Friday, 15 August 2014

Column 24, 2014 – ooncuvered peaches

Printed in The Cricket Paper issue 96, Friday August 15, 2014.
[Full text below]

Cricket can ruin your weekend. For some people, getting out takes a whole week to get over. Despite my rich and varied catalogue of options for getting out, I’ve never really suffered from this.

No, what really makes me throw-stuff-across-the-changing-room angry, is being rained off on a lovely day.

If it’s sheeting down all day, then obviously you’re not going to play. But heavy rain the night before or morning of a match, when come 2pm it’s warm and sunny? Nothing is more likely to induce a weekend-long sulk in me.

The only answer is covers. The snag with which is that covers cost about four and a half thousand pounds. Unless…

A few years ago we ‘invested’ in an ancient set of steel cricket cover frames. I’m sure you can sense the sarcasm in those inverted commas.

The frames were so big that they had to be cut in half and transported to our ground in the bucket of Dave’s massive tractor, and then welded back together again.

Marky H is a welder, and brought a portable MIG kit to the ground for several consecutive weekends, joining the bits back together and replacing lost or broken elements with new box-section steel.

We sourced some old lorry curtain-sides and fashioned them into the right size coverings, tensioned underneath with ropes. Experiments showed that even under tension, water would collect in the gaps, so to prevent sagging, Joel, H and I spent hours covering the frames in ‘pig wire’ fencing, donated by sportsfield chairman Rob.

Our groundsman Derek spent days with the garage trying to refurbish the wheels, which under the weight of the frames would deflate or burst. Mark fashioned brackets for makeshift gutters. More welding. More wire. More inner tubes. More 25mm fish pond hose.

Goodness knows how many hundreds of volunteer man-hours went into trying to make those cursed things work. I’ve never really understood the expression “throwing good money after bad” (there was nothing bad about the initial money) but that’s definitely what we did.

They never worked. The uneven sides would leak all over the pitch, the wheels were perpetually flat, the gutters would collapse when moved. They were so heavy they needed four of us to shift each one. Even when they were deployable, more often than not they added to the problems rather than solving them.

Now they rust beyond the boundary, quietly mocking our lack of four and a half grand.

The other Saturday morning we had a crazy amount of rain in a very short time. An hour before the game was due to start, the carcasses of the failed covers looked on sarcastically as large puddles formed on the cut strip, the white lines of the crease washed away along with all hopes of playing.

Two hours later we were up at a local rival’s watching them play in glorious sunshine.

And I had a right sulk on.

- ends 487 words -

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