Growing up in Australia, a good marker of summer holidays or festive occasions are the cries, shrieks and laughter over the fence of yet another family backyard cricket match taking place.

Often the breeding ground of some of Australia’s best cricketers, the good old backyard cricket match is synonymous for young and old as a family tradition in Oz.

With summer upon us, if you’re fervently holding out for the feel of the bat in your hand or the seam of the ball on your fingertips, then fear not. Cricketer and Powerade ambassador Mitchell Johnson offers you his top tips for impressing your friends and family on the pitch – whether it be grass, sand or concrete.



Mitchell Johnson
Long before Mitchell Johnson took 313 wickets wearing the baggy green, he was playing backyard cricket with a tape-covered tennis ball.

1. Ditch pitch perfect

Mitchell has been one of Australia’s most feared fast bowlers for a reason: he takes his cricket very seriously, whether in the backyard or at the MCG.

“I used to be a bit cheeky and throw in a few tricks to make the [backyard] matches a little bit tougher,” Mitchell laughs. “You know, find rougher ground where the ball is going to lift a little bit more when you bowl - I always enjoyed doing that to my mates.”

2. It doesn’t have to be a red ball

The pitch isn’t the only element of the game with which Mitchell has been known to customise to his advantage.

“Sometimes I would tape up a tennis ball - the whole thing - with a little bit more tape on one side so it would swing,” Mitchell says, grinning widely.

“I would always put a seam on the ball too, so it would get a nice rise. It was serious business.”



backyard cricket
Often the breeding ground of some of Australia’s best cricketers, the good old backyard cricket match is synonymous for young and old as a family tradition in Oz.

3. Traditions are important, but so is breaking the rules

Backyard cricket in Australia comes with some longstanding traditions. ‘Six and out’ and ‘hit and run’ are a must. ‘Electric wikky’ is a crowd favourite. But as Mitchell tells us, sometimes the rules are there to be broken.

“Growing up, I had a mate who lived across the road from our Primary School and we played in his front yard,” Mitchell says. “To hit a six, you had to hit it across the main road, over the fence and into the school, so it was ‘six and out’ - or ‘six and over the school fence’.”

4. Work with what you’ve got

Identify your surroundings. As a batsman, you’ll need to work with your environment.

“Another mate I grew up with, his dad worked for the council,” Mitchell says. “He had a little [lawn] roller, so we would actually roll the backyard, mow it, then roll it again.”

“They were serious games. They had a pool so if you were batting you would always try to hit it in there, make the life of the fielders a bit difficult.”



Backyard Cricket
“I used to be a bit cheeky and throw in a few tricks to make the matches a little bit tougher,” Mitchell laughs. “You know, find rougher ground where the ball is going to do a little bit more when you bowl, I always enjoyed doing that to my mates.” - Mitchell Johnson

5. Challenge yourself

Backyard cricket may be mostly fun and games but it’s also a great opportunity to practice your skills.

“Sometimes we would play with the rule that you had to bat with your opposite hand,” Mitchell says. “Batting left-handed turned out to not be so bad.”

“Also to score runs, I liked to play that if you hit the fence on the full you got bonus runs - more than you would if you hit it over the fence for six. That was always good for your aim and power.” 

Whether you play in the yard, on the street or at the beach, it’s time to pull out the bat and ball this summer.

“I have so many great memories of backyard cricket,” Mitchell says. Now get out there and start making yours.