One final thing from our anniversary weekend: the exhibition cricket game. Sunday of the anniversary weekend, October 9, was gorgeous. It was clear and warm with that scrubbed-air low humidity that comes after days of rain. The re-enactors sets up an exhibition cricket game in the field in front of the Visitors Center and I got to watch and take pictures for a little while.
I have never watched a cricket game before and the re-enactors were very good about explaining the rules. They were also inviting anyone who was interested in playing with them, so I heard the rules more than once. I think the 1780 rules are a little simpler than what I found on Wikipedia so I will explain them as I understand them. Cricket was an old game, even in 1780, so the rules were well-established.
The cricket ball is a large leather ball about the size of a softball but not hard. A bowler (pitcher) tries to knock down the wickets behind the striker. The bowler can roll the ball, throw it, or bounce it toward the wicket. The striker (batter) has two goals: protect the wicket and put the ball in play. The striker does not have to swing and there are not balls and strikes like in baseball. When the striker hits the ball, he does not have to run.
If the striker hits the ball, he runs to the wicket behind the bowler. While the striker is running, the fielders try to get the ball in to the bowler’s wicket. If they can knock the wicket down before the striker reaches it, the striker is out. If the fielder catches the ball in the air, the striker is out. Otherwise the striker stays close to that wicket, essentially becoming a base runner. If the next striker puts the ball in play, he can yell at the base runner to run or stay. If it is a good hit, the striker and base runner can run back and forth, creating more runs.
An innings (the word always has an “s” at the end in cricket) is not over until every person on each side has made an out. If there are 11 people to a side, there are 22 outs. If all the batters get an out except – for instance – striker #7, then striker #7 keeps batting until he or she gets out also. The runs are added up and the fielders become the strikers for the next half of the innings. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.
There are some similarities between cricket and baseball. There are balls, bats, fielders, runs, and outs. But there are also a lot of differences. One of the hardest things for the batters in the exhibition game was remembering to carry their bat. You must be carrying your bat to be safe at the wicket. If you drop the bat (like you do in baseball) you have to run back and get it before you can be safe. Because all the strikers have to make outs, an innings can be very long and there are many runs scored. Cricket matches have been known to go on for days.
It was fun to watch the gentlemen “have a go” at cricket. Several of our rangers got into the action for a little bit. Obviously my explanation (and understanding of the game) is very simplified. If you are interested in the game of cricket as it is played today, there is plenty of information out there on the web.