26.5.2002 1 in 12 (Stainborough)

Sunday 26th May:  One in Twelve at Stainborough

Match cancelled.

Ground waterlogged.

Pity.

What do you do when the match is cancelled?  I suppose I can’t grumble too much, I nearly wasn’t playing anyway.  This week’s skipper hadn’t got me down.  Every night this week, I’ve sat by the phone, eager and impatient, waiting for that phone call, and it never came.   Maybe the new skip had his own supply of hopeless cricketers?  Probably couldn’t get a pitch; it is cup weekend in the local league.  All the reasons for not being included were reviewed and studied, and reviewed again, except that little one – he didn’t want me. I was out of favour.  Not even in the squad.  The morning of the game and I could bear it no longer.  I phone our secretary, the computer dyslexic,

‘Oh, we’re playing.  Phone Marcus.’

What if I’m not selected?  How could I phone, be told I wasn’t playing, and still hold my head up in mixed company?  I steal myself and make the call.

‘Rupe?’  Oh, shoot, he thinks I’m Rupert.  What a way to go, pipped by the grammar nerd.  Rupert cadged a lift to Whitley Bridge with me last week.  I now know the shocking facts about the incorrect use of the apostrophe and, wait for it, the scandalous habit of substituting the word fewer by less.  Its all a question of standards he says.  Yer, sure Rupert.  Er, do you need to pop into the local surgery? Just to see if the the tablets are strong enough.

‘No, its Dave.  Dave Walker, you know the big bald guy with the red hair, opens the batting, stumps a bit.’  Oh, dear this is not going well.

‘Sure I remember you Dave.  You used to be with Armitage’s.’

‘Er, that’s another Dave Walker.  I’m with The Health Service.’

‘Oh, that Dave Walker.  What can I do for you?’  He must’ve known I was calling about the game.  Why all the prevarication?  Oh, nora, I’m not playing after all.

‘Well, its about the game this afternoon.  I gather its still on.”

‘Why, are you available?  I was only given three names from last week.  Will you play, I’m one short, Greg’s injured.’

Grovelling on my knees, phone held between my praying hands, I jibber some sort of incomprehensible gratitude.  Well at least I was twelfth man.  Mm . . .  Greg’s understudy?  I’ll have to give that some thought.

Its a bit like Kes.   School games, just enough players, the two captains begin selection,

‘Nobby,’

‘Flasher,’

‘Dick,

‘Willy,’  and so on, right through a catalogue of filth until there’s only one left, Casper.  Even the spotty, fat lad in glasses gets picked ahead of him.

‘Come on then Casper.  You’ll have to be goalie.’

At least I wanted to play, and Greg got picked ahead of me.  The stark truth of this is beginning to sink in.  I can’t be that hopeless, surely?

Well that’s history as they say, though its cracking the flags here.  I wonder what they’re all doing?  I bet Jim Harris is washing his hair.

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