Ciaran McCarthy pays a tribute the rain card, a club cricket tradition.
It’s concept that club cricketers will know all too well, something that most of us have thought about, from a young junior breaking through into his first senior team to the captain of the first team. At some point, we all have, or will, send that text after checking a weather app, or look down to the team group chat to see those two inevitable words… “Rain Card?”
It happens at all levels of the senior recreational game. You might have had a hard week, either grafting at work or skipping university lectures. Or maybe you’ve got a fixture against top of the league who haven’t lost a game all year, and you haven’t won one yet. Whatever the reason, we’ve all had those occasions where we think, I really can’t be bothered to play cricket this weekend.
But that’s where the Great British summer can really come to your aid. It’s no secret that the weather in the cricket season can be less than consistent, and some weeks that can really affect you for the worse, having to go on and off every 30 minutes, dragging the covers on when the smallest bit of rain falls or having to abandon a certain, nailed-on win due to an unforeseen storm. But, on those weeks when nobody really wants to play, the weather can, sometimes, offer you a lifeboat.
We can all picture the scene. It’s Friday afternoon, you’ve just got home, the weather has been looking suspect all week, you check the group chat, and the resident ‘chirper’ in the team, usually a student – the one who stands at slip with his Oakleys on and makes cringeworthy attempts to talk the batsman out for three hours each Saturday – has put out the call to arms. There’s always deliberation, “What if it doesn’t rain?” “I’ll be in the doghouse.” The ‘chirper’ claps back. “I’ll be hungover tomorrow whether we’re playing or not”.
There are whisperings, a couple of side-eye emoji’s thrown in. Nobody wants to be the first to crack. Private messages are exchanged. You text your work mate to see if he’s game. That’s when you’re presented with an ultimatum. “I’ll go if you do”. The ball is now firmly in your court, and hopefully, nowhere within a three-mile radius of you tomorrow. You mull it over, and, between a few of you, decide that, yeah, why not?
It brings about a sense of camaraderie, bonding with your teammates. For the first couple of drinks you’re dreading the prospect that the weather isn’t actually that bad and you’ll have to play. By the time you’ve been out for a couple of hours, all those fears have completely disappeared, and, for all intents and purposes, you’ve forgotten what cricket is.
It’s always a great idea at the time. You stumble out of the pub, club or bar, bid farewell to your teammates, grab a greasy kebab and make your way home, setting an alarm for the morning in the off chance the game does go ahead. A concept you’re not happy about, but a bridge you’ll cross when it comes into view, and let’s be honest, you’re absolutely certain the weather will have cancelled the game.
You wake up from the four hours’ sleep you got, open the blinds and see your worst fears confirmed. The ground is bone-dry, there’s not a cloud in the sky and play starts in an hour. At least you’re not the only one in this state; at least three of your teammates are in the same boat. Inevitably you’ll be bowling first, standing in the field for hours rather than sleeping across the back seats of your car. Thanks rain card… thanks. Until next time.