Humbug's Blog - Pieterson Free Zone

Humbug's Blog - Pieterson Free Zone

Mike Ridgeway

Mike Ridgeway

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Having almost packed away the 2016 season, what a brilliant day at the club when the resurrected Past v Present match groaned arthritically back onto the fixture list thanks to the efforts of Sonic.  Many old faces, typically from the all-conquering 1990’s re-trod the hallow turf. No less than 8 (I count myself one) of the 1995 Champions picture re-united. I missed the bacon breakfast, the swapping of medical histories and application of bandages and deep heat due to my report writing duties. What was astonishing was seeing Spear and Doc bowling at pace as the years and sweat fell away. Spear had earlier decided to bowl spin, but when he saw Doc’s jump-jet action once more, he was not to be out-done. Sonic was his effervescent self and the opening batsmen of Fred and Brian were as solid, and ancient as the English Plain Tree. Greener could not be persuaded to attempt a repeat of launching the ball over said tree but dispensed bear hugs instead. Beer sales went well despite the sumptuous lunch and tea provided by Val and donations from Mac; great to see Mikey T’s silky skills once more.
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We played against a team in the League a few weeks back and they had a white board in their changing closet. Three words were scrawled on it: ‘Focus, Intensity, Fun’. This translated into pre-match warm-ups, pinging a practice ball into a mini-net and then sadly sledging our Mo while batting. Clearly the approach was more Thames Valley than Chilterns League. Maybe a fourth word could be added to their white board, ‘Joy’. I know Veg had a few words to add but these are non-repeatable. Still, they were much better than us and a club clearly on the up benefitting from a recent huge influx of young, keen cricketers. I can still dream!
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I recently saw a friend of mine who has two small boys. The youngest has just started nursery and is playing up. She has great problems getting his coat on, he cries in the car and shuffles reluctantly into the venue, once there, he is perfectly happy playing with his pens and winkle. I thought ‘scary, but this is me going to cricket’, the parallels are startling.

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I was recently invited to a college reunion to swap disapproving world views (as befits our advanced years), drink moderately (as befits our advanced years), eat well (as befits our advanced years) and ogle fit totty (as befits our advanced years). Well, I have the mind of a 21 year old but the body of, errr someone much older. I am being held together with Senatogen and B12 injections. Nursey and I chose left buttock, one of my favourites but I was crushed when she felt the need to comment that there was not much flesh there for the needle. I blame all this sitting watching England cricket ultimately fail and nearly 40 years scoring Hurley.  Have I wasted my life? Mind you, nursey looked like Eric Bristow, and I expected her to cry out ‘one hundred and eighty’ but I was glad she missed the Bull.

 

Cricketforce day was moderately well attended by the usual suspects. The promise of bacon baps lured me to the club for the first time this season. Much scrubbing and anti-rabbit measures were in action. Prof and Prof minor were filling in pot-holes, well one was while the other supervised. My first sight was of Dave Walnut stripped to the waste displaying his man-baps. Clearly he had wintered well. The new showers had been refurbished in the hope that Hurley might work up a sweat in the coming season and the sun eventually shines.

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It's very hard to write a cricket blog in the middle of winter without straying into the petty little irritants of life that take on so much more importance as you get older. Why for example does the BBC describe everything as 'iconic'? I just had a trip into Twyford and round Waitrose to check out the latest iconic offers and the freckled young thing with a great smile who helps me with my crusty rolls, it's an age thing.  As I lingered by the courgettes I was approached by a leather clad youth and his reticent young companion and asked 'do you know where to score?' Well I thought 'how does he know I'm a cricket scorer and it isn't even the cricket season'. Maybe all scorers have that look and we have a particular 'gaydar' we give off. Well, not 'gaydar' but 'saddar'. Then I realised he meant drugs. How did he know I was on 3-4 drugs a day? I got on with my trip and he went in search of his. I don't think Senatogen or iron tabs will give him the buzz he was after. I still don't know why he thought I looked the type to help him, maybe he saw me earlier hovering over the snacks as if I had the munchies, or maybe I just looked like I needed a fix.


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I've really been enjoying the recent series between England and South Africa despite the ad breaks continually telling me that I can't enjoy it unless I have a bet. Bet I can. The absurdity of Ray Winstone pleading for us to bet on everything everywhere and yet 'bet responsibly' is a metaphor for the contradictions in much of the country. Of course my enjoyment is the more because we are winning with exciting cricketers and schoolboy comedy. We had Willey bowling at de Kock and even Mikey Holding commentating. Is it me, or does de Kock look a lot like our own Sarah Taylor. Has anyone ever seen them together? My theory is that they are the same person. Our hero 'Rooty' even joined in the fun with Root 66 on his shirt. Why do England players have such a dearth of imagination that they add 'y' on the end of a surname and call it a nickname.
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The end of the season is marked by the club supper. This annual group hug to congratulate playing performance and individual contributions (but not the 1XI umpire or scorer/scribe or colts umpires) has been happening as far as I can remember back into last century, well 1976. In all that time I think I have only missed two, once when we had the quixotic choice of a riverboat shuffle, and second to ill health. It was a great night out for 37 souls and brilliant to see 5 colts there sneaking the odd shandy.
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I love it when BBC journalists say things like: 'so-and-so literally lost their head'. Now, they are not referring to a Saudi Arabian drug trafficker, but usually to an England batsman. Not so anymore, apparently we have stumbled on the revolutionary formula of hitting the ball hard and often. Five Live interviewed a minor Australian batsman (North) who gave us the insight that this was the way forward. Thank goodness for the media and essential social media for educating us.
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I was a little concerned that emotional currency and hours in front of the last day of the first Test versus NZ would be wasted. But fortunately for Captain Cook, England were bowled out early allowing enough time to bowl out the Kiwi invaders. I think only one comparison was made between Ben Stokes and IT Botham, or as Nas Hussain cringingly and a little sycophantically calls him Sir Ian. But my enjoyment was tempered by the barrage of betting adverts in the frequent drinks breaks. As Mohammed Amir prepares to return to International Cricket one cannot help but note the irony of continuous advertisements during Test Matches imploring supporters to have a bet on the sport. 'We have more ways to win' they claim, I think they mean loose. The recent Indian Premier League allowed “UNIBET” to be an official sponsor and that's after all the damage done by betting syndicates involving the owners of the franchises in previous editions of the competition. Still, thank goodness football is clean thanks to FIFA.

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I was down at Henley the other day to watch Golden Balls trot out for the Berkshire over 50's, and anyway it was an idyllic afternoon of warm sunshine. The Little Angel now has a gazebo from which to spectate but I settled for lapping the old boys round the boundary. Henley might be a picturesque ground but I have to say I still prefer Hurley, cows gently grazing and a rather magnificent bull are a better backdrop than the allotments. I stayed for tea, well mini samosas, baby bhajis, and finger buffet ham sandwiches hardly keep the wolf from the door. I have always found that a cocktail sausage rarely impresses. BO50 scored about 210 in their 45 overs and the clankers had more sandwiches than runs. I headed home to seek a more substantial repose and missed the 6 wickets clankers picked up to lead BO50 to victory over Essex.
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Having survived Black Friday (I put a black bag of rubbish out the next day for the bin men and a queue formed) then Christmas followed and what always seems a long dark winter. But I'll take my cue from those perky daffodils and approach another season with some optimism; at least for a few weeks. It seems we go into the 2015 season a lot drier than after the floods of last year.
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