Monday, March 03, 2008

Cricket; an exposé

While speaking with my parents earlier this week my dad suggested that I ask my hosts to take some action shots of me during the daily cricket match that takes place every evening at 5PM. He took quite a few photos, but here are some of my favs, that capture the spirit of the game here in Pullambadi. We play a fairly highly modified version of the game due to the skill level of the players (not too high, myself included!) and the lack of players to adequately defend against a full field. For this reason we actually play only half a pitch and we can not hit the ball at angles behind the batter like you can in real cricket. We also usually have someone from the same team that is batting be the keeper (catcher) due to a lack of people. This takes away a sizable advantage for the defending team as there are many tipped balls that if caught by the keeper are outs. When the keeper isn’t on their team, those don’t count… We also do not play the rule where if the ball strikes the shin’s or foot of the batter on its way to what would have hit the wicket, that would normally be an out. Thus many of the boys stand in front of the wicket and act more like goalies than batters as their shins take the brunt of what should be outs since their batting skills aren’t as good! The bowler is actually standing behind a makeshift wicket that is composed of a footlong section of hollow cement pipe and a large rock. So this is what the other batter is standing behind prior to running after a good hit (or shot as they like to refer to it). I’m amazed at how addicting the game has become during only my month here. When a match is on the tele I actually have to tear myself away. Speaking of which, India pulled off a major upset over Australia (again) in the first of three matches for the championship in Sydney. Very impressive, you should have heard Alan yelling with excitement as India’s star batter broke the coveted century mark of runs for the first time in Australia in his 18 year career! I realize that most if not all of the people who are reading this have almost no idea about the rules and terminology of cricket and I apologize, but I feel that I have to devote at least one blog entry to something that I spent a significant amount of time doing here. I basically went from having only the slightest idea of how it works, to arguing the rules with the best of the boys by the time I was done… I have to say that I think it’s a shame that the game isn’t more widespread in America, I feel that the game is much more fun than baseball. Oh yeah, and due to the fact that each batter can only bat one time, each out is much more significant than in baseball. For this reason the boys will throw the ball ecstatically into the air after a catch or excitedly surround the bowler if he gets a wicket against a batter (like I do against one of the boys below).
Also, pointing a finger up signifies an out. The boys excitedly yell it as “outaa” and I think that as I look back upon my stay here, that will be one of the first things that will come to mind.
I became surprisingly attached to many of these boys during the course of the past month and the look on their faces as I got into the vehicle with Relton and his family on my final afternoon there was rather touching. And that’s as mushy as I’m going to get on that topic. I am going to buy a new bat and send it to the school for them as a final present from their American guest.
The birding was surprisingly slow today after the nice shorebird diversity yesterday. A weather system actually had moved through overnight and I had to dodge a few rain showers during the morning. I suspect this was part of the reason that many of the shorebirds had moved out. In America shorebirds typically move out before a front hits, I don’t see why it would be different here. A Temminck’s Stint was still hanging around, the Baillon’s Crake was seen again, and my first Common Iora of the survey was noted today (on the checklist but had eluded me up until now).
The closing photo depicts a scene seen all too often as the keeper usually wasn't too good and apparently the concept "let nothing get past" hadn't caught on among these fellows (and there were occasional balls that got away from the bowler)... The backside of the schoolyard or boundary as it's called in cricket.

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