I am pretty sure that you, Gentle Reader, have never played on a 43-Man Squamish team. Unless you were a reader, as was I, of Mad Magazine, it may well be that you have never even heard of 43-Man Squamish. It was the June, 1965 issue of Mad (#95 if you are now digging through your collection) wherein Mad Magazine’s long-time writer, Tom Koch, along with illustrator, George Woodbridge, introduced us to what was not destined, more’s the pity, to become the next great American pastime.
You are aware that this is the second of three posts about cricket, the first being An American Game wherein I argued that cricket was once also an American game and not just a British or European game. Such is not the case today, although there appears to still exist a sub-culture of cricket in this country. The final post is A Connecticut Yankee in King Johnny’s Court wherein I will detail Dennis Ryan’s brief, but not altogether unsuccessful, career in cricket.
I start with 43-Man Squamish because it seems to me that cricket could just as easily have been an invention of Tom Koch as was 43-Man Squamish. Take the positions as an example. There are 43 positions of Squamish: the left and right Inside Grouches, the left and right Outside Grouches, four Deep Brooders, four Shallow Brooders, Five Wicket Men, three Offensive Niblings, four Quarter-Frummerts, two Half-Frummerts, one Full-Frummert, two Overblats, two Under-blats, nine Back-Up Finks, two leapers, and a Dummy.
Cricket, on the other hand, has only 11 players, but they can play numerous positions on the cricket field as this diagram indicates:
Not quite 43 positions (I counted 40), but it comes close and your Backward Square Leg, Silly Mid, or Cow Corner is no less imaginative than a Back-up Fink, a Frummert, or a Brooder. And, like 43-Man Squamish, cricket also has its Wicket Man.
I know that you are thinking that this is all very silly and that I am making fun of cricket…and you’d be right. But there are other similarities between 43-Man Squamish and cricket that just can’t be ignored.
For example, each squamish player is equipped with a frullip, a long, hooked stick that is used to stop opposing players from crossing your goal line. The frullip and its use is picture below.
I know that the frullip looks nothing like the cricket bat, pictured below,
but the original bats were not always this shape. Before the 18th century bats tended to be shaped similarly to a modern hockey stick. Cricket historians think this may well have been a legacy of the game’s reputed origins. Although the first forms of cricket are obscure, it may be that the game was first played using shepherd’s crooks. If a frullip isn’t a shepherd’s crook, you tell me what it most resembles.
I don’t want to carry this analogy too far, but it also strikes me that the “laws” of cricket and the “rules” of 43-Man Squamish are similar in that they seem to disregard the notion of syntax. For example, here’s some of 43-Man Squamish’s rules as devised by Tom Koch:
The Rules of 43-man Squamish
- Each team must have 43 players.
- Games consist of 7 Ogres (8 if it rains that day) that are 15 minutes long.
- Each player must wear the regulated uniform: a Helmet, Gloves, Swimming Flippers, and is equipped with a Frullip.
- Before play begins the Probate Judge flips a Spanish Pesta and if the visiting captain guesses correctly, the game ends immediately.
- Play then begins after the Frullip of the advancing team is touched to the Fluteny and “Mi too es enfermo per la carretera es verde” is chanted.
- Hitting the Pritz across the goal line is a Durmish and scores 11 points.
- Carrying the Pritz across the goal line is a Woonillk and scores 17 points.
- In the 7th Ogre (and 8th if it rains) only Niblings and Overblats are allowed to score.
- Each team has 5 snivels (similar to downs in football) to get the Pritz across the goal line.
- If there is a tie, a sudden death match must begin, but if both left overblats are out of the game, dirty limericks are to be shouted from opposite ends of the field until one team breaks up laughing.
The pritz, by the way, is equivalent to the cricket ball. The Flutney is the five-sided field on which the game is played. “Mi too es enfermo per la carretera es verde” means “My uncle is sick but the highway is green,” or something nearly similar to that.
As an example of the loss of syntax in cricket, consider Law 28 of cricket regarding Dismissing a Batsman (the rough equivalent of striking out a batter in baseball) which could have been written by Tom Koch and maybe it was:
“Losing a wicket refers to a batsman getting out. If dismissed by a bowler, the bowler is said to have taken his wicket. The number of wickets taken is the primary measure of a bowler’s ability.
For a batsman to be dismissed by being bowled out, run out, stumped, or hit wicket, his wicket needs to be put down. What this means is defined by Law 28 of the Laws of cricket. A wicket is put down if a bail is completely removed from the top of the stumps, or a stump is struck out of the grounds by the ball, the striker’s bat, the striker’s person (or by any part of his clothing or equipment becoming detached from his person), a fielder (with his hand or arm, and provided that the ball is held in the hand or hands so used, or in the hand of the arm so used).
If one bail is off, removing the remaining bail or striking or pulling any of the three stumps out of the ground is sufficient to put the wicket down. A fielder may remake the wicket, if necessary, in order to put it down to have an opportunity of running out a batsman.
If however both bails are off, a fielder must remove one of the three stumps out of the ground with the ball, or pull it out of the ground with a hand or arm, provided that the ball is held in the hand or hands so used, or in the hand of the arm so used.
If the umpires have agreed to dispense with bails, because, for example, it is too windy for the bails to remain on the stumps, the decision as to whether the wicket has been put down is one for the umpire concerned to decide. After a decision to play without bails, the wicket has been put down if the umpire concerned is satisfied that the wicket has been struck by the ball, by the striker’s bat person, or items of his clothing or equipment separated from his person as described above, or by a fielder with the hand holding the ball or with the arm of the hand holding the ball.”
It is at this point that I believe one would start to shout dirty limericks.
If it’s cricket or squamish you play,
You’ll play to the end of a day.
Like the Man from Nantuckett…
I’d better stop here just to be on the safe side.