Tuesday, 10 April 2007

And to cricket those ten same rules shall apply.

Cricket's a wonderful creature. Now, I grew up with the sport. My dad and my brother both played at town level, my sister at school inter-county level, and even I once represented my form. I still couldn't explain all the intricacies of the three-day Test variant. But it is a common-or-garden game here. Really.

I took a walk in the park yesterday, taking advantage of the beautiful weather, and it was bustling - swarming may even be the word for the kids' play areas.

There were joggers, and dog walkers, and people with prams, and people of all ages enjoying the space. There were a few people playing frisbee, a couple of groups of people practising poi, people on the tennis courts, and people in the bowling nets, working on their (cricket) delivery.

And there were a hundred and one pick-up football games - soccer, for the US readers

And at least the same number of games of rough and ready cricket.

The kind with a tree or a bag as wickets, and a jumper for the other end, and maybe four people catching. The kind you play with a tennis ball and a three-ninety-nine bat from a toyshop. Or a bright orange plastic bat from Woolworths. There were adults, and teenagers, and kids, and three utterly adorable toddlers playing clumsily through the middle of a family picnic.

And then, earlier today, my neighbours' kids were playing out. They were playing cricket, with one of the traffic bollards that stops people driving through the end of my culd-e-sac as their wicket, and a very familiar sounding set of 'home' rules. If they hit parked car, they were out. If they got the ball into one of the front gardens across the way - that was a four. (When I was a kid, playing in my back garden, the pond was an immediate out, the hedge and house roof were fours, and the chimney stack or over the house was a six. All of those things happened enough to have rules for them.)

So when I hear people talking about cricket as if it's a weird esoteric thing that only wealthy people play, it always throws me. That's - polo or something, surely? Not cricket.

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