Sat | Jul 4, 2020

Countryside cricket clean-hits COVID for six

Published:Thursday | March 26, 2020 | 12:25 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Young men at Junction crossroads, St Catherine, play a game of cricket in the streets to help pass the time as COVID-19 has turned many districts and villages into ghost towns.
Young men at Junction crossroads, St Catherine, play a game of cricket in the streets to help pass the time as COVID-19 has turned many districts and villages into ghost towns.

“Run fi di six!” he shouted to his teammate as the ball made its way to the mango tree in the distance.

A strip of asphalt at Junction crossroads, St Catherine, was their pitch, and with little to no traffic passing by, their game of cricket was barely interrupted.

Their creativity didn’t stop there as the bats, wickets, and ball were made by Kevin Marsh, using materials from their environs.

The base of the wickets was made from the trunk of a banana tree, the stumps from chocolate tree limbs, while the bats were made from board.

Even amid the heightened concern about COVID-19 – the novel coronavirus-caused disease – the young men frolicked on Tuesday free of worry.

“From mi born and a play cricket, a banana stalk we use, and Sunday we go inna di woodland and chop di stick dem,” he said, adding that the wickets usually lasted for a month.

Marsh told The Gleaner that cricket matches are a tradition for the community and Sundays usually bring out the most spectators.

They had not played for about three months, but last Sunday, it took one spark to begin reigniting the community’s spirit through cricket.

When The Gleaner visited on Tuesday afternoon, 23-year-old Kingsley Gardner had just returned from his 2 p.m. shift at work and took up his position as bowler.

“We get time off because of the coronavirus, so di youths dem deh here and have time to play,” he said.

They play cricket in the afternoons, and the players are age 14 and older.

GREAT IMPACT

Gardner explained that the friendly cricket matches have a great impact on the males who participate and the females who sit on the sidelines keeping score.

“We enjoy playing cricket, and it really shows that even though things are getting serious in Jamaica, we can still have fun in the community,” he said.

Just above the pitch, a pot with stewed chicken bubbled on a coal stove.

Marsh explained that before the match begins, all the players pool money to run a boat.

He plans to use the group of males who have come together since Sunday to restart a youth group in the community.

Devaun Pryce, a grade 10 Ascot High School student, has been home since March 13.

The break from school, an order given by the Government, has been extended until the end of the Easter holiday in April.

In the meantime, Pryce has been bowling, batting, and fielding some of the time away.

“It’s a good vibe, and it keeps us active. I do schoolwork in the morning and in the nights after I play cricket,” the student said.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com