Backyard cricket's culture

OVER the fence is six and out; one hand, one bounce; and tip and run are the three most basic rules of backyard cricket.

Arguably Australia's most played-at-home sport, it is the subject of a new Australian feature film called Backyard Ashes.

Co-writer and producer Peter Cox and lead actor Andrew Gilbert were in Bendigo to promote the film for its release at Star Cinema on Boxing Day.

The film was released regionally in New South Wales last month and this month comes out in regional Victoria and Waverley in Melbourne.

The film also stars John Wood, Felix Williamson and Damian Callinan.

The idea for the film started about 10 years ago when Cox was chatting to a mate about what backyards mean to people.

"You have barbecues, parties, funerals, weddings - the lot - in backyards," he said.

"What usually comes from those events is backyard cricket and being mad cricket fans that's where the idea came from. We decided to connect with The Ashes concept and it rolled from there."

Cox and co-writer and director Mark Grentell wrote the film about four years ago.

It was filmed last year and in post-production this year.

The film follows Dougie Waters, a working-class factory worker who lives next door to his best mate. 

But when his best mate gets fired and Dougie's boss moves in next door, Dougie's world starts to collapse.

"My (character Dougie) finds a lot of solace in his backyard," actor Andrew Gilbert said.

"His backyard is really where (he and his mates) hangout.

"He rolls the pitch and gets it up to standard and plays these long matches on it.

"When his boss moves in next door the place where he found peace (has) aggravation.

"But as well as the fun of cricket it's about sorting things out and how you've got to get along with neighbours regardless of who they are."

Cox said once production got started and word starting to get out about the film, people came in with great ideas based on their family's backyard rules.

"One rule that came in was from a family who had a little fat, round bush called the 'Boonie Bush'," he said.

"If you hit that on the full it was out. We incorporated that into the film."

Gilbert said he  grew up with three brothers and often spent days playing until it was pitch black.

"It was good fun playing a lot while you're filming," he said.

"You can't really fake it and the cast was full of handy bowlers and batters so we quickly got the shape of what it's like to play in that (specific) backyard.

The film was shot in Wagga at Grenfell's childhood home.

"His grandma would be on the back porch ironing and crocheting," Gilbert said.

The town also provided some great characters.

"There was a guy next door who was a curator at the RSL club up the road," Cox said.

"He created the pitch and lawns before everyone got there. He laid it and manicured for two months before hand."

Such is the pride and passion of backyard cricket.

Backyard Ashes has preview screenings on December 20 and 22 at Star Cinema and runs from Boxing Day.

Phone 5446 2025 or visit for more information.

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