A CRICKETING CHRISTMAS CAROL: A GHOST STORY

PART ONE: IN WHICH SCROOGE PLANS THE DEMISE OF COUNTY CRICKET

Old Marley was dead. As dead as Old Father Time’s great grandfather and, if Ebenezer Scrooge had anything to do with it, as dead as county cricket would be in just a few short years.

It was late afternoon on Christmas Eve and Scrooge was sat at his desk in a large office, one of many in the building that housed the ECB. Ordinarily he was not one to find any pleasure from the festive season but a smile was now beginning to spread across his face as he typed the concluding sentence to his manifesto for the future of domestic game. His work finished for the afternoon, he printed the completed document and placed it in his brief case.

Scrooge was the one who had been responsible for introducing ‘The Hundred’, the pernicious competition that had sickened so many genuine cricket supporters. It had been injurious to the health of many county cricket clubs too and Scrooge hoped that his latest suggestions would be the final nail in their coffin. For a brief moment he thought about his predecessor who had died several years previously. Jacob Marley had been someone who had always delighted in the longer formats of the game and Scrooge knew that, if it was possible for one already dead to be described as such, Marley would be mortified by what he was now proposing.

At that moment there was a knock on the door and Scrooge looked up to see Mr Robert Cratchit, his personal assistant, standing in the open doorway. He was wearing a novelty Christmas jumper which only served to darken Scrooge’s already black mood.

‘What is it Cratchit?’, Scrooge snapped. ‘Can’t you see I’m busy?’

‘It was just that I noticed that you didn’t join us for a drink to celebrate the festive season so I brought you a little of what was left over’, Cratchit replied, offering Scrooge as he did so what he had been holding in his hands, namely a box of mince pies and a tube of Prosecco and pink peppercorn Pringles – the latter, notwithstanding the impressive alliteration, surely an ill advised flavour choice regardless of the time of year. ‘Merry Christmas, Mr Scrooge!’

‘Bah, humbug!’ muttered Scrooge to himself as he got to his feet. ‘Every idiot’, he continued, ‘who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be forced to explain the Duckworth Lewis Method to a group of disgruntled Yorkshire fans who can’t understand how they have just lost to Lancashire despite having scored more runs than them in less overs!’.

And with that Scrooge grabbed his coat and brief case and, without so much as a by your leave, strode past Cratchit and out of the office.

***

Scrooge made his way to the car park and from there drove the few miles to his home, an old house that he’d bought some years before. Enveloped by fog, Scrooge approached the front door. And then, as he fumbled in his pocket for his key, Scrooge watched as the door knocker, usually a golden yellow colour not dissimilar to that of a Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack, transformed into a garish mix of pink and green, a colour combination so unpleasant that Scrooge was compelled to look away. After a few moments, the nausea he had felt having abated, Scrooge managed to summon the courage to gaze once more upon the marred entrance to his home and was relieved to find that the door knocker had reverted to its normal hue. Scrooge thought he must have imagined the whole affair, reasoning that nobody in their right mind would come up with such an atrocious colour mix.

Scrooge entered the house and made his way to the kitchen. Never one to spend longer on something than was strictly necessary, Scrooge took a minute or two to heat up the ready meal he had bought for his evening repast. Once cooked he took it with him to the lounge and got ready to eat it in front of the television. He briefly considered watching a film but, recognising the shortness of his attention span, chose instead to flip through the TV channels, until he eventually came across a festive edition of ‘Pointless’ and thus found himself trying to think of the name of any England batsmen who had scored an Ashes century in a Boxing Day test.

And it was then that Scrooge heard something the like of which he’d never heard before, a strange ethereal voice that seemed to Scrooge to be emanating from a world that was not the one to which he was accustomed.

‘Well, for a start’, the voice was saying, ‘there’s Chris Broad’s 112 at the MCG in 1986’.

Scrooge turned his head and froze in fear as he noticed the ghostly yet unmistakable figure of Jacob Marley.

‘Though why anyone should think such essential information ‘pointless’ is simply beyond me!’ the spirit continued, moving slowly out of the shadowy corner of Scrooge’s lounge dragging behind him as he did so, what appeared to be cumbersome segments of boundary rope.

As Marley drew closer to Scrooge he noticed a look of utter bewilderment on Scrooge’s face and explained how, whilst it was more traditional for those in the afterlife to be burdened with heavy metal chains, an exception had been made in Marley’s case in view of his lifetime commitment to the game of cricket. Marley paused a moment and took on an air of contemplation. ‘Death would be so much easier’, he remarked wistfully, ‘if only they could be replaced with those triangular foam wedges they use today.’

Scrooge, nothing if not a man of reason, rose up from his chair and spoke to the spectre in an accusatory tone.

‘I don’t believe in you!’, he said, refusing to accept what his senses were making all too plain.

‘Well as you should well know, Mr Scrooge, truth isn’t determined by what you believe, as is all too apparent given your seeming lack of belief in that most fundamental of realities – specifically the importance of cherishing those long observed cricket traditions that you hold in contempt. But the importance of such things is real, as I am too. And to convince you of this you will be haunted by three spirits that will teach you all you need to know to save the game of cricket. Expect the first when the clock strikes one.’

And with that the ghost of Jacob Markey departed, groaning incoherent sounds of lamentation and dragging with the boundary ropes with him. For a few minutes Scrooge stood motionless not knowing what to make of what he’d just experienced but eventually concluded that the only possible explanation was that he’d been suffering from a severe case of indigestion on account of the ready meal he’d eaten being past its sell by date.

And so, convinced that the night would pass uneventfully, Scrooge changed into his pyjamas, slipped under his duvet and driftoff to sleep.

PART TWO: IN WHICH SCROOGE TAKES A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

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.

PART THREE: IN WHICH SCROOGE FACES A PRESENT REALITY

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.

PART FOUR: IN WHICH SCROOGE GLIMPSES THE FUTURE.

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.

PART FIVE: IN WHICH ALL IS NOT LOST

Scrooge woke up with light pouring in through his bedroom window. The room seemed particularly bright and looking outside Scrooge realised that the reason for this was that the morning sunshine was reflecting off the snow that had fallen overnight and now blanketed the ground as far as Scrooge could see.

In the distance bells were ringing and Scrooge noticed that several people were dressed in their Sunday best and were making their way to church. This, together with a number of children who were doing their best to push what looked like new bicycles through the icy streets, convinced Scrooge that today was Christmas Day. To confirm though that this was indeed the case, he shouted down to a lad in the street and asked him what the score was between Australia and South Africa.

‘Are you daft or something mister?’ replied the stereotypical urchin like youngster, ‘the Boxing Day test don’t start ‘till tomorrow! Today’s Christmas Day!’

Thrilled by the lad’s response, Scrooge thanked him and threw him a £20 note, urging him to put it towards junior membership of a county cricket club of his choice. Delighted though Scrooge was that he hadn’t missed Christmas Day, he was more even more pleased that it seemed clear that test cricket continued to exist. And if the game of cricket was still being played over five days, thought Scrooge, then all was not lost. Filled with an inexpressible joy as a result of this wonderful realisation Scrooge ran downstairs and looked frantically for his brief case. He found it by his front door, just where he’d left it when he’d got home the previous evening.

Opening it, he took out the report he spent so long preparing and hurried back to the lounge where he immediately put it to good use, starting the fire that would keep him warm for the rest of the day. Never before had a fire made his heart glow the way that fire did that day. Next he found his phone and found the number for Bob Cratchit. He hesitated a moment not sure whether his personal assistant would appreciate a call from his boss on Christmas Day but, too excited not to convey the news, he decided to go ahead and make the call anyway.

After a few rings Bob’s familiar voice came on the line. He was clearly somewhat taken aback to hear Scrooge’s voice and more taken aback still to hear him begin by cheerfully wishing him a very happy Christmas.

‘I just wanted to tell you the good news Bob. That I’m resigning my position at the ECB and will be urging the committee to make you my successor. What’s needed now is someone who loves cricket for what it is, somebody who knows what makes the game special. And that somebody is you. The truth is Bob that I couldn’t organise the fair distribution of cakes in the Test Match Special commentary box, let alone a domestic cricket season. I might know how to make cricket bring in a little cash, but you Bob, you know how to make it flourish.’

The call over, Scrooge went onto the internet and, by way of a Christmas present to himself, took out a subscription to ‘County Cricket Matters’. And then, having contemplated the year’s worth of cricketing articles he could now look forward to, he decided to go out for a stroll before getting down to the important business of preparing his Christmas dinner. As he made his way around the snow covered streets he came across a group of carol singers and Scrooge stopped a while to listen. Standing there watching, he found himself humming merrily along to the familiar tunes. After a few minutes Scrooge continued on his way and, as he did so, amused himself by trying to come up with some alternative versions to one of the carols that he had heard being sung. Eventually he came up with a choice of words that he felt scanned just about well enough to have a go at singing himself, even though, by doing so, he drew some very peculiar looks from those he passed by.

God rest ye merry, cricket fans let nothing you dismay
For Andrew Strauss’ HPR won’t see the light of day
So saving us from summers when in August there’s no play
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and Joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy.

As he walked on a broad smile came over Scrooge’s face and he thought how there had never been a Christmas Day on which he’d felt more happy than he did on this particular Christmas morning. For this Christmas he’d received a gift like no other, he’d been given back his love for real cricket and, what’s more, secured its future so that others would be able to enjoy it for many years to come.

Heading back home he noticed ahead of him the Cratchit family who were themselves enjoying a walk in the snow. Creeping up behind them he surprised Bob with a snowball that he threw at him with the accuracy of Mike Hendrick and the speed of Shoaib Akhtar. As one might have imagined would be the case, the result of such a penetrating delivery was that Bob went reeling, just like the middle stump of a tail ender facing the likes of Joel Garner. But no sooner had Bob hit the ground, than his son, Timothy, a lad of no great height but one who none the less possessed a fine sense of humour, signalled ‘T’ with his arms and called for a review of his father’s dismissal. DRS swung into action and subsequently revealed that the snowball that Scrooge had delivered had reached Bob without pitching and was well above waist height and was thus deemed an unfair dismissal. The ‘No ball’ signal was given by Mrs Cratchit as she made her way over to help her husband recover his upright position.

Back on his feet, Bob gathered his family around Scrooge and they all wished each other a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Bob pulled out a tube of savoury snacks and shouted, ‘Anyone for a Prosecco and pink peppercorn Pringle!’. Everyone took one and then, as you might have expected given his name and aforementioned short stature, Bob’s young son raised his ludicrously flavoured potato snack and uttered the only words fitting to end such a tale as this.

‘God bless us’, he said. ‘God bless us every one!’

THE END


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

4 responses to “A CRICKETING CHRISTMAS CAROL: A GHOST STORY”

  1. I loved this story. I don’t get to watch much cricket these days and know little about the woes of English County Cricket but I thoroughly enjoyed this take on my favourite Christmas story. I would love to share this on my blog if I may?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there, thanks for your comment and glad you enjoyed my little tale! I’d be delighted if you shared it. If you’re interested, a couple of years ago, I wrote another version of ‘The Christmas Carol’ this time detailing the woes of British General Practice – it can be read here. Merry Christmas!

      The Dr Scrooge Chronicles

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks. I had a look at your list of posts and intend to read some. I love this kind of humour. I am about to reblog now.

        Liked by 1 person

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