I was talking last time about my glittering career with the staff cricket team. I can actually remember taking two catches, probably in 1976. One was a steepling ball, hit so high that I had time to eat a chocolate bar before it came back down. By the time it finally returned from earth orbit, everybody for miles around was watching me. Some with binoculars. I was the cynosure of all eyes. Players, umpires, spectators and people in the street and people in buses going past the ground. And I caught it. I really did. I caught it. Nobody was more surprised than me. And the batsman was O. U. T. spells OUT !!
The second catch was when I was fielding about ten yards away from the batsman, as fellow French teacher David Padwick bowled his slow spinners, just like Bishan Bedi:
According to Bob Dickason, our wicketkeeper, the batsman hit the first ball so hard that I did not react. It passed under my arm, brushing the shirt in my armpit and the side of my chest. I just didn’t realise that this situation was really bloody dangerous and it was highly irresponsible of the captain to ask a naive novice to field there. The second ball hit me in the chest. It didn’t kill me by stopping my heart. It bounced up into the air. I dived forward and caught it one handed before it touched the ground. The batsman was O. U. T. spells OUT !!.
I had a stunning bruise for weeks. You could read the name of the company who had made the ball. And their phone number.
Here’s Bob and his curly red hair, pictured in black and white:
It may have been in that match that I was allowed to bowl an over…six balls that is. It didn’t go too badly. First one—a run. Second one—a run. Third one—a run. Fourth one—a run. Fifth one–the ball hit the edge of the bat and if they had let me have a fielder there as I had previously requested, it would have been a wicket taken. Sixth one–the batsman hit it to the boundary for four runs. And that was my complete cricketing career. I was never allowed to bat because they presumed I would be crap.
A couple of years later, one of the Top Men of the Staff Team, the Golden Boys, told me that “The Star Men of the team need ordinary people like you to do the fielding so that they can do all the batting and the bowling and show off all of their many talents.” Yes, milord.
Incidentally, I had a second hand operation on February 8th, so I won’t be able to reply to any of your comments for, probably, a couple of weeks. As soon as I am able to, though, I will answer what you have been kind enough to contribute.
And everything in this post is 100% true, particularly what one of the Top Men of the Staff Team said to me.
15 responses to “Staff cricket : the Golden Years (2)”
Well done, that man!
Thank you very much. If you watch enough sport on TV, I think that eventually some of it rubs off. The sad thing is though, that most of my sporting triumphs have been 95% luck and 5% judgement!
%% !! You Braggart you!
Two excellent catches. I think you have seen my mention of a match involving Keith Boyce. I don’t think I included his century in 40 minutes which came to an end with a skier off my bowling. The man who, like you, had to stand beneath, waiting for it, asked if he could go and change his trousers after making the catch.
I know exactly how he felt. I would expect that a skier by Keith Boyce would come down with snow on it. What a feather in your cap, though, to have claimed the wicket of such an eminent cricketer!
Thanks, John. I was rather chuffed, since I was the only bowler he wasn’t smashing out of the ground (6 balls were lost)
Sounds like The Golden Boys missed a great opportunity there John. With catches like that your batting skills must also be stunning. Their loss!
You are very kind. I’m afraid that in actual fact, they were probably right. I possessed very few batting skills. And if I had hit anything, I would have found the running extremely difficult, with the fags and the beer. And thew chips. And the pies.
Ah the scourge of every great sportsman!
Too funny. I shared your fielding abilities especially when it came to catching. I always tried to find somewhere on the field where the ball was least likely to come to me as a catching opportunity because I was an absolute butterfingers!
The last catch I can remember however was an absolute belter. The captain and bowler deployed me at cover and then started his over with a loose ball outside off stump. The batsman laid into it and belted it into the off side, a certain boundary. The ball was above my head and I jumped and stuck out my right hand and by pure chance hand and ball met at precisely the right time and I can still remember the feeling as it crashed into my palm and my fingers instinctively closed around it.
I can also remember the look of disbelief on the captains face as he celebrated the wicket!
We all have our triumphal tale to tell! If you remember the gentleman I mentioned who stopped the ball with his head, he was fielding in just the same place as you. An older teacher told me that it was a really dangerous place to put a fielder because if the ball came there, it will always happen because the batsman has leathered it, to use a technical phrase, but he has also sliced it which means it will be travelling in a curve and difficult to catch. That’s why there are lots of injuries at cover if the fielder is not very proficient. Long-off I was told, is the place to put the duffer.
Always my preferred fielding position John!
Two catches! I wish my cricketing career had included two catches. It did include two wickets when they gave me an over to bowl. I was so slow that the batsmen couldn’t adjust. Then I retired and took up athletics until the rugby season started.
They know the value of fat, slow players in rugby.
Bowling that slow reminds me of the way the biplane bomber, the Swordfish, attacked the Bismarck but the German guns couldn’t fire at them because they were calibrated to follow aircraft going 50mph faster. I would certainly swap my two catches for two wickets in an over. That’s almost Minor Counties level, in my book.
🙂 Ah yes, I remember the Swordfish story. I’m going to cherish that “Minor Counties” comment – it’s making me feel good on a snowy day.