Diary of a Club Cricketer: Part One

Dave HarrisCorrespondent ISeptember 23, 2009

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 22:  Lou Vincent of Lancashire edges the ball towards the boundary, as Nic Pothas of Hampshire looks on during the Liverpool and Victoria County Championship Division One match between Lancashire and Hampshire at Old Trafford on July 22, 2008 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Names have been changed to protect from libel.  Any resemblance to any person, real or imaginary, is purely in the spirit of satire.

1st April

The weather is about to turn for the better, and we’re about ready to move outdoors for nets.  The indoor sessions have been useful in dusting off the cobwebs, but the backdrop is appalling, or at least that’s my excuse for being terrible with the bat.

Simon, the second-team captain, seems quietly confident that his side will be better this year and could push for promotion. 

Rumours abound that he’s hoping that he can drop Colin, our opening bat who seems to get dropped four or five times every week on his way to 30, to the Thirds. But I know what this place is like and by the midpoint of the season, he’ll be frantic for anyone who can hold a bat.

The club captain looks annoyed that so few of his first-team squad have turned up for nets this year, but I reckon that those who want to play will play, and those who don’t won’t.  Just glad it isn’t my job. 

On the positive side, there are a few good youngsters in the Thirds, and if the Seconds are strong, that’ll feed down.

1st May

The friendlies are out of the way- and largely enjoyed- and teams are being picked for the first league games.  Nobody has called Colin to explain why he hasn’t been picked for the Seconds, which is going to mean trouble in a couple of weeks, I’m sure. Andy, the Firsts’ captain, has already started raiding Simon’s team for bowlers.

I don’t get picked for the first game, which isn’t a surprise, since I only got a total of eight overs in the two friendly games.  Simon looks around the room and his eyes slide over me as he searches for his eleventh name to go on the team sheet before plucking out of the air the name of someone who hasn’t been seen around the club for two seasons.

Thirds skipper Dredge is looking nervous, even though he hasn’t got to pick a side for a fortnight.  His squad is already being decimated as the Firsts and Seconds pick-and-choose.

1st June

A hailstorm and storm-winds greeted my first appearance of the season, a league match for the Thirds at East Mardon’s reserve ground, which looks suspiciously like the Council’s dumping ground, with huge piles of some indeterminate substance gracing various points just outside the (short) boundary. 

We rack up 250 (Did Not Bat) before it hammers it down at tea and it looks like it will be called off.  Miraculously, the sun comes out and the home side offers to complete the match, with a target of 125 off 25 overs. 

After I take four wickets in four overs, the home skipper comes onto the pitch for a word with Dredge, insisting that I’m too dangerous for the conditions and should be taken off. 

Amazingly, Dredge obliges, and their skipper disappears back off to the changing rooms to pad up.

Smithy comes on instead and the Mardon batsmen take full advantage, reaching 100 without further loss, until Smithy somehow inveigles an LBW from the umpire (one of the Mardon openers who was annoyed at being given LBW himself by this batsman earlier in the day). 

Next ball, their skipper is in and top edges a full toss straight into our keeper’s gloves.

Smithy is amazed. So are we.

Their skipper looks like he isn’t going to go.

Eventually he wanders off and, as soon as he is out of sight, I get the call to warm up.  Their skipper is sulking in the changing rooms and can’t see a thing.  He doesn’t notice me taking the last four wickets until we’re in the bar and he’s copying up the scorebook.

8th June

After my heroics at Mardon, I’m picked for the Seconds to play at Strensham.  Don’t bat, don’t bowl, field at fine leg most of the day. 

What a waste of time!

Colin has finally figured out that Simon doesn’t like him and won’t pick him for the Seconds, and has taken my place in the Thirds, scoring 115 (and being dropped seven times).

15th June

I get two overs at the death for the Seconds as we barely manage to defend a sub-par score of 162 (0 not out).  Not sure that Simon likes me that much, either. 

Colin scores another century for the Thirds (dropped five times) and Dredge would be ecstatic, except that they couldn’t bowl the opposition out and earn the extra bonus point. 

He "subtly" asks me to refuse to play for the Seconds next week so that I can bolster the bowling for him. I’m tempted.

The Firsts had made a good start, but seem to be losing a player every week.  Skipper Andy has a pulled groin muscle and has spent the last three weeks moaning from the sidelines about the unavailability of other players and directing various spectators to get drinks, update the scoreboard, etc., generally making himself a pain in the backside.

This week, Jim, who helps out around the club with the ground and stuff now that he’s retired, basically told him to do it himself instead of whining.

He got a round of applause from eleven players on the pitch who’d stopped to listen and about fifteen spectators.  I’m told that Andy won’t be watching this week!

1st July

Andy’s fit and well again, which is a mixed blessing. 

It means that he’s around and grousing again, but also means one extra player for the Firsts.  He’s also taken note of Colin’s scores for the Thirds, and even though Simon won’t pick him, has brought him into the Firsts.

Oddly, he made a stately 30 not out batting at No. 8 for the Firsts as they drew against local rivals Witchavon, without offering a chance.

Dredge fumed for a week (as the Thirds lost by 10 wickets) at the loss of his star batsman, but then Simon managed to find another guy who could bowl and field a bit down the pub, and dropped me back to the Thirds, where I promptly took five wickets as we skittled Ayscough Wanderers for 65.

On the social side, last night the club held a skittles evening at the Red Lion- which was well-attended- but ended in acrimony after most people had gone home when the Firsts wicketkeeper Bondy found out that his wife has been sleeping with the Vice-captain, Kabir. 

The ensuing scuffle left Kabir with a broken collarbone and Bondy swearing that he would never play for the club again. 

Tomorrow night’s selection meeting will be entertaining!


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