A CRICKET CHRISTMAS CAROL: A GHOST STORY
Part Two: in which Scrooge remembers the good old days
To read Part One, click here
Or the whole story can be read here
Scrooge woke in a cold sweat and sat bolt upright in his bed. This was not unusual for, in recent weeks, the intense criticism that had been consistently levelled at him for his insensitive attempts to reorganise county cricket had frequently disturbed his sleep. However, his thoughts of how he might best silence his critics, were soon diverted when, at one o’clock precisely, the door to his bedchamber creaked open and a strange looking fellow crept into the room. He was wearing white flannel trousers and a bright white shirt, over which he sported a cream coloured, hand knitted, Arran sweater complete with coloured stripes around the cuffs and V- shaped neck. On his head was a floppy sun hat and In his hand he held a willow bat that had clearly seen many years of heavy use.
‘Are you the spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold me?’ asked Scrooge.
‘Indeed I am,’ the apparition replied. ‘I am the Ghost of Cricket Past and I am here to show you what cricket once was. But we must fly, we haven’t got long’
The spirit held out his hand and Scrooge took it instinctively.
‘I warn you though Ebenezer,’ the spirit began, his eyes twinkling as he spoke. ‘generally I’m asked to field down at Third Man on account of my propensity to drop things. So please, do make sure you take a good hold of me!’
The spirit chuckled to himself and Scrooge was left unsure as to whether or not his new acquaintance was joking. Even so, Scrooge tightened his grip and, as he did so, felt himself being lifted, as if weightless, from his bed. The spirit led him to, and then through, the wall of the bedroom and out into the night air. As they flew over hills and dales the sky grew gradually lighter and the air temperature became steadily warmer until eventually they arrived at a cricket ground situated in the park of a seaside town.
‘Where are we?’ Scrooge asked the spirit as they landed and sat down on two of the many deckchairs that were scattered around much of the boundary edge.
‘This is Clarence Park in Weston-super-Mare.’ said the spirit, ‘and that, Ebenezer, is none other than Mr David Steele’.
The Spirit was pointing to a grey haired man who was patrolling the cover boundary just in front of where they were sitting. The hero of the previous year’s Test matches against the West Indies turned to smile at Scrooge before focusing intently on his Northamptonshire team mate Sarfraz Nawaz who, even now, was running in to bowl to the Somerset captain Brian Rose.
And suddenly Scrooge remembered. This was the first game of cricket he’d ever attended. It had been played back in 1977 and the day of his attendance had been particularly notable as it had been the one in which Rose had made his highest first class score, a magnificent 205. But the day had been special for so much more than a single players personal achievement. Scrooge remembered how excited he’d been to see so many international players, back in the days when they play for their counties between Test matches, even turning out on the day after such an international match had concluded. Other Test players that had been on show the day that Scrooge had first experienced the joys of county cricket included Peter Wiley, Wayne Larkins and Brian Close, not to mention, of course, Viv Richards and Ian Botham.
‘That was a wonderful introduction to cricket,’ Scrooge said wistfully to the Spirit who was now indicating to him that it was time they moved on. ‘Those were such happy times’.
The Spirit took hold of Scrooge’s hand again and before long they were flying through the sky once more. Soon though they touched back down again, this time on the outfield of the county ground in Taunton. It was during the tea interval and sat on a chair that had been placed in the middle of the pitch was a man for whom scores of people were queuing to meet, each hoping to exchange a few words or, by proffering before him their autograph books, becoming the proud owner of his much prized autograph.
As Scrooge looked on he thought they was something familiar about one of the children who was waiting in line. In his hand the boy held a book authored by the man who was sitting in the chair. Scrooge then recognised that the boy he was looking at was himself and he remembered how he had been a little embarrassed when, having been asked by Mike Brearley if he’d enjoyed the book, the young Scrooge had said that his favourite chapter was the only one in the book not actually to have been written by the then England captain.
‘Those were the days’, said Scrooge. ‘Back then you felt so much more connected to the England team than you do now. It was such a privilege to be able to see the likes of David Gower, Bob Willis and Derrick Randall play for their counties. It’s such a shame the youngsters don’t get those same opportunities today’.
Yet again Scrooge felt his hand being taken by the Spirit and soon the scene of his idyllic childhood was fading from sight. Moments later Scrooge became aware that he had been transported back to his home and was once again confined within the four walls of his dreary bedroom.
The time had come for Ghost of Cricket Past to leave. The spirit tried to explain to Scrooge that he’d soon be visited by a second spirit but Scrooge was too excited to pay him any attention. Instead he was busy looking for the autograph book he had had as a child and which he was sure was now gathering dust under his bed. Eventually he found it, hidden in a box along with old Playfair Annuals and an A4 file of cricketing photographs culled from the sports pages of newspapers back when they used to have full reports of every county game. Many of the faded photographs had equally faded autographs scrawled upon them. Re-emerging from beneath his bed, Scrooge stood back up and brushed the dust off his pyjama bottoms. He turned round hoping to show off his signature of Graham Gooch and only then realised that the Ghost of Cricket Past had left. Scrooge was alone again, save that is for his memories. But oh what marvellous memories they were.
Scrooge slipped happily back into bed and fell swiftly asleep hoping to dream of summers long past. But he was to be disappointed, for soon he would have to experience a less pleasant but much more present reality.
To be continued…
To read ‘A Cricket Christmas Carol: Part One’, click here
To read ‘A Cricket Christmas Carol: Part Two’, click here
Or the whole story can be read here
To read, ‘The Dr Scrooge Chronicles’, something completely different and yet in some ways similar, click here
Other Cricket related posts:
To read ‘Scooby Doo and the Mystery of the Deseted Cricket Ground’, click here
To read ‘Brian and Stumpy visit The Repair Shop’, click here
To read ‘A Tale of Two Tons’, click here
To read ‘A Somerset Cricket Players Emporium’, click here
To read ‘A Cricket Taunt’, click here
To read ‘A Song for Brian’, click here
To read ‘At Season’s End’, click here
To read ‘A Day at the Cricket’, click here
To read ‘The Great Cricket Sell Off’, click here
To read ‘On passing a village cricket club at dusk one late November afternoon’ click here
To read ‘How the Grinch stole from county cricket…or at least tried to’. click here
To read ‘How Covid-19 stole the the cricket season’, click here
To read ‘A Cricket Tea Kind of a Day’, click here
To read ‘Life in the slow lane’, click here
To read ‘Frodo and the Format of Power’, click here
To read ‘If Only’, click here
To read ‘I’ve got a little CRICKET list’, 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
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