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Know Your Oppo

by Wisden Staff 15 minute read

Who will YOU be lining up against this weekend? Here’s Ed Kemp with five archetypal club teams to look out for.


Armed with cones, ladders and all-matching teamwear, this lot’ll cover several miles per man before you’ve even tossed up. After the initial jogs, stretches and sprints, an energetic game of five-a-side is followed by dozens of high-tempo fielding drills – all accompanied by a cacophony of high-pitched whoops and simian hollers. If, by some miracle of merit, they lose, look out for their skipper sitting them down in a circle on the outfield for a stony-faced debrief while you head to the bar.


I say, Mr Umpire, old chap... that is a jolly fine bit of headgear you're sporting

“I say, Mr Umpire, old chap… that is a jolly fine bit of headgear you’re sporting.”

Greeting you with a cold ‘How-do-you-do?’, all wearing 20-year-old woolly jumpers and boasting a kaleidoscopic array of coloured caps, you’ll spot the public school jazz-hats a mile off. And having been prepared for a role in the Cabinet from the age of nine, they’re no strangers to the dark arts: like winning favour with the umpires through polite conversation and eating all the egg mayo sarnies at tea.


Don't park there! It's for the deckchairs!

Don’t park there! It’s for the deckchairs!

From the moment they park up a little obnoxiously (maybe straddling two spaces, or going up on that bank that’s clearly meant for deckchairs) you suspect you’re in for an interesting day. By the time they’ve claimed a bump-ball catch, given a 15-year-old a big send-off and yelled expletives at the umpires – you know exactly what you’re dealing with.


Last Man Stands

Arriving with minutes to spare in various vans and bangers, they only ever want to bat first and usually do. Though pre-match is a hurried blur of pad straps and fag stubs, their stubbled ex-county age-group openers blast you towards defeat before you’ve even got going. While they’re carrying a few TFCs, the four players who actually do anything are all more than good enough to effortlessly wipe the floor with your team of comparative try-hards, who leave thinking, “If you’re going to beat us, at least pretend you care…”


Short on experience, light on nous, even their captain’s only just graduated to a short handle. Yes, they might have technique, but what good’s a high elbow when the required rate’s creeping up? Well, beware of complacency. When they’ve scooped your fastest bowler over the keeper’s head for four and creamed the frontline spinner inside-out through extra, you’ll realise all their time “training” actually pays off (while tearing out what remains of your hair).

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Have Your Say

Comment (1)

  1. Baz 7 years ago (Edit)

    United Nations CC culturally diverse team, with multiple captains that usually have lively debates on everything from field placing to bowling changes, usually in their own language - so slow overrates in 'time' games.

    Will lose wickets rapidly but one star player will quickly compile a century, either sneering or smiling their way through the process. Umpiring decisions are optional from player/umpires.

    Wiley bowlers who know every trick in the book can either turn it miles or if you have the cheek to hit a ball for 4 will put you on your backside with a short ball.

    Turn up each season with a different XI.

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