January 14, 2010
Cricket + Snow = Snow Cricket
Photo by www.servicesemchar.com
Cricket, quite possibly one of England’s daftest inventions, is alive and well in Quebec Province.
Whilst that may be true that it is played the world over, mainly in former British colonies it has to be said, today it is thriving in Quebec and great fun it is too.
Cricket may not be the first sport that springs to mind when you think of recreational activities in Canada (especially in winter) but it was first played here by British soldiers on the Plains of Abraham after the battle of Québec City in 1759.
Although Canada has an international standard professional team, most play for fun. The Pirates of the St Lawrence Cricket Club is no exception and boasts players from 49 different countries within its ranks. The Pirates are nothing if not cosmopolitan.
To demonstrate this, on the morning of Sunday 10 January 2009, clad in fleece-lined ski-gear, fur hats, sunglasses and thick gloves, Australians, Brits, Irish, Canadians (Anglophone and Francophone), South Africans, New Zealanders, Chileans, Argentinians, West Indians, Pakistanis and even a Congolese, took to the fields on Île Ste-Hélène, Montreal, for the 4th Annual Snow Cricket Festival. It was here that the first recorded cricket match in Canada took place in 1785.
And but for the uncleared 3 feet of snow and biting -15c temperature, conditions were near perfect for this most genteel of summer sports. With the wood having been laid down for the batting area, the stumps set up and the players nearly approaching being warmed up, the four teams representing Australia, England, Canada, and the Asian Bloc-Celtic Alliance were ready for the off.
The rules are many and varied, and mostly unfathomable even for a dedicated player, so we won’t bother attempting to go into detail here, however… The bowler (read pitcher) runs in and bowls (throws) the ball, the batsman (batter) attempts to hit the ball with his baseball bat-like instrument (but does not have to run) and runs (points) are scored when either a) the batsman hits the ball and runs to the other end of the pitch (1 run), the ball reaches the boundary (the seating or standing area for the crowd) having bounced (4 runs) or having not bounced (6 runs). Think home run in baseball here. Cricket at the highest level can often last for 5 days and end in a draw.
The hardy souls who braved the conditions were having none of that though.
Each game in the round robin tournament lasted 42 balls (pitches) per team and 2 playing areas were set up in order to keep everyone warm. And keep warm they did, the batters smashing the ball to all parts and the fielders hunting for it in deep snow drifts.
With the competition evenly poised and the action looking likely to develop into an exciting finish, the players came off for some food and a warm drink. If ever there’s a sport where you stop midway through for a refreshing cup of tea and a few sandwiches, then it has to have been dreamed up by the English.
No expertly sliced crustless cucumber sandwiches on show here though. The race for the queue for the hot meat pies was as fierce as the on-field action. Flasks of welcome, hot, sweet tea were also proffered and I’m reliably informed that there might even have been something a little stronger in some of the flasks as a small number of the participants took to the field for the second half with a warm glow and the odd giggle or two.
For the record, the Asian Bloc-Celtic Alliance emerged victorious with the Australians coming a close second followed by Canada, and due to a woeful uncoordinated team performance, England limped in last.
Snow cricket is a hit and immensely enjoyable.
With all this excitement, could cricket (snow or otherwise) be making a return to the Plains of Abraham? Anyone fancy a game?
To see the original article on The Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph, click HERE.