Not a spectator sport…

By Sandra L. Brown

August 9, 2017 2:30 PM

It’s a rarely spoken fact amongst sports fans; some sports are just more enjoyable to play rather than watch from the sidelines. 
There are exceptions of course, as this is the Canadian way.  Hockey players with their finely tuned skills provide their fans true value. 
The bone crushing hits and exploding fights further increase this value. 
The roar of the crowd with their collective oohs and ahs are felt deep within our souls.  Sports provide entertainment for fans, and many folks will agree that sports are essential to life. 
The Barr Colonists enjoyed their sports, and teams were organized shortly after the colony settled on their homesteads. 
Formed in 1905, the Britannia Cricket Club’s membership fees were one dollar and the “sound of balls being banged around by cricket bats could be heard around the village.” 
Traditionally, cricket was very popular with the British.
Games were played amongst teams close to Lloydminster until the arrival of the passenger trains, which encouraged competition from a greater distance.
A request went out for, “All experienced cricket players were asked to make themselves known as it is the intention to play Battleford in July.” 
The home team lost against the visiting Battleford team in one inning and 39 runs. 
Each team had 11 players including the wicket-keeper, bowler (pitcher), batsman (batter) and fielders. 
Basic equipment included a bat, ball, shin pads, batting gloves and a wicket. The fielders did not wear gloves, only the wicket-keeper did to protect their knuckles. 
The batters wore a batting glove for protection.  The batsmen and wicket-keeper wore shin pads. 
The two wickets were placed 66 feet apart with a batter stationed at each.  The fielders were placed around the playing field. 
Behind one wicket stood a wicket-keeper and behind the other was the bowler.  Each batter stood close to their wicket guarding it to make sure the wicket did not get hit by the bowled ball.  If the wicket was hit; the batter was out.
After running a few steps forward, the bowler released the ball underhand or overhand; only one wicket at a time had a batter.
A run was scored each time the batters successfully exchanged ends.  Batters only ran if they each felt there was enough time after one batter hit the ball to make it to the opposite wicket. 
Cricket bats were different than a baseball bat; they were about 38 inches long and 4.5 inches wide.  One side was flat and the other rounded.  Another difference was there were no foul balls.  Just like in baseball, if a fly ball was caught by a fielder, the batter was out. 
Curve balls were popular pitches as the batter was often fooled by its direction. 
Once the bowler had thrown a specific number of balls from one end, he would switch to the other wicket. 
Though heavier, the ball used was a similar size to a baseball.
The speed of the ball released from the bowler was much the same as in baseball; however, the rules stated the ball must hit the ground in front of the batter. 
Unlike baseball, a game of cricket only had one or two innings.  One inning could last about six hours.
In true British tradition, this length of time did not include time off for afternoon tea when one side finished batting.  It took two days to complete a two inning match. 
To complete an inning, 10 batters had to be put out by each team, which explains why one inning took so long to finish.
British spectators showed their approval of a great play by clapping their hands or saying, “Bravo, Old Chap.” 
In true western prairie fashion, however, some Canadian spectators enthusiastically whooped and hollered creating quite a disturbance, much to the astonishment of the more reserved British folks.
Colony and district folks were so sports minded they often set aside Saturday afternoons for a cricket match, followed by supper and often a dance.  Gradually the sport of cricket grew in the Lloydminster area. Interest waned during the First World War as many experienced players bravely served overseas.
Cricket was briefly revived shortly after, until eventually the sport was but a memory.

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