The Fifth Doctor called cricket "the greatest game in the universe". (AUDIO: Phantasmagoria) Though primarily associated with Britain and her former colonies, (AUDIO: The Roof of the World) cricket became an Olympic sport by 2060. (AUDIO: Nekromanteia)
Some people thought that cricket was the key to defining the spirit of Britain, and perhaps even democracy itself. Upon making a trip to Cuba, for instance, the Brigadier thought that if that island nation "had rain and cricket to concentrate on ... Castro wouldn't have had a look in." (PROSE: Last of the Gaderene)
In reality, however, cricket was a race memory of the gruesome Krikkit Wars launched by the Krikkitas in an attempt to wipe out all other life in the universe. Their soldiers, the Krikkitmen, appeared similar to the cricket uniforms worn by humans. Other races such as the Time Lords were disgusted that humans saw a war as a sport. (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen)
Cricket was played using a flat-faced bat and specially designed cricket balls on a pitch — itself situated on a larger "ground" or "field" delimited by a boundary line. The offensive object of the game was for the batsmen to score as many runs as possible. The defensive object was to get the batsmen out, either by successful bowling or by running the batsmen out. (PROSE: Happy Endings, TV: Black Orchid)
It was played at a number of levels. Nations battled in the most prestigious events, like the Ashes. (PROSE: Graham Dilley Saves the World) But inter-county or inter-village adult leagues were common throughout Britain at least. Villages like Stockbridge and counties such as the one in which Greyfrith was situated had long traditions of some form of league play. (AUDIO: Autumn, PROSE: Father Time) Other regular competitions were held at more of an inter-organisational level, such as between individual constabularies. (PROSE: The Devil Goblins from Neptune) Still other matches were very much one-off events, as happened at the wedding of Bernice Summerfield and Jason Kane. (PROSE: Happy Endings) Finally, there was also a strong tradition of academic competition for minors and young adults, with schools having their own league system. (PROSE: Human Nature)
The Doctor and cricket
The Doctor had a long relationship with the game.
The First Doctor claimed not to know the sport at all when he landed the TARDIS in the middle of Lord's Cricket Ground during an Australia/England match, (TV: "Volcano") but in later incarnations, he seemed to know the game well.
The Third Doctor at least once lamented the fact that he had preferred motor sports over cricket. He thought that if he had regenerated into a younger body he would have quite certainly taken up the sport. (PROSE: Island of Death)
The Fourth Doctor sometimes claimed knowledge of the finer points of bowling. (TV: The Ribos Operation, The Horns of Nimon) However, he also seemed to dislike the game's relationship with the Krikkit Wars. (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen)
Clearly, though, it was his fifth incarnation that seemed the keenest on the game. Not only did the Fifth Doctor regularly wear an outfit that approximated cricket whites, but he took every opportunity to play it (TV: Black Orchid; AUDIO: Autumn; PROSE: Goth Opera), teach his companions its rules (AUDIO: Phantasmagoria) and attend famous matches. (AUDIO: The Roof of the World, Nekromanteia, The Emerald Tiger; PROSE: Graham Dilley Saves the World)
The Doctor sometimes spent long periods of time playing the game. He embedded an entire summer with the local team at Cheldon Bonniface (PROSE: Happy Endings) and at least one full season with the Stockbridge Cricket Club. (AUDIO: Autumn) He had probably also intended to spend a similarly long period playing cricket in the Eye of Orion, but Borusa's plan to pluck the Doctor's past selves from the time stream intervened. (TV: The Five Doctors, PROSE: The Eight Doctors)
The Doctor's ability to play the game varied depending upon incarnation. While his fifth incarnation was evidently an excellent player who was an asset to every side he joined (TV: Black Orchid, AUDIO: Autumn), his seventh incarnation once flatly claimed that he needed to learn the game because he was no longer the same man. Nevertheless, he seemed to retain a knowledge of the strategy behind the game, as he once cunningly called for a batsman on his team to deliberately throw a full toss in order to bring the match to a dramatic conclusion. (PROSE: Happy Endings) The Eleventh Doctor once confused cricket with football. (TV: The Lodger)
Companions and cricket
The Doctor's companions were almost universally unimpressed with the game and resisted the Doctor's attempts at proselytisation. (AUDIO: Phantasmagoria, The Roof of the World) Indeed, when Roz Forrester innocently asked the Seventh Doctor the question, "What's cricket?", Bernice Summerfield immediately interjected, "I think that's in the top ten of the most dangerous questions in the universe, right up there with 'Excuse me, Mr Dalek, what does that stick do?'" (PROSE: Happy Endings)
The game had rubbed off enough on Turlough that he once felt the need to explain to Tegan Jovanka what the term "hit for six" meant. Annoyed by his assumption that she was cricket-ignorant, she pointedly reminded him that she was Australian, and therefore well versed in the game. She went on to note that Australia beat England every time the two sides met. (COMIC: The Forgotten)
Nevertheless, at least one companion, Ian Chesterton, was a fan. He listed being able to take in a cricket match as one of the reasons he wanted to take a gamble with the Dalek time machine and try to return to 1960s London. (TV: "The Planet of Decision") A second, Harry Sullivan, may have possessed genuine skill as a bowler, since he seemed confident in his abilities to use a cricket ball to deactivate a defensive robot on Space Station Nerva. (TV: The Ark in Space) Another time The Brigadier mentioned he had been a fast bowler in school. (AUDIO: The Grey Man of the Mountain)
Others and cricket
Behind the scenes
- Cricket was partially responsible for the first broadcasting delay in Doctor Who history. "Hidden Danger", the third episode of The Sensorites, was bumped from the 4 July 1964 schedule because of an overrunning Australia / England test at Headingley and a long tennis match at Wimbledon.
- The Yorkshire -v- Lancashire cricket match scheduled for Monday 27 May 1974 had its coverage disrupted by industrial action, and so was replaced with a repeat screening of the 90-minute compilation version of The Sea Devils (originally transmitted Wednesday 27 December 1972).
- Although cricket has only featured at length in one televised story — Black Orchid — it has been given much greater coverage in prose, audio and comic stories. Most, though not all, have featured the Fifth Doctor, and many, though not all, have been written by Paul Cornell.