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.
Indoor Senior Nets are in full swing, Junior training is underway, a pre-season friendly has been arranged and, as I write, the weather is definitely cricket weather! The pessimist [or is it the realist?] inside me is telling me that there will be many hiccups before the season actually starts but I will enjoy the current state of affairs for as long as it lasts.
Thanks must go to one of the Club’s longest-serving members, Keith Horn, for devising and presenting a most enjoyable Quiz Night at the beginning of February. The event attracted a decent number of members, wives and friends most of whom fell into the category of ‘mature’. Keith’s questions covered a wide area of subjects to test the little grey cells. Everyone present had a good evening even though the weather outside was inclement. Thanks again Keith.
The Senior Nets are being held at the Louisa Centre, Stanley [good facilities and terms] and have attracted several new players. Among their number are a few visitors from overseas whose eligibility to be registered to play in the League has yet to be confirmed. Hopefully acceptance will be granted. It would be a first for the Club to have a South African and/or a New Zealander in the Club. In recent years the Club has had a succession of overseas players in its ranks. Many readers, however, may be surprised to learn that the Club had the pleasure of fielding an amateur overseas player way back in the early 1970s. He was Fez Khan, a surgeon based at Shotley Bridge Hospital, who played in a few matches for the 1st Team. One reader in particular, Club Life Member Walter Armstrong, will remember Fez extremely well. One of my first appearances for the 1st Team was at Seghill. This was the match when the Club batted first on a sporty wicket, was dismissed for a meagre total of sixty-odd before bowler supreme, Colin Leedham, ravaged the Seghill batting line-up to win the match by a dozen or so runs. ‘Sporty’ it certainly was. I went out to bat following the retirement through injury of Walter who had been hit in the face by a ball which had reared up from off a good length. Readers will recall that Walter wore spectacles. I remember that the Seghill fielders were picking up minute pieces of Walter’s lenses as I was taking guard. Walter had sustained a nasty cut around the eye. However, Walter being Walter, took to the field after the tea interval with Elastoplast over the offending area and the promise that Fez would ‘patch’ him up after the match. Fez’s suturing skills were put into practice at the Hospital that evening and, if memory serves me well, Walter was able to take up his regular spot in ‘The Cricketers’ that same evening. Hopefully, Walter will put me right if I have omitted any salient points from that account.
Junior training was mentioned above. At present that training caters for the Under 9 and Under 11categories. It is hoped to reintroduce U13, U15 and U17 cricket into the Club. The coaches are in place but the youngsters are not. Throughout the country age group cricket is provided by clubs. Turn the clock back sixty years and it was a different kettle of fish. The reasons for my own devotion to the game have been well documented in the ‘Muses’ over the years. From the age of five accompanying my father to Headingley [and to the far flung areas of Yorkshire] to matches where he was the Leeds C.C. scorer, playing cricket in the street, representing my Primary School on Saturday mornings and my Senior School throughout the age groups culminating in the school’s 1st Team. When it came to Club Cricket, however, the only age group available was Under 18. As an eleven year-old this was a daunting prospect; going out to bat against a 17 year-old who worked full-time and shaved!! I grew up in Horsforth which is now part of Metropolitan Leeds but then was a village. A village which claimed to be the biggest village in England. Whatever its size, Horsforth boasted two cricket clubs, Horsforth CC and Horsforth Hall Park CC, both of which were members of the Airedale & Wharfedale Cricket League. Initially I played junior cricket for Horsforth before moving on to Hall Park. Matches between the two clubs were serious affairs, rivalry abounded, no quarter asked for nor given etc.. I still remember having to avoid a quick beamer in my first match back at Horsforth CC following my defection to Hall Park. Complaints to the home club’s ‘coach’ was answered by, “Well, you had a bat in your hand!” Coaching at school was quite good and so it should have been given that former pupils included legends Hedley Verity and Brian Close. As an added bonus the Games teacher during my later years at the school was a professional in the Bradford League. However, coaching at both clubs was quite minimal; plenty of nets and fielding practice but not much advice. In fact the only advice I can remember came from an unlikely source, one Cedric Briggs. On the eve of my final season in the U.18s I was invited, along with two other juniors, to attend the pre-season senior outdoor nets. Cedric was the 1st Team’s No.11 batsman. To be fair, on his own admission, Cedric would have been ‘Jack’ in any XI. However, he was the best wicket-keeper in the League by a country mile and there were some very good ‘keepers in that league. Cedric got his eye in pre-season by standing up to the stumps in the net. When it was my turn to bat I played and missed at a few deliveries from the senior bowlers, hit one or two and nicked some others before Cedric called a halt to proceedings to give me some advice. No, it wasn’t to forget about playing cricket and take up bowls instead but, if I can paraphrase correctly, “I can’t bat very well but I’ve ‘stood’ behind some good batsmen in my time. The one thing that they all do is this. They either play right forward or right back. You’re doing neither.” I took his advice and, although still playing and missing on a couple of occasions, I completed my session in the net with a little credit. As some readers may remember this skill of playing and missing stayed with me throughout my time in senior cricket, as did my habit of ‘keeping in the net. The reader may wonder why I have just written so much about events which happened decades ago? No, it was not self-indulgence but more to illustrate how things have changed. In the modern era I perceive that State schools in general do little to promote the game of cricket and that the responsibility for the future health of the game lies in the hands of Club volunteers. I just hope that youngsters in this country and, in particular, in the Consett area take up the excellent opportunities on offer from our Club and others.
February’s Cricket Quiz
More anagrams of famous cricketers. Who are they?
[a] Womanlike nails. [ New Zealand and Yorkshire batsman.]
[b] Award Driven. [Aussie batsman; still banned?]
[c] Enema Oil. [England & Worcestershire all-rounder.]
[d] Fried Mutts. [England spinner. Lost his toe on a tour of West Indies.]
[e] Callus Jerks. [England ‘keeper and artist.]
[f] Mirage Noon. [ ODI skipper.]
Answers will appear in next month’s edition.
Answers to February’s Cricket Quiz
Anagrams of famous cricketers. Who are they?
[a] Renamed Turf. [Legendary Yorkshire & England bowler] Fred Trueman
[b] Unearthly Cows. [West Indies & Tynedale] Courtney Walsh
[c] Towards Glue. [Australian batsman 1965-1981] Doug Walters
[d] Horny Dreams. [Australian wicket-keeper batsman] Rodney Marsh
[e] Cavort Smirk. [Somerset & England off-spinner, now Radio commentator] Victor Marks
[f] Cyborg Toffee Toy. [Corridor of uncertainty?] Geoffrey Boycott
Finally, it is time for a few quotations. This month’s selection is a compilation of utterances from a variety of sources. A real mixed bag:-
‘So that’s 57 runs needed by Hampshire in 11overs and it doesn’t need a calculator to tell you that the run rate required is 5.1818 .’
‘I can’t wait to get over here and render my wife a cricket widow.’
Composer George Shearing on returning to England for holidays.
‘It’s a catch he would have caught 99 times out of a 1000.’
‘Bill Frindall has done a bit of mental arithmetic with a calculator.’
‘That’s a remarkable catch by Yardley, especially as the ball quite literally rolled along the ground towards him.’
‘It’s not in support of cricket but as an earnest protest against golf.’
Max Beerbohm on subscribing a shilling [5p] to W.G.Grace’s testimonial.
‘That was a photo-finish and as there isn’t time to develop the plate, I shall say not out.’
Witty umpire of the mid 20th century, Alec Skelding.
‘Six hundred million people take an interest in cricket. Only 0.0001 per cent of them turn up to watch.’
‘Parsons are not above giving very doubtful decisions at the wicket in favour of their friends.’
‘My wife had an uncle who could never walk down the nave of his abbey without wondering where it would take spin.’
Prime Minister Lord Home.