Characters

Posted in ECB ACO

It is the end of the season and the matches have finished.

For some teams the politics continue, there are presentation evenings and AGMs. For some players there will be winter nets, extra training, new skills to learn, old skills to hone, perhaps new roles to prepare for before leather hits willow again in the spring.

In my case, coloured pens emerge from the pencil roll.

I have already consigned my sunhat and my scorebooks to the loft, I have sorted out my main bag - removing scraps of paper, old pages from my notebooks and used team cards. My match clock goes back in my school bag and my binoculars go back in the glove compartment of my car in case we come across birds or planes that might need a closer look.

Looking back on the season it has had many firsts for me - scoring at a variety of new grounds and in new counties, I have entered things on the scoresheet that we all like to tick off our list, like four wickets in four balls for example.

I remembered how to deal with the relevant boxes when a bowler was removed for bowling too many beamers, and what to do if a batsman leaves injured. I have had penalty runs for both the batting and bowling sides too.

All scorers are keen to get the more unusual entries onto a sheet one day - a 'timed out' or a 'hit ball twice' for example...always hoping it is the opposition team of course.

All the grounds I have visited this year seem to have something in common other than the game. They all have 'characters' - older guys mostly, though not always, ex-players, umpires, just general locals.

You know who I mean. They were all fantastic in their day, they saw better games here than the one going on at the moment, they were better umpires than those men in long coats in the middle right now, and they all arrive at dinner break or tea break as they can smell a spare cucumber sandwich and a free cup of tea from well behind the sight screens.

Usually they want to know the score exactly as the wicket falls when you are scribbling like mad, and various other statistics which I am happy to give them, but not just this second.

They are all part of what makes cricket such a very English game, along with the rain showers, the biting wind, the 'hottest day of the year so far', the spiders in the corner of the score box that won't hurt you but do make you jump when they fall onto your sheet and the clang of the numbers falling over on the scoreboard.

Then there are the shouts of 'run' or 'howzat' or maybe 'look out' as a six comes your way, and sometimes 'oops, sorry' when a diligent fielder canons into your table trying to stop a four but in his haste realises he does not have good brakes.

All that, along with the constant banter back and forth of scorers checking out addition, times, run rates, partnerships, and working out how long it will be before we get to pop to the loo.

Most people cannot see the fascination of being at the cricket, but for me it's being part of this brilliant game despite never having held a bat or bowled a ball, yet loving the game from my childhood.

The chance to share the frustration of falling wickets and the delight of a good shot or a 'jaffa', and, at the end of the day, whoever won or lost, if 'balls bowled less wides' equals 'balls faced by the batsmen' and all the runs and extras add up to the final score, I go home knowing that I have done a good job.