Day/Night Test Match, England v West Indies, Edgbaston, 17 to 19 August 2017

After a super meal at Colbeh – reported here – and a good night’s sleep at the Eaton Hotel, Daisy and I would have been fit and ready to walk to Edgbaston for an 11:00 start…

…but this was a day/night test match, so instead I arranged to have a music lesson with Ian Pittaway in Stourbridge. It bucketed down with rain on the way to Stourbridge, which made me wonder whether Edgbaston would be fit for cricket by 14:00, but I needn’t have worried. Day/Night One of the match turned out to be a very sunny although slightly chilly affair.

Daisy and I walked to the ground in dry, improving weather. Security was tight but well organised this year, so we joined the others at about 13:40. The others were Charley The Gent Malloy, The Boy Malloy, Nigel “Father Barry” White and Harsha Goble.

Mrs Malloy had made a splendid picnic for us all, consisting mostly of an extremely plentiful supply of big bap sandwiches. Chas went into major-domo mode, insisting that we tuck in at regular intervals, saying:

“I cannot report back to Dot that any of these sandwiches remained uneaten.”

At the end of Day One I sent some thoughts about our day/night experience to King Cricket, who published my thoughts along with those of others –  click here.

Daisy took loads of pictures, which you can see on Flickr – click here – a sample of which are shown below.

 

A shot from the first session
Things seemed to be going England’s way
Lunch at four in the afternoon? Getaway!
Shadows lengthen on the Eric Hollies Stand opposite

After the instruction “Nessun Dorma” (reported on King Cricket), Daisy stayed awake to take the following lovely shot after sunset:

Stunning, although it looks a bit René Magritte

The weather forecast for Day Two was not so special – indeed it was obvious that the weather would close in sometime between 19:00 and 20:00 and there would then be no further play that day.

Daisy, Nigel and I went over to Chas and Nick’s hotel on that Day two morning, hatching a plan that we should eat relatively light at the ground that day with a view to eating a good meal together in Colbeh to make up for the session of cricket that we looked likely to lose. If the weather by chance relented, we could always stay at the ground and eat from the selection of increasingly interesting and decent food outlets at Edgbaston these days.

Daisy captures the look of the pink ball on the big screen

Harsha had, unfortunately, needed to return to London for a funeral on the Friday, but was expecting to arrive back at Edgbaston around 19:00.

The rain arrived as expected around 19:30. We had redirected Harsha towards the “dining at Colbeh rather than watching the rain come down” plan.

Much better than sitting at Edgbaston watching the rain

Once again, Colbeh was excellent.

In truth, it was great to have the opportunity to have a meal together and “chew the fat” after the cricket – this aspect (which would normally be absent for a day/night match) is the biggest down side to such match timing…the colder evenings being less of an issue, although…

…Day Three did turn out to be a chilly day.

Daisy and I walked to the ground all three days; Day Three being the most pleasant walking conditions of the three – sunny but a tad cooler than Day One.

We saw an interesting sight on the way to the ground:

An Ethiopian Orthodox Service at St Georges Church on a Saturday
It looked half service, half church fete.
Dawid Malan fielding right in front of us…I don’t think he spotted me!
There was some freezing cold business with lads behind us clearly not dressed for the occasion and divesting themselves of what little clothing they had
Members of the Mexican community behind the Eric Hollies Stand looked more suitably dressed for a chilly day/night match…
…members of the Flintstone community behind the Eric Hollies Stand less so.

England were all over the West indies like a rash on Day Three. Here is the Cricinfo summary of the  match.

The others bailed out before the end of the match, as Chas, Nick and Harish were travelling home that night and Nigel wanted a lift back to the hotel.

We’d all had a good time – three days had just flown by.

Daisy and I stuck it out until the last ball – the first time I had ever seen a whole first class match, let alone a test:

Close to the last moments of the game

Gosh it was cold by the end; we thought about bailing out a couple of times, but then a wicket would fall. We walked back to the Eaton Hotel that night to warm ourselves up, which worked rather well.

A very one-sided match but also a very enjoyable few days.

The Heavy Rollers, Edgbaston, England v Pakistan Days One to Three, 3 to 5 August 2016

Warming up before the start, 3 August
Warming up before the start, 3 August

It’s a little difficult to explain why this outing worked so well this year, but it was indeed a most enjoyable success.

In the run up to the match, I had a sense of foreboding about the trip, in particular when Charles “Charley the Gent Malloy” Bartlett let me know that his knee was so bad he had brought his surgery forward and was unable to join me at Lord’s for day one of the first test (hence Simon “Awesome Simo” Jacobs joined me as a supersub).  Charles said then that he was “still hoping to make it” for Edgbaston.

Charles has previous in the “still hoping to make it” department – as this King Cricket report from 2011 attests.

I started to suspect that all would in fact be well when Chas wrote, 10 days or so before the event:

“I need to see how my first car drive goes on Saturday, I also need to talk to ‘Razor’ and ‘Knuckles’ both Essex members as they offered to take my tickets off me…if I didn’t recover in time – let me see how the drive goes over the weekend and how they respond to the disappointment.”

I replied:

Razor and Knuckles sound like absolutely delightful company; indeed possibly preferable to the original candidates for the roles…

A week later, it became clear that Razor and Knuckles were set to remain in their Essex lairs; Chas again:

To confirm I’ll be bringing some 1st day food up with me on Wednesday. Dot’s happy to provide some sandwiches – corn beef and mustard on soft white and egg mayonnaise on soft white. I have some other stuff (old favourites) and some (new stuff) that looks ok, too!

In fact, Dot’s first day sandwich feast also included heaps of ham on brown and cheese on brown too. We struggled…in a good way, saving most of the other less perishable delicacies (Harish and I had also brought quite a few of those) for the later days.

So, the night before the match it was just me and Nigel dining and at the hotel, as reported here. Chas and Nick “The Boy Malloy” turned up very early on the morning of the match (Nigel and I were still at breakfast). Nigel and I had planned to walk to the ground; Nick and Chas were cabbing it. Harish was a little delayed in traffic, but, still keen to walk, ambled to the ground on his own that morning.

We were all at the ground in time for the toss. Nigel was smarting a bit, in part because the walk was perhaps a bit much for his knees, in part through the indignity of having his minimally-concealed Shiraz-in-a-flask seized at the gate.

I had determined in any case to enjoy the Edgbaston cricket dry during the day again this year, making space for a glass or two in the evening.

The three days of cricket were wonderful. At the end of day one we were all unsure whether England had scored enough runs. At the end of day two we were sure they hadn’t and that Pakistan were close to total control. At the end of day three we knew that England had all-but wrested control back from Pakistan.

Here is the match scorecard.

We played our traditional sweepstake game all three days; this year, unusually, Harish swept the board, especially on one of the days. I wanted him tested for performance enhancing substances but Harish mysteriously failed to turn up for the tests.

Harish and I were keen to walk to and from the hotel each morning and evening. After that first morning, Nigel bowed out of the walk until the Friday evening. On one of our walks, I think it was Friday morning, Harish and I had a very interesting chat about music. We schemed a tabla/ukulele jam for next time but struggled to work out whether some of Harish’s favourite tabla rhythms could possibly work with western tunes, which are usually relentlessly 4/4 or occasionally 3/4 time signatures.

Harish pointed me to the work of Zakir Hussain – click here for a fine short example – on tabla. He also pointed me towards rupak taal (songs in seven beat rhythm – here is an example of one of those with Zakir Hussain again. I’m not sure about adapting western songs to these rhythms – beyond my skills anyway, but we could probably manage some haunting, simple variations on well-known tunes if I work up some broken chords with seven plucks per chord.

On the Wednesday evening, Chas and Nick didn’t feel like coming out at all. Following an extensive investigation on our way back from the ground, Harish and I settled on Mr Idly, which Harish was pretty sure was a refurbed version of the good Southern Indian place he and Nigel had enjoyed the year before. Nigel was certainly up for that, so off we all went. Excellent dosa in my opinion. The idly, which we shared as a starter, was OK but I recalled that idly is not so much to my taste as dosa.

On the Thursday evening, Nick had arranged to meet a friend in the evening but the rest of us were keen to try/return to Colbeh, which Nigel and I had enjoyed so much on the Tuesday evening. We were not disappointed.

Heavy Rollers in Colbeh 2016
With thanks to the waitress for taking the picture

I tried the slow-cooked lamb shank this time, while Nigel and Chas shared the full works of grills. Harish tried one of the vegetarian stews. Again, all the trimmings were wonderful, not least the amazing aubergine and mango sauce (not really a chutney, or at least not a sour chutney), which was new to me because, as we were proudly informed by the (other) son who looked after us this time, that sauce is his mother’s own recipe. To paraphrase Nigel’s eloquent recollection in the comments section from our previous visit, that makes it our sort of place.

On the Friday, all of us but Nigel headed home after the day’s play; in Harish’s and my case via the hotel, which had kindly offered safe custody to our vehicles, baggage and (in my case) Benjy the Baritone Ukulele. Nigel swore on the way home that he wouldn’t eat a thing that evening after three days of feasting and it seems he kept his word – Nigel’s subsequent e-mail report:

My plans for a quiet evening on Friday were ruined by Sharon and Kev’s engagement celebration in the hotel function suite, that really did feel like it was taking place in the next room. After the three day grazing, I took the unsolicited advice barely audible from a Ukulele shaped bag suggesting it wouldn’t harm that big bloke to miss a meal or two. That thing does have attitude.

In short, the whole trip was a great success. It’s a bit difficult to explain how or why spending several days with old friends doing so little can be so satisfying and relaxing, but it is. I guess the whole idea of five day cricket is hard to explain to the uninitiated. Nigel again, writing on the Sunday morning, just before the start of Day Five:

We have once again enjoyed a fascinating Test match, which only really began to be resolved during the last session. Into the fifth day and it is still compelling. It would be impossible to explain that to the Georgian Cabbie, seen to register disbelief at Charles’ response to “who won?” at the end of day one.

 

 

Heavy Rollers In Edgbaston and Stirchley, Primarily For England v South Africa Days Two and Three, 30 July to 1 August 2008

We have Charles Bartlett to thank for the most wonderful relic from this trip: a superb stack of pictures – 80 of them – click here to see them all. I’ll pepper this piece with just a few.

30 July 2008

This was one of those rare occasions that the test started on a Wednesday and so we actually travelled up on the first day and watched days 2 and 3.

Thus we gathered for pre match cricket in David Steed’s local park in Stirchley.

Adam was not impressed with his batting performance

Never mind Adam’s body language above, that muck-about game on David’s local green went well for Adam and did not go at all well for me, as evidenced by this page of my jotter.

2006 Muck About Cricket

Nigel “Father Barry” White (and son) did well, as did a local lad, Craig, who wandered along and asked if he could play with us.

Harish (Harsha Ghoble) also had a good go, although I do recall bowling him on one occasion with one of my moon balls which descended vertically onto the stumps. “How are you supposed to play a ball like that?”, complained Harish. Nigel then dispatched my next, similar ball for six. “Like that”, said Nigel.

I also recall lots of bites on my legs afterwards. Yet I was (uniquely amongst those in the following photo) wearing long trousers.

As darkness fell…

…then on to David and Anita’s place for a super barby:

Super barby at Steed Towers

31 July 2008

Chas and perhaps some of the others must have gone for a good walk the next morning, in the grounds around Harbourne House…

Signs of some walking around Harbourne House…

…while Harish and I, great athletes both, exerted ourselves with some morning sports activity:

For those looking in black and white, Ian’s the one dressed in red…
Some signs of mis-spent youth there; not least Ian’s ability to play a little better after a couple of bevvies.
Then the annual Heavy Roller shirt ceremony…
…for some reason Chas got a unique, pink one. As I’m the Middlesex supporter among us, “it should have been me”…
…then off we go to Edgbaston.
All action it was. Could this have been the year that someone started a row with Nigel 20 minutes before the start of play asking him to sit down?

We had the honour of witnessing “that” over from Flintoff to Kallis:

The crowd was just a little bit involved.

We’re all standing now (apart from Hippity and Monkey-Face)!
I think we went to Zizzis that night – correct me if I’m wrong, folks

1 August 2008

We did it all again! But Chas didn’t take pictures that day.

Want to know what happened in the cricket? – here is the scorecard – yes, click here.

I made my own way home by train, as oft I do. Unusually, though, Nigel and Chas stayed on an extra day, having decided to brave the Eric Hollies Stand.

Aftermath – Chas and Nigel in the Eric Hollies

There are plenty of pictures in that photo album, but I’d really like one or both of the lads to write a short side piece describing their very different day “on the other side”…

…the dark side…
…with brigades of Amy Winehouses…
…and extra police protection. Had the fuzz been tipped off that Chas and Nige were coming?

Do tell, fellas.

Postscript: Nigel wrote up the Eric Hollies experience for King Cricket. King Cricket published the piece 8 November 2017 – here.

Indeed, other memories from any of us much appreciated, in the comments section or by e-mail ahead of a post script.

Ian Harris Invitation XI v Charles Bartlett Invitation XI, Bentley CC, 20 July 2008

Charles Bartlett in action, me umpiring. It’s Chas’s photo, thanks Chas, but clearly he didn’t take it!

A few of us were clearly taking it seriously that year. The diary and e-mail correspondence suggests that we had a net on 27 May at Lord’s – me Chas, Matt and Adam Hinks:

Just a note to remind you all that we are netting this evening. See you at HQ Indoor School in whites just before 18:00.

Adam – FYI – I’ve bought and am bringing my helmet after our last net together!  Although, having seen Mr Flynn on Friday, I’m not sure I’ll be trying to hook the head-high stuff anyway!!

Chas typically complained about aches and pains the next day:

Great being at Lords last night, but am I the only one suffering from multitude of aches and pains from the cricket net?

And he calls me a wuss.

The planned 10 June net was cancelled by Lord’s; the diary says that we had a net with bowling machine 15 July (presumably the rescheduled gig.) I think that was just me, Chas and Matt, after which both of them claimed that they didn’t much like the bowling machine, so I don’t think we did that again. But the machine experience got me SO ready for battle.  I think Moses (Hallam Moseley) was the coach that day. Either him or Jamie Thorpe, whose left-arm bowling when without the machine tended to cause me all sorts of problems.

Anyway, this 20 July match was briefly reported in the Now and Z/Yen July 2008 issue, here, with the following words:

Caught Harris, Bowled Mainelli

A large Z/Yen contingent sallied forth to Brentwood in Essex, late July, to contest the new Bartlett-Harris Cricket Trophy. A Charles Bartlett Invitation XI (curiously similar to the old Children’s Society team) took on an Ian Harris Invitation XI (not discernibly different from the Z/Yen team of old). Z/Yen’s highlight of the day must have been Monique’s superb batting. But before that the lowlight of the day must have been the opening batting partnership between Messrs Harris and Mainelli; that managed to send any spectator who remained awake to sleep. Stick to the day job, fellas. But things were very different in the field, when those two teamed up for Ian Harris to take a sharp catch off the bowling of Michael – the first time he had ever bowled in his life. Ian also took several wickets with his moon-balls, including both Bartletts (father and son) in the same over. So perhaps Messrs Harris and Mainelli might choose to give up the day job in favour of cricket after all. As is so often the case, Ian’s team came second, but in any case The Children’s Society always wins, on this occasion to the tune of several hundred pounds raised towards that good cause. And a really good time was had by all; players and spectators alike.

There is a Flickr album with dozens of photos from this match (just one sample shown above and another below), with thanks to Charles Bartlett for the photos – click here.

Monique, Harish…and other “cricketers”!

Actually we have an embarrassment of photographic riches from this 2008 fixture; here is a link to the Z/Yen collection from that day – thanks (I think) to Monique Gore – click here.

I composed much but not all of a lengthy report on this match, from build up to part way through the first innings.  Then I must have run out of ideas or steam. It builds on the style of the 2006 Tufty Stackpole report, which Charles Bartlett likes a lot.

Anyway, click here for the text of the unfinished masterpiece.

Perhaps I shall finish off the story one day. Perhaps not.  Who knows where and when the muse will take me?

England v India, 3rd Test, Day 2, Oval, 10 August 2007

I remember very little about this day. It was between dad’s passing away on the Monday and the funeral, all scheduled and arranged for the following Monday.

I considered not going, but mum and Janie both saw no sense in me moping around at home instead – there was nothing left to arrange. Also, with the Oval so close to mum and dad’s house, it would be an easy hop over to mum’s after stumps.

The guests that day were Harish Gohil (Charles was down to join us but ducked out, I think because he had needed to take so much time off for other reasons that summer), David Highton (formerly of Broadcasting Support Services), Shums Cassim (who was trying to get SpecialZm going), Stuart Caplin (a very charming gentleman from St James’s Place – Shums choice of guest).

Judging from the scorecard – here – India spent the day making England suffer having made England suffer the day before – gosh India were a strong test side at that time.

I think I made my excuses a little early to beat the crush and get to mum’s at a reasonable hour. I guess I travelled to the house from the Oval using the tube and then a minicab from Balham – not the pocket-money-preserving tuppence bus fare of my childhood.

Janie came to the house and I recall mum was in a very dark mood by that evening. We tried to distract her and lighten the mood a little (which I think is what you are supposed to do in these circumstances) and then got told off for inappropriate levity.

The Children’s Society v Tufty Stackpole at Bentley CC, 29 July 2007

Daisy Heavy Roller

The banter for this match started early. It probably started as soon as The Children’s Society actually won the previous year’s fixture against Tufty Stackpole, at North Crawley; an event which seemed to displease the Tufties somewhat.

In the early days the Tufties complained that The Children’s Society were not putting up a competitive team, but over the years The Society’s access to big Saffers increased while the age demographic of the Tufties…also increased. You get the picture.

However, a message from Charles to Geoff 10 days before the event indicated that all was not well with the Children’s Society selection this time:

I am doing my best on numbers

I have had three players drop out and 2 of them proberly [sic] the best in the team!

Geoff responded within minutes:

Hi Charles

If two of your best players have dropped out, does this mean that Ian isn’t playing?

Role [sic] on the 29th

All the best

Geoff

I think Geoff was straightforwardly paying homage to my skills, but Charles inferred that Geoff’s response was a slur on my cricket ability. Or perhaps Chas wanted to lob another verbal grenade at the opposition. Whatever his reasoning, Chas wrote back a few minutes later as follows:

Geoff, I will have you know that Ian is playing the best cricket I have ever seen him play, so beware with your cheap comments and jibes about Ian!!

All the best

Charles

Chas’s role that year had in any case, unfortunately, become limited to organising the event and engaging in such bants, as he was injured/grounded for the match.

As usual, I had arranged nets and I can tell from the e-mail exchanges that Adam Hinks was at the net on Tuesday 24 July. It might have been just the two of us but I have a feeling that Matt Watson was there too. Lord’s looked a bit “after the Lord Mayor’s parade” that evening, I recall, but I don’t really remember what happened in the nets that night.

I have an extraordinary number of e-mails on the system of the “last minute drop-out”, “enforced team changes” and “could you find us another…” variety, from Charles, in the few weeks leading up to the match.

As the day drew nearer, though, Chas apparently abdicated the responsibility to Harish, who had let slip to Charles that he had friends and relations who like cricket. As the day approached, Harish wrote:

Dear all,

Just to let you know that my brother and my 14 year old nephew will be playing this Sunday. That means we are one short and Charles is waiting to hear nack [sic] back from Vishal. The team so far is as follows

1 Harish
2 Adam
3 Ian
4 Matt (Wicket keeper)
5 Nitin
6 Nitin’s friend
7 Malcolm
8 Matt Barker
9 Tarun (my brother)
10 Krishal (my nephew)
11 nephew’s friend 

Regards

Harish

But the weather played a cruel trick on us overnight ahead of the match; heavy rain. Charles called me quite early on the Sunday and said that it didn’t look good; the guys from Bentley CC had called him to let him know that a fair bit of the pitch was waterlogged.

Yet the weather had relented, at least in London and Essex it had, with some sunshine and a helpful breeze. We guessed that we might get a shortened match of some sort; just not a prompt start sort of match. But after some frantic calls between Charles and Geoff from the Tufties, it became clear that most of the Tufties had pulled out and that we would have to cobble together some sort of a game amongst those of us who took the time and trouble to turn up despite the limited match prospects.

When we got there, the first thing we realised was that Bentley CC is a really lovely ground and pavilion – Charles had found a little gem of a place for us out near Brentwood, Essex.

The second thing we realised was that waterlogged really did mean waterlogged at Bentley – but that only applied to some, not all of the pitch. Unfortunately, the bowlers run-ups were part of the problem, so we concocted a small scale game to be played on matting, away from the worst excesses of waterlogging, which would give those of us who had turned up to play a bit of a game.

The picture at the top of the page shows Daisy giving the sopper the full works. I recall Adam Hinks bowling at me in the nets and (to his horror) misdirecting a delivery fast and down the body-line, thus nearly taking my head off. The rain had spiced up the nets up good and proper (as the locals might put it). It was that near miss that convinced me to buy a helmet for the next season and never bat again without one.

I think Geoff and Derry Young might have been the only Tufties who (very kindly) turned up, whereas we turned up with a pretty full contingent, including some helpful folk from Bentley, so I think we played the fun game we eventually played was a seven-a-side game; perhaps even eight-a-side.

I don’t recall much of what happened in our mini match. I do recall a young Bentley CC local named Ryan, who had been especially helpful, working hard to try and get some sort of match going for us, proving also to be a very useful cricketer with bat and ball. Ryan turned out to be one of Charles’s main (not so secret) weapons the following year, when we returned (without the Tufties). I also recall a 14 year-old Bentley CC leggie named Andy playing in the game and causing all sorts of problems with his spin bowling and athleticism in the field.

I do also recall needing to dip my hand quite deep into my pockets, as did Charles, to make sure that the event wasn’t a loss and that the Children’s Society got a little something out of the rain-affected 2007 “Tufty Stackpole match that wasn’t.”

 

England v West Indies, Day One and Day Two, Old Trafford Test, June 7 & 8, 2007

The usual Heavy Rollers gig is Edgbaston, of course, but this year there was to be no test match in Brum.

Indeed, there has been much musing and debate since June 2007 as to whether this outing comprises a Heavy Rollers event or not.

In short, it does as far as I am concerned.

The evening before the match started, we were supposed to have a net at Old Trafford.  Charles had arranged it all.  The Old Trafford lot had been reluctant at first, priority for test match teams, can’t have oiks in the same nets as international players, blah blah.  But when Chas explained that it was our tradition to net at Edgbaston the night before the match (based on a sample of one previous occasion, the year before, negotiated through similar reluctance), someone at Old Trafford was daft enough to relent and take our booking…but was then too polite to tell anyone to keep the place was open for us.

Result – disappointment the night before – only consolation being an amazing meal at Yang Sing (yes, my idea, yes, I know what I am doing, Chinese food-wise) for the four of us who had ventured that far north.  Given the fuss-pot group involved: Nick, Harish, Charles and “me-no-fuss-pot” , the Yang Sing team worked wonders with a feast with plenty of food for all to enjoy.

The first day at the test was a day to watch England batting pretty well.  Chas was still fidgeting about the net; I suggested that our best chance of real redress (i.e. a net) was to try and get them to allow us a net the next morning before the start of play.  So we went to see the indoor school people and managed to find a suitably apologetic and sympathetic lady.  She agreed that we had been seriously inconvenienced, to the extent that merely getting our money back was not adequate; she also managed to arrange for us to have our net at 9:00 am, before play the next day.  She even arranged for us to have a parking space at Old Trafford when the inevitable question came up.  Yes, Chas could then leave the car at Old Trafford all day.  Quite a result.

So in the end, we were able to drive into old Trafford for Day two of the test early in the morning, as if we owned the place.  Into the nets and let the fun commence.  Around the time I came to have my bat, a small posse of West Indian stars turned up in the adjoining net.  I especially remember Ravi Rampaul bowling to Shiv Chanderpaul.  I also remember having to encourage the heavy roller guys to bowl at me rather than rubbernecking at the adjoining nets.

Whether Shiv Chanderpaul rubbernecked to observe my technique I couldn’t say, as naturally I was concentrating hard on my batting – watching the ball all the time, all the way.  But Shiv did make a 50 that day, so I suspect he picked up a few ideas through observation in those nets.

The day got weirder once we were in our seats.  Someone behind us spent more or less the whole day on his feet in a Borat mankini.  He and his mates were also doing some strange business, passing around a whole cooked chicken while singing its praises.  And of course the inevitable Old Trafford beer snakes etc., as was the case Day One.

I also ran into Mike Redfern and a bunch of his mates from the Red Bat Cricket Collective. I noticed the Red Bat shirts walking past us and stopped the guys, asking them if they were by any chance still in touch with Mike.  “We sure are – he’s sitting over there with us”, was the reply.  Really nice to see him again.

Of course we went home at the end of Day Two (driving off into the sunset straight from the ground), but the test remained weird after we left Manchester, with a streaker incident the next day. Strangely, that incident was recently (at the time of writing, December 2015) reminisced about on King Cricket – here.

For the actual cricket, here’s the scorecard.

Tufty Stackpole v The Children’s Society, North Crawley CC, “Match Report”, 30 July 2006

Brace yourself for a long one, dear reader.

The following report, on the 2006 match between Tufty Stackpole and The Children’s Society, played at the Tufties home ground, North Crawley CC, runs to over 3,500 words.

But this report is Charles Bartlett’s favourite, so it must have something going for it. I suspect that Charles’s pseudonym, Charley “The Gent” Malloy, which I started using the following season, was born in the first paragraph of this report.

Match report by Angus Martin-Blofeld

 Changes at the top

No-one knows precisely why the captaincy of The Children’s Society team changed hands before the match.  Some say that Tufty Stackpole insisted upon the change, as they were desperately keen to pitch their skills against a side that was to be captained incisively.  Others suggest that it was merely a generous gesture on the part of Charles Bartlett to allow Ian Harris a once-in-a-lifetime chance at captaining a big match.  The most plausible rumour, however, is that a major Buckinghamshire betting syndicate preferred the match price based on Ian Harris’s captaincy, so Mr Bartlett was tapped on the shoulder and politely told, “this ain’t your day, Chucky, we’re going for the short-end money on Harris”.  So Harris got a shot at the big match and Chucky got a one-way ticket to Palookaville.

 

The morning before the night after the morning after the night before

Preparations on The Children’s Society side were going badly.  Heinrich had already pulled out of the squad a few days before the match with an unspecified squash injury.  He was to be replaced by Andrew Britten-Kelly (ABK), brother of Richard Britten-Kelly (RBK).  (Presumably the younger of these two might be known as “Little” Britten-Kelly).  Problem is, Heinrich can bowl whereas ABK (with all due respect) can bowl the odd straight ball but then shows distinctly Harrisesque bowling qualities.

Then, at the 59th minute of the 11th hour (OK, it was 10.00 p.m. the night before the match), Kyle, the team’s off-spinner, sent Harish a text message to say that he’s been had up for being drunk and disorderly and will be spending the next 24 hours in the cells rather than at the match.

[Editor’s note: the precise nature of Kyle’s excuse is lost in the mists of time.  Some say there was mention of injury rather than imprisonment.  We find the young offender angle more in keeping with The Children’s Society aims and values, so choose to embellish the tale in that direction] 

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.  Harish was immediately on the blower to RBK.  Harish remains cool, calm and collected at a time of crisis like this.  “Richard, you’ve got to do something.  Kyle’s pulled out so we’re another bowler short.  Ian will kill us.  Charles will kill us.  The Tufty’s will slaughter us.  Help!  Help!!”

RBK also remained cool, calm and collected.  “Don’t panic!  Don’t panic!” he screamed, while running around the room.

[Editor’s note: running around the room in a panic, while on the telephone, is a much safer activity than it used to be.  In the old days, the telephone cable would get twisted around the panic-monger’s leg, often bringing the poor wretch to the ground and causing an additional injury scare for the team.  These cordless phones are much better for pre-cricket-match panicking purposes].

“You must know somebody who’ll play at short notice”, screamed Harish, “you are South African after all”.

RBK thought deeply for a moment, while removing shattered bits of telephone from the wall, and from his left hand, and from ABK’s right hand.

[Editor’s note:  Yup, that’s the one disadvantage of these cordless phone beasties, of course; untrammelled panicking is halted only on impact with walls and other people]. 

“The only person I know who is crazy enough to drop everything at such short notice is ‘Big Bad Simon’ who is as tall as Charles Nall and Will Jefferson, bowls wicked fast and doesn’t take prisoners”, said RBK.

“We’re desperate, Richard, we’ll take him”, said Harish.

Thus, the side had a full complement of eleven, but with far more pace in the attack than originally envisaged.

 

A tale of two captains

For several days before the match, Trevor Stapleton and Ian Harris were fine-tuning their personal preparations for the match.

Trevor Stapleton wanted the complete 2006 left-arm orthodox spinner look.  He sallied forth to the “Sikh and You Shall Find” clothing emporium in Luton and was delighted to find a black sports turban, or patka, endorsed by Monty Panesar, in the style of the great man’s very own headgear.  Trevor wanted to sport “a full Monty”, i.e. the beard to go with it, but was politely informed that the emporium does not stock the false strange; it is the Sikh tradition to grow your own.

Meanwhile, Ian Harris, fresh from reading “The Art of Captaincy” by Mike Brearley, also aspired to a strange.  Brearley’s Ayatollah look had coincided with a particularly successful run as captain.  Sadly, Ian left this strange decision a little late, so he turned up on the day of the match looking more Bob Geldof then Ayatollah in the facial hair department.

Coincidentally, Ian Harris also chose to sport some exotic headwear; a brightly-coloured Guatemalan bandanna of the Ramneresh Sarwan variety.

Captains have a lot of sartorial matters to think about ahead of a big match; it’s not all strategy, logistics and press conferences you know.

 

A massive erection

For many weeks before the big match, the sound of bulldozers and construction workers could be heard across the verdant fields in the normally quiet village of North Crawley.  (Not another extension to Stapleton Manor, surely).

Without so much as a planning application or even a quiet “do you mind?” chat with the neighbours, the village cricket club had decided to erect a new stand in honour of their visitors.  No pleas, no injunctions and no threats with big dogs were going to dissuade the Tufty craftsmen from their task.

The night before the match was a particular low point in the construction schedule.  The new stand absolutely had to be ready for the big event the next day.  Frankly, it wasn’t ready.  In fact, work on the stand was still at a relatively early stage.  In truth, it had not started.

Geoff Young, a handy fellow if ever there was one, took hold of the situation. Making expert use of existing materials readily to hand, some ply wood and some paint, Geoff rode roughshod over health and safety considerations and produced a massive erection emblazoned with the legend “The Ian Harris Stand”.  Geoff figured that the visitors would be so impressed by the quality signage, they might not notice that there wasn’t much of a stand to speak of.  Geoff, as is so often the case, was right.

 

Arrival of the TCS troops

Under the incisive captaincy of Ian Harris, The Children’s Society team arrived well ahead of the match start time for warm-ups, team strategy sessions, nets, throw-downs, throw-ups and all that sort of thing.  Last to arrive was the “Britten-Kelly Gang”, with their last-minute signing “Big Bad Simon”.

“Hoezit”, said Big Bad Simon.

“Not out”, said Ian.

“Sis”, said Simon, looking none too happy.

“Simon’s just trying to be friendly”, said RBK, “hoezit means hello in Afrikaans”.

Remembering everything he’d learned from The Art of Captaincy, Ian Harris decided he needed to engage directly with this fellow to get the most out of him.  Ian got out a step ladder, climbed to the top and addressed Big Bad Simon face to face.  “I’d like to have a quick look at you in the nets”, said Ian.

Big Bad Simon bit the head off a chicken, kicked a passing poodle and replied, “eish”.

“It’s OK, he’ll do it”, said RBK, helpfully.

So off they all went to the nets.  No-one is sure whether Ian Harris even saw either of the balls that smacked him on the upper thigh, but Janie certainly saw the bruises the next day.

“Lekker” said Big Bad Simon each time he hit the body.  That means “nice”.  Ian Harris made careful notes of these one and two syllable words that might make all the difference in motivating his player.  Ever box free, Charles Bartlett made his excuses and left the nets pretty quickly.  Ian suggested that his bowlers shouldn’t tire themselves out needlessly in the nets.

 

Enter the Tufties

Meanwhile several Tufties arrived at the stadium.  Handshakes all round.  Not for the Tufties the early arrival and endeavours in the nets.  Not for the Tufties the lengthy look at the wicket and the fierce debate over whether to bowl or bat if the toss was won.  Supremely confident in their own surroundings, the Tufty Stackpole team assembled effortlessly, almost imperceptibly.

Glenn Young was baited by Charles for agreeing to play with a broken finger some days ahead of his doctor’s orders.  Trevor Cooper tried to unnerve the Children’s Society players by talking up the Tufty Stackpole team.  Geoff Young explained that the sound system had been delayed in traffic, so that the match would have to begin without music.  Charles Bartlett looked on the verge of tears at this news.

 

The toss

Trevor Stapleton and Ian Harris, in their respective headgear, strode out to the middle for the toss and to agree playing conditions.  Incisively, Ian called tails and indeed it was tails.  The Children’s Society would bat first, for the first time in the history of this great fixture.

A cheer went up from the Children’s Society ranks.  There were plans to carry Ian aloft, shoulder high, in honour of his first and massive achievement as captain.  But wait!  The Tufty team dissuaded the Children’s Society masses from making that gesture.  There was a far more important gesture planned.

Trevor Stapleton gathered all around and made a speech of warm welcome to The Children’s Society, unveiling the Ian Harris Stand.  Ian responded with heartfelt thanks.  Charles Bartlett muttered about the absence of a Charles Bartlett stand.  He also muttered that he didn’t want to go out to bat without the stentorian strains of Jerusalem ringing in his ears, but the sound system was still some miles away.

The Tufty team took these vocal matters into their own hands.  Tufty Stackpole formed a guard of honour for the opening batsmen, Charles Bartlett and Ian Harris.  Those two veterans of so many matches past, strode out to bat through that guard of honour, who were belting Jerusalem at the tops of their voices while shaking hands with the incoming batsmen.  What an emotional moment.

 

The Children’s Society Innings

The Children’s Society innings started at a furious lick.  Tufty Stackpole chose to open the bowling with Geoff “Murali” Young.  Although a so-called off-spinner, Geoff has four additional variations; the doosra, the straightonna, the quicker ball and the one that always somehow gets Ian Harris even if it is a pie.

Ian Harris, as usual, started to nudge and nurdle to get the scoreboard ticking and rotate the strike.  More importantly, during that first over, Charles Bartlett hit a sumptuous straight drive through mid off for four off Geoff’s bowling.  Remembering everything he’d read in The Art of Captaincy, Ian knew that now was the time to motivate the batsman.

“Blimey, Charles, I didn’t know you could do that.”

“Nor did I,” simpered Charles, choking back the emotions.

Another quick single by Harris off Nick Cooper got Charles Bartlett back onto strike.  Then, disaster.  Charles maintains that the ball nipped back ferociously off the seam.  Some wise heads maintain that such a delivery must have been a no-ball, cruelly missed by the umpire.  But those close to the action (other than Charles) submit that Charles played the Piccadilly while the ball went straight down the Bakerloo and that was the end of him.

That heralded the arrival of Mat Watson, The Children’s Society wicket-keeper and thorn in the side of Tufty Stackpole in several conflicts past.

Soon after that, Ian Harris tried to heave a Geoff Young pie into Bedfordshire.  The fizzing off-break cruelly took a bit of bat, a bit of pad and a bit of the wicket on its path.  Wise heads maintain that such a delivery must have been a no-ball, cruelly missed by the umpire.  Suddenly the sound system was up and running.  Always Look On the Bright Side of Life.  Very droll.

Enter Harish, promoted up the order; more incisive captaincy by Ian Harris.  Harish and Mat batted beautifully together, maintaining the momentum set by the brave openers at 5+ an over.  The rate never fell below 4.5 and was 5+ for almost the whole innings.

The sound system did its worst, especially once Ian Harris added an iPod full of sounds to the substantial collection of Matt and Kerry, that outstanding DJ pairing of fixtures passim.  While Mat (the Bat, not to be confused with Matt the DJ) and Harish scored their runs, the DJs played Heatwave, Viva Las Vegas and Dreadlock Holiday.  The crowd, well, Janie and Ian anyway, danced themselves dizzy. The afternoon was suspended in that glorious haze that only a brilliant cricket match can conjure.

Eventually Harish fell to a good one.  Laurel and Hardy.  Very droll.  But that only brought Marko to the crease and the momentum continued to build.  Wickets fell at fairly regular intervals, but everyone from The Children’s Society chipped in and the momentum rarely faltered.

Nick Cooper was the most economical bowler – 2/33 off his full 8.  Trevor Stapleton threatened to keep the runs in check, but a couple of his overs went south – 1/49.  The surprise bowling package was star batsman Nick Church, who was pricey but effective – 3/41.

Mat, as is becoming his habit, anchored the innings, 66 runs off 104 balls.  Marko Bekker scored a quickfire 45 (lekker, Bekker) and Rob Morley the Aussie bowler with a very useful “40”, although even Rob admits that the scorer probably gave him a few of ABK’s runs.  Malcolm from the helpdesk, a genuine all-rounder, chipped in with a quick and useful 20-something.  Even Big Bad Simon, batting at number 11, hit the last ball of the innings back over the bowler’s head for 6.  258/9 off 40 overs.

 

Mid innings pondering and fuelling

While substantial, indeed a record score for the fixture, everyone remembered that the previous year’s match had been a tie: 254 playing 254.  258 was very much “of that order”; it should be enough, but at the same time it could quite conceivably be surmounted.  What a fixture.  Three innings and only 4 runs between those scores.

Some chowed down.  Some ate with restraint.  Some were so excited at the prospect of the next innings they couldn’t possibly digest food.

[Editor’s note: the author admits that he didn’t actually meet anyone who was so excited they couldn’t eat.  But the sentence does give the appropriate dramatic build to the report, so it has to stay]

Ian Harris consulted with his bowlers and his vice-captain, Charles Bartlett, to plot the defence of their total.  Not one cream cake passed the captain’s lips, he was so busy planning and consulting.  Such commitment.

Trevor Stapleton, meanwhile, made some serious headway into a hearty tea and advised his players to do their best.  What a trooper.

 

The Tufty Stackpole Innings

They say that captaincy is 90% luck and 10% skill, just don’t try it without the 10% skill.  Well, Ian Harris certainly used up his ration of luck on this match.  Soon after Trevor Cooper fell early to a good ball from Malcolm, that same Malcolm was lurking down at long leg while Adam Hinks bowled to Colin.  A relative whippet, Colin calls Mike Archer for a second never thinking that Malcolm might attempt the bowler’s end with his throw. “Bowler,” screams Malcolm and throws to the bowler’s end in the hope that Adam can gather the ball and run the man out.  But Adam wasn’t needed.  A direct hit at a vast distance saw Mike Archer go in most unfortunate circumstances.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, soon after, Glenn Young, early in his innings, hits a ball hard to mid off – where Adam Hinks wears it on the body and takes the catch.  A yard either side and it would have been four.  Had Ian Harris (mid off to the right-hander) and Adam swapped over for the left-handed Glenn, that probably would also have been four, carrying Ian over the rope with the ball, all the way from mid off.

On such small matters can victory and defeat hinge.  But in any case The Children’s Society were bowling a consistent and pacey line and length.  Adam’s first spell from the Bowling Green End had not been quite his best, but Malcolm’s first from the Bungalow End applied pressure and Big Bad Simon seemed well equipped to cope at the Bowling Green End.  Rob Morley was no relief at the Bungalow End; although he went wicketless he was in many ways the pick of the bowlers 0/30 off 8.

Over 15 seemed the right time for a change of pace and The Children’s Society sought another breakthrough.  Although the run rate seemed under control and the Tufties were 3 down, everyone knew from past experience how quickly such a match can get away from you.  That wicked-fast outfield and the short boundary on the Ian Harris Stand side of the ground.  Also, those Tufties bat all the way down and have previous in holding back some surprise hitters into the late order to bamboozle their opponents.

Enter The Children’s Society’s partnership breaker, Charles Bartlett, from the Bowling Green End.  As if to order, a simple catch is spooned to mid off where RBK, possibly still picking broken bits of telephone out of his hand, drops a sitter.  “Can’t you get your fielders to blooming well catch?” yelled Bartlett.  “No I can’t”, replied the captain, “I can put them in the right positions but I can’t make them catch”.  Charles Bartlett took some tonk for the rest of the over, which turned out to be a one-over spell.

When Charles Bartlett returned from the Bungalow End, another simple catch went begging, this time ABK (also probably down to the freak telephone/hand injury).  “What is it with those Britten-Kelly’s?” said Charles, somewhat uncharitably for the former captain of a charity team.

Meanwhile the asking rate kept creeping up and the wickets were falling at fairly regular intervals.  Nick Church top scored with 38 but rarely looked completely comfortable and offered more than one chance before he fell.  Harish managed one of those juggling drops where you feel that the fielder had three or more chances to catch it but still didn’t make it.  Ian Harris knows all about those and made incisive but sympathetic noises when these rare aberrations occurred.

Eventually, Nick Church hit one very straight but also very high.  Marko and Malcolm converged (incisive captaincy that, best fielders at long off and long on at that stage of the match – youngsters reading this report in search of instruction should note).  Was there to be a dreadful accident?  “Mine” yelled Marko in a masterful voice at which point no-one (apart from Marko) believed for one moment that the catch might be dropped.  In any case it wasn’t and Nick was gone for 38.

Trevor Stapleton provided an anchor role and hit some lusty blows for his 33, before falling to a deceptively straight delivery that he fancied sending into the bungalows and probably would have done had he hit it.

Several others chipped in with some good shots and cameo innings, but with 15 overs to go and more than 10 an over required, that wasn’t going to be enough.  Adam Hinks returned, this time from the Bungalow End, and bowled a superb second spell at the death, returning 2/31 off his full 8.

The Children’s Society pleaded with the late order batsmen to sacrifice their wickets or retire so that Geoff Young could get a bit of a bat at the end of the match, but the Tufties would not oblige and Geoff was shouting coded instructions from the sidelines, such as “stay out there.  I don’t want to bat” and that sort of thing.  188/8 off 40 was the final score.

 

And so to the pub

The awards ceremony and raffle was held in the pub, as is the tradition of the fixture.  Firstly, there was a grand cake to be cut by the highest scoring batsman of the day.  Mat was about to leap out of his chair and start cutting cake as effectively as he had cut the short delivery a few hours earlier, but Masters of Ceremonies Stapleton and Archer soon intervened.  Relying on an ancient playing condition from the village annals of 1737 (which looked suspiciously like a dusty old ledger from the back of the pub), 7 runs per year were to be added to the score of any visiting player over the age of 50.  That made Charles Bartlett the cake-cutter and thus he cut the cake.

Then those Masters of Ceremonies tried to turn defeat into victory by relying on the same strange playing condition, adding 3 runs per year to the home score for each home player over 50.  Remembering everything he had learnt from the Art of Captaincy about respecting the strange traditions of far-flung places when playing away, Ian Harris diplomatically responded that these playing conditions sounded perfectly reasonable and had they been agreed upon before the match would naturally have been applied.  However, that not being the case, the conventional score should stand.  This was agreed unanimously.

In interview afterwards, Ian Harris informed this reporter that he had a further finesse up his sleeve, the even lesser known Edward Rudolf playing condition in which both teams score gains 10 runs for each left-hander inflicted on them by the opposition team.  The Children’s Society out of politeness has always withheld from using this playing condition.

Ian Harris further pointed out that the Tufty Stackpole playing condition of 1737 can only remain effective until October 2006, when the new Age Discrimination legislation comes into full force.  Mercifully, therefore, this particular debate could not legitimately occur next year.

With the outcome resolved, The Children’s Society accepted their trophy and the match awards were duly made.  Nick Church and Adam Hinks won sets of Owzat dice as Man of the Match for each team.   Mat Watson and Trevor Stapleton received match balls for their superb efforts.

The raffle was drawn, beer and cake flowed long into the night and a very good time was had by all.

Most importantly, the raffle raised more money than ever and Tufty Stakepole even managed to stiff Ian Harris for £50 a year ground rent (to The Children’s Society of course) for the Ian Harris Stand!

A Conversation With My Neighbour When Staying at the Beechwood Hotel, 24 to 26 May 2006

The following is a note I wrote up on my jotter while staying at the “hell hole” that was the Beechwood Hotel in Edgbaston for the Sri Lanka test match in May 2006, as written up comprehensively – click here.

The Beechwood Garden and Roller. With thanks to Charles Bartlett for this picture.
The Beechwood Garden and Roller.
With thanks to Charles Bartlett for this picture.

It relates to a conversation I had with my next door neighbour.

The door to the next room was wide open. At first I thought my neighbour was engaged in conversation with someone – perhaps in the room but unseen by me, perhaps on his mobile phone. As I put the key into the lock of my door, he yelled out, unmistakably at me, “hello young fella. We’re neighbours, mate”.

‘Young fella’ is an endearing moniker once you get to my age. (These days only stewards at Lord’s and front of house staff at the Wigmore Hall still seem to use it for me.)

I took a couple of steps back and greeted my neighbour. He was certainly alone in the room and as far as I could tell had not been talking to anyone other than himself before I arrived.

He was bare chested – a strange sight in an old Victorian house/hotel in that Midlands City in spring – indeed I was going to my room to get an extra layer for the evening. He was drinking a can of lager.

“Sorry mate, I’m a bit pissed”, he said. It was 18:30 – probably par for his course.

“No problem”, I replied, “why not? You enjoy yourself.”

“That’s the spirit”, said my neighbour, “you going out for the evening?”

“That’s right”, I said.

“Well you have a good time, mate”, said my neighbour.

“And you have a good evening too”, I replied.

“That’s the spirit, mate”, he hollered after me as I scuttled the few steps along the corridor, quickly opened up the door to my room, grabbed my jersey, locked up again and fled for the evening.

The Worst Place We Have Ever Stayed In For Cricket, England v Sri Lanka at Edgbaston, 25 & 26 May 2006

The Beechwood Garden and Roller. With thanks to Charles Bartlett for this picture.
The Beechwood Hotel Garden and Roller.
With thanks to Charles Bartlett for this picture.

How did our regular Edgbaston (and occasionally other grounds) visiting group, the Heavy Rollers, end up staying at possibly the worst hotel of all time? After all, we comprise a bunch of reasonably discerning, sensible people.

The very worst hotels only happen to stupid people, right?  Wrong.

But this event does needs some context and explanation in our defence before the exposition.

Context

For several years, our excursion was based around the Wadderton Conference Centre, which was the Children’s Society place in rural Worcestershire, just outside Birmingham. David Steed, who was one of our number in the Heavy Rollers, ran the place and lived on site. The Children’s Society was pleased for a bit of income from guests in the quiet summer period and it was mighty convenient and pleasant for us, with a suitable garden for pre-match cricket antics.

Reports on those pre-test-match games held in the Wadderton gardens will no doubt appear on Ogblog in the fullness of time.

Now David Steed, bless him, ran Wadderton wonderfully and was subsequently a superb host at his Birmingham house. But he possibly wasn’t the best judge of a hotel. Cheap and near the ground seemed sufficient criteria for him. His e-mail a few weeks before the match:

Accommodation is confirmed as previously written about and subsequent telephone chat at Beechwood Hotel on the Bristol Road approx. 200 yards from the main entrance at Edgbaston…

…No deposits required and as we have spoken – do people want to come early enough on the Wednesday to perform on our local green followed by supper at ours with a meal out locally or in Brum on the Thurs. night. Any thoughts ?

That “subsequent telephone chat” was not with me. Anyone dare to confess?

Of course, in a more modern era we might have looked at TripAdvisor or one of its competitor/predecessor sites to check the Beechwood Hotel, but back then those web sites didn’t exist, or barely existed.

The earliest reviews of the Beechwood Hotel on holidaywatchdog.com, for example, were in 2007. Let’s just say that I would not have dreamt of staying in a place described by one reviewer as:

“Hell hole”

…while another reviewer pleaded:

“DO NOT STAY THERE, you’d be better off in a cardboard box.”

Indeed, if you want a laugh, do look at those reviews in full on the above link to the Beechwood Hotel page on holidaywatchdog.com – indeed here is the link again.

The “gentleman” who held himself out to us as the owner/proprietor, I suppose must have been the infamous Tom mentioned in several of the reviews.

Exposition

Nigel recalls that the main light in Adam’s room didn’t work because the light bulb had blown. When Adam approached Tom for a replacement light bulb, he was told to fill in a form to apply for a replacement – the replacement was thus not forthcoming during our stay.

The place was presumably used in part as a sort-of social services half-way house for people who were having a multitude of difficulties. I shall post an aside presently based on my notes about my alarming next door neighbour – (update: now posted here).

Although David had promised us that the rooms came

“each with private bathroom”…

…I seem to recall having to toddle down the corridor to get to said bathroom. “Private”, I suppose, does not necessarily mean “en suite” in this Beechwood world. I also recall some very inappropriate jokes about Zyklon B from my companions during conversations about those ghastly showers.

But the most bizarre conversations were with Tom, who tended to sidle up to us in the bar/common parts areas of the hotel and bend our ears with tales of his roller-coaster and/or imagined past. I made some fragmented notes:

“I was a millionaire at 21…a multi-millionaire at 24…lost it all at 33. I’ve been out with Miss Jamaica, Miss Bromsgrove, the lot. I had an Aston Martin – would cost about £125,000 today. Do fast cars while you’re young, young man, you won’t fancy it once you are your dad’s age. I made a million when a million was real money. When a million was really a million…”

…you get the idea.

But Tom was not the owner/proprietor, if the little bit of Companies House due diligence I have done this weekend (another form of on-line check not readily available back then) is reliable. Tom must have been employed as some sort of manager by the owners; his name does not appear on any of the Companies House papers for the Company that owned the property, 199-201 Bristol Road, it was owned by members of a family, named, perhaps ironically, Kang.

A couple of years after our stay, the place was a squat for Earth First Social Justice Permaculture warriors, as evidenced by the following links:

The company that owned the property was only struck off a few months ago at the time of writing, December 2015, so I imagine the property is now in the hands of the Mortgage provider, Nat West, who surely could find some property developer somewhere who might adapt the premises into some jolly useful affordable housing in leafy Edgbaston.

Two Nights and Two Days of Cricket

Why were we there?  Oh yes, cricket.

We had a net at Edgbaston itself on the Wednesday evening. I’m not entirely sure how our evening panned out, but – having now also seen an e-mail from Nigel sent to us ahead of the trip – I suspect that the net was late afternoon – Nigel’s e-mail suggests 17:00 start – and that the game on David’s local green was therefore a that same evening at, say, 19:00.

I also suspect that my conversation with my Beechwood Hotel neighbour – click here- was also that same first evening, while I was popping back to the room to get an extra warm layer ahead of the evening activities.

Anyway, the muck-about game on David’s local green, the night before the test match started, did not go well for me, as evidenced by this page of my jotter.

2006 Muck About Cricket

Nigel “Father Barry” White and son did well, as did a local lad, Craig, who wandered along and asked if he could play with us.

Harish (Harsha Ghoble) also had a good go, although I do recall bowling him on one occasion with one of my moon balls which descended vertically onto the stumps. “How are you supposed to play a ball like that?”, complained Harish. Nigel then dispatched my next, similar ball for six. “Like that”, said Nigel.

I also recall lots of bites on my legs afterwards, although whether those were from the green or the hotel is a matter of some conjecture. Perhaps a bit of both.

Postscript March 2017 – the scorecard relic and narrative about the park muckabout game is  a false memory from 2006 – that happened in 2008 and the text is transposed to that piece, together with a link to Charles Bartlett’s wonderful 2008 photographs that helped me to disambiguate. It seemed a ridiculous idea, that we had a net AND a muckabout in the park the same evening…it was ridiculous – didn’t happen.

The dinner at David’s on the Wednesday evening was typically delicious and (equally typically) the wine flowed plentifully. We had a great evening, that Wednesday before the game.

Heavy Rollers 2006 With thanks to Charles Bartlett for this picture.
Heavy Rollers 2006
With thanks to Charles Bartlett for this picture.

I don’t remember all that much about the test match, but I do recall that England did well and here is a link to the scorecard which proves such.

Light Rollers 2006 With thanks to Charles Bartlett for this picture.
Light Rollers 2006
With thanks to Charles Bartlett for this picture.

I’m not 100% sure where we ate on the Thursday night, but I think it was that year we went to a local Indian place near Steed Towers. Others might recall better. I think I was in “Beechwood Hotel shock” by then. It really was not a place for the faint-hearted.

Or, as Charley the Gent Malloy would put it, “that hotel was no place for a wuss.”