A Knight’s Tale (33: Cricket In The Street)

Earlier I mentioned playing in the street in 1947. This continued well into the ’50s.

In those early years all the children played in the street.  The presence of a car in this right-angled road was a very rare occurence.  It was therefore perfectly safe, even to play ball games, which are now banned in London’s Council estates.  Naturally we played cricket.  The fence surrounding the large house across the road was a perfect surface on which to chalk the stumps.  Jacqueline tells Jackie she always had to do the fielding, never being allowed to bat.  My recollection is that she was always out first ball and we were too cruel to allow her the few lives we should have given her.  If you hit the ball into a neighbour’s garden that was ‘six and out’, which means six runs were added to your score but you were out.  We used an old tennis racquet and tennis balls, so it was rather difficult to keep the ball down, as I once learned to my parents’ cost.  I broke an upstairs window of a house at the Worple Road end.  The residents were on holiday, so we left a note.  Despite this quite amazing display of honesty, the woman was extremely angry, telling me that at my age I should have known better.  I was only nine, but she thought such a tall boy must be a teenager.  My parents stumped up for the window repair which they could ill afford.  The fence which bore our stumps has long since been replaced, and the number of parked cars demonstrates that our games would not be possible now.

Amity Grove, SW20, where we bought a house in 1968, harboured only one car, which was mine. Now most of the front gardens have been sacrificed to the vehicles. Home owners are unable to park on yellow lines outside their dwelling. Meters have been resisted because their spots would be commandeered by commuters from Raynes Park to Waterloo.

It must have been 1967 when I ran out of petrol on Piccadilly Circus right opposite Eros. I left my Hillman Imp on a double yellow line and walked off with a can in search of petrol. The car was still in situ and bore no clamp which would certainly have been in place in this, the 21st century – although the car would more likely have been towed away to the pound..


  1. Perhaps the streets will become empty again once the cars take to skies. You were surely a humble lad to have honestly reported the damage of the window.

  2. As kids, we also played lots of cricket. Unlike you, we couldn’t play on the street because it was a busy roadway. Thankfully, our balata (natural rubber) cricket balls did not break any windows.

  3. I used to play in the street too. I also roller skated down the hill at speed executing a sharp right- hand turn at the bottom to avoid shooting into the road.

  4. Where there aren’t a lot of cars, kids still play in the streets. I walked by a young boy and girl playing ball at the end of my street the other morning. They hit the ball in a neighbors’s yard, and they were trying to retrieve it from outside the chainlink fence. I don’t know what happened. No broken windows though. ?

  5. We played in the streets, too, Derrick. It was an unspoken rule that whoever was facing any traffic yelled “car” in a totally bland tone to warn all the others who were facing away from the oncoming car. Then we casually dispersed until the intruder passed.

    We also had a blast chasing the “bugger” down the street. This was a truck spewing chemicals to kill mosquitoes. We’d chase it for blocks on our bikes, getting as close as we could to be in the cloud. My mom didn’t want us to do it because she was afraid we’d get hit by a car that couldn’t see is in the cloud. I’d love to just get a whiff of that smell again. I know I’d remember it. (No cancer effects – yet)

    We also had a big lot, Sandy Field, a block away. We’d play baseball there. Unfortunately, there were several houses on the side of Sandy Field. Almost everyone eventually broke a window in one of those houses. I don’t remember any terrifying adults coming down too hard on anyone. Sorry about THAT experience of yours. And you are right! Adults judge children by size. If you happen to grow quickly, you’d darn well better learn to talk and act like a 20 year old.

  6. What adventuresome tales! 🙂
    It would be fun to hear your Mom’s telling of the tales. 😉
    We always played in the roads/streets and rode our bikes all around the city, etc. 🙂
    From my earliest memories I remember my brothers taught me every sport known to man…they told me years later they were preparing me to be the first female on an all male professional baseball team. Ha! 🙂

  7. It is a very curious thing, looked at from one angle, that people have been allowed to obstruct the public highway with cars that are hardly ever driven for more than fraction of a day. The wide roads in our part of town are reduced to single lanes by cars parked on both sides.

    1. Quite so, Tootlepedal. Huge tree trunks have been placed along one side of a lane outside Brockenhurst Station that was used by London Commuters avoiding car park costs. Thanks very much.

      1. They started checking carefully at the hospital car park in Carlisle and found the a good proportion of the cars were commuters. They enforced the parking fees and now visitors to the hospital can find a space.

  8. I was just discussing cricket with my son this weekend. We both have a really fussy understanding of what it is… okay, we don’t even really understand all the ins and outs of American baseball so it is probably hopeless. There were some children playing in the street last night with a parent learning how to throw and catch a football… our home team won the opening game on Sunday, so there will be more of that. It was unusual and stood out as, like you, I grew up playing in the street and now it is pretty rare or not allowed at all. Of course, I also walked to school alone and no one does that these days. I enjoyed your memories; it made me remember the old roller skates with keys that I also played in the street with.

      1. When I got older we took the skates apart and nailed them to boards to make skateboards. Crazy, huh. There were a lot of kids sporting casts on their arms at school during those years. How did our mothers let us get away with that stuff?

  9. Your delightful post has stirred up memories for plenty of your followers. When I last revisited my street I was confused as I remember it being wider. Then I realised it was all the cars. Being that the area is now occupied with large families, each house had more than their fair share.
    Australian houses in my childhood typically sat on a quarter acre block. Not so much need to play in the street, but it still went on.

  10. We used to play in a field which a decade before was home to the local railway station’s horse, used to pull the cart as they delivered the bigger parcels and other heavy objects.

  11. Ah! cricket in the street. That’s what most kids did, back in the day in India, and how some kids in villages, even today, play in the narrow village lanes. I recall how it resulted in broken window panes and angry neighbours… and angrier parents! Those were the days!

  12. I guess the playgrounds are very different now and not sure are in used too much nowadays…kids just prefer to “play” on their phones instead of going out and brake some windows ?☺️

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