WITH the movie Backyard Ashes set to hit the big screen, grains reporter and specialist lower-order batsman Gregor Heard offers a definitive guide to backyard cricket:
FIRST of all, it’s definitely six-and-out, and the offending batsman must go and fetch it – although they can try and con the bowler into scaling the fence by claiming “your rubbish – you fetch it”.
The preferred gear is a junior cricket bat, preferably old enough to have lost its grip, a couple of empty cartons of beer as a set of stumps and the taped tennis ball.
The ball must be taped up one side with gaffer tape so as to allow the bowlers to swing the ball and kid themselves that they really were the next Wasim Akram if it wasn’t for that nasty toe injury when they were 15.
Pitch-wise, it’s always best to have a three-quarter length pitch to allow for the fact that the bowler will only ever have room for about a three step run-up.
There’s a number of “progressive” rules that can be called into play should the batsman begin to dominate the attack.
First comes the one-hand, one bounce rule. This is always worth a go as it generally means the field will creep in and allow the batsman to try for a spot of target practice.
Second, and less popular in the scorching hot summer, is the “tippity-run” rule.
It is a very useful way for removing batsmen, as most are none too keen on pushing through for quick singles on a boiling hot day.
Batsmen middling the ball too well can also be asked to substitute their bat for something narrower that provides more of a challenge, such as a stump.
True bragging rights are achieved if the batsman can hit a six with the stump.
Other crowd pleasers include the reverse sweep hard into the wicket keeper’s midriff or the elegant on-drive that upends someone’s drink. Smashing a window means the instant end to the game and recrimination between the batsman and bowler about whose fault it was.
Another way of levelling up the contest is for the bowler to charge halfway down the wicket and deliver a blatant no-ball.
Should the contest be going the other way and the backyard turf prove to be unconducive to run-making, bowlers will be called to come off two steps and do their best Shane Warne impressions by bowling leg spin.
While not official rules – all players should attempt to ensure they never bowl less than a 10 ball over, go straight from the bowling crease to wicket-keeping to avoid spending time in the field.
Field positions are generally allocated according to the position of shade; it is acceptable for the slips to seat themselves on fold-out chairs, and dogs trained to fetch balls are a valuable addition to a fielding side.
So there’s a few basics to get you started.
Happy hitting throughout the summer.