Reader Robert Rawlins shares his experience of hitting out to cow corner… and how he started his red-ball career with a strike rate of 600.00.
Did I re-enact an event which resulted in the long-off fielding position being called cow corner? I believe I most certainly did, as it involved a sacred Hindu animal. Well, you most probably guessed it – it was a cow! You are probably wondering how this unusual event occurred.
I am, to an extent, quite ashamed of my actions, but enough chit-chat and let me get to the point. I hit a six, and the ball by mistake hit a wandering cow that had been enjoying the sun, grass and (possibly) the cricket.
It was the summer of 2009, and I being a 9-year-old, was as excited as I was to enjoy my first taste of playing my first season with the traditional hard red ball. It was bye-bye to the good-old-then-days of Bakers mini-cricket which I had much enjoyed, considering my hard-hitting capabilities with the bat.
It was now time to play as a ‘big boy’ at under-10 level.
My first big game for my primary school, Crewe Primary, was away to Merrifield Preparatory. I could not wait for this moment, as I was to open the batting in a T10. I was so [keen] to now smash away at the local school situated 15km away from East London, and at that time they were neighbours to a cattle farm.
We won the toss and chose to bowl. My coach, Mr Botha, told us as openers to just have fun. Well, let’s just say I tried to seize the day. I was to face the first ball to a spinner (can’t remember if he was an offie or a leggie), but what I do remember, was him bowling me a low full toss… I double-stepped, swung hard and played across the line towards long off.
The ball went sailing over the ropes over long-off and into the neighbouring farm. I wanted to spice things up in this story by saying that the boundary was 60 metres long, but still, it was, indeed, a long boundary!
The ball dipped and headed straight towards a cow that was minding its own business and enjoying eating some grass. My reaction was priceless, as I remember screaming ‘Heads!’
The ball appeared to hit the cow in the head, around the neck area, and it fell down.
I didn’t know what to say. All I remember saying was: ‘Holy Cow! (excuse the pun) and started sobbing as the tears started rolling down my face. At first I thought I had killed the cow, and aside from how sad this made me feel, I also suddenly imagined that I would from then on be called a murderer.
Mr Botha came over to me and tried to convince me that I had, actually, not killed the cow. I dried my tears and looked over to the deep midwicket boundary and saw to my relief that somehow it had got to its feet and ran away.
Nonetheless, I just could not stop crying and this resulted in me retiring – emotionally unfit – for the rest of the innings. I just could not believe what I had committed.
We scored 43 runs in that innings and the game was eventually called off as rain had the final say. I remember just sitting there, after retiring, sobbing my heart out. Mr Wheeler came to me and remarked that it had been a great way to start my hardball career. He also told me (humorously and co-incidentally) that was the reason why they called that fielding position cow’s corner.
That evening my mom had cooked a piece of beef steak for supper and I freaked out thinking that this was from the cow I had, in my mind, killed (even though I saw it walking away from the incident). Let’s just leave it there – needless to say, I could not sleep that night.
Reflecting on this story was quite special. I only realise now that I started my young cricket career with a strike rate of 600! I must mention that some days when I eat beef I reflect back on the memory of all those cows that were innocently hurt (or even killed) by a cricket ball, whether in the streets of India or in the rural and farming areas of Africa.
Thank you so much for this opportunity and I hope you have enjoyed an amusing part of my school cricket days.
– Robert Rawlins
Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images; additional cow photos, Pixabay