Here’s Daniel Splarn’s village cricket stereotypes – an entertaining look at the characters we see every week on the village green.
The Permanently Angry Fast Bowler
We’ll start with an absolute staple of village cricket: the habitually furious fast bowler. A perfectly sound and decent bloke off the pitch, this 33-year-old insurance broker becomes a different beast entirely once he’s crossed that white line.
You’ll find him striding towards the wicket for another 45 overs of hostility, there will be over-zealous LBW shouts and there will be expletive- laden outbursts at anybody who even thinks about letting the batsmen through for a quick single.
“Oh for f***’s sake”, he spits, as another half-tracker fizzes past you on its way to the boundary, “pull your finger out and dive for it, will you?”
He’s actually fairly decent with the new nut, this chap, and he’s been known to give it a bit of a biff down the order every now and then. Catch him on a good day and he’s a handy asset to the side. Just don’t, whatever you do, shell a catch off his bowling and expect to enjoy the rest of your day.
All The Gear, No Idea
Another classic sight at village greens up-and-down the country. All The Gear, No Idea opens the batting most weeks – but this is almost always because you’ve won the toss and elected to bat because the rest of your team are running 20 minutes late.
He looks pretty assured as he gets a few underarm throw-downs – he even middles a few – yet once he’s out in the middle normal service is resumed, as the opening bowlers continually beat his bat (which is usually emblazoned with an impressive number like 800 or 501).
All The Gear, No Idea will eventually depart for a well-made 9, clean bowled after a succession of near misses. He’ll mention something about “taking the shine off the new ball” as he tucks his bat under his arm and wanders back to the hutch. Another single-figure score today, but nobody can take away that match-winning 47* back in 2004. Nobody.
The semi-pro ringer who your mate has reeled in last minute
“Seriously player, is Will. Have I told you he once played a couple of games for Sussex Seconds?” Yes, yes you have.
After weeks / months / years (delete as applicable) of hype, your trusty opening bat has finally roped in Will, his mate from work, as a last-minute ringer in a tricky game against the league leaders.
Obviously you agree – it’s either Will or somebody’s 11-year-old son who would have to field wearing jeans – and you pencil him in at number 4 and as first-change bowler.
On the drive to the game you’ll hear of swash-buckling half-centuries and devastating five-fers, yet here is Will in the flesh, making a four-ball duck, dropping a total dolly at slip, bowling a succession of no balls, and then swiftly being withdrawn from from the attack after three overs of being carted to all parts.
Will typically disappears without paying his match-fee, then scores a dazzling ton for his usual team the week after. Cheers, Will.
The lower-order slogger
Think Liam Plunkett with a bit more timber and you’re somewhere close.
He’s the sort of guy that resents his umpiring stint so much, he’ll pin you with a total shocker of a decision just for having the cheek to ask. Middled it straight into your pad? “That’s plum LBW, I’m afraid”. Miss one by miles and the bloke at third-man appeals for caught behind? Up goes the finger.
The slogger’s been demoted to number 11 this week after giving out the skipper (a complete shocker of course) in the game beforehand. And he’s now marching to the crease with a point to prove.
“Just play it nice and safe”, you say, “we’ve only 2 overs to see out for the draw”. Of course this is futile. Obviously it’s futile.
After two agricultural mows somehow miss the stumps, he skips down the wicket to his third ball and goes for glory (picturing the acclaim as he bludgeons his team to an unlikely victory). Missed it. Bowled. Game Over.
The Run Out Specialist
The thing about the Run Out Specialist is – you can’t get a word in edgeways with him off the pitch. He’s constantly chewing your ear off in the slip cordon, when you’re on scoring duties or heading for a post-match pint.
But when it’s your turn to bat with him he magically goes completely quiet. Yep, all communication goes out the window. Which is why he’s involved in roughly 87% of your team’s run-outs.
He’ll shape to run – stopping, going again and then safely returning to his sanctuary of the popping crease – while you slip and fall on your arse half-way down. You’ll be stranded once again and run out for an enormously unsatisfying 12 off 27 balls.
When you turn for the pavilion you swear you catch a glimpse of him grinning and chuckling to himself. He’ll go on to make a glittering half-century and give you that same grin after the match. Talk about insult to injury.
Remembering that you gave him a lift to game, you seriously consider making a hasty exit – leaving him stranded in Bognor Regis.
Can you think of any village cricket stereotypes we’ve missed?
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