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Backyard cricket, street cricket, beach cricket, gully cricket, corridor cricket, deef or garden cricket is an informal ad hoc variant of the game of cricket, played by people of all genders and all ages in gardens, back yards, on the street, in parks, carparks, beaches and any area not specifically intended for the purpose.
Backyard cricket has connotations to the past time of South African and New Zealander children who had large expansive backyards where they were able to play this informal game of sport often with friends, family and neighbours.
Whilst loosely based upon the game of cricket, many aspects are improvised: the playing ground, the rules, the teams, and the equipment. Quite often there are no teams at all; the players take turns at batting and there is often no emphasis on actually scoring runs. The bat can be anything, as long as it can hit the ball and can be suitably held in the hands. However, usage of a bat is necessary. A ball is the other essential item. Tennis balls are often used due to the fact that they are less likely to inflict injuries than a cricket ball. They are also much cheaper and more readily available than a leather cricket ball and are easier to hit due to their slower air-speed and relative lightness. Tennis balls also bounce more than normal cricket balls, especially at low speeds. Often a tennis ball will be heavily taped on one side to give the ball extra 'swing'. This is known as a 'swing ball'—swing balls may be made with: gaffer tape, electrical tape, plumbing tape or any other kind of tape available. The pitch can be any stretch of ground that is reasonably flat. The wicket may be any convenient object – a chair, a cardboard box, a set of long twigs or sticks, a rubbish bin, tree or a drawing on the wall. Often, the wicket is by no means close to the official size, but it is used anyway. A wicket at the non-striker's end is generally a single stump if proper stumps are available and in the absence of larger objects may be just a hat or a shoe. Its main purpose is to mark the bowler's crease, but can be instrumental when there are two batters and one may be run out. Games with relatively few players typically forgo the teams and innings format of professional cricket, opting instead for a batsmen-vs-everyone format.
Garden/backyard cricket in South Africa and Australia is considered by many to be the pinnacle event of social and sporting excellence in the summer period. Many games are paired with a barbecue which often has a carnival atmosphere. It is historically very popular on Australia Day.
Backyard cricket allows for rules to be changed, and the rules being played by will depend on the context and physical environment of the game. However a list of the typical rules which are used most of the time are as follows:
- No Ducks – A batsman cannot be given out without scoring - they always get another go until they've scored 1+ runs.
- First ball rule: (A stricter alternative to No Ducks) A batter cannot be given out on the first ball they face. This and the No Golden Ducks rule are commonly applied to those with little cricketing skill.
- Wicket material – If stumps are unavailable or unsuitable then any other material object may be used, with garbage bins being common, and some people also use stickers or paint lines on to restrict the "stump area" of the object to a more realistic size.
- Pitch – The pitch should be between 11 and 33 yards (10 to 30 meters), with limiting factors such as backyard size often dictating the length.
- One Hand, One Bounce - If the batsman has hit the ball into the ground, but it has only bounced once, they can still be given out caught, but only if the fielder catches the ball with one hand; even if the hand hits the ground ( keeping in mind dust on back of Palm) the player is out.
- One Hand, One Bounce, One Beer - An alternate to the one hand, one bounce rule where the fielder must also be in possession of a beverage (traditionally a beer) in order to enact the rule and get the batsman out. However, spilling a significant proportion of the beverage may be deemed enough to nullify the catch.
- No LBW - As many backyard cricket games are without umpires, or self-umpired, or played with juniors, teams may agree to not use the relatively difficult LBW rule. Another alternative is "Auto-LBW", by which the batsman is always deemed to be out in almost any possible LBW scenario; it also has the effects of discouraging purely defensive batting, and typically increases the rotation of batsmen.
- Six and Out - If you hit it over the fence you're out and you have to get the ball. The 6 runs are usually not awarded to the batsman unless agreed to by both teams. This rule is especially popular in small backyards (where the rule may be applied to any ball that lands over the fence - not just 6's), and encourages the batsman to exercise control and restraint by aiming for 4's instead of 6's. Six-and-out is also often extended to include nearby fragile objects such as windows and cars which are declared out-of-bounds; if a ball hits an out-of-bounds object on the full it is deemed six-and-out, even if no damage is evident.
- Lost Ball - If a lost ball cannot be found, and if there is no replacement ball, the match ends effective immediately. If losing the ball was the result of hitting a six-and-out the batsman is declared the loser. Other scenarios may result in the match deemed a No Contest, or the highest-scoring batsman declared the winner.
- Auto Wickie — (also known as Electric Wickie/Keeper) If playing in front of a garage door or similar, the structure takes on the role of wicket keeper. Any balls making contact with the auto wickie without bouncing, or "on the full", is considered out. Catches (i.e. from snicks) also apply.
- Hit and Run — (also known as Tip and Run) If the batsman's bat makes contact with the ball they must run.
- Retire at X -  All batsmen must retire (end their turn) once they reach a certain pre-declared number of runs (such as 20, 50 or 100). This prevents anyone "hogging the bat", and helps ensure everyone gets a chance to bat.
- No running between wickets - Players may agree that batsmen don't run between the wickets, a rule often applied on hot summer days. As a result, batsmen typically cannot be run out, but can still be stumped if found out of their crease. In order to score they must hit 4's (or 6's if allowed).
- Dogs - Dogs are considered fielders, and they effectively switch side with each innings to constantly remain on the fielding side. If a dog catches the ball (the one-bounce rule is also often allowed), or if the dog (or any other pet) is hit by the ball on-the-full, the batsman is declared out. It is the responsibility of the fielding team to chase dogs when required, but ultimately it is the responsibility of the bowler to clean the ball of any slobber.
Play on an actual beach can be achieved either by using the flat strip of hard-packed sand along the surf line as the pitch, or by only "bowling" gentle full tosses to avoid the problem of the ball not bouncing off loose sand. If there are no true stumps available a bin, deckchair, boogie board or cool box may be used.
In beach cricket the creases and the boundary are normally drawn in the sand in a line which extends well past the side of the agreed pitch to prevent them becoming obliterated in the first over. The batsmen will frequently redraw the line. Sometimes, play is shifted along the beach to a new pitch as the packed sand of the original pitch is turned up, thus reducing the standard of or even completely disabling bowling.
The tide plays a big part in the standard of the pitch in beach cricket. During low tide, the pitch tends to be on the semi-wet sand, and is deemed superior than cricket played in high tide (when the pitch is on dryer, looser sand). In particularly long matches, the play will shift up and down the beach depending on the tide.
In Brazil, the game is called "taco"(cue) or "bets" and is very practiced by young people on the beaches, in the streets and in schools. Its rules are very similar including the traditional cricket. There are several versions about the origin of the "taco". One is that the game was created by fishermen in Brazil during the eighteenth century; another is that it was practiced by the British Company of the Indies, who played club in the ship's hold during the latch trip of the oceans. To this tradition, the game is a descendant of "cricket"
In the Dominican Republic
In the Dominican Republic exists "la Plaquita" ('The little Plate') or "la Placa" ('The Plate'), a street variation played between two couples, usually making use of broomsticks as bats, rubber or tennis balls, and old license plates as wickets (with their ends twisted to make them stand up). The game is divided in alternate 3-out innings like in baseball. The first team to reach 100 or 200 runs wins.
- McGrath, Steve. Bringing back a piece of the Aussie backyard (online). Australasian Parks and Leisure, Vol. 15, No. 1, Autumn 2012: 27-28. ISSN 1446-5604. [cited 14 Aug 14]. (subscription required)
- Glover, Richard. "The Rules of Backyard Cricket". Retrieved 13 August 2014.
- Waugh, Steve. "Backyard cricket: The Official Rules (by Steve Waugh)". Retrieved 5 August 2015.
- "Backyard Cricket". www.topendsports.com. Retrieved 2016-01-05.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Street cricket.|
- "The Laws of Backyard Cricket". Dennis Does Cricket. * "Open thread: The Laws of Backyard Cricket". Dennis Does Cricket.
- Backyard cricket serious business for some with pitches popping up across Melbourne each summer | Herald Sun
- "Backyard cricket: where the champions learn their craft". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- "Backyard cricket survey - a nation divided". The New Zealand Herald. * "Open thread: backyard cricket – your favourite memories". the Guardian.
- "Backyard cricket - the definitive guide". theland.com.au.
- "Backyard cricket rises from Aireys Inlet's ashes". The Age.
- Get active: Backyard cricket | Herald Sun * "Players turn out for backyard cricket". Stuff. 26 December 2014.
- Chris Lynn believes backyard cricket helped him earn call-up to Australia's T20 side | The Courier-Mail
- Roger Caillois' Man, Play and Games (University of Illinois Press, 2001, ISBN 0-252-07033-X.)