The obvious extension for any lad obsessed with cricket and the statistical world surrounding it, was to create imaginary games. To this end, I suspect most people who expressed an interest in the game have at some point received a gift of the Owz That game. 2 hexagonal steel barrels allowed us to ease the pain of England’s latest overseas reverse by replaying the series on paper.
Of course, for the more obsessive amongst us, you could take it to greater lengths. The game was designed to provide a fairly quick conclusion, something that could be played in a school break. That method, though, did not provide the required level of complexity for some of us.
The runs barrel, had 1,2,3,4,6 and Owz That, so it was very much ahead of its time as a prelude to Twenty20, dot balls were extremely rare
When an Owz That appeal took place, you only had a 1 in 3 chance of surviving, since only 2 of the faces of the “appeal” barrel gave a not out result.
It was not uncommon for the top order to be blown away, before Mike Hendrick came to England’s rescue with an undefeated century at number 11, as England posted 250 all out off 12 overs.
Extra levels of complexity were required. The barrels were dispatched, and replaced by dice. New systems were drawn up, to make wickets upon appeal less likely, to allow top order batsmen “lives” so that they would, in the main, be the highest scorers, and to allow scores of 400+ to be posted more frequently.
Hand-drawn score sheets were prepared, squads selected and full series would be played. World Cups, County Championships, Gillette Cups, John Player Leagues, nothing was impossible, given a long winter and no live coverage of cricket.
And I (and countless others – I hope!!) owe it to two small, easily-lost hexagonal barrels. Hope the bloke who invented it got an OBE or something.