|Friday afternoons at Sydney Park have become a social cricket rabble for the regulars and their dogs. I retrieve balls on occasion, but I usually sit on the closest hillock and watch the madness unfold while I talk to one of the other non-players. |
In truth I’m not a very cricket-y person; that and my non-beer-drinking are responsible for my expulsions from my native land every few years. The last time I recall playing a ‘proper’ game was when I was in about the fifth grade: everyone on the field pretty much had it in for me, but the bowler was armed. I was at bat, and the bowler was aiming at my head, some distance higher than the stumps. He only failed in making his target by my blocking the ball with my ungloved hand. My thumb swelled to about twice its normal size, and I was writing left-handed for two weeks. My desire to return to the pitch was dimmed forever.
Social cricket here is far less threatening. It’s essentially one batsman defending one set of wickets against a parade of bowlers, with a scattering of fielders, almost all holding a bottle of something in one hand. Between them wander small children and a great many dogs. Bowlers compete with the dogs for access to the tennis balls used in this game. You’re never sure if a dog that chases a ball is going to return with it from the out-field or run off with it for twenty minutes to show its friends.
Last Friday Gustav was invited to try his hand at bat, and quickly showed how his hockey skillz could be turned to sending almost every ball back to scurrying out-fielders, and today he’s returned to defend his reputation. Munson gets very excited that someone he knows is at bat, moving from spectator to spectacularly large obstacle on field, often simply standing in between bowler and batsman while balls rained down over his head. We’ve called Munson’s unusual fielding role “silly big dog” position, in reference to the fielding positions close to the batsman such as “silly mid on”.