A CRICKET CHRISTMAS CAROL: A GHOST STORY
Part Three: in which Scrooge faces a present reality.
To read Part Two, click here
Or the whole story can be read here
Scrooge had not been asleep long before he was woken once more. The old Grandfather clock that stood on the landing struck two and as it did so, his bedroom door opened once again and a woman entered. Like the Ghost of Cricket Past, she too was carrying a cricket back but, unlike her predecessor, she was dressed in brightly coloured clothing and was sporting a cricket helmet.
‘Well hello there!’ the spectre said cheerfully ‘You must be Mr Scrooge!’
‘And you, I presume, must be the Ghost of Cricket Present’, replied Scrooge,
‘I am indeed’ the Ghost confirmed before proceeding to explain to Scrooge that she didn’t have a great deal of time to spend haunting as she was keen to get back home to watch the cricket highlights which were being shown that evening on terrestrial television although not until three o’clock in the morning. ‘But beggars can’t be choosers’ she continued, ‘what with the spiralling cost of dying, a Ghost’s wages, especially one of the female persuasion, are no longer sufficient to justify a subscription to that satellite sports channel which has a virtual monopoly on the broadcast rights for live test cricket. So chop, chop let’s get going!‘
Scrooge had been looking forward to more spectral flight and was a little disappointed when the Ghost of Cricket Present pointed out that such activity was something she was no longer able to offer.
‘As with much of modern life, there is no time now for such romantic notions. It’s all too expensive you see and one must always have an eye on the bottom line’.
And with that the Ghost of Cricket Present pulled out a mobile phone and called for an Uber. It was though, no ordinary Uber, for not only did it arrive immediately it was also able to transport them instantly to a cricket ground where a T20 game was being played.
Scrooge and the spirit got out of the car and made their way to a pair of seats that had been reserved for them at the back of a packed stand. Sat next to them was a family made up of Mum, Dad and a couple of young children. In the row in front were six or seven lads all of whom had clearly been drinking heavily for some time. And the more they drank the more fruity their language became. Soon the parents of the young family, who had paid a not inconsiderable sum of money to be there, felt they could no longer stay seated where they were.
On the other side of where Scrooge and his ghostly companion were sat, a couple were discussing the match and commenting on how the game, though entertaining enough, was like almost every game in the shortest format, characterised as it was by a relentless pursuit for runs from the very first ball of the innings.
‘It’s ironic when you think of it’ said one of the pair, ‘in trying to make the game more exciting, they have succeeded in making it only more boring.’
The man who was speaking was interrupted when a T-shirt, emblazoned with the name of one of the match sponsors, struck him smack in the face. After taking a moment to recover, the man continued. ‘And is it because of an inherent lack of confidence in the format itself that the organisers of these games feel they have to try and maintain our interest by blasting out loud music, sticking a camera in our faces in the hope we’ll want to perform, or imagining we are somehow excited at the prospect of wearing a T-shirt promoting a company we’ve never heard of?’ Unrolling the t-shirt which had fallen into his lap, the spectator held it up for his companion to see. ‘I mean, who on earth wants to walk around advertising ‘KP Lavatorial Cleaning Services?’
As the game proceeded in a way that few would recall with any clarity in years to come, Scrooge and his spirit guide made their way back to the Uber and were transported to another game. This time the crowd, that was healthy but far from packed, was gathered to watch a match played over 50 overs. As he took his seat Scrooge noticed the same young family he’d seen at the T20 game and noticed now that the Father was none other than his personal assistant Bob Cratchit. The children were asking where all their favourite players were and Bob and his wife were having to explain that none of them were playing as they’d all been picked to play for other made up teams that nobody really cared about in a competition that no one really wanted.
Scrooge enjoyed watching a few overs of the game before the Ghost of Cricket Present ushered Scrooge back to the car and the driver sped them away to yet another game. This time the crowd was smaller but, as the four day game that was being played proceeded, Scrooge noticed how spectators who had previously been strangers struck up conversations with one another and expressed both real interest and real knowledge in the game. The home team players were held in high affection by the crowd but those on the opposing team were greatly appreciated too. Everyone watching seemed content to let the game evolve over time and, though to the casual observer the game may sometimes have appeared slow, Scrooge recognised that as the game ebbed and flowed, it did so in ways that made it infinitely more interesting than anything else he’d seen during his time with the spirit who was herself also watching the match intently by his side.
It was almost time the Ghost of Cricket Present to draw stumps on her time with Scrooge but before she did so, there was something else that she wanted to show him.
‘Follow me’, she said and headed away from the boundary edge towards a building situated behind all the stands. Scrooge followed her as she made her way through the glass doors of what was clearly a cricket museum. ‘You see, Mr Scrooge, I may be the Ghost of Cricket Present, but who I am is made up of those who have gone before. Cricket has a history, a history that is important and needs to be preserved, in part by preserving the traditions of the past.’
Scrooge looked around him and saw bats and balls employed by former cricketing stars, scorecards of famous victories the club had enjoyed in years gone by and no end of cricketing memorabilia that made the past almost tangible. Scrooge went to pick up a framed shirt once worn by one of his own heroes, back in the days when he was at school, but as he did so his surroundings began to blur and he found himself back in his bedroom once more.
Too caught up in thinking about what he’d seen thus far and not a little anxious about what still might befall him before the night was through, Scrooge sat on his bed and waited for the final visitor of the night. He hoped the Ghost of Cricket Present had made it home in time for the highlight package she’d wanted to watch and imagined that it would be more enjoyable than what he would soon have to endure. He wouldn’t have long to wait for it was nearly 3 am.
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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