As I stepped onto the grass at Ann Morrison Park, I saw a not-surprising collection of Frisbee golfers, families feeding the geese and waterlogged rafters heading back to their cars. I, however, was there to play cricket.
The Boise Cricket Club is comprised of three teams with players from across the valley. Pratap Murali, the club president, was the man responsible for coaxing me into a match, and I'm glad he did. I played football and soccer as a kid but have since gravitated to more solitary sports like hiking and snowboarding. But the warm welcome I received after walking up to the cricket pitch was more than enough reason to join a team sport. Sanjeev Sapra, club vice president, was the first to greet me and didn't laugh when I made it clear that I'm more comfortable over a keyboard than on a field: I tripped as I walked up to the pitch. My button-up shirt and lack of proper footwear could have been another clue that I had no idea what to expect.
So together, Murali, Sapra and I watched the end of a match as Sapra explained some basic rules. Cricket is played with 11 members on each team. All players of the fielding team go out to field, and two players of the batting team go out to bat. The remainder of the batting team waits off the field for their turn to bat. Once everyone is in position, the bowler (similar to the pitcher in baseball) throws the ball toward a batter. If the batter hits it, the two batters switch sides of the pitch. Each time this is successfully completed, it's worth one point. Despite Sapra's breakdown of the rest of the rules, that was about as much as I understood and even that was hazy. But it was enough to try my hand at one of the world's most popular sports.
It was time for me to step up to the pitch and take some hits, but not before encasing my shins and thighs in protective gear. As we walked across the grass, Murali, who was described to me as "not only the club president but also our star player," took his position as bowler.
"We'll give you a few easy ones," he explained as he hurled the hard leather ball toward me. I swung. I missed. Murali slung a few more at me, and I managed to hit at least four or five, surprising all of us. Murali and Sapra boosted my confidence by telling me that I was doing well, so I wanted to end on a high note.
"One more," I yelled. The pitch came straight at me, my eyes on the ball the whole time. But it wasn't enough. I watched the ball fly right past me.
"OK, I can't end on that. One more," I yelled again.
Murali hurled another great one at me. That time, I stepped into my swing, made contact and realized that while I had possibly found a new recreational outlet, I couldn't wait to return to a more comfortable place: in front of my laptop.