Cricket at Westvale Elementary? Not the way you might think
Nov 08, 2018 02:41PM
● By Jana Klopsch
Even far from home, the goal remains the same – Protect the Stumps.
By Bob Bedore | [email protected]
There are a lot of things you might expect to see being played on an open field at a local elementary school. Football, soccer and even lacrosse come to mind, but what about cricket?
Yes, cricket. That game that many of us have heard about but few have seen. The one with the strange posts behind the batter. The one where people dress in mostly white and look more like lawn party guests than athletes. The one where the “bat” is known mostly to us as familiar props from “This is Spinal Tap” and “Shaun of the Dead.”
That cricket. Yep. But also, not quite.
“What we play is gully cricket,” said Amundhan while watching his team at bat. “It’s basically street cricket, and it’s played by about 80 to 90 percent of the kids in India.”
And every Saturday and Sunday (weather permitting, of course) a small group of men, friends and co-workers, meet up at 7 a.m. at Westvale Elementary in West Jordan and play a game that brings them back to their childhood. “Really, just a reason for all of us to get up instead of being lazy,” said appointed team manager Naga Seeni.
Whereas regular cricket is played on a field a little larger than a traditional baseball field, but without the foul lines, gully cricket allows players to create their own boundaries and other rules to fit the number of players available. Think of it like when you were a kid and would claim that “right field is an automatic out.” The term “gully” in the name is in context to a “side street,” this is where the children in India would often find a spot to play.
There are many similarities to baseball with cricket. Both are basically games where a pitcher (or bowler) throws a ball that a batter tries to hit allowing their team to score runs. There are various ways that you can earn an out. Even the distance between thrower and batter are close. Baseball uses 60 feet and 6 inches as the distance, while cricket has 66 feet between the two.
But don’t think that because you play baseball you can jump right into cricket.
“Hitting is hard to grasp at first,” said Ammon, who easily stands out in this group with his pale complexion and reddish hair and beard. “You have to figure out how to mix a baseball and golf swing. That’s the best way I know to explain it.” Ammon was invited to play by one of his friends at an apartment complex and now enjoys the game.
Gully cricket is all about making do with what you have. Don’t have a cricket bat and ball? Use a piece of wood and a tennis ball. Don’t have stumps (those three poles that set up behind the batter and form a “strike zone” that batters must defend)? Plant some sticks in the ground or use some chalk and mark some on a wall. Games are even played in classrooms with a notebook for a bat and wadded up paper for the ball.
Those interested in learning more about cricket will be interested to know there is a league that plays in American Fork, and the season is underway right now. You can find out more by going to their website cricclubs.com. You can also find all rules and variations for both regular and gully cricket online.
And if you think you want to give it a try, stop by the school on an early morning, and these friendly weekend athletes will likely let you play. And why not? It goes with the famous quote from George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”
And at Westvale Elementary you’ll find a group of friends staying very young and living a bit of “home” from far away.