This morning we started off with a cricket lesson at Williams' Reserve, the same place we had our rugby lesson yesterday. It was taught by Paul and Tony, who are part of the New South Wales Cricket League. To warm us up, they taught us the basics of throwing underhand and catching with a couple of different drills. Once we mastered that, we learned the proper bowling (pitching) technique. It was a very different motion than throwing a baseball. Instead of bending our elbow, we have to do a windmill motion and maintain a straight arm or else it is called a chuck, which isn't allowed in cricket. After (somewhat) getting the bowling technique down, they padded us up and put us in the batting cages. Swinging the bat was also a very different motion. I would say something between a baseball swing and a golf swing. I also found it interesting that the batsman wore lower leg pads, thigh pads, forearm pads, padded gloves, and a helmet with a face mask, while the keeper (or catcher) wore only padded gloves--very different from baseball where the pitcher only wears a helmet and batting gloves, while the catcher wears padding head to toe. Once we all got a chance to bat and bowl, we began a real game and most of us got a chance to protect the wicket.
Another part to the cricket lesson was learning about the cultural aspects. Paul and Tony mentioned that even though cricket is a popular sport to play in Australia, it only becomes a spectator sport at the state or national level. There are four different levels, fourth grade being the lowest and first grade being the highest. The first grade could have players ranging from age 16 to 50! I also found it interesting that whenever they explained an aspect of cricket, he would compare it to baseball and then explain how cricket is tougher and takes more skill. I am not a major baseball fan, so I didn't take any offense to that, but there is obviously a lot of national pride to the game of cricket.
Next on the agenda was the Lennox Head vs Ballina rugby union game. We had the opportunity to watch both the second grade and first grade teams. Mick and Harry, our rugby instructors from yesterday, both played in the second grade game so it was cool to recognize a couple of the players! Since both are local teams, the match was played on a rugby oval in Ballina with no seating so we sat on the grass surrounding the oval. It is part of the rugby culture for spectators to buy a "pie and a tin" or a meat pie and a beer and some of us took part in that. Having played yesterday made understanding the rules of rugby a lot easier and a lot more interesting. The Lennox Head Trojans also remained undefeated with a 22-10 win over the Ballina Seahorses. Overall today was another great opportunity for us to immerse ourselves in Australian sports culture and cannot wait to see what else Australia has in store for us!
Until next time!