Around the Island

It’s all quite cricket

GILES CLARKE FILE PHOTO | David Shillingford (center) gets a little help from his son, Digby, as he presented last year’s winning “cookie tray” to Marcus Rickard of the St. James Cricket Club in London. The Brits beat the ex-pats by a single point, 73-72.

Sports fans are getting psyched now with only about four months to Opening Day.

If you thought we got that wrong by a longshot, we’re not talking about the American bastardization (which is set for April 1)) of the true game, but July 27 when the Shelter Island Cricket Club takes the field —uh, hold on, make that “pitch.”

Many Shelter Islanders who got their first sense of the English bat-and-ball game last August can see a rematch in July that will not only provide support for the town Ambulance Corps, but give the local club a chance to even the score with the St. James Cricket Club of London that won last year 73-72.

If last year’s event is any marker of future success, the Ambulance Corps netted more than $12,000 from contributions and purchases made during the accompanying lunch bake sale.

David Shillingford, one of several ex-pats from the United Kingdom who live on Shelter Island, will again be spearheading the event and he and other members of the Cricket Club are ready to welcome other cricket players to their team.

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.

Got that? Wait,there’s more.

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 besides spitting tobacco juice: 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. Which is, if nothing else, civilized, as we would expect.

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 bowler. 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.

There will always be an England, and Mr. Shillingford hopes Islanders will come out again in July to see why, and learn more about the beautiful summer sport. There’s also the bonus opportunity to support their local Ambulance Corps.

Anyone interested in playing or helping to plan or promote the event can visit the club’s website at facebook.com/ShelterIslandCricketClub. Or reach Mr. Shillingford at [email protected]