Diary of a Club Cricketer: Part the Third

Dave HarrisCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2009

13 Oct 1995:  Bryan Strang of Zimbabwe bowls in the Test Match against South Africa at the Harare Sports Club in Zimbabwe.   \ Mandatory Credit: Clive Mason /Allsport

Some of the characters in this article may resemble persons real or imaginary, living or dead.  However, you identify these at your own risk and the author takes no responsibility for any conclusions you may draw thereof.  The article is purely for the purpose of entertainment. 


25th August

Two weeks of rain makes a cricketer a bored boy.  The missus packed me off to London for the weekend out of her way while she had some of her girlfriends round.

Three weeks left in the season and the Firsts are almost certainly relegated.  The Seconds’ promotion push more or less disintegrated with the promotion of Simon to skipper the Firsts despite Johnno’s best efforts, and the Thirds lie in fourth place after a promising start and some slip ups along the way.

A rumour is going around that East Mardon have been checking the websites to see which teams I’ve been playing for this year.

Kabir is back fit again, but Bondy’s wife has left both of them and moved away, and the Seconds are almost back to full strength.


1st September

Dredge has persuaded Smithy to captain the Thirds this week as we play East Mardon again, at home this time. 

Neither Johnno nor Simon seem to want me back in their teams so I should have been opening the bowling for the Thirds.  The oppo skipper doesn’t look too pleased to see me, and spends most of the day muttering about First-teamers in the Thirds.

Smithy had other ideas though.  Prompted by his relative success at Mardon, he elects to open the bowling himself, to the comical relief of the Mardon skipper, who immediately promotes himself to number 3 (a careful look at the scorebook after the match indicates that he’d originally pencilled himself in for number 11).

Mardon fall over themselves trying to take advantage of Smithy’s erratic pies and suddenly find themselves 80 for 4 off just ten overs, with Smithy having taken all four to fall with some of the worst bowling this side of a tour to Australia.  Marky looks as annoyed as anyone, having taken none for six from five overs at the other end.

Their skipper is still there though.  Whilst his teammates have been putting Smithy to all parts of the ground, then getting out, he’s stoutly blocked anything from the old dobber, then taken a single to get away from him when he can, afraid of Smithy as much as he was of me.  At this point Dave has a quiet word with Smithy and I get the shout to warm up. 

Suddenly the Mardon skipper is a flurry of activity, taking ten from Marky’s next over and sixteen from Smithy’s.  I come on and bowl a maiden at the other batsman, and then Dave comes on at the other end and gets smashed for seventeen from his first over.  The skipper takes a single from the last ball though, leaving him to face me.

I run in, thinking of putting a short one in just to wind him up, but in my delivery stride I hear a huge cracking sound and in agonising pain I crumple to the ground. 

Meanwhile, the ball has landed more or less where I intended, shot up off short of a length and rattled their skipper on the nose, before dropping down onto his stumps.

Needless to say, I’m in no position to celebrate this victory and, after an overnight stay in hospital diagnosed a broken ankle and torn ligaments, even the high of the painkillers couldn’t give me any satisfaction in the fact that we won the match by ten wickets.  Meanwhile, the Mardon skipper was carted off by his teammates to the changing rooms where I’m told he spend the rest of the day holding a cold compress over his battered nose to staunch the blood flow and whingeing about dangerous pitches


8th September

I sit around grouchily and watch the Thirds win with my ankle in plaster. 

Smithy tried to get me to umpire but got short shrift, the cheeky so-and-so.  Dredge was also there bemoaning his broken finger and (carefully) hand-wringing at the outside chance of the Thirds getting promotion.

Young Marky comes over and gives me the scorebook since “you’ve got nothing better to do” then goes off to chat to his mates and text his girlfriend instead of watching the match.

Still, it was good entertainment as the lads chased down a challenging total of 240, with Colin notching up yet more runs and Smithy picking up three wickets but getting a tonking again.

I couldn’t have stood another day in the house – all my kit is washed and ironed ready for next season and the missus was far too happy about me not playing again this year, which is just making me depressed.

The Firsts lost again. Relegation seems inevitable despite Simon’s efforts, but what can you expect when half your squad (including the Captain) goes AWOL at the critical point of the season?

The Seconds win, with young Adam starring again with the ball – seems like I’m surplus to requirements there, too.  Who knows where I’ll be playing next year, but I can see a repeat coming on...


15th September

The season’s over.

The Firsts were relegated and there are all sorts of rumours flying around about yet more players leaving the club.  Andy is talking up being re-elected as skipper, but Simon seems to have got a taste for it, and batted pretty well.

Johnno steered the Seconds to safety, but grumbled about me playing Third team cricket when he needed me – not that he picked me when I was available!

The Thirds ended up just missing out on promotion despite three wins to end the season.  Colin ended up playing two more games in the Thirds and notching two half-centuries (and uncountable drops), while Dredge’s septic finger miraculously healed in time for the final game when he had a full squad to pick from.

Apparently East Mardon reported the club to the League Committee for “fielding first-team players in third-team matches” but were laughed off once the League realised who they were talking about.  Not sure if I should feel insulted or not...

To my amusement Colin picked up the batting prize, which was enough to set Simon off on a rant about how many times he should have been out caught.  Young Adam picked up the bowling trophy for some good performances in the Seconds, and no one seemed to give a damn about all the wickets I took.

Me? I’m just hoping for some consistency of selection next year, after one game for the Firsts, 6 for the Seconds and 8 for the Thirds.

And a new set of goolies.

And a new ankle.

And not captaining ever again.


See you next season!