Ben Gardner picks out five brand-new Covid-19-inspired excuses for cricketing shoddiness as club cricket resumes across England.
Club cricket is back, but not quite as we know it!
From today, July 11, recreational cricket is once again permitted after four months of lockdown, with a few alterations. In truth, most are minor. More drastic changes like reduced team sizes or limits on overs have been swerved. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be bigging up the regulations as making the game alien, as if cricket were what it always was, this would definitely be the season you averaged 50. Here are some ready-made coronavirus club cricket excuses that should fit most situations.
The beauty of the suddenly omnipresent anti-bacterial gel is we don’t yet actually now how it will affect cricket, so for the first few weeks you can blame it for pretty much anything. Drop a sitter? Anti-bac made my hands slippy. Miss a straight one? That gel is making the ball move miles. Bowl a long-hop? It squirted out of my hands! Not only does it kill 99.9 per cent of germs, it can explain away 99.9 per cent of cricketing mishaps, and for that we thank it.
Not had enough practice
This isn’t a new excuse, of course, but if you’ve spent lockdown working from home, enduring Zoom call after Zoom call, and getting quarantine fat instead of quarantine fit, and the oppo’s furloughed first-change has been doing two Joe Wicks sessions and three hours in the nets per day, you can surely be forgiven for being surprised by that extra yard he’s picked up?
Blame the ‘hygiene break’
We’ve all blamed a drinks break for a loss of concentration, as if dreaming of or reminiscing about some weak squash can really justify chipping a half-volley straight to extra cover. Now with hygiene breaks for cleaning the ball pencilled in every six overs or 20 minutes, you’re basically always coming up to or just coming out of a break in play, so getting out can never actually be your fault.
Well done @ECB_cricket & good luck to all club cricketers striding into the unknown today. I expect a string of new excuses by the end of the day: the hand sanitiser made my hands slippy, the line we had to run down wasn't straight, my bat was social distancing from the ball etc.
— NickScribbler (@NickScribbler) July 11, 2020
Wonky running lines
OK, so you’ve never actually ‘run’ a single, and it’s even rarer that it’s in a line even approximating straight. But you’d swear the line painted by the groundsman to run along is more wayward than your opening bowler’s radar. And then when you saw point swooping in, you weren’t sure if diving for the crease was allowed in the new regulations.
Slips too wide
Over the years, you’ve established yourself as the king of the glide, of getting on top of it, riding the bounce, and running it down, like Kane Williamson at his best. In truth, if you’re being generous you’d call it a controlled edge, and more often than not it’s blind luck that sees the ball squirt down past a desperate second slip. Now, with 1m+ distancing in place for the slip cordon, that man is just that bit wider, and he’s snaffled you. Galling.