Games people play: pub cricket

Illustration: pub cricket.

Maybe one of the reasons I can spot a pub a mile off is early training playing pub cricket on long car journeys as a child.

Pub cricket, as we used to play it in my family, is based on spotting pub signs and calculating runs based on the number of legs on the sign.

So for example, the Red Lion has four legs.

The Swan with Two Necks has two.

The Coach and Horses has… well, there’s a question. In our version we assumed that if no specific number was depicted in the image on the sign then there could only be two horses, and would therefore count eight legs by default. And then get into a row about whether the coach driver should also be counted, of course, which was half the fun.

There were further questions of interpretation around pubs with Heads and Arms in the name. If a pub is The Queen’s Head, is it fair to assume the Queen also has legs?

Wikipedia includes further variants, including ways of deciding whether a player is out or not.

As Wikipedia suggests, this game was actually much better suited to the network of British A-roads, before the development of motorways.

To account for this, in my family, we ended up adapting the game as motorway cricket, which had complex rules based on the number of wheels on passing lorries. It really wasn’t so much fun, because pubs are better than lorries.

Did you play pub cricket as a kid? What were your family’s rules?

3 thoughts on “Games people play: pub cricket”

  1. Pub Cricket is something we still regularly play, and although it goes against sportsmanship, I’m interested to know where the highest scoring pubs might be found, just in case I might suggest a game as I know we’re approaching say the Twenty Churchwardens, the Four Horsemen or the Eight Farmers, for example

  2. I also played pub cricket as a child. The Cricketers in Ipswich was our local high scoring pub. It was the sixth pub en route from my childhood home to anywhere other than Felixstowe and the first one to score. In my family if you didn’t score you were out so nobody suggested the game until we had passed the Halberd and then we argued about who was in bat first! We also considered pubs such as the Queen’s Head or the King’s Arms as non-scoring. Another pub cricket memory is learning that the White Hart was a deer and so earned my dad four runs. I had obviously read the name rather than looking at the sign as I argued that a heart doesn’t have legs!

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