Local Family Ends its Summers with a Cricket Celebration

One local family marks the end of every summer with an event that brings together people from far and near to play the game of cricket.

Gilbert H. Hood Middle School math teacher and Londonderry High School girls’ soccer coach Derek Dane of Derry, a native of Bermuda, has been playing cricket and soccer since childhood. And since 2009, he and his family have been marking the end of each summer with a party that has, at its centerpiece, a celebration of cricket.

The Danes, their friends, and family visiting from Bermuda gathered in the sticky heat and humidity at the Dane home Sunday, Aug. 16. After a meal featuring Caribbean fare, young and old alike took positions on the Danes’ makeshift field – or “ground,” as it’s referred to in cricket, with players taking turns batting.

“The same way baseball is known as the summer sport in the USA, cricket is the summer sport in the islands,” said Dane. “You just play it, it’s expected.”

The British landed in Bermuda in the 1600s, and the island has long been a British overseas territory. Cricket is one of many customs that have been exported from England to Bermuda.

The origins of cricket lie somewhere in the Dark Ages, and there is evidence of the sport having been played in the English county of Surrey as early as 1550. That would make cricket approximately 300 years older than baseball.

Where baseball involves two teams with nine or 10 athletes playing, a cricket match features two teams of 11 players each. A 12th player serves as a reserve in case of injury.

The object of the game is to score runs when at bat and to put out, or retire, the opposing batsmen when in the field.

A major characteristic that cricket and baseball share is a player – known as a pitcher in baseball and a bowler in cricket – who is hell-bent on getting the opposing batters out, through velocity or trickery that can include twisting, curving, and wildly-spinning pitches.

On offense, the old baseball adage “Hit ‘em where they ain’t” works well in both sports.

Cricket matches can take four or five days to complete.

Dane fashioned a piece of wood into a cricket bat prior to Sunday’s party, knowing that the store-bought bats might wind up being too heavy for the many children gathered at his annual celebration.

“That’s what we did as kids. You just find a good piece of wood and a tennis ball, and you play,” he said.

The passion for the sport was unmistakable at the celebration, with veteran cricketers gently and patiently teaching youngsters how to hit the ball most effectively and what the rules are. And the atmosphere of the event never changed from relaxed and fun.