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The gentleman's game: A la Francais

cricket Updated: Mar 11, 2012 23:23 IST

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Cricket is being introduced into the national curriculum in France and enthusiasts hope it will lead to the game becoming a part of French culture. Although it is the quintessential English game, yet cricket has suffered a slow decline, as less than one-in-ten British schoolchildren play the sport these days.

"We have far more open spaces here, so beautiful pitches will not be a problem and the French are certainly clever enough to understand the complicated rules," the Daily Mail quoted Gilles Lefevre, an English teacher from Bordeaux, as saying. Lefevre learnt to love the game on holidays to the UK, "Culturally, cricket is all about the English but there is no reason at all why this game should not become a favourite here," he said. Even French cricket terms are being introduced, including 'fin de serie' for over, 'batteur' for batsman and 'lanceur' for bowler.

French terms
Leg before wicket is jambe devant guichet. However, French enthusiasts are struggling to pronounce Owzat! - for which they have yet to find a Gallic alternative.

They can even argue they have a historic claim to the sport as French archives refer to the game of "criquet" being played as early as 1478. At present, the France national side must travel to Holland to use a grass wicket while schools play in gyms and on playgrounds with soft balls. But France Cricket, which monitors the game's development across the country, is confident all that can change.

The new schools scheme will mean that children between 6 and 11 will be taught the basics of the game, learning everything about batting, bowling and fielding. Only a handful of schools have so far enjoyed the sport as part of a pilot project around France, but the numbers will multiply over the coming months and years.

"This is an enormous breakthrough for French cricket," a France Cricket spokesman said.

"The true values of cricket, the opportunity for boys and girls to play together, have combined to help the French overcome any underlying mistrust of 'Les Anglais'. This is the first step to cricket becoming a part of French culture," he added.