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Do software programmers hate sports?

 
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Okay I am a fanatic sports lover. Especially football (soccer for the Americans). Now for the second time in a row, two jobs in a row, the computer programmers I work with hate football. It's somewhat frustrating Monday morning. Monday morning is football revision day. We talk about the games last weekend. Well, I talk with the other personal then. With the cleaning girl, with the caretaker, with guys from hardware production. But I almost feel an outcast in the programmers world at the moment. Do software people hate sports? And why?

My love for football runs in the family, by the way. Both my parents were fanatics themselves. My dad is still alive and is still an enormous fan at the age of 75. Sometimes I think he will die of a heart attack during a game.
 
Sheriff
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You must have been particularly unlucky with your choice of companies. Pretty much all the places I have worked have been rife with football chat. We have a weekly 5/7 a-side friendly game over lunch at a sports centre down the road, and the less athletic or enthusiastic folks can be found playing a Fifa game on the Xbox.

I'm more of a motorsport man myself but unfortunately I am yet to find a colleague who shares my enthusiasm for the British Touring Car Championship
 
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I don't think anyone in my office is a big football fan (though I wouldn't say any of them "hate" it, as far as I know). But a few of us are into cricket (including me) and we've got a few who seem to be fanatical about motor racing. Mainly F1 rather than Touring Car, though.
 
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Speaking from the American side of the pond, I've never met any programmers who were big sports fans. Personally, I have no interest in sports although I'll admit to watching the Super Bowl and some of the Olympic events when they come around.

I have no theories on why this seems to be a pattern. I can only speak for myself when I say that I've always found sports to be horribly boring. I'd rather go out to the garden and pull weeds than watch a sporting event.
 
Rancher
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My ex boss and his boss were both American football fans. They would talk for a LNG time about football. Besides that most of the programmers here tend to be Indians. Some Indians get into American sports, but most don't. However, when you have the cricket matches going on, they will be all like "what's the score?"
 
lowercase baba
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I work in an office with 300 IT professionals. There is ALWAYS talk about sports. At least five of the 11 people on my team are huge college (American) football fans. During the baseball season, you see people with St. Louis Cardinals items in their cubicles everywhere. During the playoffs, we can wear cardinal t-shirts/jerseys/etc. We also have a large contingent of St. Louis Blues Hockey fans. We don't have a professional soccer or basketball team, but we do have decent college teams that people support.

Is everyone in the office a sports fan? No. But a huge number are.
 
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Watching sports on television never really made sense to me. It bores me to tears.
As for football (soccer), I dislike the sport and even more so all the drama, violence and govenment spending associated with it.
 
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IMHO, sports and being a sports fan is a social thing. Folks who tend to be seriously good software engineers are solitary. You can't debug a nasty bit of multi-threaded code while talking to your buddy. When I am doing serious debugging, I do it from 11PM until 4 AM, when there is no one else awake to bother me.

There is a reason that the stereotype of a software dude is a geek wearing ugly clothes -- its based on at least some truth.

The counterforce is that nearly all development is in a team, for a company, etc. And that means being social. Talking about the latest cricket match or football game does not help you debug the nasty code, but it does help you communicate with team members, and maybe, just maybe, your UI won't look like it was designed by an engineer.
 
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I used to like watching sports ... first basketball, then football. I rarely do nowadays unless I'm with friends or visiting my dad. I find soccer fun to play, but completely unwatchable, especially on television. That may have more to do with being an American than a software developer.
 
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I don't hate sports, I just have virtually no interest in them. Except for the annual Six Nations rugby competition and the occasional rugby international. But many of my offices have been full of blokes who spend all day talking about football (soccer), which was immensely tedious. Nowadays, we have a lot of Indian colleagues, so you get more talk about cricket, which is only fair as they have a lot more to cheer about than English cricket fans. But I'm Welsh and come from a country where there's barely enough flat ground to play cricket, and I've never understood the point of a game where you play for days and at the end of it all you still don't know who's won, so cricket is kind of lost on me anyway.

As for Pat's theory, I'd like to buy into that, although the team-building aspect of sports chat doesn't work if you implicitly exclude all the people who don't give a monkey's about sport. But I suspect I'm probably just trying to find an excuse for my poor social skills! On the plus side, at least the large volume of the brain that most blokes use to store sports trivia is still available for me to learn all kinds of interesting stuff instead. Just wish I could remember where I left my car keys...
 
Tim Cooke
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Greg, it's ok, it's not because you're an American. I'm English and I find watching football, or hearing people talk about football, or watching programs with people talking about football, even just the noise of a football match to be an immensely unenjoyable experience altogether. A game that's played over nearly 2 hours where nobody scores a point? No thanks.

Chris, don't you get asked to leave Wales if you don't like Rugby? Sure I heard that somewhere.....
 
chris webster
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Tim Cooke wrote:Chris, don't you get asked to leave Wales if you don't like Rugby? Sure I heard that somewhere.....


Well, I've managed to sustain sufficient interest so far to maintain my citizenship! But the Round Ball Game is inexplicably popular in some quarters, especially now Cardiff City have been promoted. Tis the Devil's work...
 
Jan de Boer
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About Pat's theory, it does not help me to get some credits for my social skills at the moment. I talk more to the other people than the software engineers who hate sports here. I am very popular with the non programmers and in the summer we play football in the lunch break. But, like I said, it's not 'my team' in the employment sense.
 
Tim Cooke
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@Pat, I'm not quite sure what to make of your post.

Initially you propose "truths" such as:

Folks who tend to be seriously good software engineers are solitary


Which I disagree with. I'm not saying that all "team players" are seriously good software engineers by default, but in the context of working in industry where you're working in development teams the lone wolf approach just doesn't cut it. The tendency to go dark makes the rest of your team nervous and potentially results in significant amounts of incorrect work being done because that person's incorrect interpretation of the requirement goes unnoticed for a long time.

But then you go on to essentially say that very thing.... Confused
 
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Ofcourse a general statement like "Do software programmers hate sports?" is not always true.

I don't hate sports, I'm just not very interested in sports. I don't follow any sports on TV.

I do sport myself (fitness) because it's good to get exercise, it makes me feel better both physically and mentally.
 
Pat Farrell
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Tim Cooke wrote:Which I disagree with. I'm not saying that all "team players" are seriously good software engineers by default, but in the context of working in industry where you're working in development teams the lone wolf approach just doesn't cut it. The tendency to go dark makes the rest of your team nervous and potentially results in significant amounts of incorrect work being done because that person's incorrect interpretation of the requirement goes unnoticed for a long time.



Its all IMHO, and this is meaningless drivel, so its OK to disagree, especially with me. In my experience, large teams result in no progress. Mythical Man Month (Fred Brooks) rules. I've long argued that a team of three great programmers will get more done than a team of 50 average ones. Back when I was in grad school working on a PhD, there were well regarded studies that showed that the best programmers are 100 times as productive as the average. Its hard to find those serious programmers, but again IMHO, well worth it.

Now, I don't mean they are hermits. They will go out for beers after work. But they are self-selecting. Hard core geeks like other hard core geeks. So they tend to hang out together.

A lot of crucial code was written by one or two guys. Linux was started by Linus. Paul Allen and Bill Gates did all the early Microsoft code. Larry and Sergey did it for Google.
 
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Jan de Boer wrote:Okay I am a fanatic sports lover. Especially football (soccer for the Americans)....Do software people hate sports? And why?


I suspect not; although being a job that values brains over physical prowess, I'm quite sure that the demographic is likely to be more akin to a science laboratory or arts institute than it is an army barracks or a fire/police station.

Personally, I detest football (the European version), not merely because I was never very good at it (-5+ myopia being a major contributing factor), but also because it assaults me for 16 hours a day, nine months of the year. There was a time when I actually enjoyed it as a spectator, but not any more.

Speaking personally, as a short-arsed human being, I think that one of the things that turns many of us off to most professional sports is that size and strength and weight are everything. I used to play rugby, and enjoyed playing hooker as a 2nd or 3rd XV-er; but going up against someone who's fifteen stone (five more than me at my fighting weight)? Forget it. And name me the last Hall-of-Famer in the NFL who weighed less than 200lbs (≈90kg).

And what about tennis? My favourite player to watch right now is Dominika Cibulkova. Why? She's cute (I won't deny), but she's also an elf among giants - most of the girls she plays against are six inches, sometimes even a foot, taller than she is, so she can't simply hit them off the court. I used to like Rosie Casals for the same reason.

Basketball? Forget it. Since Spud Webb (who was taller than me) departed, it's a game for freaks as far as I'm concerned.

The only sports left: Golf, which is like watching paint dry AFAIC; Snooker (?), which I have to admit has lost its gloss since Ronnie O went downhill; or Cricket: to me, the only sport left for the discerning enthusiast: hard, exciting (if you're prepared to watch), and peopled, for the most part, by "normal"-sized players (unless you fancy being a fast bowler).

Oh, and boxing. Still like a good scrap.

My 2¢

Winston
 
Matthew Brown
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Speaking personally, as a short-arsed human being, I think that one of the things that turns many of us off to most professional sports is that size and strength and weight are everything



I think that's actually one of the things football has got going for it. There are advantages to being tall in certain positions, but there's plenty of space in the game for people of normal sizes. Messi - generally regarded as the best in the world over the last few years - is about 5 foot 7. One of my favourite players as a kid was Brian Flynn (I was a Leeds fan), who was 5 foot 2. And anyone who saw Jan Molby play can see you can go a long way without being exactly svelte.

I used to be quite a big football fan, but have gone off it partly because I realised that I don't actually like most footballers! I'll still get excited by the World Cup next year, though.

But you might be more interested in this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF_uOgyBK1c

 
chris webster
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Pat Farrell wrote:...this is meaningless drivel, so its OK to disagree....

No it's not.
 
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I followed baseball a bit when I was eleven. Coming from NYC I was a big Yankees fan, and now living in the deep South the team's very name turned off most of my schoolmates. So I was excited when the manager said the Yankees had a good chance to win the pennant that year. They ended up in the middle of the pack. This happened twice in a row. (What kind of incompetency is it when the team's manager can't even give a realistic estimate of his team's chances?)

Also, there was so much player turnover that most of what I learned about the teams one year wasn't even valid a year later! What a treadmill! That's even worse than trying to keep up with the latest Java tools and APIs!

I also detested the dishonesty. We'd have pep rallies before games where we were supposed to shout that our team was number one and was going to win! That's like selling short without a hedge stocks you don't own! When our team lost, it made liars of us all -- and no one even seemed to care!

What really killed it for me was: (1) Being really terrible at athletics myself, (2) Seeing athletic schoolmates treated as heroes, and (3) No pretty cheerleaders getting enthusiastic about guys doing any of the things that _I_ was good at. The American-football players never cheered for me, so to h*ll with them.
 
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Matthew Brown wrote:I think that's actually one of the things football has got going for it. There are advantages to being tall in certain positions, but there's plenty of space in the game for people of normal sizes.



If you're looking for a sport where people of normal size compete, you could look at professional road cycling. It's true that it contains just as much BS as other sports, but it's considerably more complex than football (roundball or pointyball) or basketball or baseball.

And in reference to one of Frank's points: the teams (at the higher levels anyway) aren't geographically-based, so there's none of the chauvinism and hooliganism you get with sports which are played in stadiums.
 
Winston Gutkowski
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Matthew Brown wrote:I think that's actually one of the things football has got going for it. There are advantages to being tall in certain positions, but there's plenty of space in the game for people of normal sizes. Messi - ...


And you know what, mate, I might agree with you if it wasn't in me bleedin' ear'ole 9 months of the f***in' year.

I grew up in Lewes, so I've been a Brighton & Hove Albion fan since I was about 8. I've even taken Thalidomide kids to the Goldstone (brilliant, because we were on the sidelines, and you used to see the players up close). But I hate to say, what interest I had (and it was never my favourite sport) has been ruined by TV saturation. Just not interested any more.

But I've still got Cricket - and that's my sport. Even if we do have to put up with 5 years of purgatory when we lose the Ashes sometime in January.

Winston
 
Winston Gutkowski
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Winston Gutkowski wrote:But I hate to say, what interest I had (and it was never my favourite sport) has been ruined by TV saturation. Just not interested any more.


I have to qualify that. As far as major teams go, I've always been a Manchester City fan - basically because everybody else had MUFC bags, even when I was at primary school - and Francis Lee was my God for a while.

But I have a friend who is an absolute football nutter, (and a United fan), and I have to admit enjoying last year's City-United derby with him at a local pub (we won 3-2 as I recall), not so much for the football, or the result, but because of how much he enjoyed it. And that's the great thing with sports.

Winston
 
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Winston Gutkowski wrote:

But I've still got Cricket - and that's my sport. Even if we do have to put up with 5 years of purgatory when we lose the Ashes sometime in January.




5 years? Don't think they can win in 2015 at home?
 
Tim Cooke
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Pat Farrell wrote:a team of three great programmers will get more done than a team of 50 average ones


Can't argue with that

Pat Farrell wrote:Its hard to find those serious programmers


Or that.

It surely is a rare talent who can keep themselves focussed, effective, and motivated while working on their own. For the rest of us the most effective way to keep ourselves right is to talk, talk, and talk some more.

Paul Clapham wrote:look at professional road cycling


Oh now we're talking. EPO sticks at the ready.... and... GO! I jest of course. I would love to think that we're witnessing good clean racing these days, but history makes that a rather difficult dream to embrace.
 
Winston Gutkowski
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Jaikiran Pai wrote:5 years? Don't think they can win in 2015 at home?


Blimey, is it coming back around that quickly? I actually meant 4 years, because that's what the usual cycle is; and this year was unusual because there was only 3 months between the home and away series.

But to answer your question: No. Not unless Mitchell Johnson falls under a bus in the interim, or we can get someone to support Ian Bell in the top 6. Pretty well all our mainstays are over 30 now too, so I suspect there's going to be some turnover between now and then.

But that's how it goes; we had a pretty good run for 8 years or so. I just hope I don't run into too many Ozzies when I go back to the UK this Christmas.

Winston
 
Pat Farrell
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Winston Gutkowski wrote:But I've still got Cricket - and that's my sport.



Is it possible to explain Cricket to a non-fan in say a paragraph or so? I've seen snatches in movies and TV, and its completely baffling.
 
chris webster
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Pat Farrell wrote:

Winston Gutkowski wrote:But I've still got Cricket - and that's my sport.



Is it possible to explain Cricket to a non-fan in say a paragraph or so? I've seen snatches in movies and TV, and its completely baffling.


Travel writer Bill Bryson described it accurately:

Bill Bryson wrote:It is not true that the English invented cricket as a way of making all other human endeavors look interesting and lively; that was merely an unintended side effect. ...It is the only sport that incorporates meal breaks. It is the only sport that shares its name with an insect. It is the only sport in which spectators burn as many calories as the players-more if they are moderately restless.



http://www.billbryson.co.uk/index.php/down-under/

There's a reading of Bryson's full description of cricket here:
 
Matthew Brown
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Pat Farrell wrote:Is it possible to explain Cricket to a non-fan in say a paragraph or so? I've seen snatches in movies and TV, and its completely baffling.



Probably not, but I'll have a go (and it probably helps if you already understand baseball).

The basic mechanics are relatively simple. You have a person with a ball propelling it at a person with a bat - like baseball (though how you're allowed to propel it is different).

The batsman is trying to do two things. Firstly, to try and defend his wicket - the wooden stumps behind him. If the ball knocks those over, he's out. Secondly, to score runs by hitting the ball far enough that he can run back-and-forth between the two sets of stumps before the fielders return the ball. Running the length of the pitch scores 1 "run". Alternatively, if the batsman hits the ball out of the playing area he automatically scores 4 runs (or 6 if it doesn't bounce first). He's also trying to avoid being caught out, as in baseball - if the fielder catches a hit ball before it bounces he's out.

At the other end, the bowler is trying to knock the stumps over. Or, failing that, to force the batsman to get out in other ways (e.g. caught). Or, failing that, to prevent him scoring.

Of course, there are layers of complexity on top of that, but that's the essence of the game.

There are two general forms of the game. In the traditional game the aim is to score as many runs as possible before all the players are out (twice - two innings per team). The speed you score at doesn't matter. If the game doesn't finish in the time limit (5 days at international level) the game is a draw.

The other form is "limited overs" cricket. In that case each team will face a limited number of balls, so in that case the speed they score at does matter. At international level they play 50 overs (300 balls - an over is one bowler bowling 6 balls), or 20 overs (a relatively new form called "Twenty20"). So a Twenty20 match can be over within 2 or 3 hours.

"Purists" tend to prefer the timed version (called Tests at international level) - it's a slow burn with more space for complexity - but limited overs cricket generally gets bigger crowds.
 
Winston Gutkowski
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Pat Farrell wrote:Is it possible to explain Cricket to a non-fan in say a paragraph or so? I've seen snatches in movies and TV, and its completely baffling.


The only thing I can add to Matthew's excellent description, and to give you some idea of why I'm a fan, is that because (a) it takes so long to play, and (b) draws are a major factor in results, it has a unique ability to generate sustained excitement to go along with all that supposed tedium.

Cricket fans generally remember sessions (roughly 2 hours long), or innings, or bowling performances, rather than spectacular goals or catches or slam dunks.

One such occurred on July 26th 1998: England v South Africa, 4th Test (of 5) @ Trent Bridge, Nottingham.

With the series tied 1-1, and England's somewhat shaky batting line-up facing arguably the best bowling attack in the world at the time, our captain Mike Atherton was patently out, caught off his glove, from the 2nd (or third) ball he faced after tea, off the bowling of Allan Donald.

At the time, there was an unwritten "law" - sadly gone now - that said that a batsman should walk when he knows he's out, even if the umpire didn't signal it; but Atherton decided to stand his ground.

Whatever the merits of his decision, it sparked about 70 minutes of sustained, white-knuckle hostility that no fan who saw will ever forget: The best fast bowler in the world of the time, pissed off at having been cheated of a wicket, out to murder our best defensive batsman. Cricket - far from its "weenie" reputation - is also probably the only sport that hands a guy a lethal weapon for two hours and gives him a license to go out and break bones with it at 90+ mph. "Retired: hurt" is the next most common form of dismissal after the standard ones, and I doubt that Atherton had a comfortable night's sleep that night.

And the result? We won by 8 wickets; but it could just as easily have been a draw or a loss. What people remember is "The Session".

Hope that gives you a bit more insight into our "boring" game.

Winston
 
Frank Silbermann
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The most counter-intuitive thing about cricket to an American is that it's nothing like leap-frog -- even though toads, frogs, and crickets have similar ways of jumping.
 
Winston Gutkowski
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Winston Gutkowski wrote:Cricket - far from its "weenie" reputation - is also probably the only sport that hands a guy a lethal weapon for two hours and gives him a license to go out and break bones with it at 90+ mph...


Unfortunately, what visual record we have of the best over in cricket doesn't really give much idea of just how ferocious it was. Suffice to say that Michael Holding was known as "Whispering Death".

Now imagine an hour of that (or close to it), and you might come close to "The Session" I described above.

Winston
 
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I've worked with programmers who are big sports fans, programmers who are not, and all kinds of programmers in between.

I enjoy watching U.S. College Football, and College Basketball (especially March Madness). Cycling in spring (Spring classics rule!) and summer.

--jsp
 
Jayesh A Lalwani
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Winston Gutkowski wrote:

Winston Gutkowski wrote:Cricket - far from its "weenie" reputation - is also probably the only sport that hands a guy a lethal weapon for two hours and gives him a license to go out and break bones with it at 90+ mph...


Unfortunately, what visual record we have of the best over in cricket doesn't really give much idea of just how ferocious it was. Suffice to say that Michael Holding was known as "Whispering Death".

Now imagine an hour of that (or close to it), and you might come close to "The Session" I described above.

Winston



I'm afraid that video would have supported your point if you could see the ball instead of imagining it .
 
Jan de Boer
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Well, it’s not just sports. I must add. Two of the three guys here cannot talk about anything else but computers. It drives me nuts sometimes. So maybe the not liking to talk about sports is also a consequence of being a little ‘Asperger’, and the focus on that one thing one is good at. And I just don’t like that. In the breaks at my work, I want to talk about anything, but not computers, mobile phone or the internet. Just my quirk, I really don’t like that. On the other hand, sometimes I wish I could be a little more interested in computers myself. I overdo it, in my free time, I do not even touch the computer, and that’s not really good either. Although I do have a nice running record on the 10k, and I speak Korean. But what good does that, being a software engineer. I don’t know.
 
Tim Cooke
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Jan de Boer wrote:But what good does that, being a software engineer. I don’t know.


Well that's just about having more than one interest. Which is pretty normal in by book. A good work to life balance is a very healthy thing to have so I would value non-software-ey things just as highly as part of my overall personal and professional development.
 
Frank Silbermann
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Jan de Boer wrote:Well, it’s not just sports. I must add. Two of the three guys here cannot talk about anything else but computers. It drives me nuts sometimes. So maybe the not liking to talk about sports is also a consequence of being a little ‘Asperger’, and the focus on that one thing one is good at.

Aspergers people have trouble talking about anything other than one of their special interests. It may be that computers is the only one of them that you have in common.
 
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Matthew Brown wrote:In the traditional game ... If the game doesn't finish in the time limit (5 days at international level)


The 'traditional' game originally had no time limit. The longest Test (international) match ever lasted 11 days and still ended in a draw - the England team had to leave to catch the boat home (this was in 1939 when international air travel wasn't as common as it is today).
 
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You can't understand cricket until you have read the chapter in England, Their England, which I think is by Macdonnell. Unfortunately the rest of the book isn't as good.
 
Winston Gutkowski
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:You can't understand cricket until you have read the chapter in England, Their England...


Oh bravo. Cow for that my man. You know? I'd completely forgotten about it, despite the fact that I almost choked on my coffee when I first read it.

Winston
 
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