A Cricket Lesson

So many readers of yesterday’s post have expressed horror, disbelief, or dismay, that I may have missed the most incredibly dramatic first day of a Test  Match that the world has ever seen, or is ever likely to, that I have to say that I did watch the highlights on Channel 5 + 1, after I had published my offering. At Trent Bridge, his home county ground, Stuart Broad, watched by his father, Chris, a former England opening batsman, took eight wickets for fifteen runs as Australia were dismissed for 60 in less than two hours. Despite the loss of three early wickets, the home side replied with 274 for 4. Those unfamiliar with our national game may find this brief description of how it works. The epitome of the sport is a series of international Test Matches, each lasting five days. This no doubt stems from the idea that there are many battles in a war, and it is the final outcome that counts. First you must win a five day match, then you must win more than half the total of those in the series; always 5 between England and Australia. The current match is the fourth in the series. The tally is 2-1 to England. In each game each team of eleven players may bat twice. Each attempt with the bat is called an innings. The toss of a coin determines who bats and who bowls first. The batting side aim to score as many runs as possible; the bowlers intent is to take ten wickets (dismiss ten batsmen) as cheaply as possible. The opening innings in a match is usually a cat and mouse period, with the batsmen hoping to carry on to the next day and total 400 or more. It becomes apparent that to be all out (dismissed) on the first morning, and finish the day 214 behind, still needing to take six more wickets, before being set the unenviable task of overtaking whatever the ultimate lead was to be in order to set a reasonable target for England was an unmitigated disaster for the Aussies. This morning England advanced to 391 for 9 declared. This means that they closed their innings with one wicket left. Australia replied with 241 for 7. The match will finish in England’s favour tomorrow, probably without their having to bat a second time. Peacock on buddleia Unfortunately, I spent most of the day trying unsuccessfully to sleep off a bad headache, so all I can offer readers less than fascinated by cricket is a photograph of a Peacock butterfly on the buddleia bush, taken when I could face the sunshine. I dined on a vegetarian salad sandwich and sparkling water.

Sir Garfield Sobers

A growling has emanated from the car in the last few days whenever Jackie has applied the brakes.  I could have understood it had it come from passengers, especially when she put her foot down heavily, but it definitely came from the vehicle, and only when the pedal was gently caressed.  We therefore decided to have the problem examined by Wells garage in Ringwood.  Jackie has found this firm, recommended by Helen, to be reliable, efficient, reasonably priced, and offering friendly service.

We drove to the garage this morning and left the car there whilst Bill drove Jackie to the Eales’ home in Poulner, to which I walked.  This took me along Northfield Drive at the end of which I turned right and on to Southampton Road which leads to The Mount, where Helen and Bill live.  Not having made this journey on foot before, I needed to be pointed in the right direction.  It was then almost straightforward.  There is, in Poulner, a Tudor period house which has been for sale for a very long time, it seems since soon after it was built.  It serves as a very useful landmark, so when it came into view I knew where I was.  I thought.

Tudor house in Poulner

I am used to travelling in Jackie’s car.  So I knew that I should walk past the house, continue for perhaps a quarter of a mile, turn around, go back past it, and take a left turn just before reaching Southampton Road again.  This, therefore, is what I did.  (In fairness, that only happened once, but it reads better as if it were a regular occurrence, especially as that really is what I did.)

Today’s rain was unrelenting.  The car’s brake pads needed replacing and would not be ready until late afternoon, so it was quite pleasant to stay the rest of the day with Jackie’s sister and brother-in-law, chatting and playing Scrabble.  Helen gave us a good salad lunch with her crusty home-made bread which reminded me of the smell of muslin-covered dough left overnight in my grandmother’s glazed earthenware mixing bowl.

The Scrabble led us to discuss the debacle of the on-line version which has been corrupted by Mattel, and the fact that many of the original players are moving to the more traditional Lexulous.  Helen and I are both what the Daily Mail has called silver surfers.   She has yet to try Lexulous which I recommended to her.

Before lunch, while Jackie and Helen were making plans for the sisters’ forthcoming camping weekend, Bill and I chatted in the sitting room.  Inevitably we spoke about sport, and he told me of how he acquired his treasured Walter Hammond four-star cricket bat.  That is his story, so I won’t steal his thunder, but it did remind me of how I secured Frank’s trophy.  Frank was a friend of the family in Newark.  Quite coincidentally, because Louisa met her husband after our friend had returned to Jamaica, Frank is Errol’s uncle.

Having spent his working life in England, this warm and friendly Jamaican and his wife Pansy decided to return to the land of their births when they retired.  I wanted to mark this with a suitable present.  It had become a tradition for Becky, Frank, and me to visit Trent Bridge for one day of the Test matches, so I had a good idea of a suitable subject.  But what would be the most apt gift?

Art on Glass in Bridge Street had, for many years, displayed in its window a perfect engraved portrait of probably the greatest all-round West Indian cricketer who has ever lived.  This was on a delicately coloured green glass which had been imported from Canada.  That was it.  That was Frank’s present.  Not the right island, but never mind, I thought.

I asked the proprietor to sell it to me.  The answer was a definite no.  The situation called for tactful persistence.  I explained why I wanted it.  He countered with the fact that this was the original of three he had made.  One of the others was auctioned at a local Country Club by the subject, who himself retained the other.  This of course made it all the more desirable.  I must have looked suitably crestfallen.  It has always been my policy to rely on people’s good nature, rather than try to beat them into submission.  The man offered to make another.  He was not prepared to do it on anything other than the Canadian glass.  That would take a little time, but we had about six months.  Well, the suppliers constantly let the craftsman down.  As we got nearer and nearer the departure date, and as my visits of enquiry became more and more frequent, I all but gave up hope.

Two weeks before the due date, the artist also gave up on the glass.  He announced that I could buy the original.  Frank was able to return to his native land with the very first copy of a most unusual portrait of Sir Garfield Sobers.

Back home this evening Jackie produced cod, chips, and mushy peas followed by bread and butter pudding for our dinner.  Good traditional English nosh.