My Cricket!


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  1. #1
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    My Cricket!

    So this endeavor started about two years ago when I was intrigued by the prospect of putting a batting cage in my back yard.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, we had purchased this house in this very affluent neighborhood which we now think should be labeled as "A subdivision reserved for snobby retired millionaires".

    Many residents here are retired, super grouchy, and quite rich, who have long faces 24/7 - it's as if they are just waiting for the inevitable to happen to them. There are surely a lot of good people too but there are also those who are on the look 24/7 to find an excuse to file a complaint against any other neighbor.

    The city has tons of very strict code and restrictions as to what you can and you cannot do on your own property - for example, you need a permit to put a kids trampoline in your own backyard and make sure the springs are lubed to not make cringe worthy noise - you can't put a storage shed (on your own land) more than 10 meters away from your house building - you can't build a privacy fence around your own house - you need engineering design and storm water run-off calculations (costs thousands of dollars) if you want to put a patio behind your house, you need a permit if you are moving more than 5 yards of dirt in your garden. I mean, you name the ** and they have it.

    I didn't know all this till I started looking into my batting cage project.

    I read some guidelines on the city's website and knew immediately that it's not going to be an easy battle to win. A batting cage was basically allowed only if it had been grandfathered at the time of purchasing a home.

    So, I went to a city meeting and met another neighbor who lived a few streets down from me and found out that he was fighting with the city to stop them from taking down a "very small" batting cage since a neighbor complained that the batting cage "reduces the value of view from her window". (what a granularity)

    Can you imagine this complaint? I mean what a load of bovine excrement? It's MY freaking backyard, and it's MY frigging batting cage - if you don't like the sight of it from YOUR window then close the window or don't look at it or consider moving out.

    And to make the matters worse, the city was siding with this neighbor who had filed the complaint.

    So I joined forces with my neighbor whose small kids used to play baseball in their 20 feet long cage and city had taken it down. And we started an appeal for a special permission for a batting cage. This was immediately rejected!

    Long story short, we hired an attorney and took the city council to the court where I explained to the judge that,

    "If my own kids can't play in my own backyard and I restrict my kids to their rooms what do you think they will do for fun?
    Obviously screen time, internet surfing, video games, watch movies and nothing else. And I don't want my kids to be involved into these things 24/7. Would you?"

    This struck the judge, and he requested the city to reconsider our appeal.

    So after about 8 months of meetings, and going through many many hassles, we finally got an approval from the city with a few restrictions

    The original restrictions placed by the city to start the approval process were ridiculous, for example you can use the cage only for one month in a year and you can't have it out there for more than two weeks straight. It must be taken down after every two weeks etc.

    But we were able to change it to, "no lights in the batting cage, no play after the evening, no commercial use, and one of my favorite conditions were, if neighbors don't like the look of it, they can go screw themselves.

    On the other hand, I knew that this a very pricey neighborhood and folks pay a lot of money to move here to live in peace in a safe area.
    And the batting cage could cause a lot of noise - specially if you play with an aluminum baseball bat or a regulation cricket leather ball. So I intended to respect it and did not have any intention to cause nuance.

    On a separate venue, I was investigating as to what exactly was the best batting cage out there?

    After a lot of research I finally pinned down a design made by Networld Sports in UK. They were EXTREMELY patient with me for two years - and they replied to all my comments and concerns.

    They were finally able put together a custom order for me. And since we wisely removed any conditions by the city code, on the size of the batting cage, I went with a full fledged 80 feet long monster.
    It has # 62 net which is super strong.

    I then hired a contractor to professionally pour concrete make an 10 by 25 feet strip (about half the pitch) which I covered with a cricket playing mat, the rest of the half is I covered with nice and thick artificial grass.

    I think I was EXTREMELY lucky (unknowingly) to have bought a house where I don't have any neighbors on the three sides of my property.

    I ordered the cage and it was shipped from UK within a week.

    United States customs intercepted it and called me to find out what the heck was in that parcel? And I said batting cage for my kids. So they let it go without putting any duties on me.

    The cage arrived and it took us about half a day to open it and put it all together.

    The beauty of this design is that the side poles are not attached with the net, and a hardly struck ball does not come in contact with a side pole to bend it or ricochet back at the batsman.

    Then there was the pink elephant in the room - the bowling machine.

    I had done some research on this aspect as well, and had identified SportsTutor's Triple play Ultra was the top pitching machine choice that will do it for me.
    This machine is basically designed for baseball but I knew it would work for cricket. (I had to rob a bank to buy this machine).

    So the left and right curve, sinking balls, risers etc kind of translate into outgoing delivery, incoming delivery, Yorker, Bouncer, leg spin and off break etc. The can swing the ball EXTREMLY good if you use the 9" dimple balls. It has a variable speed from 50 to 90 miles an hour.

    It has various programming options. You can set 50 different kinds of deliveries and then let them being bowled to you in random or in sequence, or you select your target delivery and let the machine keep bowling the same.

    It can hold up to a 100 balls bola dimple balls.

    So, I load it up and practice two rounds of about 100 balls each.

    I play, enjoy and relish in trying all different kinds of shots. It's a love to practice different batting stance, various back-lifts, various footwork motions, block, defense, slog, reverse sweep, use different bats, heavy light, super light, round handle, short blade - I mean, you name it.

    No fielding and no chasing the ball and no dependency on having bowlers.

    And believe me, this machine has got me Yorked quite a few times. And I have been snicked quite a few times. It's a complete bowler that surprises you with all different kind of deliveries when set to "Random".

    In my 30 years of playing cricket, I don't think I have enjoyed cricket batting practice as much as I do now - It has gotten to a point where if the weather is good and I missed playing, I tell myself, another day in life has gone wasted.

    Fall weather has been in full swing and it has been bombarded by dead leaves and falling twigs but I am just too busy cleaning it anymore. Plan to run a leaf blower this weekend but here is my ..... Retirement plan

















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    And as you can see from the footmarks in the snow.
    I am using the cage even in snow sometimes just for throwing and bowling practice.







  2. #2
    Debut
    Feb 2015
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    Karachi/NYC
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    This seems a lot of work and hassle but definitely worth the effort at the end.

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