Dice Cricket – Stats Entertainment

Some days were too hot to be out in the backyard playing cricket. Other days were too wet.

So we took the cricket indoors instead, inventing our own way of simulating those parts of the game that could be played sitting or horizontally prone.

The most rudimentary of these was “Dice Cricket”.

Like Monopoly, each household had its local legislative leanings.

Mine were simple:
• a single die is used
• The numbers 1 through 4 and 6 were treated as scores
• The number 5 was out
• Batsmen 1 through 7 were given a life (i.e. Out on the second 5)
• Batsmen 8 through 11 were out on the first 5
• Note that there were no ‘.’ balls

This variation could be scored in the traditional way (a la ABC Cricket Book) for the batting side, but if you wanted to keep score on the bowling side, it really only worked if you had one-roll overs

I was dimly aware of other, more realistic approaches (Pencils instead of dice, separate dice for batting and results of appeals etc), but I took the minimalist approach as above.

All the same, it was fun to create your own teams and record their achievements accordingly. This gave the proceedings a minor sense of authenticity, without the need for James Brayshaw or Mark Nicholas to spruik about its provenance.

One of the very few things that my father ever did that had a positive influence on my life was the purchase of a Casio Mini calculator in 1972.

The Casio Mini circa 1972 (with unexplained wrist-strap)

The Casio Mini circa 1972 (with unexplained wrist-strap)

It cost about a week’s wages at the time and performed all of the basic calculations (no more, no less).

This confluence of arithmetic affluence and recreational re-creation allowed me to spend the best part of a week replaying the entire 71/72 Sheffield Shield season as a cubic cricketing crapshoot, with a statistical payoff of Rosenwaterish proportions.

Armed with the Australian Cricket 1971/72 Year Book and a spare foolscap lined exercise book, each match was reprised and recorded with its original representatives.

$2.50 well spent

$2.50 well spent

The scoring for the batting was OK, but I had to cheat on the bowling side, reducing their exertions by 87.5% per over.

I decided to remain faithful to the selectors’ selections. This led to some unusual omissions. Barrie Robran, for example, played two matches for SA that season, fresh from his SANFL premiership with the Mike Patterson (who, ironically, was Adelaide’s KFC king) helmed Roosters.

His real-life scores of 0,18,0 and 10 saw him dropped forever from the not yet Redbacks. However, on the scratchy blue corrugated carpet of Underdown Road, Elizabeth South, he amassed 14, 51, 33 and 80 in his only four synthetic innings.

Sadly, according to my slavish adherence to the selection methodology, he was gone after that, albeit with the impressive average of 44.50.

(In that pair of outings, Robran played against Peter Bedford, Max Walker and Bruce Duperouzel – different times indeed)



Not Barrie

Not Barrie

It was the might of the Casio that was used to compile the averages for each and every Shield participant that year. But the other columns (INN, NO, HS) were derived manually.

From memory (mine, the Casio didn’t have one), the replaying of the season itself was the means; the end was the pre-Visicalc number crunching that was manna from above for a skinny kid who liked numbers almost as much as Amscol ice-cream (especially the Centrals flavoured Footy Colours with that thin coating of faux white chocolate atop the pink and pastel blue iced fondant).

I might have liked numbers but I was unlikely to have had the patience to work them out long-hand.

Of course, there were compromises. The was no Lotus 1-2-3, dBase or Wordstar in the pre-colour TV days, so I had to write out each player’s average in the order that it was calculated; sorting the list from highest to lowest after that was not the best use of my time.

I followed this up with by reprising the Australians v Rest of The World series. Kerry O’Keeffe would be pleased that Sobers did not repeat his MCG mauling, settling for a sedate 21 and 7 according to my smudged left-handed entries. Even then, the proto-Sir Garfield managed four sixers, all rolled.

As our world became more sophisticated that year, discovering the musical joys of hot buttered electronica, yankee baked desserts and fleet-footed purveyors of dairy foods, we also sought out more lifelike cricketing imitations.

Others have covered at (line and) length, the proliferation of board, card and table top games based on cricket – a few samples can be seen at:

Cricket Board Games and Video Games

(thanks @rustyjacko)


Replay Cricket

We dabbled in some of those (was there a home in Australia that didn’t have Test Match?), leaving the humble die behind.

Our innocence was lost and we were not always faithful, spending a lost weekend or two in the grip of that evil gambling prototype, Totopoly. Some of us never returned. Crio probably has them over for Xmas lunch, their families having left them behind long ago.

Let us know if you had your own indoor sporting amusements.

About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right


  1. Nice one, Swish. We had both test matches – the cardboard slider version and later the 3d, crease in the felt version. The former was much more used than the latter. Although the frequency of wickets and corresponding low scores were distinctly unsatisfying. Dice cricket makes me think of the episode of the Good Life where Tom Good is playing (I think) the Tom Good XI v International Musicians XI with Dizzy Gillespie opening the bowling (like that would ever happen…)

  2. Great stuff, Swish.
    Dice cricket went through a brief but heady period of popularity when I was at high school, much like yo-yo’s and later tazo’s. I recall exercise books full of dice cricket matches.
    I hated the cardboard slider Test Match game. But I still have my “Freddie Truman’s Test Match game, mounted on chipboard so the felt did not crease. the original “vacuum-cleaner” type bat was the best – the later spring-loaded versions would hit the ball bearing far too hard. A group of mates would play this game regularly from when we were about 15 until our early 20’s. Wonderful memories.

  3. Swish, we had all manner of dice games – occasionally cricket which was a nod to the inner-stats nut. (seems to be universal)

    Yahtzee was preferred.

    Possibly because the statistics generated by dice crciket weren’t close enough to the real.

  4. Mark Duffett says

    My winter equivalent, devised in certain Salisbury lounge rooms, was playing cards footy. The rules were very simple, yet (with two packs shuffled together) produced realistic scores. Proceedings were as follows. For the fixture being played, assign each team to red (hearts/diamonds) or black (spades/clubs). This should be done according to which team’s colours most closely match the cards, so Port v North was a perfect match (since cards have white in addition to red or black), whereas West Adelaide could go either way, depending on the opponent. I could never quite settle on how to assign Woodville or Torrens.

    Anyway. Spades and hearts are goals, clubs and diamonds behinds. Flip each card in the deck over sequentially. Once you get to an ace, that’s the first score, it goes on the scoreboard, which is laid out adjacent to the deck. A second goal/behind is only scored if the ace of the corresponding suit is already on the board. Keep going until the end of the pack is reached – that’s the end of the first quarter.

    Turn the pack back over, keeping the scoreboard as it is, and play three more quarters. The deck is not shuffled between quarters. Once 13 (king) is reached, the remaining ace in that suit becomes 14, and so on. Record the final scores.

    I think it was the 1980 season that I replayed in this manner, undoubtedly with a better outcome than the real thing.

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Dave. Next you’ll be telling me that Dizzy Gillespie has his own statue, sure thing.

    Smokie, I had a low-rent version of the Freddie Truman game, cardboard folding fielders, rubber band action batting, bowling ramp. The catch was that you had to provide your own playing surface. Haven’t been able to track down any reference to it though.

    JTH, I suspect that Crown and Anchor would more be your go.

    Mark, gee you Salisbury snobs were sophisticated. My dice footy was considerably simpler, one die for goals, one for behinds, two teams, four quarters. Could replay a full season in about an hour.

  6. Wonderful memories, Swish.
    Test Match cured me of the pokies at an early age. It always seemed stuck on Hit Wicket. Alas there was no horse racing replica version.
    Crio’s turkey and hospitality will be enjoyed while we survey the Sporting Globe for Boxing Day just desserts.
    I remember a table cricket game with a slippery dip bowler and a ball bearing cricket ball with metal batsman and fielders. Anyone remember what it was called?

  7. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Entertaining as always , Swish likewise devised card games but can not remember all the rules and variations like your good self ( mainly test match board game played ) thanks , Swish

  8. You’re a man after my own heart, Swish. To get away with playing this at school we etched a 1, 2, 3, 4 and W onto the sides of a standard hexagonally prismatic Staedtler pencil. The “HB” served as a 6. We’d roll the pencil across an open exercise book, letting it come to a halt at the centre fold. The rules were the same as yours.

    I wrote this piece a few years ago about some of the games we came up with to keep ourselves amused as kids in the holidays while Mum and Dad both worked: http://www.footyalmanac.com.au/general-sportswriting-never-heard-of-chin-ball-school-holidays-offered-fertile-ground-for-our-imaginations/

  9. Mark Duffett says

    Gigs, that’s brilliant.

    Swish, yes, a game of cards footy would take a fair fraction of the time taken to play a real one. But to my obsessed 10-12 year old mind, that was the beauty of it, as the tension could build over nailbiting finishes, comebacks from 5 goals down etc.

  10. Footy_Maths says

    Remarkable article and comments … just like my childhood. Pencils and dice were idea cricket simulators, but I only used them when…
    a) no friends were about to get out the Freddy Truman’s game (as per Smokie – the vacuum cleaner bat FAR superior), or
    b) there was no access to the cardboard slider version of Test Match… which I would happily play by myself for hours at end, with books full of scores.

    I did have another footy board game… cant recall how to play or its name, but there were interconnected circles around the ground and you progressed a ‘ball’ along the lines until you kicked a score etc. Anyone recall that one…?

  11. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks all

    PB – there are many games that fit your description – the links provided might jog your memory, it did mine.

    ‘Book – you should change your name if that is the case.

    Gigs – thanks for pointing me to that. Explains a lot, a real lot.

    F_M – there seems to be a recent AFL-approved game that meets your description, but I get the feeling that you might be going further back than this.

  12. Luke Reynolds says

    As a fellow left-handed smudger, loved this Swish. Never played dice cricket, but we played many hours of Test Match and car cricket (must refresh on the rules, but certain colour cars you’d pass on your driving travels meant different amount of runs. Was it white cars were out for the ‘batter’?). Taking up dice cricket may be my best chance for a big score the way I’m batting this season….

  13. Mark Duffett says

    FootyMaths, I reckon I had the one you’re talking about. This seems to match the description http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/12739/australian-football-game but not exactly my memory of it.

    Another one I definitely had and spent dozens of hours on was this: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/119757/aussie-footy

  14. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Luke, I found that you get higher scores if you roll the die out of your fingers than your palm. And it was important to use the correct rolling hand depending on the bowler. Yep, being a left handed writer has its inky inconveniences.

    Mark, I loved that last game. I wish that they had been a bit more imaginative with the teams’ guernseys. That awful maroon colour was a bit odd. And the lime green version of the Hawks jumper on the box was odd.

  15. Fast forward to now….and modern dice cricket. I self publish a range of dice games for Pocket Sports. Perhaps they may scratch an itch?


  16. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Quite a range there Hamish, I’m keenly awaiting Pocket Billiards.

  17. Mark Duffett says

    Funnily enough a recent visit to the ancestral home, which was in the process of a final clean-out, turned up a couple of artefacts pertinent to this thread. One is a card from the game I think Footy_Maths was talking about, back: https://flic.kr/p/q46cPp

    and front: https://flic.kr/p/qZNkvQ

    Plus a contemporaneous account of the playing card footy game, from my Year 8 English book. Page 1: https://flic.kr/p/q3T96h

    and page 2: https://flic.kr/p/qZNLiA

  18. This is a great read.

    I’ve got a few cricket board games at home. One is a newfangled version of the Crown and Andrews’ Test Match (creased felt, as always), one is a game called ‘Lords of Cricket’, which had a load of cards and a scorebook with it that I spent at least 24 hours doing, another called 20 20 Dice Cricket! with cards for spinners, fast bowlers, and medium pacers, and a ‘Test Match’ game with sliding balls, insanely regular 5s, and my uncle’s childhood annotations, including labelling the umpire Dickie Bird and adding an s to ‘no ball’. Heaps of fun.

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