Letter From Australia: Don Bradman

You’re facing the veteran and famously accurate San Diego Padres pitcher Greg Maddux from a distance of 22 yards, armed only with a three-foot wooden club and your own nerve.  To enliven the proceedings, Maddux interacts with you not from the traditional, essentially static crouch, but after a 20- or 30-yard headlong sprint from the outfield to the pitcher’s mound, at the climax of which he hurls a cherry-red leather ball in the general direction of your ankles.  In most cases the ball will hit the turf, deviate sharply left or right, and rear up somewhere toward your unprotected midriff.  For good measure, Maddux will periodically vary the routine by dropping the ball in shorter, with the result that it bounces off the grass and bears in on your head; at your discretion, you may have previously equipped yourself with a device much like a motorcyclist’s helmet for the event.  Other than avoiding serious injury, your primary job is to score runs—the currency of the game—by striking the ball to the field boundary (accruing four if it bounces before crossing the line, or six if still airborne), or far enough from the eleven fielders to allow you, the batsman, to run to the other end of the 22-yard infield before the ball can be returned.  At least two bowlers must take turns, from alternating ends; also, there are always two batsmen on the field, each to take a turn as required.  When...

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