Cricket match to aid Isle’s ambulance corps

COURTESY PHOTO | A cricket match in progress.

Cricket? On Shelter Island? Yes, indeed. And if all works out as organizers hope, the town Ambulance Corps will benefit from a match to be played here in August.

The event is the brainchild of ex-pat David Shillingford, a Brit who has lived on the Island full time since 2002. He believes hundreds of ex-pats from England find their way to Shelter Island each summer.

“Many used to play cricket regularly but few have since coming to the U.S.,” he said.

Now they’ll get their chance. The local ex-pats will face off against a team from the St. James Cricket Club in London, according to Mr. Shillingford. A full team of 11 players from the club will pay their own ways to Shelter Island, many staying with locals while they’re here for a match scheduled for Saturday, August 18, at a school field. The exact time of the event hasn’t been set.

The St. James Cricket Club is a non-league group of players dedicated to raising funds for various charities. The team’s website describes members as ready to “roll out some old bones and receding hairlines for a good cause.”

Club Chairman Oliver Jones is the brother of Shelter Islander and native Brit Gareth Jones, who manages a new website for “the Shelter Island Cricket Club,” which the site notes was founded just recently. Mr. Shillingford, in an email interview, did not provide details about who its members are and whether they’ve had many matches. But like its London counterpart, he said, the club is dedicated to raising money for charity while promoting cricket in the United States. It also aims to encourage people to visit Shelter Island.

During a visit to his brother last summer, Mr. Jones thought a game here would provide his St. James players with a “great away game” and “who wouldn’t want to visit Shelter Island in the summer,” Mr. Shillingford said.

When Mr. Shillingford suggested a charity game to former Shelter Island Town Supervisor Gerry Siller, who is listed on its website as a “committee member” of the local cricket club, he suggested that it benefit the Ambulance Corps.

The town took over the Ambulance Corps from the American Red Cross on January 1, 2012 and is estimated to costs about $100,000 a year to operate. The town got more than $200,000 from the Red Cross in the transfer of squad’s assets. Mr. Shillingford said he hoped to add about $10,000 more to the pot as a result of the fundraiser.

There will be no entry fee for the game itself, he said, “but attendees should not leave their wallets at home as we will be selling food throughout the day as well as Shelter Island Cricket Club merchandise,” he said. “And donations will be very welcome.”

For the uninitiated, Mr. Shillingford described the game of cricket in baseball terms:

The field has two bases called creases or wickets that are 22 yards apart. The pitcher, called a bowler, runs up to the not-at-bat base and “bowls” the ball with a straight arm, without stepping over the crease until the ball has left his hand. Six balls make up an “over,” after which a different bowler will bowl from the opposite end.

The batsman is out if he hits the ball and it’s caught by a fielder or if the ball hits the strike zone, marked by three wooden sticks called stumps. He’s also out if he stops the ball from hitting the stumps without using his bat or if he’s tagged out while running to the other base.

But here’s where there’s a major difference between baseball and cricket: the batsman doesn’t have to run just because he hits the ball. And that’s why cricket games “can and do last for five days, sometimes inconclusively,” Mr. Shillingford said. Games traditionally lasted for two innings but more recently have been limited to a certain number of “overs,” with six balls making up an “over.” The game in August will be limited to 20 “overs” per team and last about four hours, two hours before lunch and two more after, he said.

If you’ve followed all of this so far, you might be confused by the fact that two batsmen are on the field at once, but only one faces the pitch or delivery. The other stands next to the bowler. A run scores when both batters run from one base to the other. If a thrown ball hits the stumps before a batsman makes it to the base, he’s out. Four runs score if the batsman hits the ball out of bounds and runs to the opposite base and six if he hits a ball before it bounces and makes it to the base without being tagged. An inning ends when 10 of the 11 members of each team have been called out.

If it all still sounds a bit confusing, Mr. Shillingford hopes Islanders will come out and see the game and embrace it with the same enthusiasm he does. And more importantly, he hopes they will support the Ambulance Corps.

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