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Compton Team Makes Its Pitch

Cricket: The Homies bring enthusiasm, and etiquette, to the sport's most hallowed ground, Lord's Club in London.

September 08, 2001|From Associated Press

The world has grown accustomed to seeing a couple of athletes raised in Compton play on Wimbledon's Center Court.

But at Lord's Cricket Club in London, the sport's most hallowed ground?

The Compton Homies on Friday became the first U.S. team to play at Lord's, losing, 170-150, to Taverners.

"They're the most enthusiastic bunch I've seen for a long, long time," said former England captain Mike Gatting, who plays for Taverners.

"They love their cricket and the etiquette. They clap people on and off, and really do look like they're enjoying themselves. They've done well."

On their third tour of England, the Homies have also played (and lost to) Lashings, a team that includes former West Indies greats Brian Lara and Richie Richardson; the Australian Aboriginals, and the Royal Household.

"For us, it's been cricket 101, getting back to the basics of the game," said Ted Hayes, a social activist and the Homies' player-manager. "We hit the ball and hope it goes somewhere, they hit balls like we shoot pool."

But they did win a game Thursday, beating a team from Hamilton by four runs.

The history of the Compton Cricket Club couldn't be more removed from the polite and proper image of Lord's. But that's the point, Hayes said.

"Basketball, football, soccer, hockey, they have their rules and regulations, but cricket has this whole culture of etiquette," Hayes said. "Beginning with respect for the umpire, your captain, your fellow teammates, the opposing team. You take that civilizing quality and you translate that off the pitch beyond the boundary into the streets."

Hayes, a tall man with long, graying dreadlocks, sports a traditional white cricket vest and white floppy hat on the pitch. His team, its members in their teens and 20s, eschew baseball caps and baggy trousers for light blue cricket pants and shirts donated by a local club, but many kept their do-rags on.

At Lord's, Hayes' sons, Isaac and Theo, performed a rap song dedicated to the genteel game.

"From bullets to balls and gats to bats,

"from the streets of concrete to grass and mats,

"they're playing cricket."

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