Spotlight on the Sports… we’re finding out more about ‘Stoolball'

  • 23

    Jun

    Spotlight on the Sports… we’re finding out more about ‘Stoolball'

    Welcome to the latest in our monthly series highlighting some of the weirder sports the world has to offer. In this article, we take a look at a game affectionately known as ‘cricket in the air’, which also bears similarities to both baseball and rounders. As the name suggests, the game involves using a stool in place of a wicket, and the more quirky nature of the sport can capture the imagination of some of its younger players.

    Origins

    Stoolball can, incredibly, be dated back for almost 600 years – the mid-1400s. During medieval times, the game was played during Easter celebrations, typically as a fun pastime for young couples rather than as a competitive sport – and it was even referenced in a comedy by William Shakespeare, entitled ‘The Two Noble Kinsmen’.

    The more established and traditional version of the game was played by milkmaids who used their milking sports in order to participate. Even today, the sport is more traditionally played by girls, with ladies’ leagues in Sussex, where the sport is thought to have originated, as well as Surrey and Kent.

    In 1979, the National Stoolball Association was formed to help promote and expand the game. It was officially recognised as a sport in 2008 and two years later the NSA changed their name to Stoolball England, aligning them with many other National Governing Bodies.

    Rules

    The game itself follows many of the same rules as cricket – two teams of 11 players take it in turns to either bat or field inside an 82-metere diameter boundary, with wickets placed on a 15-metre long pitch. Bowling is underarm, similar to rounders, with the ball reaching the batsmen on the full.

    An over consists of eight balls, rather than the six in cricket, whilst the ‘wicket’ is a square piece of wood at head or shoulder height fastened to a post. The bowler attempts to hit the wood with the ball, whilst the batsmen try to score runs using a pan-shaped bat.

    Scoring is the same as in cricket – one run for running between the wickets, four for the ball reaching the boundary, or six for it passing the boundary without bouncing. Fielders attempt to stop the ball and can both catch a batsman out and run them out by hitting the wood before the batsman returns from his run.

    Benefits

    Whilst the similarities between stoolball and cricket are clear to see, this unique take on the game can inspire more interest. With its underarm bowling action and tennis-style shots, the game should also be easier to play than cricket, which can be challenging to newcomers.

    We hope you enjoyed this Spotlight on the Sports piece; we’ll be back next month with more.



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