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I See Elsie

The Ithaca College London Centre

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Posted by Bill Sheasgreen at 5:38AM   |  Add a comment

The ICLC played cricket the other day.  Students responded positively and want an encore. If it were a serious match, the umpire would have declared the pitch unplayable. The venue was Hyde Park, a royal park more familiar with troops of the household cavalry [barracked nearby]  parading their horses before major national ceremonies like the ‘trooping of the colours’ than with cricket. So the pitch was lumpy and the bounce decidedly uneven which made batting a difficult prospect. Shane Warne would have been jealous of the leg spin our novice bowlers managed.

In our case, batting was somewhat easier because there were only 9 players in total, 2 short of a normal team, 3 short if you count the 12th man, the purveyor of drinks on hot afternoons.

All of which leads to the question, why 11? It seems an unusual choice, one less than a dozen, one more than a decade. And it’s not just cricket that shares this link with the number 11. Proper football has 11 players and even improper football or, at the very least, mis-named football [i.e. gridiron football of the US variety] also has 11. No doubt, mid-Victorians felt that 11 was the right number to fill a pitch. And those who introduced the forward pass agreed with their Victorian predecessors.

So here’s the question - answers on a postcard – why 11 players?


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