Brian Dalton, April 2021
LBs and caught behinds, scalps that you earn, Run Rates and what to chase, Duckworth Lewis Stern, Umpiring Spells, Lunch time bells, Early morning dew, all kinds of everything, Remind me of you!
That’s how Dana sings it in my head anyway, and she’s right. All kinds of everything does remind me of you, the you being cricket. It’s everywhere at this time of year, in the office, in your daily chats, on the news, the radio, in the supermarket, the DIY store, at the garden centre, on the streets. It’s the same every year in the build up to the season, but this year it’s particularly noticeable with nothing else happening.
First thing in the morning. What’s for breakfast? A bowl of Corn Flakes maybe? You love having a bowl first up. You clock in for work. A colleague who has never played the game tells you how, “they are on a sticky wicket” regarding something. Another tells you how they answered difficult questions “with a straight bat” despite them never having held a bat. Another has been wronged. They tell you, “it’s just not cricket”, even though they barely know what cricket is.
Your colleague Michelle calls. Does she know she’s a five for (Pfeiffer)? Or does Nick, another colleague know he’s an edge? Could a snickometer measure if he was out last night before he tells you? If he was out, does he feel rough like a scuffed spot outside off? Does your colleague Jack know he’s a number 11? Are any of your colleagues wrong un’s?
That afternoon you’re on the computer doing some work. The spreadsheet you are looking at has an asterisk in it beside someone’s name. Were they not out? A document contains a Nota Bene (NB), you think somebody is bowling no balls, a CC, well that’s just county cricket. The O, M, R and W columns in the Excel spreadsheet, well they are just reserved for overs, maidens, runs and wickets. A declaration lands on your desk about something, let’s hope it’s a good one. A difficult question comes in, you’re stumped, send it upstairs to be reviewed.
You call your non playing mate after work. The conversation moves on to somebody you both know that died recently at a ripe old age. “They had a good innings” you’re told, followed by the fact the news of the death “hit them for six”. Cricket, it’s everywhere, even in the darkest places!
Next morning you take a trip to the supermarket. It involves deciding how much of something one requires, but you soon notice everything is packaged in 4’s or 6’s. There’s the six pack of cans, the burgers come in 4’s. You check the half dozen eggs you’re buying to see you’re not one short. Nothing loose today. Red cherries, let’s hope they are new. Jaffa cakes, peaches, you’re looking forward to bowling a few; plums, that’s the hoped-for result. Pears, thankfully you’ve never played 2 innings to pick up a pair. Pies, hopefully you’ll get to face a few of them and not bowl any. Duck, best avoided. Don’t really fancy a pudding but does anyone? Wagon wheels, well they both taste and look great if you score over 30. Some Johnston, Mooney & O’Brien bread, vital in any Irish basket. Why are stock cubes not stock balls you ask yourself?
You listen to the news in the evening; the ECB keeps getting mentioned. Forget about the European Central Bank, you know deep down, no matter how important the message is, once the ECB is mentioned your mind drifts to the England and Wales Cricket Board. There’s talk of the International Criminal Court (ICC). What have the BCCI done now? Interviews on Merrion Street, they just remind you of a John Anderson cover drive. You’re told there’s a history programme about Admiral Nelson coming on later. Channel 111 or a multiple of same you assume! James Corden comes on after the news, you love the banter in a good cordon, especially one that catches everything.
Next day it’s a trip to the DIY store looking for paint. Is it Indian, Sri Lankan or English blue you were asked to get? Surely it wasn’t beige they wanted, though it definitely looks better than anything all black you’ve seen. Was it Pakistani, Bangladeshi, or South African green needed for the spare room? Definitely not Australian canary yellow, but you won’t forget the sandpaper having seen that colour. West Indian maroon would be nice you think, Dutch orange not so nice, but if Ryan ten Doeschate was there to finish the job, it might work. Better pick up a roller too to put this paint up, but was it a heavy one or a light one you were asked to get?
You head out to the garden centre. It’s all very agricultural. At least cricket badgers don’t dig up your bulbs like the real ones do. Or so you hope. Your boundary fence needs repairing, but you hope to find a different boundary fence throughout the summer. Better pick up a plank or two to fill the gaps, you’ve used some of them in the past. The Garden Song comes in to your head, John Denver and The Muppets singing away to the David Mallett classic “Inch by inch, blow by blow, Gonna make this target grow, all it takes is one more mow, From an in-form Balbo”.
That afternoon, you’re out for a drive in Dublin, hopefully one that’s straight and pleasing on the eye. The Gas Works on Barrow Street come in to view, that’s The Oval test on your mind. You pass the artificial ski slope at Kilternan, well that’s Lords. Every roundabout is the Basin Reserve, though smaller and not as picturesque. A gully by the side of the road, what a great place to field you think. Willow trees on an avenue, surely, they would make good bats. “Let’s go to Malahide or The Hills later” you’re told. God, you wish you could. Or “let’s go to the park, to a playground where there’s swings”. Only if it’s overcast you think to yourself.
Next day there’s sport on TV. The rugby is on involving Claremont, that’s YMCA on your mind. They are playing Leinster. Is the game in Rathmines? Munster come on next; Is Ted still playing? The hockey is on the next channel, all you hear is mention of players from Pembroke, Instonians, Harlequins and Railway. Even the GAA that comes on reminds you of cricket, it will be a big ask for anyone to take the All Ireland out of Dublin this year you think.
You’re heading out that night. Your partner asks you do you like their green top. You’re not lying when you say you love a green top if you’re a bowler, but you’re in trouble if you’re a bat because that definitely doesn’t look ideal. They change top. “How’s that?”. Not out you reply with a wry smile, to their disgust.
A song comes on the radio just as you need to go. It’s Will Young reminding you that it’s time to leave. All you hear is:
“I think I better leave right now, before I get caught by the keeper I think I’d better leave right now, As the traps been set deeper Somebody better show me how, before I’m caught by the sweeper I think I’d better leave right now”
Shut the door after me!