20 January 2008

Front Yard Cricket

Being an Anglophile, I am drawn to cricket. I don't pretend to understand the intricacies of the game or its special jargon, but there is something about a sport where participants wear formal white uniforms and break for tea that makes it seem so civilized.

So, I jumped at the chance of playing cricket in Australia. This wasn't a full-on game, however, but an amended version called Front Yard Cricket. Essentially, it is cricket, only you play it in the Kays' front yard, which is significantly smaller than the pitch at a regulation cricket ground. The rules are tailored for the size of the front yard, and it is loads of fun.

I told the boys that I was called "Mr. Six" back home. A "six" occurs when you bat the ball over the boundary on the fly. Essentially, it is a home run, and you are awarded six runs for it. Of course, I had never played cricket before, so my claim was not true, but I didn't think a little gamesmanship would hurt. And I lived up to my nickname. Joseph is an accomplished cricket player in his local league, but in my first ever cricket match, I hit two sixes (the ball must clear the swingset on the fly; if it is just left of the swingset, over the fence, but stays on the grass, it is a four. If it rolls into the street, it is an out. If it goes over the street on the fly, it is an out, but it is also a six. I tell you, you needed a spreadsheet to keep up with all the front yard rules!) on the way to a first innings total of 24 runs for the Jeff-Eric juggernaut. That would be enough for the victory, as Joseph and Michael each surrendered wickets to the first-time bowler Eric and batted out in both of their innings without nearly approaching the benchmark the two elders put up.

I won't go into the details of the rules of cricket or how difficult the game can be, but I can say the following about my performance in my first game, without hyperbole: it would be like hitting back-to-back home runs off Curt Shilling and Josh Beckett, and then striking out Albert Pujols, all in the first day you picked up a bat and ball.

Sadly, that was to be my last victory. Twice the younger ones defeated us going forward, and then Michael and Jeff put a pasting on me at the beach. The attached picture of me shows pretty good bowling form. Unfortunately, the one of me dashing into the surf was taken immediately after as I chased yet another batted ball far into the sea.

All in all, it was great fun, and I have a better understanding and respect for the sport. I just wish I could have stayed a few more days for the India-Australia Test Match in Sydney.

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