Our Special Relationship With Birch Vale

Rules, rules, rules. Good rules, bad rules interpretation of rules.

Dale didn’t break any rules, but then again, neither did Trevor Chappell or Harold Larwood. When the Non-Striker, Andrew Hilditch picked up the ball and gave it to the bowler .there was nothing in the rules to prevent Safraz Nawaz from appealing.

In my experience the worst umpires are those who can quote every rule verbatim, but haven’t the faintest idea how to apply them.

There was once a certain game at Hayfield when a certain female umpire from Chinley complained that the Whaley players were leaving the pitch and returning without permission. The fact that we were searching for the ball in the river seemed to pass her by

The same umpire called “Dead Ball” when Chris Williams nicked the ball and started walking to the pavilion, oblivious to the reality that our keeper had fumbled the chance and then run him out with the resultant throw. Of course if the throw had missed the stumps, the Grove batsmen could have run a quick single and we wouldn’t have been able to complain.

In that scenario the correct decision would have been “Run-Out”, but the umpires also had the option of asking the Whaley captain to withdraw the appeal. Instead they chose a third and totally stupid option.

Years ago I played for Compstall Second X1 against Whaley Bridge. There were no officials so the batting team had to umpire and everyone had to rely on the honesty of their team mates. Otherwise it was a waste of time for all concerned.

Early in the game, Ian wild nicked the ball to our keeper, but nobody was sure if it had carried. To save everyone’s blushes Ian asked the keeper whether he had caught it cleanly and promptly tucked his bat under his arm and disappeared.

Afterwards the keeper confessed that it had bounced, so Frank Wilson banned him for the rest of the season. Whaley had played the game in the right spirit and Frank was rightly embarrassed.

Fast forward to 2014 and Whaley Bridge were defending a large score in a game that could loosely be described as a relegation six pointer. We desperately needed to win, but how far were we prepared to go?

In my view Birch Vale have always played the game fairly and are disliked for no other reason than the simple fact that they are often better than the opposition. Whaley Bridge have traditionally been a popular team yet in recent years have been drawn into too many petty, tedious squabbles.

As an ex-player the really sickening aspect from last Saturday’s embarrassment was the general perception that most of the Whaley personnel couldn’t even see the damage. Too many sheep: too many one-liners: not enough remorse.

Dale didn’t break any rules on Saturday, apart from the most important one which is to respect them