Backyard cricket a summer favourite

BACKYARD CRICKET: A game of the Australian improv sport is the perfect way to spend your summer evenings. Photo: file.
BACKYARD CRICKET: A game of the Australian improv sport is the perfect way to spend your summer evenings. Photo: file.

SUMMER is here, which means long warm evenings spent with family and friends. 

What better way is there to spend the evening playing a game of that wonderful Australian institution – backyard cricket.

Backyard cricket, street cricket, beach cricket, gully cricket, corridor cricket or garden cricket is an informal ad hoc variant of the game of cricket and can played by people of all ages in all settings.

Whether it be in gardens, back yards, on the street, in parks, carparks or beaches the game is always a lot of fun. 

Whilst loosely based upon the game of cricket, many aspects are improvised such as the playing ground, the rules, the teams, and the equipment.

Quite often there are no teams at all with players taking turns at batting and no emphasis on actually scoring runs at all.

A bat and ball are necessary items, however the bat could be made of anything as long as it can hit the ball and is suitable to be held.

Tennis balls are often used due to the fact that they are less likely to inflict injuries than a hard cricket ball.

Tennis balls also bounce more than normal cricket balls, especially at low speeds. The cricket “pitch" (the area between the wickets) can be any stretch of ground that is reasonably flat.

The "wicket" may be any convenient object – a chair, a cardboard box, a set of long twigs or sticks, a rubbish bin, tree or a drawing on the wall.

Often, the wicket is by no means close to the official size, but it is used anyway.

Backyard cricket allows for rules to be changed, and the rules being played by will depend on the context of the game. However a list of the typical rules which are used most of the time are as follows:

No golden ducks – A player cannot be given out without scoring.

Always get a second go or alternatively the first ball rule a player cannot be given  out on the first ball he/she faces. This rule is especially applied to those with little cricketing skill.

Wicket material – generally a garbage bin is used, but improvisation is the name of this game.

The ‘one hand-one bounce’ rule is when the batsman has hit the ball into the ground, and it has bounced once. They can still be given out caught, but only if the fielder catches the ball with one hand.

Play on an actual beach can be achieved either by using the flat strip of hard-packed sand with an eski as the wicket. In beach cricket, the creases and the boundary are normally a line drawn in the sand which extends well past the side of the agreed pitch.  The batsmen will frequently redraw the line as the tide or footprints eradicate them. 

The tide plays a big part in the standard of the pitch in beach cricket.

During low tide, the pitch tends to be on the semi-wet sand, and is deemed superior than cricket played in high tide (when the pitch is on dryer, looser sand). In particularly long matches, the play will shift up and down the beach depending on the tide.

Either way, it’s not cricket if you are not having a lot of fun and enjoying family time.