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.
Regular readers of these epistles will know that I am usually full of the joys of Spring [yes, even I succumb to them on occasion] when I write the April edition. The clocks have changed to bring lighter evenings, the long close-season is nearing its end and the new season is only days away. Great expectations and all that. Not so this time around. Unlike the lady on Stockton High Street [ interviewed on BBC ‘Look North’] ,we all know only too well that the coronavirus pandemic is making dramatic changes to all of our lives and will continue to do so for some time to come. Self-isolation is the new norm. Being flippant for a moment, as a dyed in the wool Leeds United man living among Magpies and Mackems I am used to isolation. Back to reality, it is an extremely serious situation for us all. It will end but there will be tragic consequences along the way. In the great scheme of things our own Club concerns are minor in comparison with the rising death toll and the expected long-term economic implications of the virus. However, those concerns at Club level have to be managed. Indoor pre-season training has stopped, the Bar is closed until further notice and we have no idea if or when the new season will begin. The closure of the Bar has obviously dried up the Club’s major source of income. Thankfully we have an excellent Club Treasurer in Colin McPherson who is exploring various avenues in an attempt to reduce the Club’s on-going costs. Hopefully May’s edition of ‘Muses’ will begin on a lighter note than this one; but don’t count on it.
With regard to the beleaguered First Class game there is talk currently of County Matches and even Test Matches being played behind closed doors. England versus West Indies without spectators! Already the decision has been made to cancel the first seven rounds of the County Championship. The T20 tournament and The Hundred are to take priority. As a lover of the 4-Day game I am tempted to berate those decisions, remembering as I do, that the former 3-Day version of County Championship matches was lengthened by a day with the intention of helping county cricketers prepare to step up to the 5-Day format of Tests. At the time of that change Test Cricket was considered to be the pinnacle of the game. For me it still is. However, these are challenging times. No matter what I or other traditionalists think, the First Class game needs money and lots of it. The short formats bring in the crowds and attract TV monies. The County Championship does not. Frankly it boils down to this sobering fact of life: without the shortened format County Clubs could not exist and the longer formats would vanish.
On a brighter note I was pleased to learn that Janet Bairstow has been elected as Vice-President of Yorkshire CCC. Older readers will remember that Janet is the widow of the superb Yorkshire and England wicket-keeper/batsman David. Younger readers may know that she is the mother of Yorkshire and England wicket-keeper/batsman Jonny. David took his own life at the age of 46, eight years after playing his last match for Yorkshire having played for the White Rose county for twenty years. Apparently he had serious disagreements with the Yorkshire management after his playing days. Therefore I find it reassuring that the present day Tykes’ Committee has seen fit to mark Janet’s contribution to the Club [she has worked as a cricket administrator at Headingley for many years] by electing her to the position of Vice-President; a post she shares with the Yorkshire stalwart, seam-bowler Mike Cowan. Mike Cowan played for Yorkshire from 1953 to 1962. On his day he was an excellent opening bowler who frequently shared the opening attack with another useful chap, Fred Trueman. Now aged 86 Mike has had to wait a long time for this honour. I know what some readers are wondering, yes I am old enough to have watched him play at Headingley.
Readers of a certain age will remember with affection former Shotley Bridge CC cricketer Neville Telford whose death at the age of 82 was announced in March. My memories of Neville stem from meetings with him on the cricket field as opponents. Some readers, however, will have had much closer contact with Neville when he taught them at the then Blackfyne Grammar School. Over the years Neville’s name would come into the conversation in the Club Bar, usually over a pint, when the discussion got around to our schooldays. Having spent mine in the West Riding, I could not relate to Neville as a teacher. However, fellow Club members who had been taught by Neville spoke of him in both respectful and affectionate terms. His only ‘failing’ it seemed was his tendency to direct promising young cricketers down to the Spa Grounds and not to Blackfyne. In Neville’s position as a Shotley member we would all have done the same; wouldn’t we?
Back to the coronavirus pandemic. 24-hour news broadcasting keeps us all informed of its consequences. It is essential that we, the public, receive the information. However, am I the only one who is irritated by the incessant use of these two phrases [new to the lexicon] by the experts and non-experts alike:- “ramping up” and “give a shout to”? Are “increasing” and “congratulate” not adequate? Yes, I know, I am just a grumpy old man.
April’s Cricket Quiz
Many England cricketers were born elsewhere. In which country were the following born?
[a] Geraint Jones
[b] Derek Pringle
[c] Boyd Rankin
[d] Dermot Reeve
[e] Eoin Morgan
[f] Kevin Pietersen
Answers will appear in the next edition.
Answers to March’s Cricket Quiz
[a] What was the name of the ground in Hull where Yorkshire played between 1899 to 1974? The Circle, Anlaby Road
[b] True or false? Ben Stokes is related to the famous psychic Doris Stokes. False
[c] How many feet does the Lords’ slope drop? 8
[d] What was the name of the ground in Southampton where Hampshire played for 105 years? The County Ground
[e] What are the colours of the MCC? Red and Gold.
[f] Name the stadium which was home to Darlington FC between 1883 and 2003 and also hosted Durham CCC where it was the scene of the county’s first ever County Championship victory in 1992. Feethams
It’s time for a few quotations. The quotations which appeared in last month’s edition related to the media. Surprise, surprise; so do the following:-
‘You write anything bad about me and I’ll come and whack you. It is time someone was sorted out. I’ll start with you. I’ll be checking this out. Be careful.’
Viv Richards to Daily Express columnist James Lawton in the Antigua press box, 1990. Richards missed the start of play to berate Lawson, who recalled the conversation in those words.
‘I knew I could never be a ‘real’ newspaper journalist – it was such a difficult job to be hail-fellow-well-met-what’s-yours-old-boy in private life and the next day have to scalpel-slash a reputation in public print.’
Frank Keating in ‘Another Bloody Day in Paradise’, 1981.
‘They smile and then they stab – and they think the next time they come along for a comment you are going to forget the wounding things they write and obligingly talk to them.’
Geoffrey Boycott, on press behaviour after he was sacked as Yorkshire captain in ‘Put to the Test’, 1979.
‘So much of modern sport is spiteful that there is little room for the wry, reflective smile: aggression is the thing, on and off the field, as players glare and gesticulate and the media make mountains from molehills to satisfy producers and editors alike.’
Mark Nicholas, Hampshire captain, 1994.
‘When you have to spend the tour in your hotel room so you’re not stitched up, there’s something wrong.’
Ian Botham, England tour of the West Indies, 1986.
‘I am not talking to anyone in the British media – they are all pricks.’
Allan Border, Australian captain, to Meridian TV’s Geoff Clark, before the tourists’ match against Sussex at Hove, 1993.
‘Newspapers are only good enough for wrapping up fish and chips. They are the pits.’
Martin Crowe, New Zealand batsman in ‘The Cricketer’, 1993.
‘Why should I buy cricket? Nobody watches it.’
Greg Dyke, chairman of ITV Network Sports Committee, 1988.