A Day in the Life of a Stragglers’ Scorer
by David Lawrence
I have not been to this ground before. Find score box. First thing – get cloth from bag and dust table and chair, remove drink cans, crisp papers and push netting and old stumps to one side so that I can sit down.
Do the home team have a scorer – no! Have I seen this sort of scoreboard before? Does it work? I ask both captains for team lists, neither know their full team; many of the home team have been told a start time an hour after that given to the Stragglers.
Find out which side is batting and beg captain for at least the first three batsmen’s names. Ask the openers who is going to face the first ball. Both say “I don’t mind”. I say whoever you say will go in the book as number one. Note distinguishing features – left handed/colour of helmet/pad straps/ sweater.
At one match the openers were brothers aged about 18 and 20, both wearing helmets. Their mother, who was getting the teas, could not tell them apart when they were out in the middle.
Ask fielding captain who will open bowling. He says “Julian will bowl at the top end and I am not sure who will be the other opener”. Ground is entirely flat, which is top end?
Sit in scorebox. Has any Stragglers’ match ever started on time? If lucky someone will offer to help with scoring or scoreboard. If they do the time will come when they have to bat or, more likely, they become bored and wander off.
How was that batsman out – lbw or caught at the wicket? Even with bowled one sometimes does not see a bail dislodged. Which outfielder caught that catch 100 metres from the scorebox? Is this the same young pace bowler or has there been a change?
Later in the day player says “How many did I get?” Up to now you have him down as “red helmet” and do not recognise him as the dashing centurion.
One hundred up means nipping round to the front of the scorebox and standing on a chair to put up the number one. Meanwhile the batsmen are running. Was that a hit or a leg bye? Await signal, if any.
And so it goes on. Have I got it right? Will the books balance? At the end of the day the Match Manager says “Thank you very much – you will stay for a beer, won’t you?” I explain that all this OAP can cope with now is a 90 – minute drive home, eat, shower and bed.