2 June 2008

A great day of cricket - part 1

It’s strange that having played adult club cricket since the age of 9, I still managed to be a bit nervous as I strode out to the wicket at 26-4 in the 17th over, for Steyning CC against the Harry Baldwin’s XI. Steyning (pronounced “Stenning”!) have a beautiful ground just down the road from our new home in Shoreham-by-sea, and what better game to make your debut in?

For those not in the know, the Harry Baldwin’s XI is the team made famous in the book Fatty Batter by Michael Simpkins. Admittedly, I haven’t read the book yet, but fellow Cricket Burbler Mark Davis had recommended the book, so I had it sitting at home alongside John Major’s "More Than a Game" and a 2nd hand copy of Maurices Tate's autobiography (bought when at Hove for a bargain £10), ready to read when I got a moment. You can buy your copy of Fatty Batter by clicking on the link or on the banner top right.

I’d already let the side down slightly when I first arrived, and asked the Harry Baldwin’s XI, who were enjoying an outdoor pint in preparation for the big game, if they were Steyning. They weren’t, but of course their suspicions had been aroused that I was a “ringer” brought in from outside the club to play against them. I tried to play down that suspicion by explaining that I’d just moved to the area a few weeks ago and so didn't know my own team mates, but their keeper remembered our intial conversation throughout the match!

Safely united with my own side, I started to meet a few of the players. There seemed to be a penchant for calling people by animal names – Panda and Squirrel – perhaps invented to make it easy for new players like myself to remember them….too many John’s, Jim’s, Peter’s and Will’s and it becomes impossible to remember 10 names - squirrels and pandas, no problem. But I still had no hope when people like the Chairman and various supporters introduced themselves – I’d long since given up trying to remember names. (I once borrowed a book on how to improve your memory and forgot to give it back to the owner for many months!)

What struck me was that Steyning had 3 young guys playing, and a 4th, Julian, who came in off a run up of more than a few paces and still had youth on his side – more than a third of the side capable of throwing themselves around in the field! Perfect for an old-before-his-time slow bowler who needs all the help he can get from his fielders. And before I left after the match, one of them asked if I was on Facebook!

To ensure I felt at home, the bar served both Pedigree and Bombardier – a choice of bitters rather than one drunk at the rate of about 5 pints a week as in some cricket clubs. There were a few tuttings when I refused a second pre-match pint which bodes well, and I was installed at number 6 – absolutely ideal for a new player who wants to be able to get a bat, but without the pressure of being in the top 5 and having to play a big innings. I imagined coming in at 150-4 with 10 overs to get on with it, but the reality was somewhat different….


Ben F said...

ed, you have failed to pick up on "Buffalo" Bill Buckley and "Badger" Ferns!!

Ed said...

that'd be the poor memory again - even the animal names didn't help evidently!