An occasional guest column in which Hugh Fatt-Barstad (Double Oxford Blue 1956 – cricket and fag-beating – and one of the celebrated sporting Fatt-Barstads of Little Pilling, Shepherdshire) gives his views on cricket today.
Did you see that long string of pi(snip – Ed), Steven Finn knocking over the stumps with his knee in that beer match against India? In my day, the stumps were so heavy (teak was, I believe, favoured at Derby, the better to withstand the July chill) that the young man’s kneecap would have been left atop the wicket, in place of the off bail. And why the hell not?
I know this because it actually happened to Fred Leatherapron, pro for Gattingsbottom of the Lancashire League just after the war. Regrettably, play was briefly suspended, but his captain, DLF Gower-Caughtslip, insisted, entirely correctly, that Fred finish his spell if he wanted his match fee. Slippers cunningly switched Fred to the other end so he could land a few in the damp patches the knee’s bleeding had left on or about a length, from which the ball seamed prodigiously. Fred finished with figures of 52-32-21-8 and, old softy that DLF was, he passed a bucket round and the appreciation was such that Fred was able to buy a chain for his outside privy with the takings. Fred never played again though – the Welfare State saw to it that he was kept in hard toilet paper, so he, like so many of the scroungers living off the strivers today, simply loafed about on his crutch while we picked up the receipts.
Young Finn will be getting the best medical care money can buy – no matter what Mr Miliband and Mr Obama say about paying for doctoring – with, no doubt, a phalanx of Bollywood actress types ferrying him regular top-ups of Indian tonic water too. He’ll be back just in time to take a planned rest, before bowling 17 overs in a day (not an hour, mark you, a day) to whatever descendants of the Scots farmers are still left in New Zealand and not serving drinks on 747s stuck at Heathrow.
Cricketers today? They don’t know they’re born.