While most of us will never set foot on the lush greens of the Gabba, it doesn’t mean we don’t take our own game seriously. As cricket season hits fever pitch, backyard cricket becomes our summer staple and we’re here to help you get ready for action.
The great Aussie backyard has everything you need and is where all the professionals learned to master their skills. More importantly, it’s the perfect place to have fun with your family and your mates.
We had a chat with Brisbane Heat’s Mark Steketee and James Peirson to cover some of the great tips and contentious rules you’ll find lurking behind the picket fence!
Backyard cricket tips from the pros
1. Know your home ground
Make sure you know the ins and outs of your own backyard. Is it best to spin the ball out of the rough or come in off the long run? Home ground advantage is massive in backyard cricket.
2. One hand, one bounce
Make sure you practice your one-handed catching. That way when a one-hand, one-bounce opportunity comes along you’ll be ready to take the screamer!
3. Direct hit run-outs
To help with your body control and accuracy, whack a stump in the ground, take ten steps back and throw at the stump to get your eye in. Best to stay low and give it a good fling with the arm. Great when you’re forced to play solo.
4. Imaginary fielders
Crowd the backyard with imaginary fielders. When playing with your mates, bring in the boogie board, the wheely bin, and the wheelbarrow to limit your batting angles.
5. Target practice
Place a small target on top of a wheely bin. You and your mate should stand on either side, throw and aim for the target.
6. Throwdowns and classic catches
The perfect way for mums and dads to get involved. Stand five or six steps back from the batter and throw overarm into the ground to help the kids develop hand eye coordination and shot technique. You can also use a tennis racket to hit catches to the kids.
7. Preparing the pitch
Jump behind the mower and make sure your grounds are pitch perfect.
8. Beat the rain
Practice accuracy and test your throwing motion with a pair of rolled up socks into the laundry basket. Afterwards, attach a tennis ball to a rope and hang it up in a doorway, focus on ball and practice hitting with a straight bat to improve your hand eye coordination.
9. Practice swinging the ball
Wrap some electric tape around half the tennis ball and practice swinging the ball in and out. You’ll have your mates bamboozled next time they face up.
10. Fuelling for the day
Get in a good breakfast, be sun-smart and keep up the fluids!
Of course, backyard cricket comes with its own rule book — one that can be awfully confusing for a newcomer. If that’s you, you might want to keep this list handy…
The backyard cricket rule book
1. ‘Fetch your own’ and ‘If you hit a six, you’re out’
This rule is implemented when the bowler is bowling so badly that ALL fielders refuse to travel six houses down to retrieve a manky tennis ball from the doberman’s mouth. In this instance: the bowler fields solo. If the batsman hits a six, he’s automatically out and must also retrieve the ball himself.
2. ‘Can’t get out on first ball’
You can’t get out on the first ball unless you’re an uninvited neighbour or a Kiwi. If your Kiwi mate goes into bat, the first ball must be bowled underarm to laughter from the Aussie contingent.
3. ‘Jow Jow’
Should a tennis ball land in the swimming pool it must not be shaken dry but used as a powerful weapon in the next delivery. The ‘Jow Jow’ gets its name from the noise a wet ball makes when struck and usually results in water being flicked up into the batman’s eye.
4. ‘Your shout’
A dropped catch means ‘your shout’ every single time.
5. Stump options
Backyard cricket stumps are vitally important and comes down to two options.
The Wheely Bin: Can be moved for oncoming traffic and serves as a convenient location for empties. Note: Avoid play with Christmas prawns inside. Brisbane Heat members would also have “pimped”: their bin with the free stumps stickers that make focussing on the target even easier in a torrid backyard session.
The Esky (preferably with wheels and handle for easy movement): Serves as a handy option should fielders struggle to get the batter out for long periods.
6. ‘Ice sledge’
It’s not against the spirit of the game for the wicket keeper to place a handful of ice down the back of the batter’s shirt upon delivery of the ball usually resulting in a Benny Hill style foot chase.
7. ‘Special dismissals’
Should a batter hit the ball over the back fence, hit a window, have it rebound back onto the roof and straight into the mouth of the family Kelpie, sorry but they’re still out. Rules is rules.
8. ‘Bonus runs’
It’s widely accepted in backyard cricket that players must receive special recognition for an accidental miracle shot. For example, if the batter hits the ball so hard it hits and spins the hills hoist, knocks a couple of snags of the barbie, skims past and opens the bar fridge and lands in a stubby cooler; at least 25 runs must be automatically awarded.
9. ‘Electric wicket keeper’
If you snick the ball behind into the back fence, then you’re out! Depending how you want to set your field you can sometimes fit in an electric slips or gully position.
10. Match Pause
There are only three reasons why a game of backyard cricket can be paused.
2. Race 2 at Doomben.
3. Please see 1 and 2.
Try out a few of Mark and James’ tips next time you play backyard cricket and let us know if they work for you!
Mark and James will be in action with the Brisbane Heat at The Gabba on the following dates:
Saturday 19 December — Brisbane Heat vs Melbourne Renegades
Tuesday 29 December — Brisbane Heat vs Hobart Hurricanes
Sunday 03 January — Brisbane Heat vs Sydney Thunder
Friday 08 January — Brisbane Heat vs Adelaide Strikers
For more info, head to brisbaneheat.com.au.