If you just happen to be walking near the Quad this Sunday, say about 1:30 p.m., you might see some peculiarly outfitted ball players warming up their pitching arms and taking their practice swings.
But don't grab yourself a hot dog and a place in the shade to watch a good ol' game of America's favorite past time. These won't exactly be baseball players and they won't exactly be throwing sliders and curves; instead they'll be "bowling." What you'll have chanced upon is the annual Lowell-South House cricket match.
The event, which has become somewhat of a rite of spring for both Houses, began three years ago. Each House has been playing a match for a number of years: Lowell between its Junior and Senior Common Rooms, and South against East House in the Quad. Eventually it was decided that it would be more interesting to play inter-House and thus, the rivalry was born.
Should you decide to stay, you'll witness a sport that has probably been seen by more people in Nottingham, England, than on the entire Eastern seaboard of the United States. Players will be "bowling" the ball into batters in an attempt to perform such feats as "bowling a maiden over"--a maneuver that has no real correlation to anything in baseball other than striking a batter out without the batter losing his ups.
But, alas, what the spectators will see won't be an unadulterated version of the game. Because of the narrowness of the Quad and the proximity of buildings, the rules have been slightly modified. "Those windows in the South House dining room look very tempting," said Lowell House player and tutor William Coaldrake.
However, he added, he will try to avoid them because one of the rule changes specifies that batters who send balls crashing into diners' sherried chicken livers are automatically out.
While many of the players are familiar with the game, they try not to take the match too seriously. Anyone from the Houses is encouraged to play and even casual passers by have been known to take a few swings, making the match what Coal drake describes as a "serious social event."
In keeping with the true English traditions at such events, drinks will be served during the match and, of course, tea will be provided afterwards.
Even with this informality, participants are quick to guess the outcome. With the series tied at 1-1, this game will decide the series lead, and both teams are confident they will come out on top. "We won last year's game and we're going to win this year," said South House Coach Robert Kuhn, who doubles as a tutor.
While both teams would like to win, everything is kept in quite a practical perspective. Said Lowell House player Dave Tropp. "With a game that has guileless and wickets, you can't take it too seriously."