“Our bag is green & made of canvas, strong and leather bound,
Overfilled with kit we’ve purchased, borrowed, begged or found;
Emptied out on summer evenings when it doesn’t rain,
But frankly half the stuff it holds we’ll never use again-
Worn out gloves with pimply rubber stitched up to the knuckles,
Floppy pads with leather straps & little jingly buckles,
All marked ‘Brookfield School’ in pen in prominent positions,
And some with names of other clubs, nicked from the opposition.” – Arthur Salway
Like my dad before me I worked for the local council and one of the nicest things about this was the social aspect because I worked with a lot of people with similar interests.
One of these was cricket and like most organisations the council had a twenty over cricket team that used to play weekly fixtures against other councils, banks and other businesses in the town.
Before I started work I used to get a guest spot in my dad’s team, Rugby Rural District Council, this was pre 1974 and the reorganisation of local government so there were a lot of small local authorities who sometimes struggled to field a full strength team so there were always places to fill and I was more than happy to go along every Wednesday night for a bat and a bowl and a glass of bitter shandy afterwards.
In 1975 I started work at Rugby Borough Council and my boss, the Borough Treasurer, John Lord, was the captain of the cricket team so amongst my other duties he gave me the job of team secretary and it was my job to arrange the fixtures, book the pitches, look after the kit and make sure we had a full squad every week.
Throughout the summer every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I had to allocate a fair amount of my time to phoning around and putting the team together, arranging the catering and making sure all the kit had been returned the previous week. We had three or four old bats, a collection of balls of varying age and quality, battle scarred batting pads and some old fashioned batting gloves with green rubber spikes sewn onto the fingers. Best of all were the protective boxes which were several years old and it was a good job we were not too concerned about personal hygiene because these things had been slung around several sweaty groins in the past I can tell you!
On Wednesday we would worry about the weather because many a match was washed out without a bowl being bowled but hopefully it would stay fine and we really didn’t mind playing through a bit of drizzle now and again.
Twenty overs each side meant about three hours of cricket and if both sides used up their full allocation then we had to get a move on towards the end of the season when the days were getting shorter.
We were reasonably successful and joined the local twenty over league where we were not. I used to produce an annual review of the season and the 1976 yearbook tells a sorry tale of played 10 and lost 8 and finished bottom of the league.
This didn’t really matter because it was the cricket that was important. Taking to the field to bowl or just sitting waiting for your turn to bat, someone lovingly keeping the score book up to date and wives and girlfriends turning up towards the end of the game just in time to go to the pub afterwards where we would review and assess, exaggerate and rue our mistakes.
Twenty over evening cricket was one of the best things about the summer and was always missed during the long winter months!
The sorry tale of the 1976 season:
“It is not true that the English invented cricket as a way of making all other human endeavors look interesting and lively; that was merely an unintended side effect. …It is the only sport that incorporates meal breaks. It is the only sport that shares its name with an insect. It is the only sport in which spectators burn as many calories as the players-more if they are moderately restless.” Bill Bryson
A job in itself! Did you get paid extra for all that work?
Ha Ha! The real advantage of all that organisation of social events meant that I didn’t have to do any boring audit or accountancy work!
And how much joy Australian Soldiers got in Afghanistan playing scratch cricket matches against local Afghanis. I say again. A most important game.
It should be compulsory John!
True. It isn’t just coincidence that the phrase “It’s not Cricket” means to not behave in an honest and honorable way.
Great post, Andrew. I do so recognise your kit descriptions. Now I just have to follow you – instead of noticing your comments on others’ blogs and wondering 🙂
Thanks Derrick. I don’t use that blog any more for new posts just for the occasional links from ‘Have Bag Will Travel’. I started it in 2009 but not many people read the posts and eventually I ran out of material anyway.
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Not a fan of team sports in general, but then, I’m not much of a social animal.
I was, however, a bowler . . . but I don’t think we refer to the same activity.
Ten Pin or Lawn?
Ten Pin (I presume that’s what you call ‘bowling’ on your side of the Atlantic). I’ve never played lawn bowling, but I did try bocce (not the same) and wasn’t all that impressed with it.
Now, if we’re talking jarts and the potential for impaling someone . . . yes, I tried those too.
I’ve never ever wanted to sit and watch the game, but there’s a lovely nostalgia to this. The photo reminds me of driving past Hurstbourne Priors, long ago, and the idyllic scene over the hedge. Spotless whites, so an upper class team, obviously. One of my lady walking friends fondly remembers being called in to field for the local lads when numbers were short. Is that sacrilege, Andrew?
Certainly not Jo, women’s cricket is very entertaining, you should take a peep some time.
I’ve never ‘got’ cricket, and tend to agree with Bill Bryson. But your post does begin to make me understand its appeal.
I love the Bryson quote.
My dad was an avid cricket fan, and it’s probably down to him that it’s one of the few ball games I don’t mind watching.
I spent many a summer evening in my childhood playing cricket with other kids from our street, it surprises me now that we managed to avoid breaking windows. Occasionally we had to stop play to make way for a passing car, something of a rarity as few families owned cars down our way.
I recently took a trip down memory lane to my old street and was surprised to see most of the front gardens were now concreted over to house cars and the street itself had become part of a bus route.
Ah the great memories. One of my regrets with marrying and starting a family too young is that I gave up playing football and cricket far too soon. Here’s another quote to add to your collection…
White the players, white the summer breeze
Whiter yet the holy umpire
He won’t get the green stuff on his knees
He just holds the bowler’s jumpire
(Lyrics nicked from the song “Happy In The Lord” by Stackridge
Thanks for adding that.
Even when you tried to explain, I remain baffled. I suppose that’s the beauty of it. At college in 2006, I spotted some of our students from India playing cricket on the lawn at Brandeis University in Boston. The game seemed quite exotic and though I watched for ten minutes or so, I couldn’t make sense of it. But the men were having a grand time.
I have to say (I am biased on this point) that it is the finest team game ever played. A Test Match takes 5 days (5 days! ) and the game ebbs and flows throughout. You may not know who will win until the last 5 minutes.
❤ That is the best kind of game.