Weathering The Storm

Last week we had a barbecue. Last week was the hottest night in living memory at New Horwich Park (Thursday), but by Saturday there was a major doubt whether we would be able to play cricket at all. Today there is even more doubt that the Under 13s will play due to heavy downpours. This week we had a barbecue, but it looks like being the last one for quite some time. Its just not (the weather for) cricket. 

Anyway, on Saturday we had an archetypal second team day. Would we or wouldn’t we play? The ground was very wet, and questions were asked as to whether we should actually turn up or not. As it happened, the two hours leading up the scheduled start time were rain free, and the ground dried up significantly. An umpire appeared, but not the one we were expecting. I asked him if there had been a change. ‘No, Ive always been down to do this game’. So we got on with arrangements, and it seemed that a delayed start would be prudent, just to give the ground another half hour to dry, and so that the older members of the squad would not have to spend too much time running around. Then another umpire turned up. At second team level this is a veritable plague. The second umpire was the one that we were expecting, so I asked him if he was expecting company. “No, I thought that I was doing it on my own’. The first umpire was down to umpire the seconds too, but a week later. We weren’t complaining; two umpires is a real bonus in the second team. However, the second umpire may have had cause to complain, as he was expecting to do the game on his own and so would be a tenner light! We welcomed back many of our exam bound under 16s, now freed from the chains of revision and ready to resume their fledgling cricketing careers. I looked around the dressing room, and we only had 10 men. No Gareth Hill. Now, Gareth has always been a make up, but without him we would be a man light. I rang my usual circle, and Jack Kitchin would play, as soon as he had finished his Jujitsu! Back to 11, panic over, and the welcome sight of Ed Kitchen and entourage bringing provisions aplenty for tea. Such is the nature of second team cricket. Not that we are not competitive, but when the firsts choose not to play for reasons too numerous and trivial to debate here, we get what’s left. I don’t think we have had a single second team selection meeting this season that ended in a vote. And when players are called in at the last minute, and it rains a lot, they are apt not to turn up. I may be doing Gareth a disservice, but I have not heard from him. One thing I am sure of is that he would not have taken the catch that Jack Kitchin took to dismiss their dangerman. That could well have saved us 100 runs. 

Anyway, the fielding was brilliant, shambolic, focused and lackadaisical all at the same time. From what I have heard, the firsts is similar, just not in a second team kind of way. And when things don’t go the way of the bowler emotions are likely to run high, particularly when it happens again, and its the same culprit. But second team cricket is, to be blunt, second team cricket. It is about bringing on the youth, getting first team players back to form, and scraping various barrels to put 11 men on the pitch. It won’t always be like that, but so long as the firsts are ruled by their social lives, their work commitments and their women, it will remain so. Incidentally, the tea rota is filling up nicely, for the seconds. The first team should take note! Its not just mums that help out. Wives, girlfriends and sisters are happy to do their bit too. Works wonders for morale. 

Back to the match, and we should have been chasing 120, we could have been chasing 220, but we were actually chasing 154. Reuben and Ben got us off to a sublime start, and whilst Reuben scored just 19, his was an impressive contribution. The longer he stays in the seconds the more I am convinced that he will score 50s in abundance, and hopefully the odd ton before the firsts come calling again. There then followed a traditional Whaley collapse, fueled in part by exam induced rustiness. I came in at 10 with the score on 98, and we were at the last chance saloon. I ordered a large one, with a lemonade for my junior partner, and we swashbuckled our way to a gratifying victory that had a lot to do with the second team mentality of giving everyone a chance to participate. 

Minutes can be a strange beast, and particularly when those minutes emanate from the Exec. In the same meeting it was decided that we could cannibalise old junior trophies to present at the newly revamped six-a-side, whilst at the same time we would be looking for better quality trophies for this year’s juniors. As it turns out this might just mean personalisation of the junior trophies. The minutes weren’t clear! Mr Cutts will discuss improvements to the club website with Mr Madden. Oh no he won’t! He will just get on with it. He is more than capable, as is Elliot who has also volunteered. The one thing I don’t want to do is stifle any creativeness with arbitrary checks on standards and ‘quality’. Mr Madden is also to be approached to see if any of the tea ladies or junior parents would be willing to help at the six a side barbecue. Are these the same tea ladies whose very existence would have been rendered obsolete if the WBCC proposal to redesignate the onus on the provision of teas was passed? Now, I send a junior email, because that is the way it has always been. Recently I was asked to hand over the junior email list to the secretary, which I did. The secretary is on the committee, and produces the minutes, so why does the secretary not contact junior parents? Cut out the middle man. And then there is the T20. I suggested it would be good to have black covers on the sightscreens as we will be using a pink ball. The committee suggested approaching Buxworth to see if they might contribute (as we are a joint entry for this competition with our near neighbours). Now, I am all for good ideas, so who suggested this? I do not know, but what I do know is that no one actually volunteered to contact Buxworth. My intention was that our resourcefulness might actually come up with a way of creating a black effect at no cost. If we start incurring charges and passing them on to Buxworth they would quite rightly assume they were getting a significant proportion of match day revenue (which they probably will be – we’ve not worked that out yet – the point is lets not shoot ourselves in the foot before we get out of the trench). 

On another administrative note, our fine for a late junior report has been rescinded. Not had any explanation of this as yet. Perhaps the league bank account has reached its limit and they cant accept any more funds! 

Reuben gave deserved congratulations to Buxton Under 15s on Monday night as they beat our boys to virtually guarantee their place on Finals Day. We may still qualify on the controversial Group Match Ratio, but we will have to wait and see. It was gracious in defeat, and despite extensive preparations, despite a pre match speech that touched on bombastic rhetoric but actually provided great insight into game strategy, it proved that ‘ability’ is a very difficult opponent to overcome.