Finally I gave in. There is only so much a man can take. First the bait. You used to play a bit, didn’t you Bert? You must have been a decent cricketer in your time, I’ll bet. Then the hook. There’s no real commitment, and you look like the sort of man who has the occasional Wednesday evening free. And finally the reeling in. We’re short this coming Wednesday, can you help? You can, that’s marvellous! Nets on Tuesday six o’clock prompt, don’t be late. You’re down to play the first ten matches, so you’d better get some practice in.
So I’m in, after a gruelling selection process (Can you drive to the away matches?). Old Filchonians O40s midweek 20/20 evening cricket. Now I have no experience of vets’ cricket, but vets’ rugby I do know. That’s a game for ex-players who’ve lost their speed, lost their stamina, lost their sharpness, but who still retain their love of drunkenness and starting fights. I’m assuming that O40s cricket is in much the same vein.
A trip to the loft was the first thing, to see which of my cricket equipment has survived the Stalinist Purges of Things from My Past. Gloves – check. Pads – check. Yellows – check, so clearly a trip to the outfitters needed. Box – check, but its time as a home for the family hamster has taken its toll on the padding, so a new one needed. Collection of old porn mags hidden in the base of the cricket bag where she definitely won’t look – GONE! I guess they must have fallen out at some match once.
Bat – check. Ah, the old DF Attack. A present many years ago from the wife, girlfriend as was back then. 2lb 6oz of finely crafted craftsmanship (owing to a slight misunderstanding when buying it, she’d asked the man for a 26lb bat). Having watched Gower play, I’ve always preferred a lighter bat – much easier to tuck insouciantly under the arm when walking off for 7. But still, a magnificent item, in pristine condition. The middle, I noticed, was particularly well-kept – none of those ugly red stains you see on some bats.
The grip disintegrated while I was taking guard in front of the mirror. I mentioned this at the club. I say mentioned, but the Club President, who keeps all the kit for that sort of thing, was on the other side of the ground. A tip for you all – when trying to communicate to the Club President that you need a new grip putting on your bat handle, sign language is NOT an acceptable method.
And so, here we are, all ready to go. First match tomorrow, away at Posh North Cheshire Poncey Overpaid Footballers Bentleys Everywhere La-di-dah Edge CC. Now this might give some people here a bit of a reminder, for this isn’t the first article to appear on this website concerning North Cheshire O40s cricket. No, it turns out that among the many luminaries of the cricket world who have previously been asked to play in this league is one King Cricket’s Dad. And Neil Fairbrother and Wasim Akram as well. I once played rugby against a team containing a recently retired Kurt Sorensen, and decided early on that the only difference in outcome between trying to tackle him and just letting him score was the level of pain in my face. A guard three feet outside leg stump is my similar, carefully thought-out plan to facing Wasim, should it happen.
So there it is. I could be skipping out to bat (I always do this to unsettle the bowlers) while unknowingly under the watchful match-report-writing sloe-berry-seeking eye of King Cricket’s Mum, maybe even King Cricket himself, maybe (if he succumbed to the pressure to play) to face King Cricket’s Dad’s devastatingly gentle non-spinning off-breaks, known by all to be the most successful wicket-taking delivery in all of club cricket (any ball from Wasim Akram excepted). Who knows? However, so as to keep a low profile and maintain my anonymity, I’ve decided to play all the matches wearing a Darth Vader novelty helmet. That should work.
A full match report will follow…