Are baseball and cricket two sports divided by a common language? Both employ bats, balls, and innings. Fans of both love statistics, revel in nostalgia, and use baffling jargon. In Right Off the Bat, baseball nut Evander Lomke and cricket buff Martin Rowe explain "their" sport to the other sport's fans - through anecdotes, diagrams, photographs, and a curve (or dipper) or two.
Cricket and baseball share a parallel and occasionally intertwined history (the first international cricket match was played in the United States). Indeed, they have mirrored their countries' struggles with identity and race, and have expanded beyond the shores of their founding countries to become multinational sports commanding global followings that are, even now, challenging the future of both sports. Right off the Bat is the perfect present for fans of either sport, as well as a handy introduction to those who want to divine the deeper rhythms of play.
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Good introduction, but could have been much more.
As an American who loves and grew up with Baseball and has since come to love the game of Cricket, I jumped on this audio book when I first came across it, it seemed a fascinating thesis. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations. It got bogged down in fundamentals and technical details. I guess the technical details make sense for the intended audience, those who may be well versed in one of the games, but not the other; though for someone who is familiar with the rules and game play of both Baseball and Cricket, this became a little tedious at times. The best part of the book was the opening paragraphs, which featured enthralling descriptions of the end of the Cardiff Test Match in the 2009 Ashes and the turning point of Game 4 of the 2009 World Series, these were what I had expected out of the book along with more culture and history about the respective sports, their literary impact, and how they relate (after all, it was subtitled, 'Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life'); there was a little of this, but not as much as I hoped. Unfortunately it was more of a Cricket 101 for Baseball fans and Baseball 101 for Cricket fans combined in one book. The performance was passable, but could have been better, switching back and forth between two narrators made it seem a little disjointed at times, it might have worked better if they had switched off between chapters (or 'innings' as they call them, in a nod to both sports) and a few of Lomke's lines should probably have been re-recorded before the final release of the audio book, but it wasn't too distracting.
I've rated the book overall a little higher than the story or the performance, because I think this might be a good book for the intended audience, someone who's only familiar with one of the two games and want to learn about the other. But for those who are both Baseball and Cricket fans, don't get your hopes up too much.