MIKE'S MONTHLY MUSES
Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.
Well there goes another season; and what a season it was! Plenty of ‘highs’ for the 1st Team and a resurgence of performance in the second half of the season for the 2nd Team. Reference has been made in these columns throughout the season of the tight finishes to matches played by the 1st Team. ‘Exciting’ has at times been an inadequate adjective to describe the emotions experienced by Blackfyne supporters. ‘Heart stopping’ would have been more appropriate. Perhaps the best [or worst] moment was retained for the last ball of the season itself? Defeat in the final two League matches had scuppered any ambitions of winning the League. A solo barrage of 6s by a Seaham Park batsman had demolished the hopes of the 1st Team winning the Roy Coates Cup Finals Day played at Crook CC. The only remaining chance of lifting silverware was the Tyneside Charity Bowl Final played at Tynedale. For the majority of the match the Club looked to be playing second fiddle to Premier League South Northumberland. Batsman Robbie Winn, however, had different ideas. Taking his cue, perhaps, from the aforementioned Seaham Park opener, Robbie unleashed an assault on the opposition bowlers. In an innings of just 29 balls his strokes [not slogs] amassed a total of 55 not out including nine 4s and one 6. When the last ball of the last over was delivered two runs were needed for victory. In a TV drama, of course, that ball would have been blasted out of the ground. However, dramatic as it was, this was not fiction. One run was scored and the match was tied. Having lost fewer wickets, South Northumberland won the spoils. Well done Robbie and the rest of the team for providing members with an exciting season, best described [as was the Final at Tynedale itself] as so near and yet so far.
Familiar faces will be missing next season. I write of the promotion of Ashington CC and Shotley Bridge CC to the North East Premier League. Given the perceived [by the writer] desperation of the NEPL to replace the three clubs which had left that League for various reasons, applications for promotion were sought from clubs within our own N&TCL and the Durham League. N&TCL Champions Swalwell CC [it still hurts to write that] and our Club declined the opportunity to do so. [A discussion of the merits and disadvantages of joining the NEPL would take up the rest of this article. However, as the Club fails to meet one of the criteria necessary for such elevation viz. a lack of a current Junior Section, the discussion would be pointless.] Ashington and Shotley Bridge together with Crook CC [runners-up in the Durham League] accepted promotion and will compete in the NEPL 2nd Division in 2019. Writing as someone with a long history of both playing in and watching matches against ‘the club down the hill’, I shall miss fixtures with our close neighbours. I will not miss the lengthy journey to Ashington but do regret losing the acquaintanceship of several of Ashington’s loyal supporters. As the north-eastern vernacular has it – they were ‘good crack’.
As I write this article the Chapman clan is in Cyprus attending the wedding of John and Jayne. Bob, of course, was less than keen on venturing to foreign climes, although I am sure that once there he will enjoy it all. I know that all readers will join me in wishing John and Jayne a long and happy life together.
The Club’s Senior Presentation Evening will take place on Friday 5th October. No doubt the majority of the ‘formal’ proceedings will, quite rightly, be concentrated upon the on-field performance of the Club. However, perhaps the most prestigious award is the Gus Robinson Rose Bowl presented to the Club Member of the Year? The Club is run in as professional a way as possible by unpaid amateurs. I can think of at least two dozen members who qualify for this category of volunteers. Without their work, often unseen, there would be no cricket played at Blackfyne. It is only fit and proper that their contribution is recognised by the award.
The recent announcement of the retirement of Paul Collingwood from first-class cricket came as no surprise to followers of Durham CCC. Age catches up with all of us eventually.In my opinion Paul is to be commended for his work with the County since his departure from the international scene several years ago. To have played in front of thousands of spectators for many years and then to return suddenly to the metaphorical ‘three men and a dog’ on the County circuit must be a jolt. Paul, however, appeared to take it in his stride and threw himself into doing whatever he could for his native County club. No doubt we will not have heard the last of him. Only he knows what his ambitions are and what will be around the corner for him. He may even turn out for Shotley Bridge in the NEPL. I wish him well.
The rumour-mill is probably working at top speed at the moment. I write, of course, of the comings and goings of players within our League. Last year I was told by an opposition player that Messrs. A, B & C would be joining our club for season 2018. The annoying thing was that he was correct in every detail. How did he know? Confidentiality is a thing of the past. As for season 2019 all I can tell you is that the story of MS Dhoni having been seen in Blackhill is not true. Elvis on the other hand …………………. .
October’s Cricket Quiz
A spot of bother:-
[a] Which former England captain buzzed the ground in a Tiger Moth plane during a match in Australia in 1991?
[b] Who was the other player in the plane?
[c] Which England all-rounder was banned after he admitted to smoking cannabis in 1986?
[d] Which Australian cricketer was sent home from the World T20 Cup in 2012 for an ‘alcohol-related incident’?
[e] What is it alleged that England players threw on the pitch during the 2007 Oval Test against India?
[f] Name the England opener, now a match referee, who demolished his stumps with his bat after being dismissed against Australia in 1988?
Answers will appear in next month’s edition.
Answers to September’s Cricket Quiz
A mixed bag:-
[a] Which West Indian fast bowler sent down 15 balls in an over against Australia in Perth in 1996-97, widely believed to be the longest ever? Curtly Ambrose
[b] Bowlers have to inform the umpire if they are changing their bowling style [e.g. from medium pace to spin]. True or false? False. [They only have to inform them if they are going to change their bowling arm.]
[c] What is the cheapest ten-wicket haul in First-class cricket history? 10-10 by Hedley Verity.
[d] Who is the oldest man to have scored a century in a Test match? Jack Hobbs [aged 46].
[e] Name the only Welshman to captain England at Cricket. Tony Lewis
[f] Which Warwickshire spinner once took all ten wickets without the aid of any fielder; seven bowled, three LBW? Eric Hollies
[g] When England played Australia in 1979, Lillee was caught Willey bowled Dilley in the gully. True or false? True
Finally, it is time for a few quotations. Cricket-loving children [yes, there are some] probably have a dream of playing for their county and their country. The subject of the quotations below not only achieved those ambitions but was an important member of the most successful County team of the 1960s before moving on to pastures new and leading his adopted county to the success which it had never before experienced in its history. As if that was not enough for any cricketer, he captained England in Australia, regaining the Ashes in the process, returned to his native county as Team Manager [and player] before taking up the role of England’s Chairman of Selectors. When all of that was over and done with he would have been forgiven for sitting back and enjoying his retirement. But no, he was to be found back at his local club [Farsley CC] where it all began, cutting the wicket in preparation for Saturday’s match. I write, of course, of Raymond Illingworth [Yorkshire, Leicestershire and England]. Not everyone’s cup of tea I know, but just look at his record as an all-rounder [off-spinner and middle-order batsman] and captain of Leicestershire and England. Raymond [he did not appreciate being known as ‘Ray’] Illingworth was a boyhood hero of mine and, for no other reason than that, he merits a series of quotations to himself.
‘As good a cricketing mind as there has ever been. ’
Sir Colin Cowdrey on Ray Illingworth, appointed as Chairman of Selectors,1994.
‘I did once try to become a selector, but the application seemed to get blocked along the way. ’
Ray Illingworth, freshly appointed as England’s Chairman of Selectors, at a youthful 62, explaining why his involvement with the national side had taken so long.
‘We have been running scared.’
England’s new Chairman of Selectors, Ray Illingworth, in his first day in the job, on the policy of playing six specialist batsmen, 1994.
‘He is one of our best batsmen. But I’m not going to tolerate part-time players who want to pick and choose which series they play in.’
Illingworth, assessing the likelihood of a Graham Gooch comeback, 1994.
‘Current players admired?’
Raymond Illingworth’s response to a questionnaire in ‘The Cricketer’ upon becoming Chairman of Selectors.
‘I fear he will be too keen to run the train-set all by himself. ’
Mike Brearley, in ‘The Observer’, upon Ray Illingworth’s appointment as Chairman of Selectors. [Brearley regarded Illingworth, nevertheless, as the shrewdest captain he had ever played against.]
‘I don’t want players who need a shoulder to cry on.’
Ray Illingworth, justifying his decision to dispense with the England chaplain, Andrew Wingfield-Digby, 1994.
‘Providing a shoulder to cry on has never been a definition of my work. I agree with Mr Illingworth that our players should be tough. I know of no tougher person to walk the face of the earth than my own boss – Jesus Christ.’
Andrew Wingfield-Digby, who was still to be allowed occasional dressing-room visits on an unofficial basis, 1994.
‘If they’re not going to work hard, they’re not going to play.’
Gospel according to Ray Illingworth, newly appointed as Chairman of Selectors, 1994.