We began by opening a large cricket bag filled with gateball gear donated by the Japanese Gateball Union. In the bag we found 3 rather chipped gates and a goal pole, a bag of slightly used balls, a pristine tape, Q & A Book, 10 unused sticks, a small scoreboard with purple and yellow markers and a narrow 1 metre wooden stick.
Kathie Grant, now from Southport CC, organised Bonnie Johnstone, her AC partner and Taranaki gateball organiser, to take me from New Plymouth a thirty minute drive to the small rural town of Stratford.
The sun was shining on the Stratford Croquet Club lawns as we all used the brand new line tape to prepare our court and then find a use for the 1 metre wooden stick.
After giving a brief explanation of game basics the ten croquet players from Inglewood, Eltham and Stratford eagerly lined up for a few drills. They all mastered sparking and their knowledge of the lawns meant few problems in over and under hitting. We played a 30 minute game with Bonnie concentrating on my coaching pointers. After a tea, cake and chat break Bonnie and I captained each team in a serious competitive game.
With no timer to guide me I kept checking on the small scoreboard and was bemused to see yellow markers noted the red team gates under the blue side? A lesson to note; explain blue and red sides of the scoreboard and assign sides to purple and yellow markers. One of the players immediately volunteered to bring in blue and white markers.
I really hope Bonnie can maintain the enthusiasm in this group and throughout Taranaki croquet clubs who have their own ‘cricket bag’ of gear. And, OK, you all know the narrow 1 metre wooden stick is useful when doubled to measure the distance to the gates from outside lines.