Something wicket this way comes

But can they take all 10 wickets in an innings?

By Rob Madeo

When I was a boy, we played in the street. Stickball and street hockey, running bases, touch football. Even though there were perfectly good lawns and parks, we just sort of liked the street. Maybe it was the curbs, which were like built-in sidelines. Naturally, you had to look out for the storm sewers that swallowed countless balls, pucks, and Frisbees -- and oh yes, you had to watch for cars -- but the street was our playing field.

I don't see kids playing ball in the street much anymore, even at the dozens of basketball hoops that line our suburban neighborhoods. There are three hoops on my block alone and I've never seen a basketball being shot at any single one of them. They stand like monuments to the idea of sports. Go figure.

But things are different on my street these days. And the kids aren't playing the old reliable
standbys: they're playing cricket.

Madeo Cricket 1.jpg

Almost every night, a bunch of boys bring their bats and set out wickets on the dead end. They run, they shout, they chase the ball through people's yards. It's exactly what playing in the street has always been -- except with a different game.

Naturally, I have no idea what's going on. To me, like most Americans, cricket is a mystery. This is sort of like when I was growing up, and the only people who played soccer were a small group of kids whose parents came here from Italy. They were the same as everybody else -- except for their exotic game we'd hardly ever seen before.

To find out more, I went to a real cricket match, at Kailberg Field in Schenectady. The Tri-City Cricket Club was taking on a team from Montreal, the West Island Tigers.

It was a low key affair with the players outnumbering the spectators. And it was an international event also -- not just because the teams were from different countries, but because they were made up of competitors from around the world. One player was not surprised when I told him about the kids playing on my street. "That's how we all learned," he said. "Pickup games with our friends. We had no fancy equipment and no real
pitch to play on. It was all in the street."

As the sun beat down -- as hot as in some of the scorching places where this game is a way of life -- the match went on. And on. And on some more. The first thing you learn is that this is not a game for the impatient. But there is a beauty to it's steady pace, punctuated with sudden outbursts of action. The comparison to baseball is inevitable.

Tri-City took the day. I know this not because I lasted until the end, but I read an account on their website. It has to be one of the most poetic bits of sportswriting I've ever seen. A sample:

"This day was about the splendor, excitement and sportsmanship that sets cricket apart from most other athletic endeavors. West Island's play was a credit to the game, as they embodied the true essence of cricket that could be best summed up in the words of Winston Churchill, 'We shall never surrender. Never, never, never give up!'"

On my street, the game goes on. I still don't completely understand the rules, but that's OK. When you play in the road, the rules tend to vary from day to day. Maybe one of these evenings I'll shout out some cricket lingo I picked up at the match.

Rob can be found at lunchtime in downtown Albany huddled near a wi-fi hotspot.

Rob on the Soapbox:
+ Growing where the cows come home
+ The Albany parking lot district
+ The Earl of Pearl

Comments

"...all 10 wickets in an INNINGS" if you please. It may not make sense for it to have an 's' on the end, but it's British English getting its own back for "a savings of..." if you ask me.

Folks of Indian/Pakistani origin playing cricket? CRAZY

How refreshing to see an article like this. I had no idea there were regular cricket matches played in the area, but in retrospect I don't see why there wouldn't be with the sizable Indian population in the Capital Region.

I don't mean to take anything away from their match report, but the reason you probably haven't seen better sports writing than that is because on the whole, American sports writing is pretty boring and uncreative. A lot of, say, British soccer writing, is downright hardcover-worthy.

Great read, Rob. Now if only I had any idea how Cricket is played ;-)

Sometimes the play at Lincoln Park (on Morton Avenue in Albany). They must be doing better financially because the pitch looks in much better shape this season than it has in seasons past.

For a more detailed analysis of the rules, allow me to suggest a visit to Wicketpedia... I mean Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cricket

Nice to see the commentary out here, and to know that there are people who either know the game, or find it interesting enough to read the article and chime in!

For "daleyplanit", I offer to answer any questions about cricket. Being a native born American, I can probably address most of the confusion that comes from growing up in a baseball playing culture...

For Mr. Patik, it's great to see your commentary as well. I see from you website that you are at RPI, which I know has a cricket club. My club, Tri-City CC, has played them in the past.

Although many people of Pakistani or Indian origin play the game here in the U.S., there is also a sizeable West Indian population as well (My club has Guyanese, Pakistani, Indian, Kenyan and a couple of native born Americans like myself on it, and we've had Aussies and Englishmen in the past, too.).
And I was pleased to hear Rob describe my match report as "poetical"! I DO try and be more than just a reciter of statistics. There's so much more that going on with a sport that is such a part of so many world cultures.

And finally, for "the_exile", you are indeed correct about the pluralization of "innings", but I like to think it's more about proper English than revenge! England DID invent the language after all, didn't they?....

If anyone out there is interested in additional info about cricket in upstate NY, feel free to contact Tri-City Cricket Club on our website http://www.tricitycricket.com or email me directly, Steve Weisse, President sweisse@nycap.rr.com.

A month or so back, coincidentally just before the World Cup, I spent a few days immersing myself in the rules and videos of cricket matches. I think I've got it mostly sussed (although I'm still a bit confused on the seeming arbitrariness of things like leg-byes v. the batsman being out). I'd love to play a pick-up game sometime, but would probably be horrible. I'd definitely love to watch a match. If my schedule permits, maybe I'll show up for one of your coming contests.

Bloody good photos! As difficult a sport as cricket is for the uninitiated to understand, even more difficult to photograph, great job.

Wesley: Thanks, it was hard to shoot. During games like football or lacrosse you pretty much just move along the sidelines and the action comes to you. Tri-City was very flexible in allowing me the access to get what I needed.

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