The Day I Took A Hat Trick At Cricket, Alleyn’s School, 9 July 1975

On 23 September 2016, I was honoured to witness live Toby Roland-Jones taking a hat-trick for Middlesex, sealing the County Championship for my beloved county – naturally I Ogblogged about it – here

…but that wasn’t the first time I had witnessed a hat-trick live. Indeed, it wasn’t the first time that month, September 2016, that I had witnessed a hat-trick live – I saw Middlesex on the wrong side of one at Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire – Ogblogged about here – just 17 days before the day of glory…

…but that Trent Bridge one wasn’t the first hat-trick I had witnessed live, although it was the first professional one.

The first hat-trick I witnessed live (and the last one for more than 40 years) was, remarkably, my own.

I don’t have many glorious feats of cricket to report. Let’s be honest about it; I’m not much good at playing cricket. I love it, but I’ve never been much use at it. But on 9 July 1975, the last match of 2AK’s trophy-winning season, I reported with little ceremony in my diary the following:

july-1975-hat-trick

The irony of having watched The Ascent Of Man after such an auspicious sporting achievement is not wasted on me.

I remember the hat-trick remarkably well. I am pretty sure we were playing up on Alleyn’s top fields – not the very top one but the large, “lower top field”. That was mostly used as the second eleven pitch, but for the juniors I recall that field was divided in two, with a couple of strategically located mini-squares, so all four classes could play at the same time.

I can’t remember the name of the master who was umpiring.  I do remember that my first wicket was a clean bowled and the second was a caught and bowled. The master and I then had the following conversation:

“Do you realise that you are on a hat-trick, Mr Harris?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“What are you proposing to do about it?”

“I’m going to try and bowl the same ball again, Sir.”

Which I did.

The “same ball” being pretty much my only ball. A moon ball, ludicrously slow, with an attempt at spin on it; probably a bit of top spin but nothing else in its favour other than being straight.

You see, I was very keen, so I used to practice bowling in the back drive against the garage door for ages. I didn’t get much better at bowling, but I was usually at least able to bowl the ball straight in those days.

Clean bowled.

In my memory (undoubtedly a falsy) the master was rolling on the floor laughing when I took the third wicket in three balls. I’m sure he really did laugh, anyway.

9 July 1975, a truly memorable date in (my personal) cricket history. The ill-fated 1975 Ashes series started the very next day; I don’t think this fact is even faintly relevant to my story, but I wanted to write it nonetheless. I can write what I like on Ogblog.

A lot of very good bowlers have played an awful lot of cricket without ever taking a hat-trick. I know that I’m not and wasn’t ever a good bowler. My hat-trick was at a very elementary level and only has significant meaning to me. But it is a memory I have carried with me all my days since and I shall continue to cherish that memory until I am gaga and/or dead.

I wonder who the hat-trick victim was?  That much has slipped my mind completely. His too, almost certainly.

The Production We Didn’t See – Entertaining Mr Sloane by Joe Orton, Duke of York Theatre, Possibly 7 July 1975

Michael Lempriere had arranged for our drama class to go and see Entertaining Mr Sloane by Joe Orton. It would have been the mid 1970s Royal Court revival production (probably the West End transfer thereof), with Beryl Reid as Kath, Malcolm McDowell as Sloane, James Ottaway as Kemp and Ronald Fraser as Eddie.

Here is a link to some good resources and reviews of that production.  Good reviews from that source, naturally.  It seems that the Spectator hated it though; a harsh paragraph at the end of a lot of stuff about other productions here.

Anyway, when my mum got wind of it that we were going to see THAT play, she went into high horse mode, for reasons I cannot quite work out. I think she just felt that we were far too young for…whatever it was…not that she really knew anything about it, other than the fact that she probably mentioned it to a friend and that friend looked horrified at the thought. perhaps a sample of two priggish friends.

Mum was probably in a grumpy mood generally at that time – she was in and out of hospital for the first half of that year, culminating in a hip replacement in May. Anyway, she decided not merely to ground me from this one – I might have got away with just minor embarrassment for that. She got on to the school and got the outing cancelled. How un-hip was that?

Several of my drama pals were mightily unimpressed with this, as was I. We were all very disappointed as much as anything else. Michael Lempriere handled the matter with great dignity I’m sure, but that couldn’t prevent the ribbing. In particular, I recall Bob Kelly giving me a hard time; not least suggesting my mother’s physical as well as behavioural similarities with Mary Whitehouse. As my mother had chosen to go down the cruel spectacles line during the mid 1970s (illustrated with a 1977 picture below) this was a difficult charge to deny.

Mum 1977

I’m not entirely sure when the theatre trip that never was should have happened. My diary is silent on the whole matter.  I am guessing it was supposed to be an after exams jolly at the end of my second year, but it might just have been a start of the next academic year jolly for our drama group. If the latter, we didn’t miss out on Ottaway and McDowell, we missed out on  Harry H. Corbett as Ed and Kenneth Cranham as Sloane.

I did eventually get to see a production of this play, but not until January 2001 at the Arts Theatre. My moral compass was not adversely affected by witnessing the play, as far as I can tell, nor was Daisy’s, although we were to be seen sunning ourselves in South-East Asia only a few weeks later…