Cricket is unpredictable. It serves up twists on an over-by-over basis. To use that cliche: “anything can happen”.
And true to this, something really surprising happened during our round ten game against Koonung Heights: We had an umpire.
For us C-Graders, this was an unexpected twist which lead to all kinds of confusion: we naturally assumed our game must’ve been shifted to another oval, and spent ten minutes wandering around the Trinity College sports complex before an amused Koonung Heights player flagged us down.
C Grade is charmingly D.I.Y to the point where the batting team umpires, scores, and the home team caters each game.
And as with all DIY activities – the results are varied.
(The catering is particularly dodgy: in round four, my Thirds ingloriously served Templestowe a selection of two Baker’s Delight pull-aparts and one pack of twiggy sticks.)
“Scoring”: An Interpretation
Scoring is fraught with danger. There is an unwritten rule that all senior cricket scorebooks in the Box Hill Reporter league must be filled in with pen, not pencil. This means that when Jordy fills out an incorrect over (“you’ve forgotten the two no-balls!”) to the wrong bowler (“this is J. Wright, not J. White!”) because he’s messaging sluts on Facebook (an actual excuse), the next over bowled will be missed and mis-written because the scorers are trying to undo a permanent mistake – and things go to shit in the manner of dominoes being knocked down.
“Is that a 2, or a 7?” is one of the funnier things I’ve ever heard from a scorer.
There’s also a massive disparity between the scoring styles of different teams. Some clubs will insert squares in the ball-by-ball scoring system for wides; other clubs will stick to the time-honored tradition of “W”s for wides; whilst one completely bug-fuck suburban scorer once used “Y”s.
“What the fuck are these “Y”s?” we asked.
“They’re “Y”s for “wides”. “Wides”. “Y”s. You know. For “wides””, he replied, and was greeted with the instant and demeaning response of twenty-one other men slapping their palms to their foreheads in frustration.
Myself, I’ve been known to draw ducks in the scores columns for the batsmen when they’ve quacked out. I tend to get an awful lot of amusement from this – until recently, when one particularly frustrated batsmen came and sat right next to me as soon as he was dismissed. Sorry, Wadey.
Umpiring, or something like it
Being self-moderated, C-grade games are full of LBWs that are “close enough”, waist-high no-balls that are ignored (“a quick game’s a good game”), and lots, I mean plenty, I mean a whole fucking heap of dismissals that aren’t paid, for whatever the reason.
Our paid umpire, Neil, was surprised with the abundance of appeals for LBWs which constantly turned down. Some of our younger bowlers were indignant: “why wasn’t that out?!” was exclaimed more than once. Calmly, Neil assured them that it pitched and hit outside the line.
“Yeah, but it was out LBW!” says one of my (not-to-be-named) players.
In-between deliveries, Neil shrugged at me and said, “I really thought that you guys would have a better grasp of the LBW law. After all, you guys need to self-umpire most games.”
“Neil,” I replied, “we don’t know the laws – we just enforce them.”
The review process for suburban umpires:
Because if you think that umpiring international cricket is tough, you should consider the factors a suburban player-cum-umpire needs to review to make a decision. Here’s what’s internalised on an LBW shout:
- “Is it out? I mean, it hit him on the full…”
- “…in front of middle…”
- “…but is it really out?”
- “More importantly, is it worth cheating for Boris? He’s averaging three this year. But he’s known for being a bit of a nutcase… I don’t want him to whack me.”
- “Plus, I think his missus fancies me. And she’s a fruit loop. If I give him out now, he’ll probably start seeing patterns that aren’t there. Then he might hit me.”
- “…could I win a fight with Boris?”
- “Which club are we playing? Will they abuse me if I don’t give this out?”
- “Are there any good blokes in the opposition team? And are they bigger than me?”
- “How good was their afternoon spread?”
- “Is the bowler a good bloke? Didn’t he cut me off at the drinks container earlier?”
- “…oh, fuck it, I have a game to win.”