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Secret diary of a village skipper: On tour

by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

Our secret village skipper diarises the joys of going on a cricket tour in his latest entry – when, let’s face it, the cricket tends to get in the way.

You can’t beat a cricket tour, despite the extortionate city-centre parking bills, the whiffy concoction of Brut and Deep Heat, questionable bathroom etiquette and hanging around hotel lobbies waiting for the youngsters to sculpt their mane.

Cricket, beer and giggles – there’s a clear loser on that list when you’re on tour. Sure, it’s a bit weird waking up to your teammate in his underpants, but it’s nothing we’ve not seen before. And the travel time is four times longer than the usual away day, as are the drinking sessions, but it’s largely a normal Saturday – only midweek and protracted.

We’re familiar with our teammates’ red-tinged post-match beer faces, but it goes up a notch on tour. My roomy, returning from a night out, proceeds to Klinsmann-dive onto my bed in the pitch black; only he misses the bed, slaps his belly on the hard floor, and cracks his head open on the skirting board. Lad. He’d missed the previous three games with a mysterious neck injury…

Three days, three matches – at least one too many, but it’s soothing to experience a game away from the intensity of league cricket. I bowl my first over for five years, removing their skipper courtesy of a crafty moon ball that dips under the bat. He can’t quite believe what he’s just surrendered to; I offer the nonchalant glance of a man who takes a five-for every other week.

Out on the town, in amongst the gig tees and Bar Harbour check shirts, boat shoes and trainers, suit jackets and cagoules, the young ’uns are inwardly relieved when the veterans call it a night (when the first one breaks the rest follow). Not because they are cramping their style, but so they can nurse their pint for a further 20 minutes, fail to unearth an alternative bar late on a Tuesday night, then walk home heroically as the last men standing, tucked in by 12.30am. Result.

Bedtimes, warm-ups and the regularity of beer rounds are not universally agreeable when there’s almost a 50-year age-gap between youngest and oldest, but what other sport could merge so many different people from varying backgrounds and demographics?

There were no arguments, no splitting off into sub-groups at breakfast. We weren’t there for the cricket. Not because it’s midseason and we’re bored of it, but because the highlight is extended time with your mates, reminding ourselves that while we love the strategy, rural setting and feeling of leather on willow, we’re really in it for the people and sense of community. Let’s drink to that.

Read the previous secret diary entry: Preparing to fail 

Read more club cricket stories

This article first appeared in issue 23 of Wisden Cricket Monthly

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