Bowled over by wicked cricket
The only two exposures I ever had to cricket prior to Saturday’s Old Capital Days here were an old sweatshirt purchased many moons ago from a store called Chess King in Greentree Mall in Clarksville (it sported a British flag with the word ‘Cricket’ across the chest), and the cover of Elton John’s Greatest Hits Volume 2, which features the crooner in full cricket garb, complete with hot pink shoes, standing in front of a wicket.
Tom Melville, who sells insurance when he’s not barkering people to learn a new sport, is infectious with his enthusiasm for the game of cricket, and I quickly found myself wanting to take part.
Swinging the flat, oar-like bat was a little tougher than I expected, because I didn’t want to rotate it so much that I was trying to hit with something the width of a standard issue No. 2 pencil. Once I figured out how to brandish my weapon, however, batting in cricket was pretty easy to pick up.
In my first chance at batting practice, I hit a couple of slow dribblers around the make-shift field before finally tearing into one that kaboshed the right rear tire of a Chrysler on High Street. The next ‘bowl’ (pitch) to me was promptly sent to deep left field. The next delivery from Melville had a touch more zip, and I whiffed helplessly at the bounding sphere.
Bowling proved a bit more difficult, as efforts are twofold: keep the batter from hitting a line drive, and try to strike the wicket behind the batter. I did manage to blow two wicket-busters past Melville, a former professional player, but let’s just say there was a reason I played in the outfield in my slow-pitch softball days.
Later in the afternoon, there were enough folks taking in ‘BP’ that we were able to encourage them to play and picked two sides for teams. Melville and I were captains, so, with my first draft pick, I went with a strong pitcher, and the smallest kid in the group (I was there one time myself!). After throwing together my rag-tag bunch, it was time to play ball.
I was told beforehand that scores tend to be offensive-oriented, on the scale of video game baseball, so when we got down by 22 runs before we had our turn at bat, I wasn’t worried.
The River City Stompers (which is what I name almost all of my fantasy baseball teams) made a valiant effort to get back into the game and had clawed to 22-13 by the time I, the team’s final batter, of course, made my way to the wicket. My first two hits produced one run, while my partner at the other end of the pitch also pulled one to the left side for another score.
The next delivery bounced about eight feet in front of me and about 12 inches off the ground (a perfect pitch to hit) and I tattooed it on a one-hopper over the picket fence behind the Gov. William Hendricks Residence for four automatic runs (that’s 22-19, if you are keeping score). One more shot like that and we’d win the game.
When I saw the next bowl coming my way in a similar fashion, my eyes grew as big as saucer plates, and I swung with all my might, striking the ball even harder and more solid than I had before.
Cricket team owners who read this might want to take note of one ‘can’t miss’ rookie Hoosier. He’s sure-handed, can hit, and possesses blazing speed.
It’s not me, though.
The bowler, who might have been Gold Glove pitcher Greg Maddux for all I know, only had one reaction, and it was to save himself and the team by snaring the frozen rope about four inches off his left belt line.