Pick Up Cricket

The Cricket World Cup just got underway. I played cricket once, sort of.

Peter and I had taken our children to our neighborhood park. Near the playgrounds, an English immigrant was pitching a ball to his young son, who had a flat bat, and was standing near a small three-pronged rack with a stick of wood balanced on top. We’ve watched enough of BBC America now to recognize it as cricket, and went to ask them about it. They invited us to play with them, even though we had absolutely no clue on how the game is played.

But 5 people in cricket makes for a better game than 2, so the Englishman patiently trained us. With our sub-skeletal team, the major part of the game was hitting the pitched ball with the flat bat. Peter, schooled in baseball as a kid, consistently dropped his bat after the hit, which is not what you’re supposed to do. I, on the other hand, instinctively knew to hang on to the bat, because it’s supposed to be waved manacingly at the opposing team’s players. There are no bases: you just keep on running around a stick in the ground and the prongy thing (aka “the wicket”), while the other team has to get the ball to their “bowler” who then has to toss it at the stick on top of the wicket. When the stick falls off, the runner stops running and the number of times the runner has passed the wicket becomes the score. Or something like that. It’s not like American sports, which always have a moment or two for a victory dance and some trash taunting.

But it was a lot of fun. Even more surprising, the cricket game uncovered cricket fans from former British colonies in my own neighborhood. A tall, lanky black man came by, and as he saw us exclaimed, “I love cricket! I am from Trinidad!” We invited him to play, but he was on his way to somewhere else. A South Asian man appeared and told us he used to play cricket in school; but he, too, declined to join us.

Kelly was just an infant there, and eventually I had to opt out of the game to tend to her. I haven’t seen cricket in the park since then, but if some one wanted to get a game going again, I’m sure they’d eventually find enough participants for an afternoon of fun.

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