The Pitfalls of Recreational Cricket

Samir Chopra has an excellent post on ‘specialist fielders’ in pick-up cricket games:

These brave souls, who love the game, have sacrificed their weekend time to make up the eleven required to play the game on the weekend, spend their time underused and underappreciated, perhaps being consigned scoring duties while waiting their turn to bat at Nos. 9 or 10.

How does this situation come about? Recreational teams often feature strong, selfish, personalities (perhaps frustrated high-school or college cricketers who did not make it any further) who like to bat higher up the order, demand bowling spells, and like to field in the slips. Sometimes they form a clique with the captain, and merely require a few more bodies to make up the eleven. The ‘team’ such as it is, is merely them, and them alone. The rest just make up the numbers, and are treated accordingly.

Cricket is a hard game to organize (as every recent news item about a cricket board will tell you). Once you get past the questions of ad hoc rules (and the inevitable disagreement over interpreting these rules), you have to deal with players who insist on opening batting, or hogging the strike, or needlessly trying to pressure other players (“Just give me strike, man! Just bowl straight, yaar!”). It really is possible to be a die-hard cricket fan, to know everything about cricket and its strategies and players, and not be an absolute douchebag when playing with friends or colleagues.

I mean, seriously, when you use a garbage dump for your stumps (as my own cricket group in NYC does), you shouldn’t expect much in terms of quality or stakes. So, allow everyone at least one over (even if that means an over may include a few wides). Institute a batting order that changes each game (if you bat first in one, you bat last in the next). Change captains regularly. Do not change fields repeatedly because you’ll rarely have a bowler capable enough to execute your “plan.” Do not question whoever may be the umpire. Arguments over rules should last only 1 minute, and if no one is willing to listen to you, just move on.


5 thoughts on “The Pitfalls of Recreational Cricket

  1. Off topic on this blog post, but I found that years of playing restricted rule-set cricket had severely constrained my game when I played the real thing (with real rules). In particular, all my gully cricket, backyard cricket had rules regarding hitting the ball too far in the air. Which means I had a better developed drive along the ground, but terrible lofted drives. Worse, I have an instinctive fear of lofted shots.

  2. Krishna says:

    Your ideas sort of make sense, but up to a certain point only. For most weekend cricketers, this is the highest level of cricket they will ever play! Regardless of the playing conditions, every wicket taken and every run earned is a big thing for those who enjoy the sport. And when you have fewer overs compared to the regular game, why not be able to play more? Of course, one should not be “too much” of a jerk, but because part of the enjoyment comes from actually winning games, there is a limit to this.

    But let us think about this a little bit. Sometimes the “specialist fielder” cannot bowl to save his life. Forget taking wickets, how about 4 wides down the leg side an over consistently? How about the inability to take a single to rotate the strike? Or even in fielding, how about maybe get your body behind the ball to easily stop a boundary rather than it going between your legs?

    If a “specialist fielder” wants to play more and they are coming frequently to the ground, they owe it to themselves to raise their game a bit. Maybe tighten the line of their bowling. Show more enthusiasm in the field. Show some intention of bashing the ball or running quick singles. I think people will be quick to recognize that and they will get better opportunities.

    • I think the best way to get better at cricket is to play more of it, which entails a fair number of wides and lost singles, Krishna. I think you could easily institute a rule of “4 wides in an over and you retire,” or even have a “nets” session before each practice game.

      And I’m not sure winning is really all that big a part of enjoying games at this level. Having usually been on losing sides, I can honestly say I don’t feel worse for it. Again: having a garbage dump for stumps really gives you perspective.

      • Krishna says:

        4 wides an over and you retire. That is a *great* rule!

        Even though I should look at this in the right perspective, I actually feel pretty bad when I lose a match, even if we are using garbage dumps or lines on a wall for stumps. I guess I take things too seriously sometimes… 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for the post, just loved it , have a visit on my Cricket Forum also. You are amazing man,just amazing,bookmarked your site.

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