of the “stumps” can run and replace each other at either end, they get one run; if they are able to run twice, they get two runs; if they run thrice, they get three runs.

If the batsmen try to run to each other’s end and a “fielder” catches the ball and throws it and it hits the stumps before the running batsman gets to the stumps, that batsman is “run out” and has to leave the field of play.

Enough incidents? No, there are more. If “fielders” placed around the playing pitch are able to get hold of or “catch” a ball that has been hit high towards “boundary”, before the ball hits the ground, then the batsman who hit the ball goes “out”. If the ball hits the batsman’s glove and is caught by any member of the opposing side, before it hits the ground, the batsman is out; if the ball hits the batsman’s leg and prevents it from hitting the stumps, the batsman is out LBW (Leg before wicket); if the ball passes the batsman, hits the stumps and displaces the “bails”, the batsman is out!

You see? It is the possibility of so many things happening with the bowling of each ball that helps people to watch a “Test Match” that can last for FIVE DAYS! Of course, being the clever people they are, the authorities who govern cricket have now brought in two other versions of the game, the 50-over match [six or so hours] and even shorter 20-over match. (In an “over”, a bowler bowls six balls).         

On Sunday 14 July 2019. England and New Zealand met in the final of the World Cup, after they had eliminated such opponents in the tournament as India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the West Indies and Australia. At the end of the game, each side had scored the same number of runs as the other. The game was “tied”.

 So they had to play a “Super-Over”. This is what happened in the finale of the Super-Over:

New Zealand needed 3 runs from two balls, to win.
 [Barbados-born English bowler Jofra] Archer digs it in. Neesham of New Zealand hooks but falters. New Zealand scampers one run.

LAST BALL:  Guptill [New Zealand] needs to score two runs to win the World Cup. It is a short ball from Archer but Guptill hits it out into the deep part of the field. Roy [England] picks it up and throws it. New Zealand turn for a second run. Buttler [England] gathers the ball and whips off the bails. New Zeland is RUN OUT!

The scores are still equal but because England has scored more SIXES and FOURS in the match than New Zealand, England has won the World Cup!

Now, the implications of this match are of some consequence.  It was won for England by a man [Archer] born  in the islands from where the Windrush generation went to England, only to be discriminated against and sometimes even deported, despite being British nationals….  Work things out for yourself.

Next, Novak Djokovic beats Roger Federer in five sets to win the 2019 Wimbledon Men’s Singles. The scores? 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 13-12. (They were tied at 9-9!)

13-12? Yes oh, yes! That’s what is called an epic game! It is Djokovic’s fifth Wimbledon title.Federer has won it 8 times.

Enough excitement for one day?

 No! For Lewis Hamilton starts the2019 British Grand Prix at Silverstone in second position but wins the race!

And finally, Algeria beats Nigeria 2-1 to reach the Final of Afcon 2019. Algeria’s opponent will be Senegal, which beat Tunisia 1-0.

Ayoooo, Tunisia! (‘Tis so sweet that you too have suffered!) How dared you kick Ghana out of the tournament?

So then – a great deal to savour on a Sunday afternoon!

Only sports can provide that sort of satisfaction to quite a few million people round the world.


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