Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Eleventh Post : County Memories.

With the Scottish Saltires’ ending their association with the YB40 English county domestic competition this summer, after ten years of involvement, the Cricket Scotland website encouraged fans and supporters to send in their memories of the competition and their highlights from over the course of their involvement in it.
It could be meeting an idol at the ground and discovering that they were everything you hoped they would be. .. or not! Or special Saltires’ moment; snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, a particular individual performance or even just mingling with the opposition fans.
I went for something a little more personal. 
Sometimes it's not about what you are watching, but who you are watching it with, or, how you managed to get the chance to watch it in the first place.

County memories.
I remember when the announcement was made that Scotland would be fielding a team in the English county one day tournament (the CB40 as it was then known). I was excited for Scotland, Scottish cricket and also for myself. This was a great opportunity for home grown players to bridge the gap between Scottish club cricket and the international world by adding a quality stepping stone of some high class experience. The chance to host some games on a regular basis would add to the exposure of cricket in Scotland too and with the rules allowing two international players in each team (added to the potential of England national players playing for their home counties when not on England duty added to the prospect of seeing some amazing international players that I would otherwise not have the chance to see play in the country I call home). All in all it was set to be an exciting time for Scottish cricket and cricket in Scotland. 
I looked on in envy as the schedule was announced and tried to set my work rota around when the home games were. At the time I worked as an underpaid, undervalued, assistant manager in a retail outlet in Stockbridge, struggling to make ends meet with the crushing weight of a mortgage and the tedious need to eat three times a day.  However, I did work close to where the games were due to be played at the grange ground and vowed that if I couldn’t get the days off I needed that I would rush round during my lunch break and peer over the wall, risking cuts from the surprisingly sharp and annoying holly trees (probably planted there by the authorities especially to discourage scallys like me from glimpsing some free high class cricket).
I remember when the supporter’s packs or members passes were announced. All ten home games included plus access to the members stand (the only place in the whole ground with any shelter providing welcome protection from the blazing sunshine we were guaranteed to get, and also offering one of the best/loveliest views of any cricket ground I have ever seen.) and also a nifty gold credit card sized gold members pass that you could whip out and show the security guard that would make him smile at you and politely move the barrier enough so you could swan past him like a big star entering the V.I.P. area of an exclusive club, leaving the hoi polloi behind, on the other side of the fence with the rest of the rabble, where they deserved to be.
AND on top of all that it ALSO included entry to the Scotland v. Australia full one day international!!!
And all for the ever so tantalizing, just out of reach (for a drone from sector 7G like myself), but actually really rather good value, price of £100.
I wondered how I could justify this expense to wife.
I’m no math wizard but I reckoned that if there were ten county games that I could go to that would make it a tenna for each game (saving about a third of each individual adult ticket) and then the international game against Australia would be FREE. Amazing value that just couldn’t be ignored.
I took this formula to the economic committee (the wife) and presented my case.
She said no.
I made a whining sound like a fan belt slipping in a car engine crossed with a cross two year old.
Wife said “If you can figure out how to squeeze a spare £100 out of this (she threw the household accounts at me) you can buy your bloody poncey pass.”
After several hours of juggling numbers, cooking various books and shifting decimal points and of forgetting to carrying the one, I went back to making the sound of a slipping fan belt and a terrible toddler.
Weeks go by and I continue to covert the gold members pass and the prospect of enjoying the debut season of the Scottish satires and all the promise of a bright future it contains while continuing to watch the bank account fail to grow enough to accommodate being a first hand witness of it.
Then one day, weeks after my birthday (the month after my birthday is not my birthday MUM!!!) my mother sends me a card. A birthday card. It contains a cheque. It contains a cheque for the precise and exact amount that a gold member’s season ticket to the Scottish satires debut cricket season in the English domestic league competition thingy would costs.
It must be a sheer coincidence.
Wife says “ohhhhh, that’s nice of your mum. You should put it toward something nice for yourself and not fritter it away on crisps and magazines.  Do you have any idea what you’re going to spend it on?
“Um, maybe.” I say rather sheepishly as a slow grin grows across my formerly forlorn features.
“Really?” replies wife. “HOWZATT”
I don't think I had smiled so much since I took 5 for 11 in a one day game when I was sixteen years old.

That reminds me, better buy her some flowers.

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