What Do I Know of Cricket?
When I found myself in Bermuda during the island's Cup Match holiday -- a national holiday in which the entire country shuts down for Emancipation Day (observes the end of slavery) and Somers Day (observes the discovery of the island) to watch cricket, celebrate summer, and camp along the shores of turquoise water -- I realized I had a decision to make: was I a St. George's fan (Go East!), or did I love Somerset (Go West!)?
The rivalry between the two clubs is that of Yankees v. Red Sox caliber. So I, a devoted Boston fan, had to figure out which of these two clubs were the Red Sox, and which was the, well, evil empire.
From the second we got into the cab to make the windy route (do NOT drive in Bermuda; indeed, it is illegal) toward Hamilton, where we were staying, I learned about St. George's. Our cab driver was a devoted fan, telling us about his favorite player -- "Picnic" -- and turning up the radio so we could hear the play-by-play. He pointed out the dozens upon dozens of tents we drove by, families who had been camping for Cup Match in the same place for generations.
"Do not take someone else's ground," he said solemnly, a trace of the ominous in his voice.
He told us that he had been a St. George's fan since he was a child, but he was the only one in his family. His wife was from Somerset, and had raised their girls to be Somerset fans as well.
"None of the women in my life are St. George's fans," he said. "You could be the first."
The seed was planted.
Across the next few days, we marveled at the sporadic campgrounds, noted that everyone in some way -- some flashy, some subtle -- marked themselves with either the red or the blue, and that if a radio or television was on, it was on cricket. The rivalry was a friendly one, to be sure, filled with gentle ribbing and good humor.
The day after the tournament ended in a draw -- a common thing in cricket -- we took a local ferry out to Dockyard to see the British barracks and fort, a short trip because we wanted to make ourselves scarce before the next cruise ship arrived to shop in the stores that now filled the limestone buildings. Popping into a pharmacy for a few things we needed, I saw the hats on a shelf, now marked "on sale" because it was all over.
I put it on my head, checking to make sure it fit. It did. And so it was settled. St. George's for me.