|A common sight, post match in cricket clubs...|
Towards the end of your cricket season you might finally notice someone who has followed the team around all year. This person will go to home and away games and yet you have never spoken to them. Who is this person who never speaks but carries a variety of multicoloured pens around with them? And then it suddenly dawns on you, it’s your scorer.
Scorers come in all shapes, sizes, ages and genders. They range from the downright attractive female to the socially inept single man. They are a breed who prefer to spend their summers under cover, so the spring sees them having to disturb the local vagrant who has inhabited their score box as their winter abode.
Scorers are stat-obsessed. 99.99% of them also suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder. You mess with their scorebook and this meek, mild-mannered individual who doesn’t say anything all year will suddenly combust. Neatness and order are the hallmarks of their work and they will go into huge bouts of depression should the coloured pen they’ve used for the opening bowler suddenly run out in his fourth over. Some have even been known to shout out to the skipper to take someone off rather than have to use two colours for the same bowler. They also go mental if it starts to rain and there’s no cover for them. To see their book, so lovingly cared for, suddenly resemble an abstract finger painting that your 5-year-old would bring back from primary school fills them with angst. Then the skipper goes and leaves their book behind in the opposition clubhouse, leading to more despondency.
|Why scorers need up to date tetanus jabs|
The more technologically advanced of this genus now carry laptops with them and go about their weekly task online. The advent of apps such as Total Cricket Scorer and websites like Play Cricket, mean that you can follow the fortunes of your club from miles away. Many scoreboards are now electronic and the score can show on the board from the safety of the pavilion, with batsmen’s scores, overs and even runs required being sorted by a small contraption. The days of having to hook metal numbers on to a board and cutting yourself on the rusty nail that they dangle on are long gone. The scorers of yesteryear always had to have up-to-date tetanus jabs.
Long gone, too, are the rollers that required extreme precision to get the number just right so the players could actually decipher the score. These would hang half way between the numbers and gave a vigorous workout to all and sundry. You had to be fit to be a good scorer back in the day. Some clubs still have the drawstring ones that you have to pull down manually. Many a clubbie who has to go into the box with the opposition scorer (due to your club not providing one), will pull the string too hard leading to it coming off in his hand.
The other contraption is the scoreboard that you have to turn the dials clockwise or anti-clockwise to move the score. Often a standalone device, you still see this used when the electronic scoreboard technology breaks down or if the host club have failed to put 50p in the meter. These archaic boards have flummoxed many a club cricketer over the years and watching your lads trying to work out how to operate one of these is similar to watching a dyslexic read War and Peace. It’s normally at this point that the 12-year-old opposition scorer steps in and sorts it out with a simple flick of the wrist.
The scorebox can be a strange and unpleasant place. You wouldn’t venture into one for any reason other than to score a game of cricket. Aside from being a great habitat for tramps, they are littered with spiders, woodlice, earwigs and plagues of insects that you’ve only read about in the Old Testament. There are holes in the roof and in the floor, and a viewing hole at the front which is often strategically placed to funnel bitter northerly winds in April. Others involve climbing great heights too, often up precarious ladders and require crampons and the like to get you safely back down.
|The home of spiders, earwigs, woodlice and the winter abode of the local vagrant|
For those who operate at ground level, the players don’t help them. Apart from losing a pen, nothing winds the scorer up more than a group of players standing in front of them so that they can’t see the action. This usually means that they miss a run or a call of wide and get shouted at by the umpire for the lack of acknowledgement on his signal. Scorers don’t like getting shouted at by umpires and it’s usually by a player distracting them or standing in their line of vision that’s the cause. The cry of ‘Scorers’ light’ will be heard if they are polite, or ‘You don’t make a very good window, you know?’ Then you have the batsman desperate to look at his runs in the book after a decent knock who again will stand directly in front of the sight line of the scorer. Many scorers give a more than passable impression of Bez out of the Happy Mondays as they weave from side to side trying to get a glimpse of the action with players in front of their beloved score box.
There are now courses that these people can go on. The ECB’s Association of Cricket Officials run not only courses for umpires but for scorers too.
It’s a tough job being a scorer. I believe that a tenner is the going rate these days, which is a vast improvement on the £1.50, a lemonade and a packet of crisps that I started on as a 12-year-old in club cricket. There can be serious pressure at times and woe betide them if they start to get the overs wrong in a tight finish. I knew of one child in the past who just gave up and went home half way through a game. It was only after 10 minutes when the board hadn’t moved and the umpire was repeatedly shouting, ‘Telegraph’ from the middle that the players had realised what had happened.
The scorer’s life has become easier though. They don’t have to work out averages any more as this is all done online, should someone have had the inclination to upload the scorecard onto a cricket website. It has been known that when this is left to some players, those that get a duck or go for no wickets for 50 runs off of six overs can ‘forget’ to upload that scorecard. At the other extreme, the player who scores big runs or takes a five-wicket haul will upload this within 10 minutes of the game finishing.
Sometimes a scorer has to work alone due to the opposition not turning up with one. In this instance they will send a lower-order player into the scorebox when they are batting, but when they are fielding the solitary scorer has to manage everything alone. It can also lead to some hilarious mistakes. The cry of the question ‘bowler’s name?’ will be heard at this point and trying to hear the mumble of a player in the wind from 70 yards away can often lead to the name being entered incorrectly into the book. I have had a team mate called Flatt entered into the book as Pratt in one of these instances and I dread to think what Nottinghamshire’s Ben Duckett was deciphered into during junior cricket.
The scorer is last to leave the field after a game, as they have to work out the bowling figures. They are also the last to tea as well. Look after your scorer, they save you a hell of a lot of hassle and should be treasured.