Hello all. I haven't posted for months, but not for lack of appreciation of this forum. I've been watching lots of live ********* cricket, mostly on ESPN3 here in the States, and reading a lot more (about 2/3s through The Essential Wisden; about 1/2 through MCC's Cricket Umpiring and Scoring; plus a variety of others). I have a bunch more questions to ask, but I want to start by describing my first experience actually playing cricket. Don't know that it will interest anyone, but I'd enjoy any comments.
Two of my sons (both in their 30's) and I (67) got together as part of several days we shared (we each live about 800 miles apart around the country, so getting together in person is rare). None of us have ever played before, so of course it was a comedy of errors, but we had a lot of fun. We got two wicket sets (only used one), one fairly good bat (a GM, '101', Kashmir willow), 4 hardened tennis ball cricket balls (plus a 'real' red leather one we tried at the end), plus a bit of ground chalk. No leggings, keeper gloves, or helmets. My youngest son (34) oiled the bat (linseed), and did some knocking in with the mallet that came with the bat. He knew it wasn't enough, but it was a start (and he took back the red cricket ball to further the process in the future).
We went to a local park where I knew cricket was played, but I didn't know where. Nor do I know if the local cricket club plays on one of the many football or baseball fields there, as is, or if they bring a pitch mat (which we definitely couldn't afford, lol). We picked a baseball field with a fairly hard (dirt) infield and a grassy outfield that wasn't too lush (but still taller than we would have liked). We pounded in one set of stumps just outside the 'pitcher's mound' (which was not elevated), and then marked a popping crease 4 feet beyond the wicket. We then walked off 58 feet (22 yds -2x4 feet) and marked off a second popping crease in the outfield grass. The outfield fence was about 40 to 50 yards from the wicket, a bit short, but quite long enough for us!
Backward of the wicket, the fence was much closer, as little as 15 yards, but we agreed that that fence would not count as a boundary. As it turned out, we never hit any balls over the fence in any direction (surprise!), so it wasn't a problem.
We played with a bowler, a batsman, and a keeper. There was no running (thus we didn't need the second wicket). We first played a 2 over 'match', where each player bowled, batted, and kept one over against each of the others, so 6 overs in all. That was enough to wear me out, so we then played a 2 innings times 5 overs match, just between my two boys, and I was 'permanent' wicket keeper. Then at the end, we tried the red ball (a real club ball) for a couple of overs.
Rules: The bowler 'set his field'. Batsman didn't run; when he hit the ball, whether it scored one or more runs depended on where he hit it (vs the 'ghost' fielders), and how hard. Until the very end, no one scored over 2 on a hit. In part this was because we were lousy, of course, but also because no one hit a boundary, the grass slowing down the relatively light hardened tennis balls significantly. My youngest son, though he lost the 'big' match by a number of runs, to his brother, managed the only boundary (a 4) when we used the red ball. The red ball had clearly better momentum going through the grass.
Bowling was an adventure. We had a plethora of no balls and wides. Most of the no balls came from bent elbows, which really take practice to avoid when you've 'pitched' (thrown) in baseball all your life. After 10 overs or so, however, my boys cut down on their illegal deliveries (and their wides) quite a bit. The hardened tennis balls pitched very well on the infield. Alas, the red ball (the tennis balls were red too, but we called the 'real' ball the read ball), hardly pitched at all, no more than above the batsman's ankles, so the deliveries had to be yorkers pretty much to avoid being no balls for too many bounces. Interestingly, we read a couple of days later that the US national cricket competition in Miama Florida, at the only ICC approved cricket pitches in the US.. have the same problem! Red leather balls won't bounce/pitch above the batsmen's ankles!
We scored no balls and wides, but not byes.. it wouldn't be fair for scores to depend on my wicketkeeping! Most wickets were taken by catches, some 'phantom' by ghost fielders, some by the bowler. Bowlers also shelled a few of course. My older son did manage one bowled wicket against his brother late in the day. It was tough both because we couldn't bowl very accurately and because the 'pitch' was quite irregular, so deviations were quite random. I eventually managed 2 stumpings, one against each son.
We played for 5 hours (although it added up to only 22 overs.. we took lots of drink breaks!). Nominally I won the 2 v 2 v 2 over: I was given double credit for my runs in advance, because of my age, and actually managed to tie for 'natural' high score (10). Of course, most of my runs were wides and no balls, although I think I did get a couple of singles and one 2. The main match (5 wickets) was won by my older son, something like 36 to 18, but my youngest got even by achieving the only boundary of the day.
It was loads of fun, and we all learned a lot that you can't learn from just watching on TV/pc. As I said at the start, I don't know that this will interest anyone but me, but if you read it and have any comments, I'd love to hear them.