Two reports on the same August 2000 charity match.
My friend, Lefty-Righty, sent an e-mail to me and Chas recently, which read: “I uncovered a note about a charity match in Regent’s Park, 24 August 2000, against [massive global communications corporate] about which I had more or less forgotten. Do either of you have any memories of that afternoon/evening?”
The strange think is, I remembered it vividly. It was my first game for many years. I used to play Lancashire League cricket to a reasonable standard. That charity fiasco was my comeback match.
Chas had enlisted my services way in advance of the game, scheduled for ‘after work’ in Regent’s Park. One problem I had to overcome was the distance between my ‘work’, South Devon, and everybody else’s, inner London.
I had availed myself of a cheap advance booking day-return train ticket. I am usually pathologically early. This event was no exception.
I left Devon armed with ‘Hanse Cronje’s bat’ – so called as it had been given to the late disgraced Test cricketer in Rawalpindi. Rumour had it he didn’t much like it. He had off-loaded it on to his brother Frans who was the Pro at Todmorden CC in the Lancashire League, where my brother played. So this filial-fraternal-Hans-Frans ‘to me to you’ series of transactions resulted in ‘Hanse Cronje’s bat’ now being my bat.
I made my way to a teeming Regent’s Park amidst glorious sunshine. I recall it being carnival-like in the Park, a place I had never been in such weather. I do recall waiting for what seems like ages, possibly because of my time of arrival, but also due to the apparent flexibility of arrangements, as nobody seemed to know what time we were due to start.
Lefty-Righty was the next to arrive, so we warmed up, taking turns to bowl/bat at each other while others gradually appeared. One other invitee was The Quiet American, our new CEO designate, who had been agitating for inclusion, I gather, and today was to be his cricketing debut.
Although the opposition was a gigantic global communications corporation, the quality of their so-called team threatened to spoil the event. Batting against them was wishful thinking. Not “will this delivery have my name on it?” but more like “will it land on the square?”
Consequently we mixed up the sides, so I also had the callous pleasure of bowling at our CEO elect along with other fellow employees, including the chap from Finance who often made a meal of paying out our expenses.
Thus I got to open the batting with my pal Chas, scored my ‘20 and retire out’, changed sides, took a few wickets and pouched a catch in the deep from a middled full blooded hook.
I was back. It felt great. But my joy was curtailed, as I had to leave early to catch the last train back to Devon from Paddington.
We played charity matches with Lefty-Righty’s small company a few times, but, perhaps due to the hammering they received in 1999, Lefty-Righty faced a squad rebellion and could only offer a rounders team.
I thought I’d struck charity cricket gold when [Giant Communications Corporate] supplier offered to pick up the cricket challenge… and also the bill.
I thought I’d need some decent players against such a big company, so I asked Nigel, who had a proper cricket pedigree, to come up from our Devon office to play. I also found an intern in the bowels of our building, let’s call him Quick-But-Slow, who was on Kent CCC’s books as a pace bowler. There was also a new keen scout in fundraising, let’s call him Loud-And-Bossy, who claimed he could play.
Other than that, it was the usual suspects, plus the new CEO, The Quiet American, who was seriously sporty but hadn’t played cricket before. I asked Lefty-Righty to come along to umpire.
As it turned out, [Giant Communications Corporate] had no-one at all who could bowl or who knew one end of a bat from the other. They were all utterly hopeless; just keen to raise a bit of money for charity.
Lefty-Righty is short on cricketing skills. He is known as Lefty-Righty because he tries and fails to play off either arm, not because he can play off both. But he can organise things, so he rejigged the sides to make the game fairer… and to include himself in one of the teams of course.
Loud-And-Bossy barked orders at our regulars, with little effect. Then he’d berate them for missing catches way beyond their grasp, abilities or both. He’s probably progressed to senior management somewhere by now.
The Quiet American made a bit of a name for himself, being very speedy in the deep field and holding a tough catch. I also took a good catch; how come no-one else remembers that?
But Nigel was the star of the show – as he has already explained in his own report – taking relish in the opportunity to teach the new CEO (and others) a thing or two about cricket.
After the game, most of us regrouped for refreshments at the cafe on the corner near our offices, where [Giant Communications Corporate] had sported masses of grub. Leftovers were duly shared out at the end. Loud-And-Bossy took the lion’s share.
I also recall that Quick-But-Slow, the Kent CCC youth, bowled far too quickly and properly for our game. People could only play and miss outside off stump against him. I remember asking him to change his line, but he said he couldn’t. After the match and refreshments, I offered to drop him at the appropriate station for his Kent town, but he said he’d be fine if I dropped him on my way home in Essex, as Essex is near Kent. Goodness knows how he changed line to get home.
Send your match reports to email@example.com. If it’s a professional match, on no account mention the cricket itself. If it’s an amateur match, feel free to go into excruciating detail.