|The two most popular British Sports are Football and
Cricket. I was no more than an eager
participant at both games. I have been privileged to be in the company
some of the greats in both sports and even been in the same team if not
the same league. Anecdotes and stories about these sports abound.
they are funny. Others...well if W.G.Grace was alive to-day, he’d turn
his grave! In the early sixties I used to make up the numbers for
Cricket Club. Because I was unemployable I used to also get invited
to make up
at other matches. Finchley ,at that time, had a wonderful captain named
Howe. When you played for Ron every match seemed to go to the last ball
have an exciting ending. I believe he played Minor Counties cricket for
particular summer's day he had passed my name on to a chap called John
John Gardner was a rich man who promoted and enjoyed cricket. I believe
actually paid for Worcestershire to go on a pre season foreign tour
However he ran a cricket team aptly names FORK. This stood for ”
of the Right Kidney”. So on this day I was invited by John to turn out
Cricket Club during their cricket week.
a privilege. So after whitening my boots and pads and pressing my
I headed off down the A3 to Esher.
I arrived at their most pleasant ground in leafy Surrey. John Gardner
there to meet me. A bigger than life man in all dimensions. In fact
once confided in me that when he was batting if you hit him in front it
LBW and if you hit him behind it was a wide. I was greeted with
” Wilfred Isaacs has sent two young South African cricketers down to
Will you open with one- the other will go in No 3. Show them the
I cant be sure but I think these two young South Africans were Mike
and Barry Richards.
|The bar was
already open. Well bar is really a bit of a misnomer. It was a bathtub
with ice and Lanson Black Label Champagne. To enliven the liver I
of the bar and by 11 o'clock I was
in the mood to
Trueman, Tyson, Holding and Wesley Hall with no fear. Out I went to bat
scored 24 in the first 5 balls before being caught on the boundary off
a chance to return to the bar. By lunch we were 241-1 wicket. By now I
having a convivial time
members. Names I cant remember.
One was a
captain of Northamptonshire who had turned up with everything but his
frame. whether it was his health or the Lanson
Black Label he
it difficult to walk and when we fielded stayed
in one place
throughout the fielding period.
of the Cheeseman family. Very wealthy with a Lamborghini
girls. I think he parked the car with him at second slip. He played for
Berkshire I was informed.
There was a
Thespian with shaking hands. In fact he told me he went to the doctor
this problem. The doctor asked him if he drank and he replied ” Not
I keep spilling it.” It was obvious he was going to be at first slip.
Gardner himself. When we fielded the ball would roll under him and he
stamp and ask if had stopped it.
Esher C.C. was
for its Port after lunch. I remember having a convivial lunch of claret
and port with Esher’s wicket-keeper- a chap called Marques- who had
for England. Then to a comfortable deck-chair to sleep off the
I believe we
declared with some telephone number of a score and
still batting. Now Fork took to the field.
| Procter and Richards had to open the bowling as
everyone else was either incapable, drunk, or in the case of Cheeseman
still dealing with one of his accompanying ladies. I don't remember the
result. However this motley lot in the field would have outdone any
captain stood at either silly mid -on or off depending
on which end
bowling. The man with shaking hands was at first slip, John Gardner was
second, third and fourth slip with a bottle of Lanson at gully.
seemed to appear to bowl but never to field.
There was a
wearing an Oxford University Blue sweater who didn't seem to have much
a clue. All he seemed to do was polish the ball and give it to the
we later found out that his blue was for marbles.
To cap it
of the Esher batsmen, with the thickest pair of glasses I've ever seen,
asked by the umpire if he wanted to take guard uttered ” No thanks
de resistance was the player with the wooden leg. Whilst hobbling for a
his wooden leg got caught in one of those holes from which the pitch is
It took two engineers and a doctor over twenty minutes to free him from
Gardner asked me to put my name and details in his address book for
reference. The details on the line above were those of one E.R.Dexter.
was the nearest I ever got to the big
time. I was