Project Free Test Match Tickets For Life Because Son Is England Captain

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Bert writes:

A few days ago, I enrolled Bert Jr. (aged 7½) at our local cricket club. This is Phase 1 of Project Free-Test-Match-Tickets-For-Life-Because-Son-Is-England-Captain. The club was holding its junior indoor net. Eighteen kids, aged between 7 and 12, all being “organised” by two coaches (or, as I shall see them from now on, heroically misguided masochists).

As regular readers will recall, Bert Jr. is already a county cricket aficionado, having been to two days of the same match last summer. Keen therefore to become a fully rounded cricketist, he leapt at the chance to join a club. Obviously, Bert wasn’t without some knowledge of the basics of playing cricket. I had spent many a summer hour teaching him the fundamentals of a proper dead-bat defence, instead of his preferred pull for four over the patio table (and in one case his step-down-the-wicket lofted drive back over the bowlers head and, it must be admitted, over the house).

The session was all about running. As far as the coaches were concerned, this meant running between the wickets, carefully controlled by clear and decisive calling, aligning the body so as to maintain a view of the ball during the running and the proper technique for sliding the bat home. As far as the eighteen were concerned, it just meant running. Did I say heroic? The way they managed to keep going with the lesson to the widest possible distribution of children was truly magnificent.

“So you need to keep the bat in your left hand if the ball goes to the… Norman, sit down… goes to the leg… and you, Brian… side, so that you can… yes of course it meant you as well, Brian, why would you think it didn’t… can see the… stop throwing that ball, Derek… the ball at all… it’s your own time you’re wasting here, you know… times.”

The following morning, Bert Jr. elected not to watch CBBC while having his breakfast and instead tuned in to the last day of the first Test at Chittagong. He watched fascinated as the Bangladesh players put into practice (sort of) exactly what the coaches had said to do, stealing a yard or two as non-striker, clear calling and watching the ball. Bert’s mother came in, ashen-faced and clearly distraught at the turn our family life had taken. “But he’s learning,” I said, helpfully. “What can I do?”

Bert’s mother would consider a successful outcome to Project FTMTFLBSIEC to be the worst possible scenario. I’ve tried to warn her that it is inevitable and even more so with Bert’s younger brother, Ernie, who on top of having our family’s innate cricket skills was also born with David Gower’s hair.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. This is a good long term plan. Might I suggest preparing the younger kid to be the vice captain? Also, do warn them against following the example of Ukmal brothers.

  2. I like how your son’s cricketing colleagues were all named in 1947.

    Very good plan. Fool proof on top of all that.

  3. I have absolutley no intention of having children, but if my girlfriend forces me into producing such a thing:

    A) I’ll be adopting Project FTMTFLBS/DIEC
    B) They will be named Derek. Regardless of gender.

  4. The thing to imagine, Sam, is that every Derek, every Brian, every Norman and Gladys and Enid, at one point were tiny little babies in their mother’s arms. And that mother looked down at the adorably cute bundle, gently gurgling, and named them Norman.

    “Here he is, little baby Norman. Isn’t he gorgeous.”

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