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Sticky wicket: Pippa Middleton explains cricket to America

Pippa Middleton is switching gears from party planning to something more sporty: cricket.

The new aunt to royal baby Prince George, whose first book was about entertaining, is now helping Americans understand the rules of one of England's favorite pastimes in her latest column for Vanity Fair.

For the magazine's September issue, the contributing editor (who has previously written about her love of tennis), writes with pride about the sport, which, unlike other popular British exports like Liberty of London prints and "Doctor Who," has never quite been embraced here in America. After all, as Pippa herself explains, the sport is quintessentially English.

“A batsman goes out and then in until he goes out. This goes on until the last batsman is out, apart from one who is still in and therefore not out,” Pippa writes. 

Instead of further trying to translate the British pastime for Americans, Pippa merely adds, “The thing is, you don’t have to understand it to enjoy it.” She confesses that her own interest in the sport stems largely from having dated cricket players, and that being a spectator is even more fun than playing the game. 

Cricket is a cousin of American baseball. Eleven players wear all white and use bats to hit balls. However, instead of hot dogs, there’s hot tea, the enjoyment of which is actually written into the game rules. “It’s a sport that can last most of the day, so thankfully the rules include a designated time for tea,” Pippa explains. “This year, Yorkshire Tea is the official brew of English cricket, and there will even be an official Yorkshire Tea Break at all tests (games) this summer.”

So, if you find yourself at a cricket match, what do you need to know — besides the fact that it’s ok not to know anything about the game? Pippa recommends wearing comfortable clothes, since the games can go on for days (yes, days, although there are breaks for everyone to go home and sleep before resuming play) and aiming for a touch of class. “Never wolf-whistle or whoop when a batsman hits a six,” she advises. “Just clap politely. Never snore too loudly, no matter how boring the game may become or however much you have had to drink during lunchtime.”

It’s also totally acceptable to bring a newspaper to read if the game starts to get boring — it’s not at all unusual to see people working on the crossword puzzle while watching cricket. You can also try to listen out for “sledging” — what Americans might know better as heckling or trash-talking — between rival players.

Pippa sure does make this thoroughly English sport sound like an interesting way to spend an afternoon. Or four. As for the sporty subject Pippa will next tackle in Vanity Fair’s pages, polo may be a good choice: Her brother-in-law Prince William could provide some helpful quotes on the topic.