A CRICKET CHRISTMAS CAROL: A GHOST STORY. Part Four – in which Scrooge glimpses the future.

Part Four: in which Scrooge glimpses the future.

To read Part 3, click here

Or the whole story can be read here

Scrooge sat motionless on his bed. At 3am the silence was briefly broken by the chiming of the the grandfather clock. It’s three chimes reminded Scrooge of the bell that is rung prior to the umpires walking out at the start of a session of play and, like on those occasions, Scrooge felt similarly now, something momentous was undoubtedly about to happen. Unnervingly though for Scrooge, the silence returned and as it did so the black night seemed to grow even more dark. Scrooge waited, expecting to be greeted by another spirit dressed, he imagined would be in some futuristic cricketing garb and he was curious as to what that might look like.

Minutes ticked past with nobody arriving and Scrooge began to wonder if all he had experienced thus far had been merely a dream. Perhaps, he thought, he would be best served by trying at last to get some sleep. But as he laid his head on his pillow Scrooge realised that the gentle breathing he could hear was not his own but that of someone who was sat on the bed alongside him, someone dressed, not in whites or coloured clothing, but in a dark black suit.

‘Good evening Mr Scrooge’, said the new arrival. ‘I am the Ghost of Cricket Yet To Come’ and I have a business proposal for you.’

Scrooge could not remember ever hearing words that sounded so sinister

‘Cricket’, the spirit spat the word out as if he found the mere sound of it distasteful, ‘is a fine way to make money. Provided of course you’re prepared to say goodbye to everything that makes it the game it is at heart’

The Spirit of Cricket Yet To Come smiled to himself as he reached into the inside pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out a sheet of paper. The spirit began to pour over what Scrooge immediately recognised as a spreadsheet, the contents of which, though, Scrooge was unable to discern.

The Spirit looked up and sneered at Scrooge. ‘I suppose you’d like to hear how cricket will be structured in years to come’.

‘I’m not sure that I would’, replied Scrooge, ‘but I fear you’re going to tell me anyway. So do what you must Spirit, take me where you will, show me what you must’.

The Spirit of Cricket Yet To Come stood up.

‘I’ll not take you anywhere Mr Scrooge, for I have no interest in where the games are played, just so long as the stadiums are big enough to house large crowds made up of those foolish enough to pay large sums of money for shortened matches, all of which are essentially the same. Furthermore, what would be the point of taking you to all six of grounds where matches will be played when they all look exactly the same, all designed so as to comply with the ‘exciting’ new format that is ‘The Fifty’.

‘The Fifty?’ questioned Scrooge, wondering what had become of ‘The Hundred’, the format that he himself had introduced and worked so hard to promote.

‘That’s right, Mr Scrooge – ‘The Fifty’ Or as some tedious individuals are calling it, ‘The 8+2’. Well they can laugh all they like but what they need to appreciate is that the format was developed after extensive market research concluded that the time taken to play a game consisting of a total of just 100 deliveries is not only short enough to prevent even the least attentive individual from becoming bored, but also guarantees the greatest financial return in terms of alcohol, food and merchandising sales. And, as we all know, in the end it’s the bottom line that counts!’

Scrooge was horrified by what he was hearing but forced himself to ask more. ‘Six teams you say?’

‘You sound surprised? Perhaps, Mr Scrooge, you had expected one less? Well we did consider ditching yet another team concerned, as presumably you were when you pioneering a reduced number of balls in an over, that the modern cricket spectator might not be able to count to six but the extra team will bring in additional revenue. Each team will play every other team four times, games being played throughout June, July and August to the exclusion of all other cricketing formats. And the names of those teams? Well there’s the Birmingham Bankrollers, The Manchester Moneymakers and the The London Lucratives to name but three. I’ll leave you to guess the names of the others but you can be sure that there’s isn’t one called the West Country Worzels!‘

Clearly of the opinion that his latest remark had been funny, the ghastly ghoul chuckled merrily to himself, a chuckle that became louder and more sinister when he saw the revulsion on Scrooge’s face.

‘I don’t know what you’re looking so upset about Mr Scrooge’, the spirit went on. ‘After all, isn’t all this just the inevitable consequence of the changes you yourself have suggested in your recent report. We’re two of a kind you and I, Mr Scrooge. Two of a kind’.

And with that The Spirit of Cricket Yet to Come laughed so loudly that the windows of Scrooge’s bedroom rattled and Scrooge became so unsettled that he couldn’t stop himself from hiding himself under the duvet of his bed under which, for a few minutes, he could be seen shaking uncontrollably. Eventually Scrooge stopped his quivering and poked his head back out.

‘And the national team. How are England performing in the future?’

‘Have no fear Mr Scrooge. They have been ranked as the number one team in ‘The Fifty’ ever since the format was introduced. Admittedly England are the only country that plays the format but, even so, that’s quite some achievement I’m sure you’ll agree. And when you’re as good as England are in ‘The Fifty’, you can understand why interest in any other format has waned’.

‘And what about county cricket? How is that looking in the future?’

‘I’m sorry Mr Scrooge’, replied the Ghost of Cricket Yet To Come. ‘I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about. What is this ‘county cricket’ of which you speak. I’ve never heard of such a thing’

Scrooge could bear it no longer and once again covered himself with the bed clothes. As he hid there Scrooge pondered whether the future that had been described to him was one that was fixed or whether there was anything at all that he could do that would help avert such a disastrous outcome. Eventually, overcome by all that had taken place, Scrooge fell into a restless sleep. Any change he could make would have to wait till morning.

To be continued…

To read ‘A Cricket Christmas Carol: Part One’, click here

To read ‘A Cricket Christmas Carol: Part Two’, click here

To read ‘A Cricket Christmas Carol: Part Three’, 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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