The Evanston Cricket Club dropped a heartbreaker in its 2009 Midwest Cricket Conference Division II home-opener on Father’s Day Sunday, but the loss did not dampen the spirits of the Family Day crowd that gathered in James Park throughout and after the match. The final score, 177 for Illinois, 162 Evanston, and the 15-run spread, tell the story: a match that began at 10:30 a.m. came down to the final overs with Evanston running out of wickets and coming up just short.

Evanston dropped to 2-3 on the season; Illinois improved to 3-2. After winning the coin toss, Evanston elected to bowl and field first. The decision appeared to be a good one as Evanston’s first two bowlers, Donieke Perrin and Trevor (“Perry”) Warburton stymied Illinois’s batsmen. At the 20 over break, Illinois had mustered but 56 runs. But following the break, with new bowlers on the pitch, Illinois began to heat up.

Lead by team captain Rupnarine Seenarain and slugger Luke Bhuedeo, Illinois posted a respectable 177 for Evanston to chase. That number, though, seemed well within reach as Evanston’s side strode onto the field to bat after the lunch break.

Evanston batsman simply could not protect their wickets. Devon Blackwood, Jim Sajjad, and Donieke Perrin all went down without ever finding a batting rhythm. While the runs were coming, the wickets were falling. Only when the partnership of team captain Mike Allan and Rizwan Malik took the pitch did Evanston begin to make real progress. And at the second break, things looked good at 87-3. A chase to 177, needing 90 with 20 overs remaining, looked not only possible but likely.

Unfortunately, first Malik and then Allan fell, and none of the remaining batsmen could catch fire. Evanston gave up its last wicket with eight overs remaining, down only 15 runs, and was left to wonder what might have been when bowling specialist Donald Blackwood popped harmlessly to Illinois’s Amir Ali Khan to end the game.

Evanston will try to regroup next week in Mossville, Ill., against the Rovers. The team returns home to James Park on July 12 against Springfield and on July 19 against the table-topping Jaguars. Matches begin at 10:00 a.m., and residents are encouraged to drop by and witness cricket live. The field is directly behind the recycling center.

A Basic Cricket Primer for Americans

Most fans of the British game of cricket are located in former British colonies across the globe. The game shares much with American baseball, but is different in some very fundamental ways. To help the uninitiated appreciate the beauty and surprising intensity of the game, the basic rules and terminology are explained below.

The field is a circle or oval. In the center are the two “”wickets”” that are the equivalent of baseball’s home plate. A “”bowler”” (pitcher) delivers the cricket ball from one “”wicket”” (three stakes driven into the ground with two dowels stretched across them) toward the other. The batsman stands in front of or near the opposite wicket, awaiting the bowled ball. After six balls to the batsman (an “”over””), a second bowler takes over, delivering from the opposite wicket back toward the original wicket. Therefore there are two batsmen and two bowlers in play at all times.

The fielders bowl their entire allotment of overs before switching to offense (as if, in baseball, the team took the field for 27 outs, all nine innings, before stepping to the plate). The team that bats first establishes a “”target”” for the other side to chase.

There is no foul territory. Every ball struck by a batsman is in play. The batsman is not required to run after hitting the ball. If he does choose to run, then the second batsmen must also run. They run back and forth between the wickets, and each time they successfully change places their team is credited with a run.

The “”long ball”” is a home-run equivalent. If the ball clears the outer circle on the fly, it is worth an automatic six runs (a “”six””). If it bounces or rolls past the boundary, it is worth four (a “”boundary””).

Batsmen continue to bat until they make an out. As a result, batsmen can be responsible for 50 (a “”half century””), 100 (a “”century””), or even 200 runs if they bat well.

Any ball caught by a fielder is an out. If the batsman strays too far from his wicket or tries to score a run after batting the ball, he can be “”run out”” if the fielding team gets the ball to the target wicket before the batsman reaches the “”safe”” line. And then there is the strikeout. If the bowler gets the ball past the batsman and hits the wicket, the dowels fly off with a satisfying bowling-pin sound and celebration ensues.

Controversy can result if the ball strikes the batsman’s pads but never hits the wicket. The batsman has no duty to get out of the way and can stand anywhere he chooses, but if the umpire rules that the bowled ball would have struck the wicket but for the batsman’s leg being in the way, the batsman can be called “”out”” by “”leg before wicket”” or LBW.

A test match can last for days, each team batting until the entire side has made an out. In one-day cricket, a specified number of “”overs”” are bowled. In Midwest Cricket Conference play, each team gets 40 overs.