4 easy ways to play cricket at school

It’s been a great Ashes summer; the Australians are still here, playing England at one day internationals against England, and with an England tour to South Africa coming up this January and then the World T20 in India, next March, now’s a good time to take advantage of the post-Ashes fervour and plan this year’s cricket schedule.

In the past, you needed proper pitch to deliver cricket, properly, in a school. And, ideally, a groundsman to look after it. Also, practice nets, protective equipment and a watertight health and safety policy. These days, though, you can do things more informally. Everyone knows that sports like football and basketball lend themselves to ad hoc, informal versions of their game – you just need a ball, some space and a wall or a couple of jumpers for goalposts. So too, does cricket – with a bit of creative thinking, that is.

In days gone by, some of the world’s best cricketers grew up playing on the street, with sticks for bats, bins for stumps and anything round they could get their hands on for a ball. If there was enough space to bat and bowl there was enough space to play. There are many ways to play cricket in school, with this same informal spirit. For example:

Tape-ball cricket

This originated on the Asian subcontinent, and is becoming more popular in the UK. Using a tennis ball covered with electrical insulating tape means you can play on a playground, Astroturf surface, or in a sports hall, anywhere where there’s a largish flat space, in fact. There’s no need for expensive protective equipment and the ball bounces like a cricket ball, not over your head like a tennis ball. That makes it good preparation for hard ball cricket, as well as a decent game in its own right.

Car park cricket

If you can get your local supermarkets to cooperate, they often have community outreach targets meaning there are ready-made cricket pitches available at certain times of the week. If you don’t fancy giving up your Sunday evenings, when most of these spaces are available, work with a local club or coaching company, who can run the activity. It’s soft plastic balls on car parks, though. Even a tapeball might break a window or two, if hit hard enough. You can position the stumps so players hit away from the windows and any nearby main roads. Plastic bats even the contest up, and there’s no need for any protective equipment. Eight a side, six a side or four a side; this set up suits shorter games – six overs or twenty balls a side.

Last man stands

Originally designed as an alternative to all day, weekend, club cricket, the game lasts twenty overs a side, which isn’t that different from a typical school match. But it does have features that can make a shorter game simpler, more dynamic and continuous. And it takes some of cricket’s complexities out of the game.

All bowlers bowl from the same end, so there’s no time consuming change rounds and beginners don’t have to worry about remembering two different fielding positions, or four positions, if there’s a left and right hander batting together. No-balls are a free hit, and wides only get bowled again in the last over. Batters retire at an agreed score, and can come back in after everyone has had a chance to bat. At the end of the game, the last man can bat with a runner, if all his or her team mates are out.

Street 20

Six a side, with a maximum of twenty legal balls per team, or until the batting team is out. The last batsman in can continue batting on his own until he or his running partner is out, or until 20 balls have been bowled. Everyone on the fielding team except the wicket keeper, must bowl four balls. If they don’t, six runs are added to the batting teams score for each ball not bowled.

All the bowling is from one end. If you hit the ball out of the playing area, you’re out but you score six runs. You can’t be out LBW (leg before wicket) but you can be caught off the walls or fence surrounding the area, or ceiling if playing indoors. There’s one run for hitting the side walls, and the wall behind the wicket keeper. If you are caught off the side wall you still score the one run for hitting the wall

When playing indoors you score no runs for hitting the ceiling, but four runs for hitting the wall behind the bowler, if the ball touches the ground before hitting the wall. If you are run out after hitting a four the four still counts to the batting team’s score. It’s six runs for hitting the wall behind the bowler, if the ball does not touch the floor or the ceiling or any other wall. The ball is dead after a six is hit and the batsman cannot be caught nor can he score more runs by running. Wides and no balls score three runs with the ball not bowled again, except in the last over of each innings. The next ball after a no ball is a free hit. The only way you can be out from a free hit, is run out.

About the author

Crispin Andrews is a freelance writer and a former teacher and sports coach.