During the Cricket World Cup, I am offering copies of my latest book, The Exhaustive Guide to Club Cricket for just £6.99, whilst England are in the competition, or until they win it (you may have to hurry after today). In the meantime, here is one of the chapters from the book for free. Read on and enjoy the differences between the professionals and us clubbies. You can get your 'split webbing hands' on a copy by clicking this link here...
20 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CLUB CRICKET AND THE PROFESSIONAL GAME
1. Wicketkeepers in short-sleeved shirts. You never see professional keepers in short-sleeved shirts, but in the club game they are rife. You can spot a keeper on holiday as he is the one who has tan marks for just a third of his arm, starting half way up his forearm and finishing just above the elbow. He also has a permanently grazed elbow.
2. Wicketkeepers in batting pads. This has not occurred in the professional game since the 1970s. To be fair, most clubbies don’t do this, but you still get the odd one.
3. Players who umpire while using mobile phones. Can you imagine the row that would go on if Aleem Dar missed a stumping with the immortal words, “Sorry gents, I wasn’t looking”?
4. Smoking a fag during the drinks break. This is endemic in club cricket. Many can’t go for more than an hour and a half without nicotine. Pitches are littered with butts, as are occasionally stump holes. It is a habit that is completely park (or “village”), depending on where you’re from. The thought of Warnie stubbing out a stogie on the turf at Lord’s in front of the pavilion would give your average MCC member a coronary.
|A rare sight in the pro game|
5. Jazz hats. Quartered or hooped caps of a variety of colours are still regularly seen among club cricketers from a public school background. They have not been seen in first-class cricket since the days of Douglas Jardine. Likewise cravats.
6. Players having a beer while the game is going on. Imagine watching the Test match and Joe Root and Jimmy are supping a couple of cold ones on the balcony? Then they bowl a pile of rubbish, drop catches or throw caution to the wind and play a rank shot. The press would have a field day.
7. Fielding on an outfield that has been used for rugby or football. With the shortage of space found in club cricket, often we clubbies have to field on areas that are dry, bobbly and as rough as half of a Kookaburra cricket ball. Getting your body behind a ball that is smashed at you in May on one of these pitches is to take your life into your hands. I am sure that some groundsmen are on a back hander, or at least some form of commission from the local dentists. A dislocated ankle as his foot disappears down the hole where the goalposts stood a few weeks previously is another hazard that the unfortunate clubbie has to overcome, unlike his professional counterpart.
8. Having to play on park pitches and diving in dog poo, broken glass or discarded needles.
9. The professionals are generally watched by a knowledgeable crowd, interested in the intricacies of the game. It is unlikely that they’ll have to deal with cars whizzing by with comedic youths hanging out of the passenger window shouting such witticisms such as “Owzat?!” or “Come on you whites”.
|Doubtful that the pros have to remove visitors from the pitch before a game|
10. The professional cricketer will play on a ground which has a large sightscreen or two smaller screens. Their games are not held up by some idiot who insists on going over and around the wicket to a right- or left-hand combination. Neither are they required to push a sightscreen which has got foot-long grass growing into the wheels, which need six blokes to push it, only for the wheel to fall off. Neither are they made to move it because of some bloke (who has the eyesight of Stevie Wonder) and can’t pick up the opening bowler (who is too quick for him), insisting that the screen is moved six inches to the right.
11. “Err Cooky, seeing as you’re out, can you relieve Jimmy in the scorebox, ’cause he needs to pad up” are words that you will never, ever hear Joe Root say. Full stop.
12. While the professional cricketer might have to clamber into empty stands to retrieve the ball in county cricket, not many will spend their weekends having to stick their hands into nettles so that they can carry on with the game. Or a blackberry bush. Or roses. A lost ball in the professional game only happens when someone whacks it out of the ground – never when no one has the inclination to wade into six-foot high stingers to retrieve it and cannot be arsed.
13. Neither does the pro player have to contend with the ball being hit into neighbouring houses. He’ll never need a “leg up” from his team mates to climb the fence and retrieve the ball, only for the resident Rottweiler to take umbrage at some flannelled fool being on his manor.
14. Rarely is a professional game held up by random people or animals on the pitch, although dogs and monkeys have held up England in recent years in Sri Lanka and India. At club level, random drug-smokers, stray mutts or oblivious teenage girls regularly, hold our games up, blissfully unaware that there is a game of cricket taking place.
|"I told you to sort the fucking drinks out"|
15. I wonder if, when Joe Root is batting, he ever has had a pop at Jonny Bairstow because he hasn’t made up orange squash for the second drinks break? Hmmm. Probably not. While on the subject, I bet Jonny Bairstow has never had to rope off the square to stop kids running on it after the game. The likelihood of Stuart Broad having to collect the boundary markers post-match, is slim, as are the chances of Moeen Ali being sent off the pitch half an hour before tea to make sure that the urn’s been switched on.
16. Schoolboy white shirts. The button-through cotton “schoolie” is becoming rare in club cricket these days, but you still occasionally see one come out. You never, ever see them in the professional game anymore and likely haven’t since the days of Mike Denness. Or Tony Greig.
17. Even when playing in London at the Oval or Lord’s, I bet no England player has had to knock on the door of Sam Curran’s or Ollie Pope’s mum’s house to get him out of bed when he’s been out with his teenage mates the night before and has woken up in a pool of his own vomit.
18. Joe Root has never been responsible for ringing in a result, making sure that the bar at Lord’s is open all night or setting the alarm in the pavilion at 1am, having skippered all day.
|"Be a good lad, there's £20 and I want the change"|
19. Sam Curran, as the current youngest member of the England side, has probably never been sent down the corner shop to get a battery for the clock which has stopped working, or some milk for the tea … “Oh, and pick up 20 Benson & Hedges and a jazz mag while you’re down there.”
20. Joe Root doesn’t spend his Saturday morning like a Vietnam veteran “on the wire” every time his phone bleeps, with Ben Stokes informing him that he’s got to drop out because “the Mrs is ill and I’ve got to look after the kids”.