Village cricket


Did anyone else notice that England were playing test cricket? It kind of by-passed me somewhat. Haven’t we just played Bangladesh? Didn’t we wallop them this time last year?

With all due respect to Jonathan Trott, The cricket can tumble on. I just flicked on Sky Sports to be confronted by its regular piece on various club teams from around the UK. I caught Workington and St Helens before turning off because, almost instinctively, I don’t like them.

It’s not that they are necessarily bad or unpleasant teams. They may be a cracking bunch of lads. It’s just that I’ve grown to instinctively dislike the opposition. I’ll pick out the fancy dans, the sloggers and the ‘all the gear’ types. Somehow I know that there will be some dreadful chat, shouts of ‘great shot Rich’ to nicks between keeper and slips and that the late-teen to mid-20s players will all be horrendously spoiled little buggers that are rude to their mothers despite getting their whites cleaned for them by those too scared to stop pandering to their little darlings.

I also know that them being on Sky Sports regularly will cause egos to inflate to the point that even the small and friendly sides will catch ‘big club syndrome’, and that the big clubs will be even more unbearable than they were before.

I also – instinctively – know that a half decent side that I am part of would wipe the floor with all of them put together and see them off with a caustic, inspired and intelligent chirp.

I may also be slightly bitter that my team hasn’t been picked. Bastards.

Sorry, but I’m feeling old today ;-)

When The Village Cricketer is not watching the rain fall and ruin yet another game of cricket, Aussie baiting or providing insightful commentary (from the grassroots) into the performances of Strauss, Pietersen, Flintoff, Tendulkar, Lara, Warne, etc. I have a day job. Its actually a pretty busy day job within a major global organisation, which sees me working many hours preaching the benefits of managing risk, controlling costs and improving customer experiences.

Occasionally, however, the world of work meets the world of extra-curricular activities head on, and I have taken up an invitation to play in a corporate cricket match: Major global conglomerate v recently acquired software vendor. I’m playing for the major global conglomerate, and its a daunting proposition.

Why daunting? Well, I’m not too worried by the oppo, they may have some useful players, however even if they turn out to be 11 Premier league players (which they won’t) I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t embarrass myself. I’m more daunted by the players on my own team. Don’t know if they’ll be any good, one or two sound like they may be quite handy. However, one of them is my boss, another is his boss, another is the MD of a bit of the business I do some work for, oh and there is his boss too. Would it be a good career move to run any of them out or drop a catch off their bowling? Probably not.

The second interesting bit is how hard to play the match. You can’t play at 80% because its a nice, friendly match, yet do you want to appear uber competitive in a beer match? If I don’t be uber competitive will the big shots on my team (who got where they were in the corporate world by being uber competitive) view it as weakness.

Office politics meets a beer match, and it is difficult to know where to draw the line.

The Village Cricketer opens the debate up to his readers. How should I approach this game?

The ring finger on my left hand once looked like Nathan Hauritz’s finger, when the tip of it was smashed into 16 different fragments of bone by a cricket ball. I held the catch, and what was left of my finger, in my right hand. It got bent sideways, because one of the ligaments in that digit wasn’t attached properly anymore. It hurt a lot, but we won the game. Hauritz’s finger could possibly be dislocated, however if it is broken then Australia’s best bowler (sic) is out of the rest of the Ashes. Perhaps they might fly Bryce McGain in as cover?

Speaking of broken fingers, this chap might be able to offer some advice:

David Morrison is anything but a safe pair of hands

David Morrison is anything but a safe pair of hands

Back in the day, when The Village Cricketer was a young pup seeking his fortune in the big wide world, he made his way to London town.

To a common northerner educated at a West Midlands university, London was a heady and exotic mix of posh women, confusing work and expensive pubs, where strong lager costing £3 plus a pint meant you could be both broke and legless by 9pm, before having to raid a cashpoint to spend £30 on a cab home.

Needing an outlet for his cricketing ‘talents’ TVC went on the internet and – looking for a club in South West London – came across Barnes CC, the home of the mighty pheasant, and The Village Cricketer’s first ever ‘legendary cricket club’.

Barnes’s first XI was useful – breaking into the Middlesex Premier league, and featuring such world beaters as Darren Sammy and Chris Whelan (now at Gloucestershire). The rest of the firsts was made up of English former public school boys, Australian former public school boys, South African former public school boys and occasionally a mad Kiwi or two.

The Village Cricketer, being common, generally played 3rd XI cricket (with the rest of the commoners), broke into the 2nds in his latter years (slightly less common), and once or twice top scored for the 1sts when making up the numbers in Evening Standard cup or pre-season (not so) friendly games.

The Village Cricketer has played for a few clubs in his life – but of all of these – Barnes was the greatest. You could play on a small, picturesque and magnificently manicured ground in SW13, which was at times a batting paradise. There was competitive cricket for all standards, and a legendary Sunday 2nd XI captained by The Colonel, a former advertising exec turned white van man, that took a lighted cigarette into the shower and could bowl respectably with either arm.

Oh, and the bar saw some action too, especially if a couple of the Saturday league XIs had won. The Village Cricketer has yet to find another club that could match the post-match drinking scene that exists at Barnes.

So, if you move to London and want to play decent cricket with a great set of lads and follow it up with some monster drinking sessions, then this is your club – especially given that it is hosting the pre-Ashes cricket writers charity match on Monday 29th June 2009.

I’ve been an England cricket fan as long as I can remember. I’ve always wanted and expected wins, and became obsessive about following England’s progress since the South African’s toured here in 1994.

I’ve seen some highs and many lows. I’ve coped with Neil Smith puking on the pitch and the Sri Lankan pinch-hitters humiliating us in the 1996 World Cup. I’ve coped with us failing to bowl out the Windies as the umpires refused to give any LBWs in the first (or was it second) match of the tour of the Caribbean in 1998, as well as the collapse that preempted Atherton’s resignation in the last match. I’ve coped with us losing to the Kiwis in 1999, further piss poor World Cups in 1999, 2003 and 2007 and failing to chase down the Zimbos score in Harare in 1996/7. I’ve even coped with the batting collapse that led to Australia winning the Adelaide test in 2006.

Even throughout all of this humiliation, I remained confident that we’d beat the minnows. The closest we have come in recent years to losing to a non-test playing nation was when an 18-year-old Baz Zuiderant slapped our boys around the sub-continent in the 1996 World Cup.

Now, we were – supposedly – piss poor in those days. These days we have quality players and momentum, with ODI, T20 and Test success in recent months, and consider ourselves to be a decent side. Tonight we lost to Holland + Dirty Dirk. Dirty Dirk, to be fair, didn’t even do that much. It was the repo man, the restaurateur and the insurance broker that did the damage. Its the equivalent of Matlock Town beating Manchester Utd in the 3rd round of the FA Cup.

Its a mighty f*ck up and deeply embarrassing. We – the highly paid pros – bottled it on numerous occasions and let the village cricketing ICC associate nation of Holland humiliate us. Oh deary deary me.

Orange order embarrass English pros

Orange order embarrass English pros

The Village Cricketer predicts 1-0 ‘Pom-wash’

The Village Cricketer’s English All Stars v Cricket with Balls Aussie Code of Conduct XI

Monday 29th June 2009, 3.30pm start

Barnes Cricket Club, Lonsdale Road, London SW13 9QL

The Village Cricketer today announced the line up of English All Stars for the pre-Ashes charity cricket match in aid of the Everyman Male Cancer Campaign, and issued a stark warning to the descendents of convicts and colonists that will be turning out for the Cricket with Balls Aussie Code of Conduct XI, turn up and lose!

On Monday 29th June 2009, the great and good of the English and Australian online cricket worlds will gather at Barnes CC, London, for a charity cricket match held to raise awareness of and funds for the Everyman male cancer campaign, part of the Institute of Cancer Research. The match is played as part of Everyman’s Male Cancer Awareness Month.

The Village Cricketer confidently predicts that his side – The Village Cricketer’s English All Stars – will win the best of one series 1 – 0.

“The English All Stars is a team of hugely talented, exciting and above all modest Englishmen. It is very simple, with this side we cannot lose,” said The Village Cricketer. “The Aussie Code of Conduct XI will be jetlagged or hungover. We are going to deliver a Pom-wash to the travelling Canary Yellows, delivering a trouncing that will help the England side proper carry momentum into the Ashes.”

The Village Cricketer’s English All-Stars XI:

The Village Cricketer

Ed Craig, The Wisden Cricketer

Suave of Suave’s Republique Cricket

Phil Johnson, Freelance cricket writer

Patrick Kidd, The Times

Nigel Henderson, Legendary cricket writer

Andrew Miller, Cricinfo

Sam Stow, All Out Cricket

Simon Jones (look-a-like)

Steven Croft (play-a-like)

Alan Mullally (leftarm-a-like)

To make a donation in support of this event please visit the Justgiving page.

The Village Cricketer has been to the south of Fraaaarnce baby to play cricket near Monaaaarco. Just like in Malta, there are people in European countries who play cricket, and in the south of France they tend to be English ex-pats. There are also, however, Sri Lankans, and they knew what they were doing. All marvellous baby, and big up to Entrecasteaux CC, Riviera CC and the Mediterranean Juniors for their hospitality.

entrecasteaux cricket club, fraaaaaarnce

entrecasteaux cricket club, fraaaaaarnce

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