Whilst loosely based upon the game of cricket, many aspects are improvised: the playing ground, the rules, the teams, and the equipment. Quite often there are no teams at all; the players take turns at batting and there is often no emphasis on actually scoring runs. The bat can be anything, as long as it can hit the ball and can be suitably held in the hands. However, usage of a bat is necessary. A ball is the other essential item. Tennis balls are often used due to the fact that they are less likely to inflict injuries than a cricket ball. They are also much cheaper and more readily available than a leather cricket ball and are easier to hit due to their slower air-speed and relative lightness. Tennis balls also bounce more than normal cricket balls, especially at low speeds. Often a tennis ball will be heavily taped on one side to give the ball extra ‘swing’. This is known as a ‘swing ball’—swing balls may be made with: gaffer tape, electrical tape, plumbing tape or any other kind of tape available. The pitch can be any stretch of ground that is reasonably flat.
The wicket may be any convenient object – a chair, a cardboard box, a set of long twigs or sticks, a rubbish bin, tree or a drawing on the wall. Often, the wicket is by no means close to the official size, but it is used anyway. A wicket at the non-striker’s end is generally a single stump if proper stumps are available and in the absence of larger objects may be just a hat or a shoe. Its main purpose is to mark the bowler’s crease, but can be instrumental when there are two batters and one may be run out. Games with relatively few players typically forgo the teams and innings format of professional cricket, opting instead for a batsmen-vs-everyone format.
Backyard cricket in Australia is considered by many to be the pinnacle event of social and sporting excellence in the summer period. Many games are paired with a barbecue which often has a carnival atmosphere. It is historically very popular on Australia Day.