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Over The Fence Is Out
With the weather warming up your humble correspondent has been pleased to see a veritable proliferation of bats and balls springing up in parks around the countryside.
Along with this activity comes the attendant makeshift equipment and wickets. These range from the regulation three stumps and bails to the traditional garbage bin and items of various dimension that fall outside the ambit of the rules as set down by the Marlebone Cricket Club.
The happy activity of playing at a bit of cricket in the park and its close cousin, the backyard game, are at the very core of what sport, in this country, is all about.
Rules of sports can often be amended by the environment in which the sports take place. I have had no problem with this ever since my brother declared at 3 for 6134 one warm afternoon in January too many years ago. To lose a game of cricket by an innings and several thousand runs can be character building, but it would have been a lot easier if we had of instituted the rule about Mrs Henderson's dog next door earlier.
While participants in backyard and park sports are encouraged to use their environment, there are certain points worth noting, both in amending rules and the spirit in which the game is played.
We all know the type. Their grab for sporting recognition at a higher level was thwarted in the under 12's and they have had a competitive streak as wide as the current account deficit ever since. These harpies mainly do the community a service by being a pain in the sit down apparatus, but occasionally they excel themselves by making pedantic claims to being not out, despite the fact that they've been clean bowled by a six year old. They are to be avoided, unless they fulfil clause b) below.
Next up in the hall of shame is the ring-in. Usually this is someone who played cricket at a minor-county level somewhere, or kept Glen McGrath out of the state under 19's or some such arcane past.
These carpetbaggers are usually trotted out in some 'friendly' encounter between two sides that get to together once a year to mask their venomous hatred behind a veneer of amiability. If some friends who are fond of a punt turn up with someone who looks suspiciously like Mark Waugh, pray for rain. Beware if your workplace/trade/extended family is challenged by some rabble that wouldn't normally cross the street to use some unorthodox method to extinguish the flames should you find yourself on fire.
Speaking of being on fire, no one likes a smart-arse, so it's best to retire if you find yourself on the happy side of fifty while at the crease.
At the other end of the Richter scale it is common knowledge that no one can get out first ball. This rule can be applied to second, third or even fourth balls if the batter is:
a) Holding the bat the wrong way around.
b) Has paid for the beer, or
c) Has consumed a vast quantity of the sponsors product mentioned in b).
There is also no such thing as a no-ball, and no one ever gets out lbw, unless they're a ring-in.
Flannel creams are a definite no-no. Usually a Mighty Ducks shirt will suffice, or whatever you have worn from the nightclub the night before.
Your humble correspondent had the pleasure of watching Giles Burrow of the Exploding White Mice put in a sterling spell of left hand fast-medium bowling in the annual Long Hairs v Short Hairs cricket match in Adelaide in 1992 - all the while wearing his tight black jeans and motorcycle boots.
So armed with this knowledge the reader can now take strike, eye the packed leg side ruefully, watch the tennis ball as it dips sharply, keep the elbow up, and then take a wild swing at trying to send the ball clear across Mrs Henderson's yard.
Phil Doyle - settling in behind the leaders after the first furlong
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