Saturday, 1 December 2018

Free Chapter from The Exhaustive Guide to Club Cricket

The Exhaustive Guide to Club Cricket came out earlier this week and as a little taster, I've leaked a free (yes free) chapter of the book. Here it is, which is all about the struggle that all clubbies have of where to park you car when arriving at an opposition ground. We've all been there! The follow up to the number one best seller in its category on Amazon, The Definitive Guide to Club Cricket, it is an anthropological look at the individuals who play recreational cricket during an English summer. With a foreword by Middlesex CCC keeper John Simpson, there will be a donation to Melanoma UK of some of the royalties - that is unless you nick a copy from a library, as we all know how tight club cricketers can be. You can grab your copy here by clicking on the link...

So you’re at an away game, you pull into the opposition car park, find a space, get your kit out of the boot of the motor and go and play cricket. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Not in club cricket. There are rules and regulations to be adhered to, so here’s a guide to following the car park etiquette of club cricket.
Firstly, drive extremely carefully on arrival to the opposition car park. A slight prang will mean a plethora of sledges not just during that day but throughout the following years as the slip cordon giggle at your lack of concentration. A misjudgement on arrival will give the opening bowler hope that you will misjudge the width of a delivery in a similar fashion to the width restriction on the entrance to his home ground. Also, under no circumstances do what one player in our league did once and reverse his car into the clubhouse while attempting to park in front of the congregating host side. The cries of “Come on let’s get him driving, we know he is shit at that,” will continue for as long as you are at the crease. If you’re really unlucky, it will be for your whole career.
Pick your parking spot. The experienced clubbie will never park his car anywhere near the arc of long on to mid-wicket, especially if he knows he has a spinner in his side who likes to give the ball a bit of loop. A distance of at least 150 yards from the wicket is the preferential parking zone, despite it being further to lug your kit to the clubhouse.
Do not park your car anywhere near the flash bloke in the side who has a Porsche or any other type of sports car. This man is like a magnet to the opposition number six who will target his automobile. I know from personal experience in the past; having parked my trusty rust bucket near a guy in a Spitfire, who loudly exclaimed “They call me ‘Viagra’. It might not make me James Bond but it allows me to Roger Moore,” in a public school accent, that this type of individual’s motor will be targeted. Unfortunately the batsman missed his, only to hit mine.

Do not wish ill on any cars in the car park. At a ground in Enfield many years ago, the only parking spots were behind the bowler’s arm. As a huge straight six left the bat, one bloke shrieked with excitement “Yes, the cars, the cars,” only to go on to exclaim “Oh no … my car,” as the ball left a perfectly circular hole in the middle of his windscreen. He was still picking shards of glass out of his driver’s seat long after the cricket season finished.
If you have a panel beater or an Autoglass worker in your club, immediately befriend them. Their services will be needed at some point during your career.
Follow the opposition. These guys park here every week and are fully aware of the areas of a ground that their own team mates target. Experience tells you to park where they park and do not leave your car anywhere near the potential final destination of a booming pull shot.
If you have a red car, do not park it behind the bowler’s arm. Either that, or don’t come crying when you can’t pick the ball up on a ground with small (or no) sightscreens, when their bowler goes a little wide on the crease.
If you have a soft-top cabriolet, do not leave the roof down. As you will be at an opposition ground for seven or eight hours, normally this is equivalent to roulette, or is that rou-wette, in an English season where the weather on a summer’s day is often changeable. Sitting on squelchy seats for the hour-long trip home after a golden duck and 0-40 off four overs is the sort of stuff that makes people give up cricket. It will also make you look like you have wet yourself when you return to your own clubhouse.
If you’re an opening bowler and the ball goes into the car park, feel free to race from the other side of the pitch to be the first one to retrieve the ball. This gives you an opportunity to find it and to rub one half on the abrasive surfaces that all cricket club car parks are renowned for. A quick polish on the other side will make the ball reverse around corners, despite the fact that it’s done nothing out of the ordinary all day. Look on your team mate being hit for six into the car park as an opportunity and not as something to berate him for. May I hasten to add that this only works, should he not lose the “naughty ball” for the rest of his over, with the next ball going for an even bigger six and out of the ground, possibly into a river.
No matter how pissed off you are with your own performance, do not exit the car park at 60mph in a fit of pique. Being incandescent with rage after the opposition umpire has gunned you for a duck can make some clubbies a bit heavy-footed on the old accelerator pedal. Cricket club car parks are notorious for pot holes, so unless you have shares in Kwik Fit or enjoy getting your exhaust fixed once a season, then it would be advisable to exit the car park in a calm and dignified manner.
Always urinate in the toilets provided and not in the car park. The experienced player will always nip to the loo before a long journey home. Many moons ago, one younger player forgot and peed by his friend’s car just before they left the opposition car park, only for the home side’s chairman to pull up next to them with his wife in tow, on their way to a cheese and wine evening being held at the ground. To say she was not pleased as she had to wade through his piss was an understatement. It resulted in a letter to the club.

Do not park up extremely close to other cars, leaving them absolutely no room to get out. One such individual did this a few years ago at an opposition ground only to find a note which read, “Next time, leave me a tin opener to get my car out, you fucking idiot”. Again take into account that you may spend a long time out in the middle. If your car is in the car park blocking the entrance or exit don’t come crying when it’s scratched down one side like a bowler looking for reverse swing.

Lastly, do not think you’re clever by using a van or a lorry as a shield. During the seven hours or so that you may spend on the pitch there’s a likelihood that this bloke may well move his vehicle. While thinking that parking behind the van on a 50-yard boundary may well be a cracking idea when you arrive, he will soon move it leaving your prized automobile as exposed as you would be going out to bat without a box.

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