London Sport Blind 13 Sept

By Chris Packham

Hard G’s and salty egg sandwiches

SGCC match report 13th September 2003

All facts, figures and egg sandwiches in this report – on SGCC versus London Sport / Blind – should be taken with a pinch of salt. The reason being that Jim forgot to bring the score book and I, like many a good BBC reporter, am relying on just one source – memory – because, unlike many a good BBC reporter, I forgot to take notes. But the day itself had a dreamlike quality, so maybe facts and figures, for once in cricket, shouldn’t figure.

The weather was glorious for a mid September day and the LSB team, consisting of five ‘totals’ – totally blind – and five partially sighted players arrived promptly for the one o’clock start. SGCC of course arrived in dribs and drabs, the biggest drib (drab?) being our captain, and were put into bat as we were short of players to field and umpire. As they had no experience of playing blind cricket our newest recruits, Paul Brasted and Nick Ducket, were naturally asked to open the batting. The five ‘totals’ gather frighteningly close to the bat and are allowed one bounce of the size four football – containing ball bearings to give some indication of it’s position – for a catch. But our gallant pair, one hang dog, one hang over, were not intimidated.

They got off to a good start but with both in double figures Paul was out to a remarkable catch by one of the ‘totals’. Rob Pimlott replaced him, with the actions of a man determined to be caught before he made any runs. To this end he failed becaues he made 4. Louis Monahan entered and played with great confidence and shot choice for about 30 runs before being caught in the deep. As usual in these games extras were scoring freely but so was Nick, scoring his first fifty for SGCC. I followed Louis. Nick, having taken a look at his new partner, was out next ball, for a very impressive 57 runs. Our next, and it must be said most talented batsman, Malcolm Birks, was also new to this form of cricket. However, after a rebuke for an expansive forward defensive by on loan fielder Will Towers, Malcolm took to it like a duck to the wet stuff and smacked sixes left right and center. One big hit went straight to borrowed SGCC fielder Rob, who moved left, then right, then left again, put his arms out goalkeeper style, and watched the ball drop a metre to his left. This prompted the LSB bowler to ask for him to be replaced, or field close and be allowed the one bounce concession. That old fielders get out “It was right in the sun” cut no ice.

To Rob’s credit – God I am so fair – when drinks were called for and Adam, our bearer of fluid, had still not arrived, he personally bought drinks from the sports centre bar for the LSB fielders.

I went in the thirties caught and bowled and Malcolm soon after for 56. The remaining batsmen: Will, Phil Sessions, Adam Wood, James Tait and Jim Monahan saw out the 35 overs, but their scores cannot be sexed up or down becaues I haven’t a clue what they were. The total score though was 279, our highest against anybody.

Jim might have forgotten the score book, but he remembered the tea. This he shlepped across London in a rucksack I am sure Rannelph Fiennes would give his remaining toes for. Both teams agreed Jim produced a very tasty and copious spread, then Phil mentioned to Jim that he thought the egg sandwiches had a little too much salt. Jim took offence that his use of condiments should be bought into question, leading Phil to try to gather support for his cause. The consensus was unclear, but I had a feeling that, like the egg sandwiches, this could rumble on.

With no fence to sit on I sat on the wall and overheard a conversation concerning our resident scribbler Mark Gilkes and the match reports. What intrigued me was that Mark’s surname was being pronounced by both parties with a hard G, similar to the way an amateur ventriloquist pronounces the B’s in bread and butter and gottle o’ geer. Most odd. The gist of the chat was that the cricket was taking a back seat to Mark’s literary flights of fancy. And all the getter for it, I say.

LSB’s captain of 15 summers, Tony Hegarty, was retiring after this match. Speeches and a presentation (without the present, becaues they forgot it) were made and a guard of honor formed as he and partner Philip went out to open the batting.

Both of the openers being partially sighted the procedure for the bowler is to ask the batsman if he is ready, then, on receiving the affirmative, to say play just before releasing the ball. The ball must bounce at least once and must not be rolling along the ground when it reaches the batsman. For a ‘total’ the ball must bounce twice. An infringement of these rules results in a no ball.

With no independent umpire or scorer, the bowler from the opposite end would do the honors. Each bowler was given two overs before a change and everyone would bowl. Captain Wood decided to add a little spice to the dish by having Jim bowl first and Phil umpire. It was amazing to see our celebrated architect and fixture secretary wilt under the stern gaze of umpire Sessions. The word play seemingly eradicated from his vocabulary. Having been no-balled into double figures Jim launched his googly at the Sessions posterior – his most accurate ball of the day, although “ready umpire?” was not to be heard. They made up in the bar afterwards over a pint and a packet of ready salted.

The inability to talk and bowl at the same time seemed to affect quite a few of our players. At one point Rob lost the power of speech completely, an historic moment. Those that could speak found bowling straight a problem. Paul took to throwing the ball, though no one seemed to mind. The pick of the bowlers were Louis, Nick and Malcolm, although Will had the only bowled of the day. What of me you might ask? I watched imperiously from my position as wicket keeper and was not called upon to embarrass myself.

The opening partnership scored about 70 runs off 7 overs before Philip was caught at silly point by Paul. Tony went on to make his half century. Three more wickets fell before drinks were called and the match abandoned amid much confusion becaues the sports centre was due to close.

Next weekend is the tour to Lyme Regis which heralds the end of the season. Apparently Mark has almost finished the report, just a few names and numbers to add. Should be a cracker, unsalted of course.

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