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A cure for insomnia? Lulled to sleep by cricket (the game not the insect)

A cure for insomnia? Lulled to sleep by cricket (the game not the insect)

Calm's latest Sleep Story explains the English game of cricket – at once the world's most languid and most baffling sport – to the novice.

A renowned authority on a game that one famous American declared “a wonderful cure for insomnia” here introduces the beginner to its complex laws and bewildering vocabulary.

The game of cricket is a singular pleasure to those who love it but a total mystery to most others.

It is perhaps the world’s most unhurried sport, in which a single match can last five long, slow days and still end in a draw. George Bernard Shaw, the great Irish writer, said that the reason the English invented cricket was “to give them an idea of eternity”.

Sleeping Cricket Fans

Cricket may also be the world’s most mindful sport. Indeed, you might say, before there was mindfulness, there was cricket.

And before there were sleeping pills, there were cricket Test [international] matches that lasted longer than some marriages.

The late, great Robin Williams sought to explain the game to his fellow Americans by declaring, “Cricket is basically baseball on Valium.” William Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1940s, once observed, “Personally, I’ve always looked upon cricket as organized loafing.”

Groucho Marx, the legendary American comedian and most famous of the Marx Brothers, was once taken to a cricket match in 1950s London at Lords, the temple of cricket, and felt moved to exclaim, “What a wonderful cure for insomnia. If you can’t sleep here, you really need an analyst.”

This remark lends our new Sleep Story its title: A Cure For Insomnia? Cricket Explained ... to Groucho Marx.

It is not, however, even the best-known Groucho cricket story. That honor belongs to the story of Groucho attending his first cricket match in London and, after an hour of observing the action, being asked by his host how he was enjoying it. “It’s great,” he replied. “When does it start?”

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Calm's new Sleep Story is written and narrated by Henry Blofeld – a legend of cricket and broadcasting and, until his retirement a year ago, a stalwart of cricket commentary for nearly half-a-century on BBC radio, known across the world as “the voice of cricket”.

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As well as being the world’s most mindful game, cricket may also be its most bewildering. Our new Sleep Story, therefore, is designed to be both a cure for the insomniac and a guide for the perplexed.

Many things baffle the uninitiated about cricket. They include the complex rules or "laws", the exceeding length and slowness and the unique, if not marvelously weird terminology of the game. Indeed, it has been said that cricket has spawned a richer vocabulary than any other human activity, with the possible exception of sex.


Henry Blofeld’s Sleep Story therefore explains the meaning of cricket terms ranging from “mullygrubber” and “dibbly dobbly” to “googly”, “doosra” and “backward short leg”.

Henry Blofeld, meanwhile, may know a lot about cricket but confesses that he does not know much – indeed, anything – about mindfulness.

“They tell me that cricket is a particularly mindful sport. I’ll have to take their word for it.”


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