Aussie Beach Cricket Guide: Location, gear, set up, rules and more!
There's a lot to love about a perfect summer's day at the beach playing cricket, Aussie-style. Apart from being loads of fun, it's a fantastic activity for all of the family to enjoy, and it doesn't cost the earth to get your hands on the right equipment.
So, how do you go about getting a match under way?
Kitting up with gear
If you play club cricket in the summer, you probably have your own gear. However, salt water isn't great for conventional cricket bats, so getting your hands on a beach cricket set will be a worthwhile pick-up. The carry bag makes it easy to transport the set, and the lightweight bat and PVC ball gives everyone a fair go at making some runs off the bat or taking a few wickets when they have a bowl, while lessening the chance of injuries.
When you're looking at beach cricket sets, stumps that come with a water-fillable base provide wickets with more stability and balance. Using a tennis ball instead of a harder-compound ball is another popular option, as well as the lid of your icebox or bodyboard to double as wickets.
Choosing your turf
When you're getting a game of beach cricket started, the first thing to do is find a smooth, flat piece of sand for the pitch. The firm sand left behind when the tide rolls out is ideal because it makes it easier for bowling, ensures batters get a good crack at it and helps with running between the wickets - something mums and dads (or even grandpas and grandmas) and the smaller, younger kids will surely appreciate!
If you can, settle on a spot that offers some shade. Standing in the sun can lead to heatstroke if you haven't had enough fluids across the day, not to mention increasing your chances of getting sunburn. If there's minimal shade around, make sure everyone has slopped on plenty of sunscreen and slapped on a wide-brim hat before play gets underway.
With Aussie beach cricket, courtesy matters. Take other people into account, and don't get a game underway that's going to be too close to other beachgoers or likely to annoy people who just want a quiet day in the sun. Hitting a sand-covered cricket ball into the middle of a picnic, accidentally slogging the ball into someone's head or blocking the view of parents keeping an eye on their kids in the surf isn't going to win you any friends. By all means, see if your 'neighbours' want to get in on the game but do what you can to minimise impacting your fellow beach-lovers.
The rules of the game
Hardcore fans of test, one-dayers and T20 cricket place great importance on the rules, and it's no different when it comes to beach cricket enthusiasts (there was even a Tri-Nations beach cricket tournament launched back in 2007 with a clearly-written set of rules). While the main aim of beach cricket is to have some fun, there are some widely accepted rules to keep in place if this is your first experience with the format:
- Firstly, there are no teams in beach cricket - it's every person for themselves. The person with the most runs is the winner.
- Given that most games are just for fun, it's up to you and the other players whether you can be bothered keeping track of scores. Throwing away the score card is no guarantee the game won't end in tears or tantrums - especially if there's a fierce competitive streak in your kids - but it does help keep the focus on having fun.
- The players get to decide the length of the pitch. A good game of beach cricket will have a pitch length that accommodates everyone in terms of fitness, age (or wisdom, as the older players like to think of it!) and cricketing ability.
- The bowling end doesn't need stumps, as such. Again, the lid of an esky or someone's beach towel can count as the wicket at that end.
- Deciding on the batting and bowling order could be as simple as nominating oldest to youngest, youngest to oldest, alphabetical order or anything that takes the group's fancy. Remember, the focus of beach cricket is on fun and making sure that everyone gets a fair go, so be as creative as you want - just as long as everyone has a turn at both batting and bowling.
- It's six balls an over and everyone has to bowl. Underarm bowling is okay, so even reluctant bowlers can get involved and have their turn.
- Depending on how many people you have in your game, you can have one or two batters at a time. The fewer the numbers in the game, the better it might be to just have one batter at a time.
- Whether you call it 'tip-and-run', 'tippity-run' or 'hit-and-run', the batters have to run every time the ball touches the bat. The fielders can throw to the wickets at either end - not just the end where the batter is running. The creases at both ends need to be clearly marked.
- Pets and bystanders count. If your dog gets involved in the game, they can even affect the result. If a dog gets in the way of a fielder and spoils a run-out, that's just the way the cookie crumbles. If a dog traps the ball and runs off with it after it has been hit, every run counts until the ball's retrieved. And, if you've got an exceptionally well-trained pet who can catch the ball, then the batter can tell their story walking - they're out due to a pooch!
- Similar to the pets rule, if a fellow beachgoer not involved in the game happens to catch the ball, it's out. Any help the fielders may get from spectators and passers-by in affecting a run-out also counts towards the batter being out.
- There's traditionally no umpire in beach cricket so, for the most part, the honour system comes into play. The traditional methods of being out apply: bowled, caught and run out. Because there's no umpire, there's no LBW rule - even if the batter was absolutely plum to one of Aunty Maureen's deadly off-spinners. Also, because it's all about a fair go, no one can be taken out on the first ball (i.e. no golden ducks).
- Although the normal modes of dismissal apply - except, of course for no golden ducks and no LBW - Aussie beach cricket rules contain some added spice. There's a mandatory six and out rule, with the car park and the surf considered six. For their sins, any balls hoisted into the car park have to be retrieved by the batter. No exceptions.
- Because automatic wicky applies, any ball that touches the bat and goes behind the wicket is considered caught behind. If you do have someone keeping wicket, then the automatic wicky rule doesn't apply.
- To make things even more interesting, if a fielder takes the ball after only one bounce and in one hand, it's out - including on the edge of the surf. This is also known as the time-honoured one-hand-one-bounce rule.
This summer, no beach day checklist is complete without making sure your beach cricket gear is also on hand to inject more fun into your summer holiday experience. Even if you don't follow the rules of Aussie beach cricket, just make sure you have fun and give it a crack!