Sunday, 12 August 2012

A Funny Old Game

Something is going on down on the village green. Something very strange. Something very English. Over the lifetime of this blog I've described, illustrated, celebrated and tried to explain many aspects of life here on this little island. But I can't explain what's happening on the village green today; it's just too involved, too complicated and too mysterious. It's called village cricket.
Old-style village cricket.

When it comes to village greens, the village of Barrington has a very fine one indeed. In the 1960s they had a very fine cricket team too. They are not so successful these days but they play the game in the traditional way. The top village sides these days concentrate on fitness, motivation, visualisation, intensity and energy. It wins matches but it has no charm and very little humour. That's not to say that people weren't trying to win in the past; they just did it with a smile.

Barrington Cricket Club was founded back in 1889 and have been playing on the green ever since - no, not the same match, or even the same players! In fact matches have been played here since at least 1843 and before the First World War matches were played between local farmers and teams of well-known players including Jack Hobbs and Tom Hayward.

When I got interested in the game, through childhood knock-abouts in the garden on the rough strip of grass which we optimistically called "the lawn", my father took me to watch the village team who played on an old meadow next to the brook. The team was composed of men from the village - farm workers, the butcher, the local builder, a gardener....they became heroes for the day through their exploits on the cricket field.

Old timers passed their experience and knowledge on to the youngsters, along with some fanciful tales of their exploits "when I were a fit young fellow like you". Sometimes we even got a game when harvest work meant that many of the regulars weren't available.

Next man in....will he get a bat....will he be any good....

....plenty of brute force usually gets the job done! Meanwhile experts look on...

....the young....

....and not so young.

 It's a game that embodies the personality of men from the country; it requires strength, bravery, subtle cunning and well-honed skills. But mostly it requires endless patience; there's a lot of waiting in cricket - it's a ritual and an art as much as a sport.   

This is how the game was once explained:
  • There are two sides, one out in the field and the other in.
  • Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out.
  • When they are all out, the side that's out comes in and the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out.
  • Sometimes you get men still in and not out.
  • When a man comes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man comes out to go in.
  • There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.
  • When both sides have been in and all the men are out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including the not outs, then that's the end of the game.
So that's sorted that out then!

Take care.


  1. a well informed, and humour touched post on the village cricket match John

  2. Looks like a relaxing afternoon. Even though fervour for the game seems to peter out this side of the wall we still have a surprising number of cricket pitches up here.

  3. Cricket is simply english. The day is so well captured in the sequence of photos here. Thanks for this wonderful series.

  4. I never understood the game and seeing your post I thought "Well I'll take the time to Google it and finally learn how the game is played, after I finish reading John's post." Then I saw you included an explanation of the game. Ah, it all seems to make sense now. Thank you.

  5. John, your top photo and mine are nearly identical today! I took some photos last weekend of a vintage baseball game in Hartford. As I did that, I was thinking "How would I explain the rules of baseball to someone from another country?" I decided it was not possible. But, now that I have read your explanation of cricket, I see that it is impossible to explain either game.

  6. That bottom photograph probably shows the best fielder in the team John. All I can say about the team members is that one or two of them seem a bit broad in the beam - good job Lycra has not stretched (literally) to the game of cricket yet.

  7. Cricket on the village green is so quintessentially English to me, as you say John it's been going on for hundreds of years. I must say the explanation of the game you've given us here made me laugh out loud. That's it exactly. I remember watching my son play when he was about 15, we would sit there for hours, I'd look away for one second and miss something terribly exciting..and no replays like on telly haha!

  8. John, I'm so glad your explanation was totally unintelligible to me. My record remains intact; I have never understood the game and probably never will, although there has been some talk of reviving cricket here in Rugby.

  9. Fantastic post John. The game of baseball is complex too, but has the added confusion of many unwritten rules and practices that tradition and superstition have created over the years. In 55 years of following it, there are still a few finer details that elude me :^)

  10. There's nothing like village cricket - so quintessentially English. The description of how it's played has always amused me:) DH is a huge cricket fan and now he's retired he travels all over England watching county cricket. Right now I imagine he'll be trudging back from Nottingham if it's raining there like it is here! Rain has stopped play for the rest of today I suspect.


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'll try to answer any questions via a comment or e-mail within the next day or two (no hard questions, please!).