Thursday, 15 March 2012

Know Your Cricket in Saudi

It pays to know your cricket in Saudi.  Not because Saudi's play cricket, but because most of the taxi drivers hail from Pakistan.  They know cricket.  The majority (ok, so not having done a survey this statement is pure conjecture) but the majority, I'm sure, stay up with the play on the latest test matches, one dayers and 20/20 games for all cricket teams, not just their local.

Every Pakistani taxi driver I have ever met, because sometimes Mr Noor is not available (especially if he has an aiport run which pays a lot more than my trip across the way and far be it for me to deny him of high paying work.  After all,  we are all here for the money) also knows New Zealand cricket.

They all have their favourite NZ cricket players.  Stephen Fleming and Daniel Vettori take top pegging.
I've learnt more about New Zealand cricket while living  here in Riyadh than I did back home. 

Of course, if you follow accepted advice and don't talk to the taxi drivers then knowing your cricket isn't required, unless you happen to like cricket.  But, contrary to all good advice, I tend to chat to the taxi drivers.   Where are you from? usually gets the conversation going. (I can now ask that in Arabic and am learning it in Pushtu).

If they don't bring up cricket (which many do once they hear the home country is NZ), I do.  Talking cricket stops them from being so nervous about this woman attempting conversation from the back seat.  Nervous taxi drivers drive like crap. 

One day, while out searching for a cave, we came across a cricket ground.  When I mentioned this to Mr Finland, he laughed.  During the weekend it is not unusual to find groups of men from the Asian continent playing cricket on vacant lots throughout the city - no need for a cricket ground at all.  We even visited a Friday cricket game once. 

But this was a real, fair dinkum (what an Ozzy saying that is) Cricket Ground on the outskirts of Riyadh.

There were, from memory, five pitches altogether.

Each with spectator stands.

The day we pulled up to have a nohi (maori for take a look) at why people were converging on a spot in the middle of nowhere next to a dump, there was a school boy match about to start.  Pakistan v India.

Until we came across this ground and Navid, the lovely gentleman who had a chat with us (or Hubster anyway - I was taking photo's) I had no idea there was week-end school-boy cricket in Riyadh.  It seems such a normal activity.  We have wonderful memories of carting our kids to their weekend sporting events.  It's just a pity that in Saudi Arabia, girls can't play.  I have no doubt they would be just as good as the boys at knowing their cricket in KSA.

We didn't stay to see who won this match.  Our mission that day (which we failed at and had to do again) was to find a cave. 

There is, however, a schoolboy cricket final coming up in the next week or so that we have been invited to attend.  It's a very popular family event, so, once we have the date, we are planning to be there.   It's good to know that cricket is alive and well in Saudi Arabia.

Ka Kite,

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