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For our reporter, it wasn’t quite cricket: Event on Aug. 19 to support the Ambulance Foundation

Cricket should be just like baseball, right? Bats, balls, runs, innings, right? That’s what I believed one afternoon last week as I stood on the wide field next to the Island Boatyard, wrapped in padding from the waist down, wearing gloves thicker than catchers’ mitts, leaning on a flat willow bat.

Gareth Jones, a co-founder of the Shelter Island Cricket Club (SICC), waited across from me with a red leather ball in his hand. “I’ll give you an easy bowl,” he said, winding up his arm and sending the ball on a path that appeared to be aimed straight for my relatively unprotected toes.

As a self-proclaimed superstar when I was in Little League, I thought I knew what to expect. With supreme confidence, I began to lift my bat, unsure of why Mr. Jones had suggested that I hold it facing down. In an instant, the ball had bounced off the dirt in front of me, and was flying right for my shins.

Clumsily, I moved to swing my now poorly positioned bat, only to be stopped by its unexpectedly heavy weight. Frozen due to my now nonexistent swing, I decided to close my eyes and brace myself for the impact that was to come.

Suddenly, a loud crack sounded from the location of my bat. Moving my eyelids out of the way, I saw the red leather ball soaring away from me, at a speed that should not have been possible under the circumstances. I must have been a Jedi.

I imagined the ball continuing into the sky, disappearing within the rays of an unusually bright sun. Mr. Jones snapped me out of my trance with a catch that was almost too quick to comprehend. “Let’s try that again,” he said, holding the ball in his bare hands.

Apparently cricket fielders are too tough for gloves.

“You Americans with your [expletive] pads,” he said. Such confidence might make it seem like cricketers don’t feel pain, but, Mr. Jones soon admitted, “Of course it hurts.”

A few decent hits later, my newfound force powers failed me. As I completely missed the ball, it sailed right into my batting pads. With such an absurd amount of protection, I felt no pain. “Howzat!” Mr. Jones chanted, running to retrieve the ball.

Apparently, when the ball hits a batter, the umpire decides whether or not it would have hit the wickets (sticks in the ground) had the batter not been there. If the batter ends up getting dismissed, the opposing team and fans will all begin to shout “Howzat!” and clap until the next stage of play begins.

When batters manage to hit a bowl (pitch), they have to run to the other side of the pitch (field) to score a run. There are always 11 members of the opposing team trying to get these batters out by either catching the ball or knocking down the wickets.

These fielders hold positions with names such as silly point, deep mid wicket, and cow cover (really). “You would need a glossary to remember all of them,” Mr. Jones said.

He played cricket throughout his childhood and high school years. Originally from London, he now lives in Brooklyn and stays on Shelter Island part-time. He founded the SICC with fellow Brit David Shillingford in 2012 when, over a few beers, they decided to bring cricket to Shelter Island in the form of a charity event.

According to Mr. Jones, the Shelter Island Ambulance Foundation was an easy choice. “We were shocked that such a critical piece of infrastructure had no organized event to support it,” he said.

Cricket for a great cause

According to the Ambulance Foundation’s mission statement, the organization serves “our community in two important ways. First is to provide the financial support necessary to recruit, train and re-train the many volunteers who respond to our 911 emergencies. Second, is to secure the capital funds necessary for the purchase of specialized medical equipment, like ambulances, which are not included in the yearly town budgets. In the past year, we have contributed $85,000 to the Shelter Island Town EMS Capital Fund to purchase a new Advanced Life Support Ambulance; purchased new CPR training equipment; provided financial assistance for several new paramedics and EMTs; purchased state-of-the-art Airway Management tools for the Advanced Life Support personnel; and provided funds for in-house Core Training for Continuing Education programs for EMTs.”

Asked about the SICC’s event, Ambulance Foundation Chairman, James Preston said,  “It’s great to see them come together for the community, and it’s great for them to share their love of the sport.”

To donate to the Foundation go to //siambulancefoundation.org/donate/

An annual success

The first SICC cricket match was held at Fiske Field, but due to its location next to the school, “We couldn’t have any booze,” Mr. Jones said.

They moved to the field next to the Island Boatyard, welcomed by Operations Manager James Brantuk. The event has become an annual success, with the club raising over $150,000 over the years, with sponsors such as Shelter Island Party Rental and SALT, which help turn the annual summer match into a joyful event for all Islanders.

James Monatgue , showing how it’s done, flashing some power at a Island charity cricket match from a few years ago. (Credit: Beverlea Walz)

The SICC raises money through the sale of merchandise, food (from SALT), and donations through their website, which are sent directly to the Ambulance Foundation’s account. This year, Mr. Jones is excited to release a brand new T-shirt design, which will be available to donors during the match.

The 2023 match will be at the Island Boatyard on August 19, where everyone is invited to enjoy food, reggae music, and Pimm’s Cup cocktails, among other British culinary treats.

A world sport

According to Mr. Jones, cricket traveled with the British Empire, thereby covering much of the world. For this reason, he likes to refer to the annual match as “Shelter Island vs. The Rest of the World.”

Players currently come from the North Fork and the Hamptons, but originally hail from countries as far afield as Jamaica, India, and Bangladesh. These athletes travel not only to have fun, but also to support a necessary cause.

All Islanders are welcomed and encouraged to come out on the 19th. Drop in at any point during the day to have some fun, while supporting the Ambulance Foundation.

You may even see me out on the pitch, though hopefully with some better accuracy and an actual understanding of the rules.