The last few weeks have been the usual end of school term mad rush what with exams, reports, class cover and, of course, lots of cricket! I can't claim that the last mentioned in any way approaches a chore but a number of recent events have served to remind me that not all that is meant to be fun (serious fun that is) works out as intended.
Returning from a very enjoyable school tour to the Manchester area I ought to know better than to be playing on both Saturday and Sunday. There is no fool like an old fool; glad to be able to report that I came through unscathed though some of my colleagues and opponents were not so lucky. After all the ECB helmet alarm at the start of the season how ironic that the worst injury I should witness thus far came through the unlikely channel of 'incorrect grounding of the bat'!
Perhaps there will now be a warning that "running your bat in" in careless fashion can cause injury, and maybe even some schools will be advised by their lawyers that batting without a bat is much safer. For the record Alan Neill, a former colleague in those halcyon Downpatrick days, jarred his thumb so badly in making his ground that it was later revealed that he had ruptured the thumb socket. He returned to the ground in both plaster and a sling, and won't play again this year. In his absence a colleague had had to retire from the field with a bruised foot, and one of by now 2 sub fielders had impaled himself on an advertising board, and cut his shin! He ended up scoring-- that was all that he was able for, and even so at one stage all of his side were either scoring, batting, padded up, or sub-fielding!
It could have been worse, could it? Well how about having tickets for the Sunday of either of the Lord's Tests this year? Still further. I know of three young men who had the great thrill of being invited to Lord's on the Saturday by the Lord's Taverners, an all expenses paid trip as a prize for winning the Inter Cities Under 16 competition last summer. What a day to be there! The only snag was that in order to get their `plane home they were forced to leave the historic venue on what will possibly go down as its most famous day's Test cricket when the score was 120 for 4!
Spare a thought too for the cricketers of the four home nations in the Triple Crown Tournament in North Wales last week. Though England and Scotland managed a reduced match on day one, no other game was even started. Ireland took part in 3 bowlouts - why bother one has to ask? In many cases players will have taken up holidays to be at this event; the frustration will be even greater when they hear that the maligned Irish weather would have permitted almost uninterrupted play at almost any venue on the isle this same week, and they not even 100 miles away in North Wales!
One side enjoying this weather was Uppingham School, which is, I believe from that smallest of all English counties, Rutland. They have played Campbell College, RBAI, Bangor GS, and an Ulster Schools XI. At the time of writing they have had three full games and seen the sights of the Giant's Causeway. Unfortunately they have also seen some of the unacceptable sights of Ulster. When we (i.e., Bangor GS) played them they were too polite to express any opinion, or even concern, as to what they had witnessed. I salute them for having come over; perhaps we should have suggested a more suitable time to tour, but as with all cricketing misadventures they just smiled and got on with the game. After all it is a funny game!
The players in the Bangor IV v North Down IV league match last Saturday enjoyed the unlikely distinction of being umpired by a former England Test player. Graham Roope was over to attend the wedding of ex-Instonians stalwart Colin Barclay and in the company of former Linfield and Sheffield United footballer Peter Dornan found himself at Ward Park. Later he witnessed the end of the Lord's Test while sampling the delights of the Upritchard Park balcony, and I'm confident he too enjoyed his cricket last weekend.