The Cricket Fairy Delivered

 

       I rubbed my grandfather's tankard and there he was: the cricket fairy, with his multi-coloured blazer and cap, cream-coloured flannels and neat little moustache. “Usual thing,” he said drily, “three wishes. And try not to be ridiculous – I do wishes, not miracles.” (I hadn't even considered a maiden century for your correspondent!)

       “Usual thing,” I said boldly, “Lancashire to win the County Championship.” Notwithstanding that people like me had been making this wish without it being achieved since 1935. His lips pursed as if to say that he was expecting this – no more and no less – but there might have been a twinkle in his eye. “And?” he asked. “I'd like our own little club to win a trophy – it's been four years now.” He made no comment except to say, “I did say three. Usual thing and all that.”  There was a sense of impatience about him, as if he had a lot of business to attend to.

       My mind raced. England to be world number one for the first time? The SNCL Premier Division Championship? To win twice as many games as we lose? The besting of Nicky's Indian All-Stars in our Festival game? I thought we could and would take our chance in these matters. “I know,” I said, “a bunch of really decent new recruits: good blokes – who can play a bit.” He vanished into the Spring rains almost immediately, but I did think the expression on his face was quite benevolent.

       And so it came to pass: an excellent cricket season. The record shows forty five wins and twenty one defeats, victory in the Wardington Cup, third place in both leagues. Some low points, but lots of highlights: for me, the thrilling victory in the Wardington Cup Final and the 510 runs shared equally with Horley stand out, but there were exciting games and great victories in all forms of cricket. The 45-21 figure did not include walkovers, abandonments or the tie with Horley, but what did not appear on the club's record for only the second time was a draw: old-timers will have mixed feelings about this fact! The cricket fairy really delivered the goods in the cup semi-final at Radway when we were nine wickets down with fewer than seventy runs on the board and the rain set in; the batting was much better in the replay, a week later.

 

 

 . . . So Now It's Down to Us

 

       We can't make it rain when we've cocked up our batting, but the fairies can't make our policies for us! Despite being in pretty good nick the club still faces plenty of issues and I'd like an electronic debate on a number of them with the ideal of coming to the AGM wit a consensus on most of them:

 

 

1.   Player and clubman of the year. Please contact me with suggestions.

 

2.      Associate members. There is no doubt that none of the above good news about the club would be the case without the concessions that have been made to us on associate members whose efforts have been very important on and off the pitch. Current issues: a) the first team captain is no longer eligible for full membership. He wants to continue and this would have to be as an associate member, probably at the expense of the existing associate who played the least role – and with whom I have raised the issue. b) Terry Monnington will retire next year as Director of Sport at Warwick and as our principle liaison with the University and with Warwick Sport and we should be alert to the possible consequences of this change.

 

            3. Sunday captaincy. I think there was a consensus that the system of having a captain for a

            calendar month or so worked well. It is an onerous duty with more complicated selection  

            criteria and more variety of problems and conditions than other forms of captaincy. I felt

            that I was glad to do a stint, but also glad when it was over and I think others felt the same.

            What was not satisfactory was the allocation, which was not sufficiently open and which

            excluded some people who wanted to do it. Clearly, bids should be put to the chairman and

            we should try to allocate the captaincy in the best interests of the club, taking the general

            view that we would want as many of our members as possible to experience captaincy

            provided that they were prepared to take full responsibility for transport, tea, liaison with

            the opposition etc. In my view it would also be a good idea if we had a discussion about the

            principles of captaincy, not with a view to homogenising practice, but at least airing some

            issues. For example, it was a complaint about some captains that they kept information 

            about batting orders very close to their chests and sprung bowling changes very late on

            bowlers without discussion.

 4. Fixtures. Harry Singh stepped into the breach as fixtures secretary and I think that generally this went well and he was committed to finding us games when we needed them; I can fill in for him when he is in India. But there are a number of gaps and also some suggestions from members about fixtures which should not be renewed. I think there is also a problem for us to consider about our mid-week afternoon games. These have been some of the most attractive fixtures on the calendar in many ways, but they have tended to an unfortunate dichotomy: either the opposition don't raise a side at all or they raise one which is far too strong for the XI we happen to have available on the day. There is a tendency for the Aussie pro and the county schoolboy to turn out in these games and, as a result, such games as Chase Farmers, Barnard's Green and Cudham Wyse were pretty much annihilations. I don't know what we should do about this, but we should certainly think about it.

         

5.      Recruitment. We are reconciled, I guess, to having to recruit on a fairly large scale every year; it is more difficult than the old days of a semi-permanent core of members, but more interesting in several respects and fine so long as it works. Thanks to the efforts of several of our members (Dani Sherazi and Paul Wilson come to mind, but they are not the only ones)  and also to reasonable luck with the University's directions in recruitment things have gone well – 2011 was better than 2010 – but we must monitor the situation constantly.

6.      Expansion. I have expressed consistent scepticism about both the idea of us touring again or the proposal to run two teams on a Saturday, but there would be circumstances in which I would change my mind – especially if I thought there were legitimate potential members who weren't getting a game. But I'm not really convinced this is the case. It all hangs on how you interpret all those names who appear on our membership lists but then never fill in availability. I tend to think of them as “fantasy cricketers”.

7.      Membership information. With that in mind it would certainly be helpful to those picking teams if we could have the most accurate possible membership lists including telephone numbers for emergencies.