Dads revisit youth with backyard cricket

BECK ELEVEN
Last updated 11:06 24/12/2012

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Backyard cricket is a Kiwi tradition and can be played with the most rudimentary equipment, but one Christchurch father has ramped it up a notch by planting a pitch in the middle of his tennis court and calling former Black Cap Craig McMillan to play on it.

When company manager Adam Reece and his family bought a Strowan property, it came with a grass tennis court, roller and "one of those wheelie things that marks out paint".

"Well, we don't play tennis and you can't own a wheelie thing and not properly use it," Reece said.

Four years ago, he and a few mates started a basic backyard cricket tournament.

In September, Reece and his enthusiastic friends, many of them also dads at Waimairi School, gathered at his house for a working bee.

They dug up a 16-metre by 2m area in the middle of the tennis court, filled it with four cubic metres of soil and tested it to ensure the base was level.

Friend and gardener Ciaran Hartley oversaw the ready lawn pitch, making sure it was adequately watered and fenced off from the threat of children and dogs.

"It's just a bunch of dads taking themselves far too seriously for five minutes, reaching out for our youth again," said Reece.

The number of participants has grown - this year a couple of ringers were pulled in, including McMillan who also had children at Waimairi School.

The grand tournament was held on Saturday.

As per tradition, the tournament started before lunch and saw 12 teams of two, batting four overs each way. Teams wear a uniform of their own making - Reece and his batting partner dressed as sumo wrestlers, while others paid tribute to Superman, Spiderman, and late cricket umpire Peter Plumley-Walker.

Nearly 100 people attended the event.

About 5pm, the two topscoring teams faced off in the final.

"That's when all the WAGs [wives and girlfriends] and kids turn up to watch. Someone dresses up as Santa and we've got a Mrs Claus this year. The kids run around and we have a bit of a party.

"The ones to beat [were] the reigning champs who held the title the past two years.

"Even worse, they're both from Timaru originally. And there's a rumour one of them was drinking light beer."

Reece said the final on Saturday came right down to the last ball, with the Sumner Centurians needing two runs to take the top spot.

"They stumbled over the line," said Reece, whose team Red Hot Dutch had to concede defeat.

"I've never won my own tournament. Maybe next year."

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- The Press

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