Peoria, Tazewell, And Woodford: Here, There & Everywhere

Stumped: How English Cricket Came To Central Illinois by Mike Foster, Rick Becker, Graham Loomes, Nick Ripley, Bill Knight, & Brooks McDaniel

Stumped: How English Cricket Came To Central Illinois

by Mike Foster, Rick Becker, Graham Loomes, Nick Ripley, Bill Knight, & Brooks McDaniel

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Mike Foster, rural Metamora, Illinois:

Like many good tales, this one begins with wonder and ends in glory.

When I was staying in Keble College, Oxford, in August, 1992, for the J.R.R. Tolkien Centenary Conference arranged by England’s Tolkien Society and the USA’s Mythopoeic Society, I lingered for a few days after the conference ended.

Since the title “Professor” is rarer in Britain than it is in America, I was allowed to lodge longer in the college. The room rates at Keble were lower than anywhere else, and I’d grown accustomed to my place, a spare, small single room on the third floor of the college’s old building, looking out on the grassy quad.

The bursar warned me that the college would not be able to serve me meals. But I was already well-acquainted with nearby Oxford pubs like The King’s Arms, The White Horse, The Mitre, The Lamb & Flag, and especially Tolkien’s and C.S. Lewis’ favorite for merry Tuesday morning sessions of their Inklings literary group, The Eagle & Child on nearby St. Giles Lane, which they called “The Bird & Baby,” so I was happy to fend for myself

As I wandered lonely as a cloud one afternoon during my last days at Keble, my meandering took me into the University Parks right across from the college.

There I beheld the Oxford University cricket pavilion.

Empty but pregnant with possibilities, it rose red-roofed and white-washed above a vast flat field of the greenest grass in Oxford. I marveled. Although I had read about cricket in assorted English fiction, I’d never beheld its home turf.

However the game is played, I mused to myself, this looks like it would be fun.

I strolled back to Keble and from there to The Eagle & Child for a late lunch.

“Pint of Burton’s best bitter and fish and chips?” the barman said.

“You know my order,” I replied.

“Is that good or is that bad?” he asked, and began drawing my beer from the tap..

Two days later, a too-early bus took me from Oxford to Heathrow, and from there I flew back to Chicago’s O’Hare and then on Peoria, where my wife Jo fetched me. The fall semester term was already in progress at Illinois Central College. Having discovered Scrumpy Jack apple cider at The Turf, I’d smuggled a single English pint can of Merrydown back home. I quaffed it that night to celebrate my homecoming after my belated first day of classes.

My Friday afternoon routine of lunching with college colleagues resumed at The Rathskeller, a below-stairs German pub on the south-west corner of the town square in Washington, Illinois.

One spring afternoon in 1993, our post-prandial banter turned to things sporting. My Contemporary Humanities team-teaching partner Rick Becker, also an ICC English Department professor, suggested we celebrate summer by playing each other’s native national sports.

“You’re German,” I said. “What’s yours? World conquest? Invading Poland? Kristallnacht?”

“You’re English,” Becker shot back. “Croquet?”

“I have a better idea,” I said.

And thus the space odyssey of central Illinois cricket began.

The catch was, of course is that we had no equipment, no playing field, and no idea of how to play the game.

That wasn’t about to stop us. A really good silly idea is still a really good idea.

So I wrote to a Peoria Journal Star help assistance column conducted by Brenda Story, one of my recent ICC Journalism 122 survivors.

She published my request for cricket lore and gear along with my telephone number.

Later that day, two phone calls came from gentlemen with English accents.

One was Graham Loomes, who would become my co-captain of the Age & Cunning side of the Old Zogonians Cricket Club.

The other was Nick Ripley. He and Becker ended up co-captains of the Youth & Strength team.

We soon met over beers at The Rathskeller. There Graham chose me and Rick picked Nick.

For necessary gear, Becker covertly manufactured the wicket stumps and dowels on an ICC lathe. An art professor with no sense of humor tried to get the college’s public safety officers to evict him, but Rick craftily escaped with his wood-craftsmanship intact.

We still needed players.

So I wrote to the Peoria Journal Star again, announcing our first call to the green, an open field behind Becker’s home and north of Lincoln School in Washington, for a practice.

A sunny afternoon saw us gathered there well before the advertised time. We tossed around a battered old cricket ball that Steve Jack, one of my ICC journalism students who’d lived in Scotland in his prep school days, had given me.

One at a time, men started materializing, some bearing bats. Yanks from ICC’s faculty joined us as well as New Zealanders and Australians, kiwis and ozzies. Then, as the westering sun descended, its late afternoon gleam caught on a white van. Its doors opened. Out stepped many east Indians, maybe ten, brilliant in their cricket whites.

The Old Zognonians were born.

We bowled and batted for a bit.

Then we chose sides. I won the tuppenny toss and went first. My first pick was a tall lean Indian fellow named Vallanore Suresh. I elected him because of Keble College centenary conference connection. His name suggested “Valinor,” Tolkien’s Undying Land far to the west of Middle-earth.

As Graham informed me later, Vallanore was a serendipitous selection. He had been the captain of his engineering college’s eleven.

And so it was that, at age 46, I found myself for the first time in my life in a sporting goods store in Peoria buying a protective cup and the attendant athlete’s jockstrap. What I have gotten myself into?, I thought as I laid my money down on the counter. Cricket players field barehanded, no gloves allowed, so those were unneeded, however much longed for.

We had several more practice sessions. One of these saw a tall, as in 6’4” or so, dreadlocked Jamaican who resembled baseball pitcher Randy “Big Unit” Johnson. He threw terrifying left-handed donkey-drop backspinner southpaw googlies. Thank Jah he only showed up once.

Having assessed my skills, Graham placed me at Wide Leg, which was far right field near the boundary, the position that Peanuts’ Lucy would have been assigned if the Charlie Brown crew had played cricket.

Readying for the opening day, I purchased a wide-brimmed Australian cricketer’s hat, still worn in hot or wet summer weather, and a 100% cotton white polo shirt with “OLD ZOGONIANS” embroidered on the breast in silver thread.

Finally, we were ready to set a date for our first match: Sept 26, 1993. We publicized it every way we knew how. NBC news local affiliate Ch. 25 dispatched a crew of two. The Journal Star sent a reporter and a photographer, who captured Becker grimacing in pain as Loomes came barreling into the stumps.

Rick uttered a coprology then. The gritty Scots umpire warned him. “Yair langwidge, sair,” he said sternly. One more offense and Becker would’ve had to throw himself out of the game.

As spectators, mostly wives, including my spouse Jo (who’d bought a wide-brimmed sun hat and an appropriately “Rule, Brittania” dress for the occasion), ringed the green in lawn chairs, we took the field with many more than eleven on each side.

Journalist friend Bill Knight, my 1983 co-author of baseball’s favorite Christmas story, The Cub Fan’s Christmas Wish, who was playing to my right at Not Quite As Wide Leg, yelled over to me at one of the many lulls in the action. “Foster, you’re right,” he said. “This makes baseball look like the Indy 500.”

Thanks to the English wives, there was a tea break under the borrowed canopy between overs. Loomes’ and other British wives manufactured petite crust-less finger sandwiches of cucumber, of watercress, of Scottish smoked salmon, and of egg salad.

Peoria’s newspaper of record shows that the Age & Cunning scored the first victory of our undefeated string, 43-38.

The picnic fete afterwards was a marvel of festive feasting. Held in Becker’s back yard, it included American fare like bratwursts and burgers as well as many Indian dishes, exotic but delicious to us Yanks.

We played and replayed Beethoven’s piano variations on “God Save The Queen” on the boom-box that Jo and I had brought

We also partook of Pimm’s Cup, a thirst-quenching and supremely summery drink. In England, it’s a must at cricket matches. It mixes ginger ale, citrus and other fruit, cucumbers, mint, and a fortifying shot of gin. Pimm’s No. 1, a gin-based drink, was invented in 1823 by James Pimm, who served it at his oyster bar in London.

At one point, I looked out on the scene. A plump grandmotherly barefoot Indian woman wearing a gorgeous silk sari and a gold toe ring was resting with her eyes closed and her head propped up on one hand.

Finally, sated and satisfied, the picnickers packed their leftovers into their hampers, folded up their blankets and lawn chairs, bade each other farewell, thanked our host, and left.

Just before Jo and I did, I embraced the beaming Becker.

“We did it,” he and I exclaimed simultaneously.

Here’s part of what my journal reported:

7/26/93

We’d already clinched the win when captain me knocked the bails out with my bat.

Our team won the  flip, batted second, and so chased 38 scored by Youth & Strength..

ICC players included Kip Strasma, Jimmie Miller, Jim Thomas, Mike Hinken and Brooks McDaniel.

Hinken [the ICC Harbinger editor, who was 19 or 20] played well for Age & Cunning. Peter Ward got 14 for us. Suresh pace-bowle.

ICC spectators included Bill and Gloria McNett, Tom Zettle, Bruce and Susan Becker, and Dick Nimz.

Pete Streid [a farmer neighbor living north of us who was the “manager” and band landlord of our rock and roll group, A Fine Kettle Of Fish] donated the bratwursts and Italian sausages.

I had a burger, an Italian sausage, assorted Indian sweets, and a hyper-sweet chocolate spasm, washed down with Burton’s Double Diamond English beer.

Home by 7:06 after Jo snapped captains’ photograph.

“We did it!,” GL said to me.

And I’m 1-0 as a co-captain and a complete schtoop as a batsman,

9/27/93, Monday

Basking in post-cricket glow.

Great photo of Becker and Graham in PJS with good long article.

Tuesday, Sept. 28, Michaelmas Eve

Graham just called. He had cracked his ribs, was mortified by PJS photo of him bowled, agloat over beating Becker, saw Pekin Times story and photo. He was told by Cat marketing execs that they like the international factor, the ICC connection, v. unofficially Zogonian.

Let’s do it again!

In October that year, Jo and I wore our cricket regalia to a Halloween wine-tasting meal at the late lamented Stephanie restaurant on Knoxville Avenue in Peoria. We took the first place prize, a bottle of bold blood-colored Hungarian red wine.

The Old Zogs played on for several years. I remember few specifics. I do recall that Age & Cunning was always the winning side.

The tea breaks may have continued, but the post-match picnics did not. Instead, some of the lads would adjourn down Main Street to the Rathskeller for a pint or three. I wisely eschewed the free Jagermeister shots that proprietor and publican Wolfgang Thomalla would often offer to us.

Years passed. At least twice, I picked up some nasty bruises as a batsman, including a magnificent one dead-center on my chest that turned all the chromatic colors of a splendid summer sunset while Jo and I were vacationing in London, Salisbury, and Oxford in 1994.

Our last match would be my swan song and my life’s only great golden moment of game-winning sports heroism.

Age & Cunning had already batted. We were leading Youth & Strength, but only by one run. For some reason, our bowler and on-green general, Vallanore Suresh, called me in from Wide Leg to play Silly Mid On.

To translate that into baseball, I went from fielding in far right field in Houston’s Minute Maid Park (440 feet away from home plate) to playing a position halfway down the third-base line between the chalk stripe and the pitcher’s mound. “Silly” was an apt adjective.

So I trotted in, as obedient as a soldier in the Somme going over the top to charge the Boches in The Great War, as terrified as any brave English infantryman would have been in 1917.

I didn’t let it show. Cricket whites hide trembling limbs well. My practical consideration was what to protect with my hands: my groin or my face.

Well, I already had fathered two daughters who were in their twenties. I needed my teeth to talk and teach. So I raised my hands and waited.

The batsman was Jim Thomas, ICC’s political science professor. Suresh ran up and bowled. Thomas hit it.

He popped it up high. It came fluttering down to me. I remembered all that I’d been taught. I followed the ball down into my bare hands, cupped it gently but firmly, and by God!

I caught it.

I leapt up higher than I’d ever jumped in my life, brandishing the ball. My cheering team-mates mobbed me.

A journalism student was filming the match for posterity and a radio-television class documentary project. She was out with Youth & Strength under the pavilion tent. Her videotape captured the disbelieving, angry outcry, including Becker saying: “Oh, Jesus! Foster caught it!”

And that was that. I bought the first round down at the Rat. My cricket career had ended triumphantly.

I used my love of and lore of the game, which pre-eminent Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey had warned me was “a blood sport,” to impress cabbies and colleagues in Cambridge and Canterbury and British Columbia in future travels.

I buried my cup and jock deep in my underwear drawer. As I was writing this cricket chronicle, Jo told me that she’d thrown them out years ago. Fair enough: they wouldn’t have fetched so much as a nickel at a yard sale.

In August, 2007, we visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Not much cricket history is collected there. Another former ICC journalism and literature student, Tim Wiles, was director of research. Now two copies of The Cub Fan’s Christmas Wish are in the Hall of Fame library collection.

My cricket bat languishes behind the couch by the front door, with my battered ball above it on a window ledge. Both are more dangerous to would-be marauding raccoons than they were when I wielded them with the Old Zogonians.

In male bonding, beer is often the glue.

So it was with the winless Youth & Strength team and the undefeated Age & Cunning side.

Their tales of the glory of the green follow.

Adeste fideles. Laeti triumphantes. Sic semper Zogonsiensis.

Rick Becker, Washington, Illinois:

All good ideas come from beer.

Thousands of years ago, Odysseus must have turned to Menelaus after having a few and said, “You know, you really ought to show those guys from Troy what you’re made of.” Maybe some of Eric the Red’s buddies suggested after a six-pack that he try sailing just as far west as he could.

And so over twenty years ago, after a number of good German beers at the Rathskeller in Washington, someone at the table said, “We ought to try to play a sport we’ve never played before…something bizarre…like cricket.” Out of that long lunch by assorted ICC faculty on a Friday afternoon came the Old Zogonians Cricket Club, one of the goofiest yet still successful schemes I have ever been part of.

It is one thing to hatch a plan for playing cricket in Peoria It is quite another to bring the plan to fruition, especially since no one at the table on that Friday afternoon had ever played cricket.  Step one was finding out something about the game. The internet was still something of a novelty, and there was no Google or Wikipedia to provide easy information.  Mike Foster seized the initiative and wrote a brief letter to the Journal Star expressing our interest in learning and playing the game and asking for any help.

That came in the form of Nick Ripley from Washington and Graham Loomes from Peoria.  Both British expats, they were eager to see the game of their youth played on Peorian soil.

So much for the expertise; now on to the equipment.  Ripley had a ball and a bat he had brought to America with him, but that was the extent of our gear. For a time, it looked like the plan would collapse for lack of a wicket.

Loomes had bigger plans.  As a Caterpillar, Inc., employee, he thought he might be able to arrange the loan of equipment from the Cat factory team in Leicester, England. Some phone calls and manipulations later, the loan was arranged, but the equipment would arrive only shortly before the planned match,  leaving hardly any time for the American novices to even try the game.

Destiny intervened when I received a phone call from a fellow in Macomb. He had purchased the inventory of a sporting goods store that had gone bankrupt and had a load of cricket equipment he wanted to unload. My first thought was that stocking a load of cricket equipment in Macomb, Illinois, might explain why the store was bankrupt. My second thought was “Sure. I’m interested.”

We met in Washington and I bought his entire cricket inventory: dozens, of bats and hundreds of balls.  The bats were sold to interested members of the fledgling club, but the majority of the balls were traded to a cricket store in Philadelphia for batsman’s pads, wicket keeper’s gloves, and the stumps and bails that make up the wicket. We were now as fully equipped as a cricket team could be.

Assuming we had a team.

It’s not that easy to find folks in central Illinois who are eager to play cricket. The cadre of ICC players had zero experience, and there isn’t that big a British community here. Once more, Loomes came to the rescue.

Through Caterpillar, he sent word to the Indian community that a game was afoot.  The response was immediate, and we had enough for two full teams. We arranged some practices, picked a date and location, and got set for what we were pretty sure would be the first cricket match in Peoria.

If you’re going to do something silly, do it with panache. And we did.

Ripley arranged to borrow an asphalt roller to level the pitch. (Who knows someone who can loan you an asphalt roller?) A base line chalker loaned by the Washington Park District allowed clearly marked batting areas and boundaries, someone’s borrowed canvas tent shelter provided a pavilion for the side not as bat and the tea and luncheon set-up. Uniforms were the obligatory cricket whites. “Age and Cunning” would challenge “Youth and Strength” in a match that would be  limited overs with a half-time break for tea and sandwiches. After the match, there would be a family potluck picnic.

Match day arrived, a beautiful fall day with skies of bright September blue. I remember only a few things about the match itself. I was chastised by the Scottish umpire for vulgar language after I was hit by a pitch A cricket ball is harder to hit than a baseball.”Age and Cunning” eked out a narrow victory, and tea and cucumber sandwiches make for a tasty half time break. The picnic following was a great success, with loads of Indian dishes brought to the potluck.

The Old Zogonians held on for another year or so. We collected $10 annual dues to maintain the equipment and pitch, and played a few more matches in the next year. Soon younger members of the Indian /American contingent began coming to practice, and it was obvious that the skill level of the participants was rising dramatically. The bowlers got faster, the batsmen better hitters, and the challenge of fielding a rock-hard ball with bare hands became more painful. It is legal for the bowler to hit a batsman in cricket, and while it is not that intimidating to face a middle aged bowler gently bouncing the ball in front of you, having a 6’4” Jamaican run thirty feet before flinging a rocket in your direction causes you to rethink the idea of playing cricket.

Choosing discretion as my form of valor I opted out of cricket, as did the rest of the original ICC contingent. The remaining players stepped it up and joined a league of real cricket teams, but none of them, I think, had even heard of the Old Zogonians and how cricket came to Peoria.

But there was the time when the first match was played and over, as we basked in the success and the well-being feeling of a couple of beers and brats that Mike Foster and I looked at each other and burst out laughing, simultaneously saying “I can’t believe we pulled this off.”

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Graham Loomes, Ormond Beach, Florida (formerly of Peoria, Illinois):

Whilst hunting through many boxes, I found many articles on our glorious efforts to introduce the gentlemanly game of cricket to the ex-colonies namely Illinois. But I was unable to unearth the video made by the local TV station.

Looking back on those early years, I recall that it was my wife who brought your plea for help to my attention which lead to our first planning meeting in the Rathskeller. Meeting at a pub was very fortuitous as I recall my cricketing days in England, Scotland, and Jamaica when we always went to the local drinking places after a game to quench our thirst after a day out in the sun or as it often was in England – the rain .Rather than duplicate much which my fellow Old Zogs may have already on file, I will send on some articles which appeared in a Caterpillar internal (Morton) magazine giving thanks to our facility in Leicester. Without their help in flying the necessary equipment just in time, our first game may never have got off the ground.
After a few practice sessions, we soon realized the enormity of the project. We had to have the proper equipment. A proper cricket pitch needed to be as smooth as possible so that any flying cricket ball did not become a lethal projectile, and decapitate anyone. Thanks to Nick Ripley and Rick Becker, that was ably provided by a heavy roller on the Lincoln School baseball field in Washington.

Training the locals not to discard their bats whilst attempting to make a run (it was not baseball) was necessary. This proved very difficult but lead to much verbal abuse and hilarity.

Overcoming the complexity of changing field places after each over which we never overcame but only delayed by playing an eight-ball over instead of six, which diminished the confusion by nearly twenty percent.

Obtaining unbiased umpires was done by the Aged and Cunning team who lived up to their name by providing an American and a Scotsman who had minuscule knowledge of the game so that any noisy appeal for a player’s removal from the game had maximum impact. This not quite cricket, but it led to some humorous moments.

Providing afternoon tea, as much part of the game as the game itself, was solved by inviting as many British and Indian wives as possible as long as they participated in proving the thirst-quenching beverage, Cucumber sandwiches with crusts removed as well as Indian delicacies were served. This was one of the best highlights of the day.

Scorecards show that the Age & Cunning team won in a low-scoring game of 43 to 38 runs. We recognized that much improvement in our skill levels was required as these scores are generally exceeded by any one batter in a real game.

One female member of ICC staff, earth science professor Cheryl Emerson Resnick, made a request to play which we welcomed But after facing the first ball, she decided that it was far more dangerous than croquet and she never returned.

All in all, the Old Zogonians first match was a resounding success with thirty enthusiastic players from England, India, Australia, and the USA  turning up so we broke with tradition and played with 15 a side, all clad in cricketing whites (well, nearly all). To prevent it from becoming Lord Cornwallis’ revenge, we mixed up the nationalities. This, coupled with many inexperienced players and some experienced bowlers, kept the run rate low.

The match can best be described as an enthusiastic exhibition of the gentlemen’s game played in front of fifty to one hundred spectators as well as television cameras and reporters from three newspapers. It must have been a slow news day. Sundays often are. In all, it was a smashing success for this cultural and cooperative efforts between many ethnic backgrounds and ICC and Caterpillar personnel.

It is great to see that cricket is still continuing in central Illinois and games can still be seen in north Peoria even if we original founders are now physically incapable of swinging a bat at a fast inswinger or outswinger, full toss or Yorker, off break, or googly.

But we remember it well.

Nick Ripley, Washington, Illinois:

My introduction to the Old Zogonians C.C. started in the summer of 1993 with a small piece written in the Sunday Peoria Journal Star newspaper inviting those interested in playing cricket to contact Mike Foster.

I thought this sounds interesting, or good for a laugh anyway. So I called Mike and listened to his vision for a cricket match in Washington. At the time, it sounded quite a challenge to find equipment, players, and somewhere with enough space to play, (a cricket pitch needs a lot of space). But somehow we managed to pull it off, not just once but for three years.

That summer I was visiting family in England, so before I left I put out the word I was looking to scrounge up some cricket gear while over. My father, through his Rotary connections, was able to secure a couple of bats and some balls. That was a start.

Rick and Mike were working on locating cricket gear, which is fairly rare in the good old USA. In addition, Rick was hard at work making some homemade wickets fashioned out of broomsticks for our first practice.

I am not sure how we found Lincoln Grade School’s field to use for the matches but it really was quite lucky. The field was a good size and fairly even. We did need to work on the wicket itself and make it as even as we could. What it needed was rolling. I contacted Charlie Thomas, owner of Charlie’s Rentals, and was able to borrow a small road roller to even out the bumps in the wicket. It did a nice job. Our village green certainly was not Lords or the Oval, but for the Washington Old Zogonians, it was fine.

We had quite a variety of players at our practices. Graham Loomes and I were the British contingent, along with Paul Newton from South Africa (I think). Our India players, Suresh, Shankar, Kumah, Rocky and Srinivasam. I was even able to persuade my rugby buddy Mike Schubach to come out play.

The first match was Sept. 26, 1993, with the weather recorded in the score book as “overcast” and the pitch conditions as wet. Age & Cunning won the toss and put Youth & Strength in to bat.  Looking back at the scorebook, we certainly could have used a few more practices. I was somewhat disappointed in my own at bat, getting bowled for no runs. But I was not a duck. At the end of our innings, Youth & Strength were all out for 38.

After our innings, we stopped for tea. I do recall the cucumber sandwiches and biscuits. Cricket is possibly the most civilized game still played.  I can’t see the Cubs and Cards stopping for tea after the seventh inning.

After tea, we took the field to do our best at getting Age & Cunning out for less than 38. Looking back at the score sheet, it looks like we all had a go as we used eight different bowlers over eighteen overs. That must be some sort of record.

Well, as the score shows we got A&C all out for 43.  All in all, that first match was a lot of fun, as I believe the subsequent matches were.  Cheers to all the Old Zogonians.

Bill Knight, Elmwood, Illinois:

 

If golf is a good walk spoiled, cricket was a sunny afternoon ruined.

Being humbled is almost always a healthy thing, but trying to play cricket without proper preparation is like puzzling through a driving test with macular degeneration. Cricket has places to run, a ball and a bat, OK, but the bat is shaped like a spatula with gland issues. So striking the ball with the flat side is far easier than hitting a round ball with a round bat, like baseball. However, there’s also little heft, no “sweet spot,” and the ball goes nowhere. Slow.

For a once-and-future baseball player like me, it was being taken down a peg – or a wicket – for the chance to sample something different and finally unsatisfying.

A “dibbly dobbly” (which sounds like something Antonin Scalia would call Ruth Bader Ginsburg) described me in cricket jargon: a lousy bowler (pitcher). I was equally inept as a biffer (batter – excuse me, “batsman”).

In hindsight, attempting it at all seems like an overblown affectation, like writing with a quill pen, eating haggis, or listening to John Cage because it’s traditional or trendy. At the risk of being a chauvinistic Yank, I find a cold can of Miller High Life far more refreshing than a pint of warm stout.

Despite good-natured cricket veterans from distant shores gamely letting a few of us flail about harmlessly, playing cricket in Washington, Illinois, now seems too precious, curious, and ultimately irrelevant, like wearing a jock to play poker, enduring bad sitar music, or Tweeting virtually anything.

For global games, I prefer the pastoral pursuit of bocce ball. In this country, I favor the National Pastime.

Brooks McDaniel, Peoria, Illinois:

All I remember about cricket was that I knew that I had to stop thinking baseball and try to learn the weird rules, positions, and game goals.  I know we played a lot for two seasons. The Indians threw very hard and we had one match with cucumber sandwiches at halftime.

We also had some powerful booze and I drove very carefully home and never played again.

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One comment on “Stumped: How English Cricket Came To Central Illinois by Mike Foster, Rick Becker, Graham Loomes, Nick Ripley, Bill Knight, & Brooks McDaniel

  1. I didn’t play in the match but I lent Foster some cricket-themed tea towels. Opictured the field positions, so he had no excuse for not declining an offer to go to silly mid-on. Our friend Geoff who had given us the tea towels met Foster at my son’s wedding in 2006, exclaiming “And you went?” when told the story.
    Another towel had embossed over the silhouette of the Father Time weather-vane at Lord’s cricket ground:
    “You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.
    When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay all out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.
    When both sides have been in and all the men have out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game!”
    Anyone who claims to understand the quotation has spent time living under the Union Jack, or at least his ancestors did.

    Like

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