A man enters a shop, in the corner of which an accordionist is inexplicably playing ‘I am a Cider Drinker’. Several members of the Nempnett Thrubwell Young Farmers Club are also present. Dressed in the traditional attire of the Morris dancer they are waving their handkerchiefs and sticks in the air. The man, who is the chair of the selectors [CS] for the Somerset cricket team, approaches the counter behind which stands a shop keeper [SK].
CS: Good morning
SK: Morning, sir. Welcome to the Somerset Cricket Player Emporium.
CS: Thank you my good man.
SK: What can I do for you sir?
CS: Well I was sitting in the top tier of the Marcus Trescothick Pavillon, skimming through the latest edition of Wisden when suddenly I came over all perturbed.
SK: Perturbed, sir?
CS: Aye, I was roight worried loike.
SK: Ah, worried.
CS: In a nutshell. And I thought to myself, I’ll ease my anxious rumination as to how I might make up a full team of players for Somerset’s next outing in the Royal London One Day Cup by visiting your establishment. So I curtailed my scrutinisation of the aforementioned Almanack, executed a quick single and and took up my guard in your place of purveyance to enquire upon the availability of a individual distinguished in the art of either batting or bowling.
SK: Come again.
CS: I want a player for an upcoming cricket fixture.
SK: Oh, I thought you were moaning about the accordion player.
CS: Oh, heaven forbid, I am one who delights in all manifestations of the Adge Cutler benefaction.
CS: Ooh ah, I loike the Wurzels my lover!
SK: So he can go on playing, can he.
CS: Most certainly, now then, a cricketer my good man.
SK: Certainly, sir, who would you like?
CS: Well, how about a Tom Banton.
SK: I’m afraid we’re fresh out of Tom Banton, sir
CS: Oh, never mind, how are you on Will Smeed?
SK: I’m afraid we never have Smeedy at this point of the season sir, he’ll be back in next month.
CS: Tish tish, no matter, well stout yeoman, a full portion of Tom Lammonby if you please.
SK: He’s been on order, sir, for two weeks. Was expecting him to be made available this morning.
CS: T’s not my lucky day, is it, aah, Roelof van der Merwe?
SK: Sorry sir.
CS: Lewis Gregory?
SK: Normally, sir, yes. Today, though, no.
CS: Ah, Marchant de Lange?
CS: Jack Leach?
CS: Craig Overton, Sonny Baker?
CS: Ben Green perhaps?
SK: Ah we have Ben Green, yes, sir.
CS: You do? Excellent.
SK: Yes sir, he’s ah, not entirely match fit.
CS: I’ll be happy if he has two legs and a moustache.
SK: Well, ah, he is rather a long way from being fully fit actually.
CS: No matter, fetch hither the all rounder from Exeter, Devon, mwah.
SK: I think he’s more unfit than you’ll like, sir
CS: I don’t care how unfit he is, hand him over with all speed.
CS: What now?
SK: He’s suffered a right thigh injury and is undergoing medical investigations.
CS: Has he?
SK: Yes, sir.
CS: Josh Davey?
CS: You do have some Somerset cricket players, do you?
SK: Of course, sir, it’s a Somerset cricket player shop, sir. We’ve got…
CS: No, no, don’t tell me, I’m keen to guess.
SK: Fair enough,
CS: Ned Leonard?
CS: Ah well, I’ll have him.
SK: Oh I thought you were talking to me, sir. Mr Ned Leonard, that’s my name.
CS: George Thomas?
CS: Aah, how about James Hildreth?
SK: We’ll, we don’t get much call for him around here sir. Not these days.
CS: Not much call, he’s the single most capped player in Somerset history.
SK: That’s as maybe sir. He’s retired now though. So no longer available. Not round these parts.
CS: Tell me then. Who is the most sought after player round these parts.
SK: Tom Abell.
CS: Is he?
SK: Oh, yes, he’s staggeringly popular in this neck of the woods.
CS: Is he?
SK: He’s our number one most reliable player
CS: I see, Tom Abell, eh?
SK: That’s right, sir?
CS: All right, okay, ‘Have you got him?’ he asked, expecting the answer ‘No’.
SK: I’ll have a look, sir…[the shopkeeper has a good look round]…um, No.
CS: It’s not much of a Somerset Player shop is it.
SK: Finest in the district.
CS: Explain the logic underlying that conclusion, please
SK: We’ll it’s so clean.
CS: It’s certainly uncontaminated by Somerset players.
SK: You haven’t asked me about Peter Siddle, sir
CS: Is it worth it?
SK: Could be
CS: Have you Peter Siddle?
SK: No, back injury
CS: That figures, predictable really I suppose. It was an act of purest optimism to have posed the question in the first place. Tell me?
SK: Yes, sir
CS: Have you, in fact, got any Somerset players here at all?
SK: Yes sir.
SK: No, not really, sir.
CS: You haven’t?
SK: No sir, not a single one. As well as a number of unfortunate injuries, it’s the consequence of so many players being drafted to The Hundred, sir – ten at last count.
CS: Well, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to complain about the state of county cricket.
SK: Ah, yes, county cricket… What’s wrong with it.
CS: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it. It’s dead. That’s what’s wrong with it
SK: No, no, sir…it’s resting.
CS: Resting? Then why is red ball cricket being sidelined to that part of the year when the weather is at its least agreeable for playing the summer game? And why has the much loved one day competition been downgraded to a development competition to make way for a dumb-downed and wholly unnecessary second competition in the shortest format of the game?
SK: Ah, that’s to ensure a ‘strong, high performing, domestic game the fans will love’.
CS: A domestic game the fans will love?! The domestic game is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. It’s bereft of life, it’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible. It is now an ex domestic season.
CS: What is it?
SK: We appeared to have slipped into a different sketch
CS: So we have. I’m sorry.
[The chairman of selectors turns, tells the accordionist to stop playing and, with head bowed low, leaves the shop. Behind him the shopkeeper opens the iPlayer app on his phone and out of curiosity starts watching coverage of The Hundred.]
SK: What a senseless waste of human life.
With apologies to life long Somerset supporter John Cleese and all the other members of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Other Somerset cricket blogs with a considerable nod to Monty Pyton
To read ‘A Song for Brian’, click here
To read ‘A Cricket Taunt’, click here
Other blogs related to ‘The Hundred’
To read ‘Brian and Stumpy visit The Repair Shop’, click here
To read ‘A Tale of Two Tons’, click here
An blog along similar lines to the one above, this time about the NHS:
To read ‘The NHS Emporium’, click here
Other blogs with a cricketing theme:
To read ‘If Only’, click here
To read ‘How Covid-19 stole the the cricket season’, click here
To read ‘Eve of the RLODC limericks’ click here
To read ‘It’s coming home…’, click here
To read ‘A Song for Ben Green’, click here
To read ‘Enough Said…’, the last section of which is cricket related, click here
A Jack Leach Trilogy:
To read ‘For when we can’t see why’, click here
To read ‘WWJD – What would Jack Do?’, click here
To read ‘On Playing a Blinder’, click here
To read ‘Coping with Disappointment’, click here
And to finish – a couple with a theological flavour
To read ‘Somerset CCC – Good for the soul’, click here
To read ‘Longing for the pavilion whilst enjoying a good innings’, click here