Lords Cricket Ground
The summer of 2011 has been an eventful one. In spite of economic doom and gloom, civil unrest, natural disasters around the world, et al., one event will forever be recorded in the annals of sporting history, namely the achievement of the England cricket team , under the captaincy of Andrew Strauss, in attaining the no.1 spot in the World Cricket League. Their magnificent victories this summer against India, previously the top team, crowned their achievement in Australia last year, when they defeated the home country to retain the Ashes.
Regrettably the cricket season will soon be over, with football ‘mania’ encroaching ever deeper into the summer months, historically the preserve of the ‘gentleman’s’ game. However, cricket lovers need not fear, for nothing can match the special pleasure of playing in, or watching a cricket match on a summer’s day in our 'green and pleasant land'. The unique sound of ball against bat, or ball striking the stumps, the pleasure of watching a skilled batsman or bowler practising their craft, the air of peace and tranquillity, the often beautiful surroundings; ‘ah those were the days’ says he reminiscing, and happily still ‘are the days’ and will ‘continue to be the days’, for generations to come.
Some years ago a kind friend gave me a copy of ‘The Cricketer’s Bedside Book’, edited by R Roberts. and published by B.T.Batsford Ltd (1966), a fascinating anthology of cricket events, personalities, and anecdotes. Contributors include such legendary cricketers as Colin Cowdrey, Richie Benaud, Alec Bedser, Mickey Stewart, Wally Grout, Gary Sobers, and others , also those forever associated with this great sport, such as John Arlott, E.W.Swanton, and Brian Johnston.
There are numerous amusing anecdotes - contributed by Brian Johnston, some reproduced below, which reflect the light-heartedness and a certain ‘esprit de coeur’, shared by the vast majority of cricket lovers; N.B. a miniscule knowledge of the rules of cricket and cricketing terms is recommended, although not absolutely essential!
In a Lancashire match a fast bowler was bowling on a bad wicket, and the opening batsman – who shall be nameless- had to face a number of terrifying deliveries. The first whizzed past his left ear; the second nearly knocked his cap off; and the third struck him an awful blow over the heart. He collapsed and lay on the ground – then after a minute or two got up and prepared to strike again. The umpire asked him if he was ready. He replied, ‘Yes, but I would like the sight-screen moved.’
‘Certainly’, said the umpire. ‘Where would you like it?’
The batsman replied, ‘About half-way down the wicket between me and the bowler.’
Alec Skelding was umpiring a match in which the bowler had a complete set of false teeth. As he delivered a particularly fast ball all his teeth dropped out. The ball hit the batsman on the pad, and the bowler turned round and mouthed un-intelligible noises. Alec quick to see what had happened, said, ‘I beg your pardon, I cannot tell what you say.’ The bowler tried again but Alec still pretended he could not distinguish the words, so the bowler stooped down, recovered his dentures covered in dust, replaced them and turning round, said, ‘How’s that?’
‘Not out’, said Alec.
In a match against Gloucestershire Brian Close was fielding at forward short-leg with Freddie Trueman bowling. Martin Young received a short ball which he hit right in the middle of the bat. It hit Close on the right side of the head and rebounded to first slip, who caught it.
Close seemed none the worse, but when he returned to the pavilion at the next interval someone asked him: ‘That was a terrible blow; aren’t you worried standing so near? What would have happened if the ball had hit you slap between the eyes?’
‘He'd have been caught at cover,’ replied the indomitable Yorkshire captain.
The Nottinghamshire Club and Ground used to play an annual match against a local village club, and the club’s captain, feeling very sure of his side’s strength, warned the Nottinghamshire secretary that he had better send a strong team this year, otherwise they were ‘in for trouble’. He got what he asked for, and Harold Larwood was a member of the strong side that came from Trent Bridge. The village club batted first, and their opener was a huge, massive ‘village blacksmith’ who took guard and settled down to face the great Larwood. The first ball was a typical thunderbolt. It shaved the off-stump and landed viciously in the gloves of the wicket-keeper standing very well back’
As the ball looped its way back from wicket-keeper to bowler, via slip, cover and mid-off, it was noticed that the massive batsman had not moved a muscle. His brawny arms still held the bat firmly in the block-hole, his menacing crouch was unchanged and his eyes were still fixed firmly on the far end of the wicket. A second Larwood thunderbolt, again whistling past the off stump, had the same effect: not a move, not even the flicker of an eyelid from the vast and massive batsman. As the third ball was delivered the umpire’s arm was flung out and his shriek of ‘No ball!’ echoed round the ground. For the first time the batsman unbent. He strained ponderously upwards, turned to first slip and confided, ‘’E couldn’t fool me, I knew ‘e never ‘ad one all the toime!’
Finally, cricket is such a simple game:-
You have two sides, one out in the field and one in.
Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out.
When they are all out, the side that's out comes in and the side thats been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out.
Sometimes you get men still in and not out.
When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in.
There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.
When both sides have been in and all the men have out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game!
What could be more simple?
What could be more simple?