Friday, 10 February 2012


Here's the oddest thing. Last night I handed in my resignation as fixtures secretary. I'd been wondering about it throughout last year, as job and other things started to bear down on me, & once I made my mind up I felt pretty relieved - thank God I won't have to do that next Winter: now I can worry about all the other shite I have to worry about.

But as I typed my last fixtures email, I suddenly wondered if I was doing the right thing and out of the blue, I had a massive shock: I realised I didn't want to quit the job at all.

Fixtures secretaries are, by their nature, a weird bunch. I know I'm no different. I grumble a lot. Barely a month goes by on here without some mention of a useless council officer or twat of an opposition administrator. We all do this: after a game you'll generally find me and the opposition fixture secretary tucked away in the corner of the beer garden, moaning about the cunt who does the fixtures for XXXCC. The very next week the cunt from XXXCC and I will be in the corner of a different pub, slagging off the guy I was talking to the week before. He's really two-faced, apparently.

Our own team mates annoy us, because they don't seem to appreciate the work they do. They moan when a pitch isn't good. They moan when a pitch is too far away from East London. They moan when it's too far from West London. They moan if a game's on a Saturday. Or a Sunday. Or on a couple of memorable occasions, when it's rained off: no, really.

When they get in a sledging fight with someone or argue with an umpire they don't seem to realise that their little moment has suddenly made the next communication a hundred times more awkward, because in the eyes of the opposition "that guy who said he'd ram a stump up our wicketkeeper's arse" just become synonymous with the team as a whole. Everyone gets that, but it's just impossible for everyone to behave all the time. We're blokes, after all. The only way you can guarantee you'll behave is, well, spending a winter planning fixtures. And even that doesn't always work. Especially if their keeper won't shut up.

It makes you hate everyone in the world of cricket, your own team, local government, national government by extension, and above all yourself for choosing to take such a stupid job. Don't all sign up at once.

Ah, but. But but but. It's great. And here's why: you're making something. You're making a great big thing: a year of fun, and however soppy this sounds, that's very rewarding. How could it not be? You get to a good ground with beer on tap, have a laugh, smack a ball around with your mates and you know that if it wasn't for you the whole thing might not have happened. When you're doing the job you're caught up in what you're doing, so you never get the chance to step back and think about why you're doing it.

So the season's not even started and already there's a bit of a shock: I knew I had to quit my job, but I never really imagined I wouldn't want to.

Right that's enough of that, let's see how I'm going to bring up my 300 this season.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Hello 2012, Council Hell, Playing spin, A great bowler.

Fuck me sideways, it's cold.

So the Winter has been several months of hell, and there are two more to go. I've been busy organising our fixtures, which is always hugely stressful. In October I phoned our home ground's booking officer to ask when I could book pitches. She told me to wait for the form in December - first come first served. Could I use email rather than snail mail? No. Fuck knows why.

So I got the form, and sent it back straight away. Then I phoned to make sure it had been received. Her colleague took the call, said the booking officer was on holiday, but she'd leave a note to confirm I'd checked that it had been received. In January I phoned again, and the booking officer told me she'd received the form two weeks after I'd posted it, so I'd only got four dates. "But I phoned to told me they'd leave" Briefly contemplated vicious brutal murder, arson attacks, internet hate campaigns. Ended up saying "Oh well."

And worse than that - fixtures are basically a particularly annoying Chinese puzzle. You get the teams you want to play and the dates organised - then you find you can't get the grounds. Or you get the grounds and the team you want to play can't manage it. In attempting to rectify the situation you usually find you can't get the ground or the team so you go online and find a team you don't want particularly want to play at a ground you don't like. Still, we're nearly there and it's not looking too bad, all things considered.

At least I've been able to watch the world's Number One Test Team in action. Oh dear. I think we can all learn some lessons from the few successful innings played in this series.

1) You can't go at over 3 an over against good spin if they're bowling well. Accept it.
2) Use the feet when possible. Against someone like Rehman that's not very often but remember it's as much a defensive policy as an attacking one.
3) Go comprehensively forward or back. The two players most likely to do this - Trott and Bell - failed for different reasons: Bell because he couldn't pick Ajmal (suddenly his travails against Warne look like they might not just have been the struggles of a young batsman - does he have a problem reading spinners from the hand?), Trott because he was in terrible form.
4) There's no obvious answer to umpiring shockers. DRS, in its own way, is just as arbitrary as no DRS.
5) Whinging about actions won't help your cause.

Finally - this guy averaged 20 with the ball, second only to Sydney Barnes. Beautifully smooth action. Hint of Wahab Riaz there, and is that some 1950s reverse swing I see? Think it might be.