The dismissed Lewis Gregory, Edgbaston crowd, commentators, and viewers were all left in disbelief – as was Jordan Cox himself. Kent’s Joe Denly described the moment of brilliant teamwork by calling it “as good as [he’s] ever seen.”
What good is an extraordinary bat and ball combination if you don’t have a legendary pitch to go with it? Whether it’s the toe-sizzling bitumen, the bindi-infested lawn or an immaculate cooch-carpeted outfield, everyone’s got their favourite backyard cricket track.
If it’s your New Years’ resolution to dominate on any terrain, read on.
1. The road
For obvious reasons, it’s a batting paradise. There is no variation on this wicket whatsoever. What’s more, it’d be stiff to be given six-and-out. So even if you’re facing loopy underarms from halfway down the pitch, you won’t feel bad for carting it over long-off.
When playing on a tar track, however, you need to be wary of cars and have plenty of balls in stock on account of the drains. Nonetheless, both caveats liven up the fielding effort. Pluggers are also a must on hot days unless you want to leave part of you on the field – and not in the sporting metaphor kind of way. Include driveway pitches in this famed category.
2. Overgrown back lawn
Let’s be real. It’s probably the only time of year that you’re actually out here regularly. Aside from the stark outline of a mown strip down the centre, the lawn-grubs and fossilised landmines left by the dog are a bit of a give-away. On top of this, it’s probably too small to play cricket on; confirmed after the next storm when you find a dozen faded tennis balls in the drain.
But these all add to the challenge of backyard cricket. Try facing an off-spinning delivery that lands in bare dirt or taking a diving catch in what will surely be more burs than grass. My tip: soften the landing on any nearby clovers. Only the truest of backyard masters can succeed here.
3. The backyard Lord’s
This screams the suburban mum or dad who has an unhealthy competitiveness with other houses in the street. The broadleaf buffalo has been trimmed meticulously down to the single blade. A fence or retaining wall encircles the pitch that has been mowed, rolled and watered every day.
If this list was objective, it would probably take the number one ranking. But it’s missing the character of the previous two, particularly if it uses astroturf. Still, it makes for some high-quality backyard cricket. Not much you can do to prepare here, just don’t lose your dignity and blame a stray rock or dead patch for getting caught plumb – you know it’s spotless.
4. The pool
This brings a whole new meaning to playing on a damp wicket. A lesser-known surface but for those who have had the pleasure of playing backyard pool cricket, you know what I’m on about. A prerequisite is a skimmer ball or one of those foam stress balls every junior cricketer collected at training camps and club presentations growing up.
Once you get the hang of it, aim for a ripple in the pool to get the opposing batsmen smelling polyurethane like this poor chap.
5. Inside corridor or hallway
Now I know this isn’t technically a backyard pitch, hence its low inclusion on the list, but when the Test is screening on TV in postcard weather somewhere else in the country and it’s raining at home, you have little choice but to improvise.
Ignore your partner’s plea to move it outside as you’ve already thought of everywhere else you could play; even giving the garage a whirl while bowling from the driveway. Although, you will have to find a softer ball, lest you middle one straight into a light fixture.