Bermudians take cricket seriously, and they’re not alone. With an estimated 2.5 billion fans around the globe, cricket is the second most popular sport in the world, and it’s been played in Bermuda ever since it was introduced to the island by British naval officers in the 1700’s. The biggest match of the bunch? Look no further than Cup Match, a two-day event when teams from the East and West End battle it out during this much-beloved annual tradition. So, don your summer best, brush up on the rules, and get ready to experience life on the pitch.
The Rules of Cricket
Similar to baseball, cricket is played with a bat and ball on a large field. One team plays the field and tries to record outs, while the other team hits and tries to score runs. Unlike baseball, there are no bases around a diamond. Instead, batters must run between two sets of wickets—wooden sticks stuck in the ground that the opposing team tries to knock down with the ball to record an out after its been hit. It may sound confusing, but like most sports, part of the fun is enjoying the company of devoted fans in the stands. So, come with an open mind and expect to chat up some passionate Bermudians.
Cricket by the Numbers
- 120 million people play cricket worldwide, making it the world’s second-most popular sport
- 11 players on each team take turns batting or fielding
- 66 feet = the length of the playing area, or “pitch”
- 2 innings in each game
- 2 umpires
- Bowler: Similar to a pitcher in baseball; throws ball towards opposing team’s wicket
- Batsman: Tries to hit the ball into the field and score runs
- Wicket keeper: Stands behind the wickets to catch the bowler’s ball
- Ball: 5.5 oz., made of leather
- Bat: 3.1 feet long, flat-fronted, made of wood
- Wicket: Made up of three vertical stumps and two horizontal “bales” placed on top; a batsman whose wicket loses a bale when hit by the ball is out
By far the biggest event of Bermuda’s cricket calendar is Cup Match, a two-day tournament in July between the island’s main rivals—St. George’s Cricket Club in the east and Somerset Cricket Club in the west. Think of it like a heated Yankees vs. Red Sox game. In addition to a fierce competition, Cup Match is equally all about the party. Come for the game but stay for the festivities. You’ll find boisterous tailgate-style fairgrounds with local food (like fried fish and mussel pie), crowds of people kitted out in team colors (baby blue and navy for St. George’s; red and navy blue for Somerset) plus large tents where islanders gather around tables to play Crown & Anchor, a popular dice game where cash is king (more on that below). Traditionally held the last Thursday and Friday in July, Cup Match is also the chance recognize one of the most significant moments in Bermuda’s history—the abolition of slavery in 1834—so don’t miss this uniquely Bermudian event.
The County Games
Originally started in 1904, these spirited matches between four East End cricket clubs provide an insider’s glimpse into Bermuda’s local sporting community. Featuring teams from St. David’s County, Cleveland County, Bailey’s Bay and Flatts Victoria, games are day-long events where fans, friends and family gather to support their home team, and each is like a mini Cup Match—so expect Crown & Anchor tents, boisterous music and local food galore. The first game is on July 18 between defending champion St. David’s County and Flatts Victoria; the second game is August 15 between the winner of the first round and Cleveland County; and the final game is August 31 featuring the winner of the second round against Bailey’s Bay to determine the champion. All games are played at the Sea Breeze Oval in Bailey’s Bay and start at 10am (adults $15; children and seniors $5).