Cricket, you may be surprised to learn, is not only popular in Europe and Asia—it maintains a devoted following in the Hamptons, as well. The Shelter Island Cricket Club (SICC) holds an annual charity match in order to raise money for the Shelter Island Ambulance Corps, and this year’s game—marking its third consecutive year of operation—will take place July 26 on the large field directly adjacent to the Island Boat Yard.
From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., spectators can enjoy a rousing cricket match, complete with food, drink and kids’ activities. In fact, a kids’ match will take place during the lunch hour. There is no admissions fee, though donations are encouraged, and all proceeds will go toward the Ambulance Corps. The corps itself (founded in 1913 by local residents, chartered by Herbert Hoover and staffed by 30 unpaid volunteers) serves the up to 12,500 temporary and permanent residents of Shelter Island.
The event—which raised over $15,000 last year in a match between SICC and a “Rest of the World” team, and used the donations to fund a machine that communicates ECG data from an ambulance to the hospital—is organized by Gareth Jones and David Shillingford, who recount that “something that started as a bet around the barbeque one night has morphed into a great annual event thanks to the support of the Shelter Island community. One of the greatest things about this event it that it allows visitors and part-time residents to give back to a community that brings us and our families so much joy.”
Coordinating participant and assistant Chaloner Chute explains that “the U.S. players are expatriates, mainly British, who often have children born in the U.S., particularly in the Shelter Island area. The ‘Rest of the World’ players originally come from many countries, including Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England.”
Cricket is a game with roots in 16th-century southern England, though the British Empire’s colonialism spread the sport until it became a fixture in countries such as India, Pakistan, South Africa, Australia and the West Indies. It is still considered the national sport of the U.K., in fact. This bat-and-ball game bears a very distant relationship to our own national sport of baseball, featuring two teams of 11 players each. The team at bat attempts to score runs, while the other bowls the ball (an analogue to pitching), attempting to dismiss the batters. The bowler aims to knock down the wicket (next to the batter), while the batter tries to knock the ball away before the wicket can be put down. The sport made its way to the Hamptons via a community of British expatriates but has acquired something of a life of its own on the East End.
Sportsmanship is especially important to players and fans of this game—in fact, in the U.K., the phrase “it’s not cricket” is often still used to describe high standards of morality or sportsmanlike conduct in non-cricket situations. Unlike in many American sports, the umpire is never to be argued with—unless the player thinks the umpire has awarded him an unfair advantage, in which case batters have been known to declare themselves out even if the umpire does not.
Though the game is intended as a charity event, Chute warns that competing is no easy feat.
“Most of the players are now working professional jobs in the New York area. However, before they came here, they represented either their schools or their clubs, and, in some cases, their counties. This means that, although many of the players are older and play infrequently now, the standard is still quite high.”
Chute, as always, is excited for the event—and hopes the turnout will continue to grow.
For more information on the Shelter Island Cricket Club, visit sicricket.com.