by Ern Hollebone
The rules may have changed slightly over the years since the 1940s but in Park Street these ones were strictly enforced. Park Street was on a steep hill and the bowler bowled downhill so that a straight drive would not end up at the bottom, perhaps in the dreaded drain! This downhill bowling, of course, presupposed that the wicket keeper would be able to stop a ball that the batsman missed but, just in case, we had a back-up behind him. When I saw my first "real" game I was surprised to see that the captain (Bradman in this case) did not set a "longstop" in his field!
Lest the rules of Park Street cricket be lost in the future, let me recall them for posterity.
The game is played along the street with a garbage bin – or fruit box – as wicket at each end of the "pitch". [The bin at the bowler’s end is optional and can be replaced with any marker such as a house brick.] A tennis ball (or soft cricket ball) and a bat – or something resembling a bat – are all the equipment needed. The nature of the pitch demands that all bowling is underarm but – no mulligrubbers!!
Any number of kids can play (girls are often allowed, but only if none of the boys object). As an aside, it is worth mentioning that a dog is an invaluable member of the game. He enjoys foxing a ball missed by the keeper and the longstop, saving it from finishing in that drain. In the case of our Paddy, extracting the ball from his vice-like grip usually slowed the game down more than somewhat. There are no rules about dogs. They are there as extras.
The number of kids in the game = the number of teams.
This means that there is no batsman at the bowler's end and hence the batsman must call out "Stay!" when he completes a run at the bowler's end. In this way he cannot be run out when he is returning to the crease for the next bowl.
The first ball to a batsman is a "trial ball" and so he cannot be out first ball.
There are no lbw decisions.
A batsman cannot run on an overthrow – the ball usually went down the street.
Over the fence is 6 and out!
The principle of "batsman's ball" applies – when a batsman is out he has the automatic right to bowl the next over.
The person who dismisses the batsman is the next to bat. Note that the bowler is credited with the dismissal only if the batsman is bowled. Otherwise the credit goes to the catcher, runner-out etc.
Who knows? One day street cricket may become an Olympic sport. They allow beach volleyball, don't they?