Friday, 11 July 2014

Column 19, 2014 – Local derby

Printed in The Cricket Paper issue 91, Friday July 11, 2014.
[Full text below]

There are several village teams near us who all play in Hampshire Cricket League Regional Division One. A couple of them we get on well with, and share players for nets, friendlies, Wednesday night cricket, and indoor winter leagues.

When the Saturday league fixtures are published in January, it’s these you check first, warming your feet by the crackling fire in the pub, daydreaming of long summer days, and even longer winter bragging rights.

Saturday was Damerham v Godshill. It’s a big one. My good friend and drinking buddy Clive plays for Godshill. As does his eldest, Ross, while his younger one, Ben, plays for us. Several other Godzillas have become mates off the field too.

On the field it’s all so intertwined that there was only one guy in the side we played against on Saturday that has not been a team mate of mine at some point in a Wednesday, indoor or friendly game.

Of course this lends the Saturday league derby a level of expectation that can only possibly result in disappointment. And this it duly delivered. In spades.

Ben had a post-A-level blowout with his mates, Joel had a dirty weekend, Al had a broken thumb, Andy had an anniversary, Pards had to work, Mark’s nipper had a football tournament. It went on. We did scrape 11 together eventually, Crispin valiantly hobbling out of retirement, and Gary roping in two fireman colleagues to rescue us, but it’s fair to say that it wasn’t our strongest side.

Speaking of strong sides, the other ‘Big Game’ on Saturday was the MCC vs ROW match celebrating 200 years of cricket at Lord’s. Few games this year can have had more hype and publicity, and the line up of legends was indeed impressive. Though I was at a loss to understand why it was laced with current internationals. Is there really a shortage of ex-players? Anyone knock on Sky’s door? Or were they worried the legends wouldn’t manage 50 overs without assistance?

They promised very different games, Lord’s and Godshill, but both were pretty much guaranteed to be a let down, for almost entirely opposite reasons.

The Lord’s game was needlessly overstaffed, and no one gave a monkey’s who won. The Godshill game was catastrophically understaffed, and we probably cared a little bit too much about who won.

The Lord’s game was ruined by Saeed Ajmal, the best ODI bowler in the world, with an inconvenient spell of 4-5, and Aaron Finch, one of the international game’s hottest young batsman, smashing 181*.

Ours was ruined by a complete and total absence of Saeed Ajmal for us, and imperious knocks of 159* and 90* from Coops and Chris for Godshill.

But in our game at least, no one broke anyone’s hand with a beamer, and no one called a former team mate an effing c-word. That kind of stuff is best left to the pros.

- ends 484 words -

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