The Cricketville Horror

Playing the game of cricket can bring such wonderful highs – that first fifty, first century, an unlikely run chase, the first five wicket haul.  In idle moments, many a cricketer will day dream about the day when something wonderful happened.  Of course, the trouble with such daydreaming is that barely has the pleasant memory got under way before something ignoble will push its way in.  Ah yes, that is the very essence of cricket, the cringe making memory of sheer embarrassment at abject failure.  The one that you keep hidden and mention to absolutely no one.  Shannon Gabriel’s magnificently irresponsible shot to lose the West Indies a Test and series against Pakistan highlights the extraordinary ability of the game to thoroughly wreck hours of hard work. Effectively with one ball to survive given a partner unbeaten on a hundred at the other end to face the final over, he decided it was the perfect moment to attempt to launch one out of the ground.  The silence from his team mates on returning to the pavilion must have been something to behold.

Thus, in that spirit, a celebration of all the truly stupid things we’ve done on the cricket field is in order.

Bowling out the opposition for 90 in a league game was a great effort.  We were very pleased with ourselves.  Wandering out to the middle to get the routine run chase under way there could be nothing but supreme confidence.  Even more so when the bowler slipped in his action first ball of the innings and sent down the slowest, rankest wide long hop that could ever be imagined.  It was therefore mildly disappointing to fail to smash it over point for fourm, and instead nick it behind to a wicketkeeper who only just managed to hang on to it before collapsing in giggles.  We lost.

Arundel is a gorgeous ground, beloved of all who play there, whether it be for a festival or a tour match for the visiting international side.  For club cricketers, the chance to play there is rare and coveted.  Thus it was that we turned up for a friendly, looking forward to playing at one of the most picturesque grounds anywhere in the world.  One of our number was particularly excited.  He wasn’t much of a player, but loved the game dearly, and for him this represented perhaps the highlight of his cricketing career.  As supportive team mates and friends, we naturally appreciated his excitement, and his nerves, and ensured that he could enjoy the day in every possible way.

One particular way we thought we’d help was to suggest to him that he opened the batting.  Having never in his life even approached this possibility before, he was rather reluctant to say the least, but we reassured him that not only should he open as a special treat, but he should take the first ball.  Although he was horrified by this, player after player told him not to worry, because the first ball is always a loosener and he could probably just leave it.  Eventually, and doubtless in no way due to the bullying insistence of his team, he agreed.  And out we strode to the middle.  At this point, the pangs of conscience started to appear at the back of my mind, and half way out I said “Look Tom, it’s just you and me now, I’ll take the first ball if you like, you don’t have to”.   By this point, part resigned, part angry, he refused, saying everyone was expecting it so he would.

Now, everyone knows where this is going, and sure enough, the first ball was perfect – pitched on off stump, moving away a touch and clipping the off bail.  As he marched off the sound of stifled guffaws from the boundary could be heard.  So far so normal, and an amusing item.  Until his mother turned up as he was in the pavilion ripping off his pads and gloves.  “He’s been looking forward to this for months, you know.  I do hope I get to watch him bat today”.

Gulp.

Over to you for all yours.

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12 thoughts on “The Cricketville Horror

  1. BobW May 15, 2017 / 7:41 pm

    My club (based in South London) used to have a big family away day trip every year to a lovely little ground in Sussex.
    In the early days the team used to go down for the weekend but over time this changed to just getting there Sunday morning. We would get to the pub at opening time, have a big lunch, a few pints then head off to the ground, for a game against a team that we had got to know well over the years. It was the highlight of the year and every one looked forward to it.
    One year though, whilst eating and drinking we noticed one of the players was late which was very unlike him. So we went to the ground, only to see him turn up in his car with his family just as the game was starting.
    He was due to bat at three so he padded up. In the dressing room it transpired that the night before he’d been putting shelves up in his house which had not been successful. Sure enough in the night the shelves had fallen down again waking him up. He then spent most of the morning trying to put the shelves up. Again without much success and that was the reason why he was late for the game. HIs mood was pretty dark at this point already.
    Things got worse when the opening pair, under the influence of drink, batted very slowly in the first twenty overs. So slowly in fact that the number three bat got crosser and crosser, culminating in throwing his pads and gloves off then storming off.
    My friend had to run out and tell the skipper (who was helping out umpiring) what had happened, so he could re-jig the batting order.
    Eventually the openers were out and the run rate picked up. By then the number three bat got an interest back in the game and wanted to bat. So out went the message to the middle to the captain, (still umpiring) who said the number three bat could go in the wicket after next. So on went the pads, gloves etc and sense of normality resumed.
    Sure enough a wicket or two soon fell and the number three was out in the middle where he belonged. Only he didn’t. He was out first ball.
    His mood really did get worse, the bat flew, the pads, gloves the lot. He spent tea sat outside the pavilion. Fielded in a sulk for the remainder of the game and as soon as it was over he went straight off home with his whites still on.
    It was one of the funniest afternoons I had spent on a cricket field.

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      • BobW May 15, 2017 / 7:46 pm

        A tiny little ground, Ebernoe CC near Petworth/ Balls cross.. They would have a traditional Hornfair there every year. It had a road going through the ground. It made fielding a bit perilous at times if the cars did not stop. Often they would and would wait the over out.

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        • thelegglance May 15, 2017 / 7:47 pm

          Oh I dont know that one! Petworth I played many times before they sadly folded, but not there. It’s a gorgeous area though, so I’m envious.

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  2. Ian May 15, 2017 / 8:28 pm

    This is is possibly a harsh decision but have never forgotten this.

    It’s the Hampshire U15 Cup final. We were defending a low total against Andover and they were going steadily towards the total but a few wickets fell and by the final over it was maybe only about 3/4 to win.

    The skipper decided he would bowl the final over. He bowled brilliantly and it was down to 1 off the last ball. Field was up and we were already for the thrilling finish. Anyway he bowled a full toss just above waist height and the no ball call was instant and that was the end of that.

    More recently I remember agreeing to play for various teams if they were short as I couldn’t commit to any of them properly because of my work. Anyway I had a run of games for about 4 teams where nothing would go right and meant none of them have ever called since.

    I still haven’t officially retired though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance May 15, 2017 / 8:31 pm

      You’ve reminded me of one season where I was going for the club record runs for the season and was 20 away in the final match of the season when I got a beamer that I tried to hook and was caught. Stood there for ages, gazing at the umpire in disbelief as he refused to call the no ball. Never forgiven him for that. Never got the record either since!

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      • BobW May 15, 2017 / 8:54 pm

        Talking about not forgiving. In another match against the club I mentioned earlier. I scored 98 not out once, our team batting first. The batsman at the other end played the penultimate over out for a maiden! I only got a few hundreds in my time (for which I am most grateful) but I have never forgiven him either.

        Liked by 1 person

        • thelegglance May 15, 2017 / 8:59 pm

          I’d be raging at that one too! At least you got some though, imagine if it had been your only chance? Never had anything that bad, nearest was being declared on 49* and fifties never really bothered me that much anyway.

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  3. Mark May 15, 2017 / 10:26 pm

    I was playing in a game once where I was batting against a slow bowler, and I tried to hit him back over his head. However, I completely mistimed it, and it went straight up in the air, looping back towards the bowler. But he had to walk backwards to get under it, and in doing so backed into my partner who was backing up. As a result he dropped the catch. Both of them were lying on the ground in a heap. He then started shouting at the umpire…….”interference, interference, obstruction” The umpire, who was an old boy just helping out was completely nonplussed and unsure what to do. In all the confusion the ball had shot out to mid off, so I said “come on theres a run here.”

    My partner was by now arguing with the bowler, and so was not paying attention. When he realised, he sends me back. I’m now stuck in the middle of the wicket when a fielder picks it up and in trying to throw at the stumps hits me smack on the head. I’m now semi concussed,and staggering about in the middle of the pitch, not knowing what day it is. Meanwhile the ball has now ricochet off my head and shot down to fine leg. My partner, not aware that I am totally dazed now decides there is a run, and shouts “come on then one run.” But because I am completely out of it, and clueless as to what to do I start running back from whence I came. So we are now both running in the same direction towards the same end. Total chaos. The wicket keeper starts yelling at the fielder to throw it in quick, and my partner says I need to get up to the other end, but I’m in no state to run anywhere. (And I know this sounds unbelievable but it really happened) when the ball came In, it once again hit me on the head, with the ball now going off past the slips. This gave my partner the time to run back to the other end. All hell let’s loose now, as a massive argument starts up about what has just taken place. The umpire just says “not out.”

    When everything finally calms down I take guard, but I’m dazed, and I can now see double. The next ball I just saw two balls coming down, and took a massive swing at what turned out to be the wrong ball and was out bowled. There was a pretty heated send off for me, but I just staggered back to the pavilion fairly oblivious to everything around me except most of my team mates pissing themselves laughing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • BobW May 16, 2017 / 7:16 am

      Brilliant!

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  4. Alec May 16, 2017 / 1:05 pm

    I am, frankly, one of the least competent people ever permitted to actually get on the field of play.

    Having played my first 35 over match of the season this weekend I contributed 2 dropped catches and somehow letting a ball through my legs even though my ankles were together. In my defence, only one of those drops was simple (the other was a diving backwards, one-handed affair that would have made Stokes or Collingwood proud) and I’ve no idea what happened with the ball through the legs as I was so close to the batsman that I barely saw the thing.

    It was not my finest contribution to a game, but at least it wasn’t my worst.

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  5. Topshelf May 16, 2017 / 1:22 pm

    15 years old playing for my school 1st XI (so mostly 18-year-olds) against a men’s team (Stragglers of Asia I think).

    It’s the last game of the season, only my third, and we are batting out for yet another draw that will give the captain the unbeaten season he so clearly craves. A sudden collapse leaves me as no 11 trying to bat things out against the wiliest of 60-year-old leg-spinners. First 3 balls negotiated (I even hit one) the nearby church bells ring 7 o’clock, meaning definitely only 3 balls to go.

    Silly point (one of about 50 close fielders it seems) turns to keeper – “Ask not for whom the bell tolls.” Keeper turns to me – “It tolls for thee.” I can still see the diving catch the bowler took next ball as I just over-reached with hard hands and chipped it low back to him.

    And I can still recall the skipper never speaking to me again, while 3 or 4 of his team slapped me on the back in the pavilion thanking me for wrecking his incredibly dull season!

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