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.
‘What a difference a day makes’. That sentence, as readers of a certain age will know, is the first line of a popular song made famous by Dinah Washington. For the England cricket team and its followers it is more a case of what a difference a month makes. Last month’s edition began with a report of the Team’s demise in the First Test in South Africa. Since then, of course, a reversal in form, fitness and confidence has seen England run out worthy winners of the series by three matches to one. Unfortunately incidents on the field of play resulted in several players incurring the wrath of the Match Referee and the imposition of sanctions on the miscreants. Fair enough. In the ‘heat of battle’ the individuals overstepped the mark and received their due punishment. [Good job there are no stump microphones in local cricket eh?] However, my concern is not so much about the antics of the players but more of the behaviour of some of the spectators.
As I see it, an attitude of, “I’ve paid to get in/ for my drinks etc. so I can do/say what I want” has grown more and more over the years and not just at sports events. In our own Bar I have heard similar remarks uttered by some drinkers whose, to put it mildly, over exuberance has been admonished. I am not concerned about the goings-on in football aka ‘the opium of the people’. That game, in my opinion, lost its way many years ago. Several years ago I reported that the late great Brian Close [Captain of England and Yorkshire] no longer attended football matches because “spectators don’t know how to behave themselves.” That comment from a man who had played professional sport, cricket and football, himself and who by no means could be described as a shrinking violet. It is our game of cricket that arouses my concern. Readers, who like the writer, have played in front of ‘hostile’ crowds will appreciate that some of that ‘hostility’ has come to the fore because of actions by the opposition on the field. In most case that hostility was understandable, anticipated and grudgingly accepted. What are not acceptable are personal comments. Back to the 4th South Africa v England Test last month. Ben Stokes was fined 15% of his match fee because of his obscene reply to the verbal abuse he received from a South African supporter as he left the field. Yes, he deserved the punishment. In a perfect world he would have kept his head down and his thoughts to himself. It is not, however, a perfect world and, as cricketers know, the long walk back to the pavilion after being dismissed for a small score is not the best time in a cricketer’s life. But what about the spectator? What gave him the right to shout abuse directly at Stokes in the first place? Furthermore, what sanction was imposed on him? Just because he had bought a ticket should not give him the right to behave as he did. Returning to Brian Close; the guilty spectator in Johannesburg can count himself lucky that he was born when he was and was not a contemporary of Closey who famously [or infamously] punched a Warwickshire member at Edgbaston. Brian was then captain of Yorkshire. As his side was leaving the field at the end of the day’s play Closey was accosted by the spectator who vigorously accused him of time-wasting and cheating. A cheat he was not so Brian settled the matter by punching said spectator. Although Closey denied punching the man, the Test & County Cricket Board decided differently and relieved him of the England captaincy. A big mistake by Closey and by the T&CCB. As commented above, Brian Close was never a shrinking violet.
At the time of writing [very late January] the Club’s U.11s have had two indoor training sessions at Consett Sports Centre. Information received is that numbers are very good. The Senior Indoor Nets are just around the corner and will take place at the Riverside. The facilities at Durham CCC are excellent. Good light, surface and background. A far cry from those experienced by the seniors of my generation. The Club’s Senior Indoor Nets were staged in Consett Sports Centre on Sunday mornings. Yes there were cricket nets and the surface, as I recall, was true but the background was, for we colour-blind folks, terrible. Red brick walls! White cricket balls, of course, had not been thought of then. White hockey balls? Yes. White cricket balls? A figment of nobody’s imagination. Facing a red cricket ball delivered from a red background made batting or keeping wicket in the net ‘very interesting’. You are correct, I was not a lover of Indoor Nets. My detestation of them heightened when close to the start of one particular season I broke a finger keeping wicket in the Indoor Nets. Pride might lead me to blame the background for the injury. However, I have to admit that it was down to sheer carelessness. Another fortnight wearing a splint and nobody to blame but myself. Hopefully the Club’s current crop of seniors will enjoy their sessions at the Riverside and, tempting fate here I know, not pick up any injuries.
February’s Cricket Quiz
[a] Which former Northamptonshire and England opener played for Durham between 1992 and 1995?
[b] Which other Northamptonshire and England opener was the first director of cricket at Durham and went on to coach the Club?
[c] What year did Durham move to the Riverside Ground?
[d] In which year did the Riverside Ground host its first Test Match?
[e] Which bowler in 1996 became the first Durham player to represent England?
[f] In which year did Durham claim the first of their County Championship titles?
Answers will appear in the next edition.
Answers to January’s Cricket Quiz
[a] In the 1973 Gillette Cup Durham became the first minor county to beat a first-class side. Who? Yorkshire
[b] When did Durham join the County Championship? 1992
[c] Which ground hosted their first ever county match against Leicestershire in April of that year? The Racecourse Ground [Durham]
[d] Who was their captain that year? David Graveney
[e] Which Test Match Special commentator played for Durham that year taking 34 wickets at 49.17 apiece? Simon Hughes
[f] Which Australian batsman topped Durham’s batting averages that year? Dean Jones
It’s time for a few quotations. As I write this edition England are on tour in South Africa. The following quotations relate to past cricket tours.
‘If you get one F, give two Fs back.’
Advice given by Mumtaz Yusuf, manager of Sri Lanka A, to his players in a testy series against England’s A tourists, 1991.
‘If we have appeared to have batted in a hurry, it is because the batsmen want to make the most of their short stay before the umpires do them in.’
Bandula Warnapura, Sri Lankan team manager, excusing a heavy Test series defeat in India, 1994.
‘We didn’t tell them about the country or its culture. It’s not fair on them. We have a responsibility to make them better people.’
Lord MacLaurin, broadening England’s horizons after the tour of Zimbabwe, 1997.
‘We’re professional sportsmen, we can’t get drunk every night. We’ve had up to 12 of us playing Balderdash, laughing and joking for hours. We’ve had a grand time.’
David Lloyd, England coach, defending his squad against accusations of unsociability, tour of Zimbabwe, 1996.
‘We murdered ’em. We got on top and steamrollered ’em. We have flippin’ hammered ’em. One more ball and we’d have walked it. We murdered ’em and they know it. To work so hard and get so close, there is no praise too high. We have had some stick off your lads. We flippin’ hammered ’em.’
David Lloyd, in a state of agitation, after England failed by one run to beat Zimbabwe in the Bulawayo Test, 1996. The final hour was characterized by persistently wide bowling which remained unpunished by the umpires.
For Murder of Zim Cricket team
Last seen with his finger up his nose
Talking complete bollocks
He knows it and we know it
Anti-Lloyd banner at the following Test in Harare, 1996.
‘Up, breakfast, stretch, practice, play, bathe, bar, steak, bed. Same company, day in, day out.’
Ian Botham, on the boredom of touring in ‘It sort of clicks’, by Ian Botham and Peter Roebuck, 1986.