C.E.C.C.| Shepherds Cot | Crouch End | North London | N8 8JJ
The 4th XI game at home to Bessborough on Saturday followed very much the same pattern as the game the week before: a low target, a tense but successful run chase; but this time it was Crouch End who batted first.
Bessborough opened up with the same boy who had reduced Crouch End to 8 for 5 a couple of weeks ago. At the other end they unveiled a similarly precocious talent; and things didn’t go much better this time. It wasn’t a procession: Khalid, Bernard, newcomer Mohammed and Andrew all looked capable of getting settled; but you only have to make one mistake. After 11 overs the score was 27 for 4. For the benefit of regular readers: the man in brown trainers was at second slip this week and took two tidy catches. For a while it looked as if Nabil might save the day. After some sound defending and a couple of well-judged blows he reverted to a mindless swing and was bowled for 15. Dominic couldn’t repeat the heroism of the last encounter. Anisul, also playing his first game, connected with a couple of big swings before finding a fielder, leaving it to Kashif to play the senior role in a couple of tail-end partnerships, ending on 25 not out when the innings finished on 120 in the 37th over.
Previous experience has shown that 120 on the Church Street ground is a defendable total. Kashif drew first and second blood with balls that hit the leg stump. Kiran was threatening from the other end. Anisul replaced him and kept the pressure up. Kashif took a good catch; Dominic made a brilliant direct-hit run-out. Bessborough were 38 for 4. Then, crucially, the catches went down; and it was 50 runs later that Andrew finally clipped the off bail of the Bessborough captain. Bernard then got an LBW which most people, except him and the umpire, thought had hit the bat; but when Kiran returned to bowl the other batsman who had been holding us up, the game was nicely poised with 20 runs needed and three wickets to fall. With a bit of luck and some display of character Bessborough didn’t lose another wicket. There was just time for Nabil to drop a sitter off the last ball to give them the winning run in the 42nd over.
So that’s the cricket: now the important stuff. Maybe in the absence of Simon, it fell to me to be Mr Grumpy. I shall give two examples and try not to mention individuals.
Player 1 let two straightforward catches hit the ground as if it was none of his business and couldn’t someone else do it for him. He showed no remorse and just carried on polishing his reputation as a cheeky-chappie, to the detriment of the concentration of the more gullible who were within earshot.
Player 2, hugely disappointed at his own batting failure, brought his sulk with him on to the field. He tried an ill-tempered run-out at the non-strikers end, he appealed, without irony, for a ‘handled ball’ dismissal against a helpful batsman, he indulged in some fast-bowler’s stares and mutterings for no obvious reason and refused to shake the hand of the opposition captain, at the end of the game.
In the case of Player 1: I expect a bit more commitment from my colleagues on the field: it can make the difference between winning and losing. However I am not one for winning at all costs and I wouldn’t want to take someone with the attitude of Player 2 into the next game, against Swamibapa, if they can’t tell the difference between competitiveness and bad manners. With all that Olympic spirit washing around you’d think good sportsmanship was a given. Cricket is supposed to be character-forming: let’s hope it works.
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