Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cricket - here and there, always surprising

Well, that was a stunning finish. There have been a few times I've barracked for the team playing Australia, and I'm not ashamed to say this was one of them - and South Africa deserved to win.

The picture I'd like to show is RSA batsman Jacques Kallis sharing a wry smile with Australian paceman Brett Lee after Kallis was beaten by a ball that skidded through after hitting a bit of rough. Both could see the funny side of the luck of the ball there, it missing Kallis' wicket by a whisker, and that's one reason I'm a cricket fan. But I can't. Cricket Australia are in dispute with Reuters and AP over rights.
In 2005, Lee triumphed over Kallis. At the WACA this game, Kallis laughed long. (BBC)

Kallis, Smith and AB de Villiers showed why the South Africans are known as tough and hard with some gritty batting, under pressure. And the fact that a Muslim (Hashim Amla - with the most amazing beard) and a black South African, Jean-Paul Duminy (on debut, or as the ABC have it; 'dayboo') were two other key players in this session is a measure of the miracle that is the modern South Africa - a country where the weight of history should have forced a racial bloodbath.

But for those in the frozen North, you don't need to miss out on the cricket experience. Let me introduce my discovery for today, Ice Cricket!

In the winter of 1879:

The Fens were sometimes deliberately flooded to allow skating, and Charles Pigg, a student at Peterhouse, challenged Bob Carpenter, a first-class cricketer with Cambridgeshire, to raise a side to play on a 20-acre site.

As expected, all players used skates. Cambridge Town batted first, closing the first two-hour day on 193 for 9. The following day, Wednesday, Carpenter and Dan Hayward added a further 132 in 70 minutes, the innings eventually totalling 326. Hayward's dismissal came about when he lost his footing, fell over and was bowled.

By the time the University batted the ice was rutted and worn, and while fielding continued to be a virtual lottery, batting became even harder. Despite this, they reached 61 for 1 by the end of the day. They extended this to 274 for 4 by the end of the third day and the captains agreed to settle on a draw.

"Fielding was delightful, and the chasing of the ball into space when it eluded you was most exhilarating," recalled Charles Boucher, whose full toss had dismissed Hayward, in a letter to the Times in 1929. "Only lob bowling was allowed and umpires were most severe on no-balls."

Then in London:

The most unusual contest took place on the ice in Windsor Park on January 9, 1879 under the light of the full moon.
...several hundred spectators turned out to watch a Mr Gage's side score 17 for 8 to defeat a team raised by Mr Bowditch. "The game caused no end of amusement owing to the difficulties encountered by the players while bowling, batting and fielding," reported Wisden, perhaps slightly unfairly.

Thanks to that numbers repository, Cricinfo. And it's not just a historical anachronism; today you too can place Ice Cricket in Estonia, as offered here...

Now perhaps Australia could meet Canada on an 'even' white, fast pitch. Spikes swapped for skates? The term 'shirtfront' could take on a new resonance, and which set of skills of two of the world's greatest sportsmen count - those of Don Bradman or those of Wayne Gretzky?

That looks like a very fast outfield to me, and we'll take our drinks HOT.


1 comment:

Handmaiden said...

its the changing of the guard