The "Owzthat!" Fan page

Britain's Favorite Dice Based Indoor Cricket Simulation Game


"The Cricket Game for all Weathers"

Owzthat is a game that has been around for a very long time. Since the 1930s, people have been playing whole test matches of cricket on tables using this neat little game. While it isn't the most accurate, it has been the easiest way to simulate cricket games with nothing more than some dice, paper, and a few easy to memorize rules. There have been many different versions and releases of this game over years with it known colloquially as either dice or pencil cricket, or some combination of the words "how's that", but this page is mostly going to focus on the main version of the game that started it all.


Table of Contents


Virtual Useable "Owzthat!" Dice

Outs: 0 Score: 0

Owzthat


Rules for Playing the game:

The rules for Owzthat are actually suprisingly simple. The goal of the game is to have the highest scoring team after playing a test match of cricket. Owzthat can technically be played with many people, however most games are played with either one or two players. Each player represents a team and they flip a coin to determine who goes first. On there turn the player rolls the batting die, if they roll a number (1, 2, 3, 4, or 6) then that is the number of runs they scored. If the player rolls "Owzthat" (an appeal) then they roll the bowling die. If they roll "Bowled", "Stumped", "Caught", or "LBW" then they recieve an out and continue rolling the batting die. If a player gets eleven outs then their turn is over. If they roll "NOT OUT" then they just continue batting without recieving an out. If they roll "No Ball" then they get one extra run (one added to their score) and they continue batting. Once each player (team) has a turn, whoever has the most points wins. There are multiple ways for keeping track of score during Owzthat games. One of the easiest and most common ways to keep score for two player games is to write the number of runs scored on each roll for a team and simply calculate the total at the end of the game while using tally marks to keep track of outs. However, a popular method for single player games is to create two teams of eleven "players" by writing two lists of names. Whenever a player scores runs on a roll, they write that number next to the name of the current batsman. When they recieve an out, they write the way that the batsman was dismissed (i.e. Stumped, Caught, etc.) as well as their total score under their name. When they resume batting, they start using the next batsman on the list to keep track of runs. At the end of the team's turn, the player adds up all the scores and that gives them the team's total score. While this method does seem rather unorthidox and overcomplicated, it does generate something which simulates an actual cricket score card a lot more and make the game seem more realistic. Below is two reference tables for playing the game using a single normal six sided die as well as an example score card.

Batting Reference Table (1d6)

(1d6) Roll:Result:Meaning in Cricket:Meaning in Game:
11The batsman scores one runOne gets added to player's score
22The batsman scores two runsTwo gets added to player's score
33The batsman scores three runsThree gets added to player's score
44The batsman scores four runsFour gets added to player's score
5Owzthat!An appeal is called on the batsmanRoll the Bowling die
66The batsman scores six runsFive gets added to player's score

Bowling Reference Table (1d6)

(1d6) Roll:Result:Meaning in Cricket:Meaning in Game:
1BowledBatsman's wicket was hit and knocked down by the ballPlayer recieves an out
2CaughtThe Batsman hit the ball but it was caught by the bowler or fielderPlayer recieves an out
3StumpedThe Wicket Keeper broke the Batsman's wicket while they were outside of the groundPlayer recieves an out
4LBWThe ball touched the Batsman's leg while it was in front of the wicket (Leg before Wicket)Player recieves an out
5Not OutThe umpire turned down the call for an AppealPlayer continues rolling the batting die
6No BallThe bowler delivered an illegal ball bowl again, the batsman gets one extraOne gets added to the Player's score and tehy continue rolling the batting die

Example Score Card

Team AScoreOut
Player #128Caught
Player #215LBW
Player #30Stumped
Player #46Caught
Player #511Bowled
Player #621LBW
Player #730Stumped
Player #827Caught
Player #924Bowled
Player #1025Bowled
Player #1113Caught

Plain Text Transcript of the Original Instruction Sheet


The History of the game

The exact origin of Owzthat is not exactly known but it was played prior to the first World War in its "Pencil Cricket" form (i.e. a hexagonal pencil with its paint removed and results for both dice written on its sides). The game was also said to have been played British soldiers in the trenches during the war. The validity of this statement is questionable at best as I cannot find any information from that time period supporting this claim, the first solid information we have about Owzthat comes in the form of a patent. Norman Cook, under his company "COOK and CO. of Manchester" filed Patent Application 18960 on July 5th 1932 for "Improvements in and relating to Apparatus for Playing Games". It was granted and then published on August 24th 1933 as patent number 397,281. In this patent, Cook describes an invention which consists of two metal hexagonal prisms, "rollers", with specially marked sides. These devices can generate results by being rolled on a surface like a type of specialty long dice. By the use of these rollers, players can play simulated versions of the sports Cricket, Lawn Tennis, Foot Ball, and even Baseball. He then gives a detailed description of how these could be adapted and used to play Cricket. Later on, he referrences various illustrations on the back of the patent which show different sets of rollers for playing various games. Both the first two illustrations (shown above) and his description perfectly match the game of Owzthat as we know it. The game was originally distributed in a small blue tin with a removable lid, which contained the dice and a single folded up instruction sheet. The main company responsible for producing and publishing Owzthat over its 70+ year history is William Lindop Ltd. of Manchester despite not being the company behind the patent. I can't exactly figure out what happenned to Cook & Co. as to whether not they sold the patent or if it was bought by William Lindop Ltd. Cook & Co. primarily made products relating to textiles whereas William Lindop Ltd. published and made board games so it would make sense if this was the case. The sides of the rollers included with early Owzthat sets feature the words "PAT APP 18960/32" so we can confirm that the patent is directly related to the game itself. These early sets were produced from 1932 to 1939. Production stopped during the Second World War likely because of resources going towards the war effort but after the war production started again. In 1964, a new edition of the game released had almost no differences except for the fact that it came in a tin with a newer design that featured a none removable lid which was attached by a hinge.This version was produced up until 1972, when they got rid of the metal tin completely and replaced it with a plastic tube which still held the special roller dice and instruction sheet. The most modern edition of the game still being sold today is more or less very similar to its original counterparts except for a few minor differences. Both rollers, instead of being made out of metal, are made of a type of heavy plastic, similar to what is used in normal dice. The batting die is white with black painted text and the bowling die is green with white painted text. The game comes in a tin again to more closely match its predecessors although this tin is much more similar in size and functionality to an Altoids tin or Mint Can than to the tin that the game originally came in despite emulating the look. And finally, the game comes with a new addition of ten bright red circular counters to help make keeping track of outs easier when playing the game. Also, the game still comes with an insruction sheet.


Variations

Because this game has been around for a very long time and was produced and sold by many companies, it has a lot of very different names, despt the rules and dice being practically the same most of the time. Below is a list featuring some of them.

Despite all of these different names for what is essentially the same game, the main difference among them is either what is written on the Owzthat side of the batting die (usually some variation of the game's title or the word "appeal"), the shape of the dice (hexagonal prism or a cube shape), or both.


External Links:

Owzthat on Wikipedia

Owzthat on BoardGameGeek

Original Owzthat Patent on Espace


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