IN his latest laugh-out loud take on life at Knebworth Park, HUGH BATESON rues all those easy ones that got away
If catches win matches, as every young player has drummed into them by some old crashing bore, then it should follow that if you drop seven of the blighters in one game you should struggle, shouldn’t it?
Obviously not if you are Knebworth Park second team, who did just that on Saturday and still beat Northwood Town by five wickets.
Dropping a dolly can be a traumatic experience that lives with you for years, especially when the bowler never misses a chance to remind you about it. So it is that one Sunday day at Hoddesdon a very long time ago is imprinted on my heart.
It was the first over of a first team league game, I was keeping and the legend that is Chris Brook was opening the bowling.
Third ball, good length,’corridor of uncertainty’, thin, but clear, edge, no deflection, no great pace. 0-1 obviously.
I wish. Iron gloves doesn’t describe it. The ball went straight in to the middle of my hands and straight on to the floor. How I will never know.
Brookie was sweetness and light about it, of course. The word “useless” followed by several variations of something completely unprintable occurred only half-a-dozen times before the next ball.
They did get used rather more frequently the more the batsman kept hitting the ball into the tennis courts and again when he got his century.
I think the legend has half forgiven me now, but I am still not totally sure.
So I have a lot of sympathy for and empathy with the second team player who floored what I was told was the simplest chance ever seen at the Park. And I have good news for big Stu Burford.
That honour falls to the late and very great Les Burt, who was captain, chairman and eminence grise of the club for years and years and then a few more years for good measure.
Now, Les was not what you would describe as the embodiment of athleticism but he was a very determined and competitive sportsman.
We used to play a side called The Dales at the end of season in several matches that became known as the World Series. And we did not stop playing them until Burt had scored his 1,000 runs for the season. I think we finished in mid-October one year.
But that is by the by. Back to the catch that wasn’t. It was late on in Les’s career and he was standing at mid-off. And I do mean standing; there was precious little walking in with the bowler going on.
It was not one of the Park’s faster tracks and the batsman was through his shot before the ball had got halfway to him.
The result was the gentlest of gentle lobs going at 1mph towards Les. He did not have to move anything but his hands.
Which he did, but just not into the right place. The result was that the ball grazed the front of his sweater and dropped softly at his feet without Les getting so much as a finger on it.
The old boy was totally crestfallen, of course. But the rest of us, as good team-mates do at such times, simply fell about laughing stupidly.
So cheer up Burf, and, as another seriously annoying saying goes: “Be ready for the next one.”