Stuck in a boring class? Can’t wait for cricket season to start up again? Have a go at pencil cricket, and fix both your problems at the same time!

You will need

  • Two hexagonal pencils. It’s best if they are big, and if they are a light colour, or have no paint on them at all.
  • Fine felt-tipped pen
  • Pen and paper

Constructing the pencils

  1. We need to write something on each side of the pencils. Test out your felt-tipped pen on each pencil. If the ink won’t stick, or it’s too hard to read, use a metal ruler or the closed blades of a pair of scissors to scrape the paint off the pencil.
  2. The first pencil is for runs. On one side of the pencil, draw a dot. On the remaining five sides, write one of the following: 1, 2, 4, 6, Howzat!
  3. The second pencil is for appeals. On each side of the pencil, write one of the following: bowled, caught, LBW, run out, dropped, no ball.

Running a match

  1. First, you’ll need two teams. Name each team, and write the names of 11 players for each team.
  2. Choose which team will bat first.
  3. The first two players from that team now go out to bat. Choose one of them to face the first ball, and then roll the ‘runs’ pencil.
  4. If you get 1, 2, 4 or 6, add that to the batsman’s score.
  5. If you get a dot, no runs are added.
  6. If you get ‘Howzat!’, your batsman might be out. Roll the second pencil, and if they get bowled, caught, LBW or run out, they are out. If they are dropped, they are not out and they score no runs. If you roll a no ball, they are not out, and they get one run.
  7. When a batsman gets out, bring the next one to the crease.
  8. Keep rolling and scoring until the team has lost 10 wickets, and then swap sides. The other team now gets to bat, following the same rules.
  9. The team with the most runs at the end wins!

What’s happening?

Pencil cricket is a fun way to pass the time. But after a few games, you might notice that pencil cricket isn’t a very good simulation. Top-order batters are no better than tail enders, and there’s no way for the bowlers to make a difference. Maybe you could add some new rules to improve it?

This game is an example of a mathematical model. But what does that mean? Imagine a model car. It looks like a car, it has four wheels and a windscreen. But it’s not quite a car. Maybe the doors don’t open, or the engine doesn’t work. It’s a simulation of a real car.

A mathematical model is like a model car, only it’s made of numbers. For example, the Bureau of Meteorology has a mathematical model they call the Australian Community Climate and Earth-Systems Simulator, or ACCESS. It’s a very complicated computer program that simulates land, air and ocean around Australia.

This program is so complicated, it needs to run on a supercomputer. But even though ACCESS needs a supercomputer to run, it’s very important to do so – its simulation is the main source of Australia’s weather forecasts!

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