Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Tony Deyal | Cricket, lovely cricket

Published:Saturday | April 8, 2017 | 4:00 AM

Yesterday, the WICB's team played the first game of a one-day international (ODI) series against Pakistan. This was after a 3-1 loss in the T20 series and many other previous losses. The board called in the law in the form of a former Australian cricketer, Stuart Law, and then a solid reinforcement in the obdurate Jimmy Adams.

However, providence has continued to demonstrate that cricket fortunes are not based on luck, but on having the right selection policy focusing on players in the right form at the right time, and it does not give a damn or damns whether Adams or Padams is in charge.

What matters is not Stuart Law so much as the law of cricket averages. If your bowlers get wickets at 30 runs apiece, your opponents will average 300 runs per innings. If your team's combined batting average is 200, that is what you will generally make.

One of my friends commented that West Indies cricket, especially under President Dave Cameron and Chief Selector Courtney Brown, who I had the honour of seeing drop Steve Waugh at Sabina, is a joke. I had to point out that the trouble with cricket jokes is that they inevitably end up working as television commentators. Since our cricket these days is painful to behold, I am going back to a more comfortable past.

During the days when streakers abounded, one, wearing a hood, ran through the ladies' changing room at a cricket club while four ladies were undressing. Three of the ladies remarked that he wasn't their husband while the fourth stated that he wasn't even a member of the club.

Harold Larwood, the great English fast bowler, once agreed to take part in a charity game. He bowled a straight ball which hit the batsman's pad in front of the wicket. "How's that?" shouted Larwood, confident that his appeal would be upheld. "Not out," said the umpire.

Larwood bowled again, this time a much faster ball. The batsman slashed at it and snicked it straight into the wicketkeeper's gloves. "How's that?" screamed Larwood. "Not out," said the umpire. Larwood then took his full run and sent down one of his deadly fast deliveries. The batsman's stumps cartwheeled, blasted from the ground, bails flying through the air.

Larwood turned to the umpire and said, "I darned near bowled him that time."

 

SETTING THE SCENE

 

W.G. Grace, the British cricketer, was a doctor whose cricketing commitments often clashed with his medical career. One day, an anxious mother met Grace on his way to the cricket ground and pleaded, "I think my twins have measles. Can you come?"

"Not just now," Grace replied. "But contact me at the ground if their temperatures reach 210 for two."

Grace was also favoured by the umpires. According to Clifton Fadiman in the Little Brown Book of Anecdotes (to which I am indebted for this and other stories), in one incident, C.J. Kortright of Essex was bowling to Grace and made several vain appeals for leg before wicket. Eventually, he knocked Grace's middle stump out of the ground with a yorker. As Grace began to walk away, Kortright called after him, "You're surely not going, Doctor? There's a stump still standing."

Brian Johnston, the legendary British broadcaster, was the commentator during an England-New Zealand match at Lord's in 1969 when Glenn Turner was hit in the groin and collapsed in great pain. For some time, Turner lay on the ground, writhing in agony. When Turner eventually picked up his bat and returned to the wicket, a greatly relieved Johnston said, "Turner looks a bit shaky and unsteady, but I think he's going to bat on - one ball left."

Donna Symmons had said of Patrick Patterson that "he did very badly in the first Test - no balls, no balls", and of Phil Simmons, "only medium pace but he is quite stiff. Quite stiff!"

Johnston was again the commentator for a West Indies-England cricket match at the Oval in 1979. British television viewers had joined the game in the middle of an over that Michael Holding was bowling to Peter Willey. Johnston, quickly setting the scene for the viewers, said, "The bowler's Holding, the batsman's Willey."

The World's Best Cricket Jokes describes a situation where a husband, watching cricket on television, says to his wife who is knitting, "Joel Garner has come back to bowl with a new ball." His wife replies, "Wonderful what doctors can do these days."

It also contains a story about a bride-to-be who says to her cricketer fiancÈ, "Oh, darling, I'm looking forward to our wedding and all your cricketing friends making an arch for us by holding up their bats, just like they did for Mike." Her husband replies, "I don't think we'll have an arch, dear."

"Why not?" she asks.

He explains, "They held up their bats for him because he was a batsman."

"So?" she queries.

"I'm a bowler," he replied drily.

- Tony Deyal was last seen saying that giving Dave Cameron a third term as WICB president illustrates the truth of the statement, "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you - then you definitely don't understand the situation.