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Softball Cricket or “Ball Play”

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Photo courtesy of “Guyana Wild.”

First Updated: 27th of April, 2022

Last updated: April 28, 2022 at 16:26 pm

If you’ve grown up in Guyana, South America chances are, you’ve had you’re fill of softball cricket during your childhood and even adult years. Softball cricket, colloquially called “ball play” or “bat and ball” is an amateur version of the professional “hard ball” cricket. Softball cricket is a Guyanese culture which is practiced by Guyanese of all ages, ethnicities, and religious background. In fact, children living in Guyana start to play softball cricket from the time they are strong enough to swing a bat.

As I a child, I’ve wallowed in the pleasures and excitement of softball cricket from as early on as I can remember. It was the sport of choice during recess and lunch breaks at Primary School, and even carried on to high school days. As a child, I couldn’t wait to get home from school in the afternoons to fling off my bag and shoes, and scramble to the streets calling out my playmates for an exciting afternoon of softball cricket. And then, varying age group of villagers, ranging from children to adults in their twenties, both male and female would take part.

The first one to shout “first” would bat first, and the second one to shout “second” would bat second, etc. And we’d play from about 3 PM until it was too dark to see the ball anymore. On Saturdays and Sundays, we’d have a field day. There were some rules as we played on the narrow street. If you hit the ball into a yard, you were out, along with all the conventional rules of “caught” “run out” and “bowled out” etc.

The most thrilling sensation was connecting the bat to the ball solidly and send it flying. Second to that is bowling a ball and watching it elude the batsman and hit the wicket flat. Then there is the joy of catching a ball plumb in the air to “oust” the batsman, “stumping” a wicket as the batsman left the crease, pelting the ball “bull’s eye” to the wicket as the batsman tried to steal a run, and you know the rest.

As children, we’d do amazing things while playing ball play in the streets that I shudder to think of now as an adult. These include jumping into dirty drains to get a ball, digging under the mud of a drain for a sunken ball, and skillfully skipping over burst bottle and other dangerous objects to get the ball. Amazingly, I never caught ringworms or any such diseases that could have been the result in coming in contact with unclean water.

A lot of the times, adults as old as in their 50s and 60s would join in the games as they saw it as a form of exercise. Ball play or softball cricket was a community sport that often reunited the villagers to have a fun time. But ball play wasn’t limited to just this makeshift version in the streets. It took on more professional forms with competitions and sponsors at various levels.

Cricket is the national game of Guyana. And proudly, Guyanese spin endless versions of this amazing game.

So, what was your experience playing softball cricket in Guyana? Tell us in the comments.

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