It was the great Noel Coward who wrote the famous line, “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.”
While there will be quite an English contingent out at tomorrow’s annual Shelter Island cricket match — which is expected to run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — calling them “mad” might be a bit of an overstatement.
“There’s a bunch of Brits on Shelter Island and every year we’d talk about getting together to play cricket, just for fun,” explained David Shillingford, a resident of the island who is English born and an organizer of Saturday’s fourth annual Shelter Island Cricket Club Charity Match.
“I was talking to one of the island residents about this because he knows about grass and lawns and I was asking him how we could create a cricket pitch.”
The two got to talking, Shillingford recalled, and in exchange for finding a proper place for a cricket match, the cricket players would raise funds for a local charity. The Shelter Island Ambulance had just been taken over that year by the town from the Red Cross, so that seemed like a fitting cause.
As many as 300 people attended the 2014 event, raising over $15,000 for the Shelter Island Emergency Services.
According to Shillingford, the cricket pitch is the central strip of the field between the wickets, where the grass is kept very short. Wickets consist of three poles, or stumps in the ground, which the bowler (pitcher) aims the ball at.
If you’re comparing cricket to baseball in your head, you’re not that far off, as Shillingford explained. “Most people have that frame of reference,” he said. “There are a few differences. One is that you don’t have to run when you hit the ball, the second is there’s no foul zone, so you can score runs both behind and in front of the batter and the bat is a different shape, the side that strikes the ball is flat, which allows the batsman more control over where the ball goes.”
Saturday will see three cricket matches. The first adult match begins at 10:00 a.m. There will then be a children’s cricket match during the lunch break at 12:00 noon, followed by the latter adult match which is expected to end by 4:00 p.m.
The matches will take place on the large field next to the Island Boat Yard, located at 63 South Menantic Rd. on Shelter Island. Admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated. All proceeds will go to the Shelter Island Ambulance Corps.
For more information please visit www.sicricket.com
And for those who are still kind of wondering — like we are — how exactly to play cricket, watch this video. Or just show up on Saturday!