A few weeks ago we published an article debating whether it was time to end Lord MacLaurin’s experiment with ECB Premier Leagues at the top end of the club game. Last week’s article "Oppo speak" also appears to have struck a chord with club cricketers across the land and was even debated on cricket writers on TV by Lancastrian Legend Walt Allot and the Lord of Lords Mike Selvey. Now Thorpster is back with more…
Before the advent of the Premier Leagues and the influx of overseas players, which in my opinion led directly to the now regular practice of paying players at club level, the club you played for was largely one of the locals. A bit like Trevor Brooking or Tony Adams in football, your club was your club. It sometimes led to players being big fishes in small ponds but back then it was an amateur game not striving to be professional. As stated in the aforementioned articles the warm up was a couple of pints before a competitive game starting at 2 o'clock and a competitive game in the bar starting when the 20 overs after 6.30 had finished or earlier if the game went short. Sundays were all about local fixtures against familiar opponents and again a few ales and maybe a curry, and in general a good time was had by all. The game on a Sunday was secondary and one local team Chaseville used to go beserk if the common practice of winding the clock back following a late start was observed, for them it was all about getting in the bar.
Following the start of the Premier Leagues and players being paid, local mercenaries began to spring up, the cricketing equivalent of a Tevez or Nasri attracted by a few quid or a pound a run in some cases. Local clubs attracted benefactors who stuck their hand in their pocket leading to Premier League standard players having more clubs than Jack Niklaus as they change allegiance more times than Zlatan Ibrahimovich in chase of the Yankee dollar. League cricket sprung up on Sunday along with various cup competitions meaning yet again more miles on the car, more time away from Mrs and kids and more sore ears.
|A good old fashioned game of Sunday cricket|
A few years on and Sunday cricket is basically dead, with sides that got 3 or 4 elevens out on a Sunday struggling to field 1 team. Being a cricketer at the top end of the club game and maybe playing rep cricket now means a lot of travelling. This combined with perennial problem of limited participation time means many players being lost to the game prematurely. I can testify, as a former top order batsman, that over two days of cricket you can easily participate for only 2 minutes. You turn up after an hour and half in the motor (at today’s petrol prices!), field/stare at the sky for 3 hours and then nick off for nought. Repeat the same on Sunday and you have spent 24 hours out of the house for 5 minutes participation. Go and play golf and no matter how long you spend looking for your ball in the trees you get to play another shot.
One of my mates and old club buddies and a good friend of Dan & Liam of TMS, Matt Fitzpatrick put this into context for me. In 2000 he scored lots of runs for us in Herts Division one and after being sawn off on 93 after putting now HCPL side Harpenden to the sword he was called up to the league rep eleven where he acquitted himself well. Come the next season he had moved to the Hertfordshire Hollywood - "Borehamwood la, la, la" and thought he would have a go playing for Radlett of the HCPL. Anyway he was picked for the ones early on and was told he was playing at Beaconsfield away on the Saturday, with an 8am meet at the club- Just about managing to drag himself out of his pit at 7am after a Friday night on the lash- he found himself batting at 7. Radlett stuck the oppo in and Matty fielded for 65 overs and then found himself coming in during a run chase. After being called a village idiot for being the only batsman not wearing a lid he was run out for nought. After the game he asked where he was playing on the Sunday and was told Hastings away in the National Cup with a 9.30 meet. Yes, you guessed it- batting in the middle order, he soon felt the outside tickle before being snaffled by the waiting South coast gloveman!
From pitching up half an hour before, having a laugh and a few beers with his mates and some fun cricket in between, he has found himself starring in 'The loneliness of the long distance cricketer....'