Whether you are on a tour at a coastal location, on the beach with a few mates with a mini-sized cricket set, or messing about with your kids, it is important to know how to organise and manage a game of beach cricket. Here we take you through the key things to consider ...
The basic rules
Split yourselves into at least two sides - three is in fact preferable if there are enough of you to do this. Play a 'limited' overs match, usually one six-ball over per player on each side. Each player bats and bowls for one over in total. Add up the total runs scored, and deduct ten runs for every wicket to fall. Further penalties can be applied if appropriate (see boundaries).
Try to ensure that player selection is done either completely randomly and everyone understands this so there is no bleating about it, or organise captains who select in turn. You know there will be one runt picked last, but that has always been the law of the playground jungle, so deal with it, loser. Alternatively in family games ensure if you are Dad that the most talented youngster is in your team.
Clearly this is going to be the one area of greatest contention in beach cricket. Ensure you select a patch of sand that has at least some firm hold - i.e. don't place your pitch close to the top of the beach. The closer the sea the better. Also it is best to bat with the leg side for right-handers at the 'sea end'. Agree beforehand the rules for 'patting down' the pitch during a game, and likewise for running on the pitch which will become increasingly tempting towards the end of the first innings of a match.
All umpires should wear appropriate headwear - preferably panama hats. This readily identifies the figure of authority at any one time, whilst making the wearer look daft enough not to get too pompous. Remember the umpire's decision is final, but of course you could always just walk off if you disagree, so umpire with a certain amount of discretion.
There are normally no boundaries as such, particularly on the off-side to right-handers if the pitch is positioned as described above. Placing an arbitrary boundary at the sea can be used imaginatively if you wish. Clearly a ball reaching the sea can be declared a 'four' or 'six' as appropriate. However for more excitement include the 'hit the ball in the sea and you are out' rule. Watch as fielders cajole the ball down a small slope to wait for it to get wet, gambling as batsman complete their seventh run.
Batting & Bowling
Normal rules tend to apply here, however a batsman bats on his own for an over at a time, facing one particular bowler, before this is rotated. This allows for appropriate 'mano-a-mano' battles to take place as desired. However, look out for Dads pairing themselves up against their six year old daughters to make them look like Ian Botham. All bowling has to be underarm, but any run up length is permitted. However, on hot days (when they occur in England) long run ups only tend to last a couple of deliveries at most before a lazy 'walk up' is adopted. Remember, if you hit it, you have to run.
The match equipment
Clearly you cannot use a proper cricket ball on the beach - it will either disappear into the sea and be ruined, get stuck in the sand or even buried, and perhaps even seriously injure a small child. It is crucial to use a ball of the right texture, and a tennis ball is ideal as it allows for spin to take effect on the sandy beach but will provide bounce to the quicker bowlers. For extra excitement, employ the red balls you get in mini cricket sets as these frequently disintegrate after a while and can make it difficult to 'get the ball off the square'. A mini set of stumps and obligatory 'double bail' are also mandatory.
These are as normal as possible, with a batsman only run out at the end to which he is running. Also it is customary for the batter to shout 'in' as he reaches the appropriate crease. Under no circumstances allow the 'one hand one bounce' factor to be employed. Sometimes it is worth having the batting side fulfil some basic fielding places - such as wicket keeper. Triangular tournaments are ideal as the 'non-playing' side can fill surplus fielding positions. Care must be taken to avoid instances of 'favouritism' in the field in these circumstances, as well as the third side passing the ball between themselves as the batsman runs forever.