EXPLAINING the rules of cricket to the French is notoriously difficult. In fact the game's subtle art is universally baffling to the uninitiated.
One Frenchman, however, fell in love with cricket and now knows his silly mid-wicket from his square leg.
Charles-Eric Le Royer is president of ACNO (Association Cricket Nord-Ouest) and has been playing for Des Ormes CC for the last eight years.
However, being French, he is still a rarity in this country’s cricket scene.
He said: “Cricket is certainly developing in France - but it is an English game and most of the players are English.
“I started out knowing nothing about it at all, and was asked to come along and play because they needed an extra man in the field.
“I haven’t looked back and I have been playing every weekend for the last eight years.
“The rules can be baffling, and I still sometimes find it difficult to know the difference between a wide and a no-ball, but I'm more or less there now.”
Mr Le Royer plays every Sunday, and says his friends and family, although not sharing his own enthusiasm for the game, are always interested to go along and have a look.
He said: “Those French people that do play cricket tend to be Anglophiles like me. And with so few people playing it could never be anything but an amateur sport in this country.
“What I love about it is the idea of fair play and the strong team spirit that I feel is absent from so many of the other mainstream sports.
“I also like the fact that there are players still enjoying being out and playing cricket into their 70s.
“You don’t see 70-year-old men playing football. Cricket is a game for life.”
Mr Le Royer, who works as an optician, has even gone so far as to enjoy a cup of tea - albeit without milk - between innings with the rest of the team. He has had to add a list of strange terms to his already excellent French vocabulary.
Although there is a French expression for “silly mid-wicket” (milieu de la foule or milieu du fou) and “square leg” (angle droite), the terminology of cricket remains unchangeably English.
Cricket in France (there is a big difference between this and 'French Cricket') is played in three regions - the north east, north west and south west.
Every year the teams in each region compete for the Siddalls Cup.
The biggest challenge to cricket culture in France is not so much the players but finding a suitable pitch with a decent wicket. Many clubs play on football pitches and at baseball grounds.
Mr Le Royer said he would be keen to hear from any other cricketers who want to spend their weekends in the sunshine but especially from property owners who may have suitable grounds for cricket pitches.
You can contact him via the details on this site. (Unfortunately due to the incredible nature and volume of spam we cannot directly publish our email or his.)
Reader letter July issue
There is also plenty of cricket in the south east - please don't forget about us. We have regular fixtures against the south west and beat them in our recent weekend of annual matches. The four main clubs are The Riviera Cricket Club, The Mediterranean Cricket Club and The Monaco Cricket Club in the Alpes Maritimes and Entrecasteaux Cricket Club based down in The Var. Check out www.rivieracricket.com
The Riviera Cricket Club