Thursday, 28 April 2011


And so it begins. The Hyde Heath 2011 cricket season sputters into life, with the traditional intra-club curtain raiser. In glorious sunshine, it’s decided that we play a ‘pairs’ match in order for everyone to get a little something out of the day in advance of things kicking off in earnest next Sunday. 8 overs per pair, -20 for every dismissal. Done.

In a slight change of format (to keep things interesting, and reflect the unusual nature of the match) the editorial team at Cricket Tragics have opted for a series of snazzy bullet points. Thus:

1. Fitness
The first outing of the season always makes one thing abundantly clear: I am horribly unfit. But I’m not the only one. Due to the format of the match we were all in the field for nearly 60 overs and, by the end, visibly wilting.

2. The Pitch
Once again, Mikey has excelled. Even with the mower mysteriously broken, the pitch played pretty true, although there was more in it for the bowlers than usual. Given that I managed to find occasionally lavish turn, I’m certainly not complaining.

3. Strategy

Cricket is about strategy. And it’s also about strategy going out the window at the first available opportunity. With the top-scoring pair only posting a total of 34, my batting partner, Richard Austin, and I decided to go for a safety-first approach. Aim for five an over, and keep wickets intact at all cost. Unfortunately Richard failed to receive his own memo and came out all guns blazing. Yes, he hit some sumptuous shots, but in between times he was dismissed three times, and our chance of victory soon evaporated.

4. Fielding
Fielding by and large was pretty poor (although not as poor as some of the umpiring – how long before the UDRS is seen at this level?) but there were two notable exceptions. Firstly, a blinding one-handed catch in the gulley by Henry Capper to dismiss the cavalier Austin and cost us 20 runs; and second, an excellent leaping snare by young Matt, who looks like he could be quite a cricketer.

5. Batting
Shrimpy and Henry both looked very good as ever, whilst Nick and Rich showcased some impressive strokeplay. I scored surprisingly quickly (for me) but the batsman of the day, unusually, was Spencer North, who carried his pair to a deserved victory. If he carries on the season with this new, sensible approach (combined with his natural ability to hit sixes with ease) I think this could be a good year for him, batting in the lower middle order.

6. Bowling
Jez was as steady as ever, I got some serious turn, but dropped too short too often, which is something I’m going to have to work on. Overall though we looked a bit short on seamers (with no Ali, Amala, Bradley, Airdy or Luke) but with the pitch taking turn this early in the season (and several spinners available) we needn’t get too worried.

7. Tea
Tea of course is Hyde Heath’s traditional strength, and the new season kicked off in fine style. Nick’s chicken tikka sandwiches were again the stand-outs, although some egg and mustard sandwiches were another highlight. The samosas were a nice touch too.

8. The Plough
The Plough thankfully remains unchanged. As does our conversation in it. Cricket? Cricket.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Cricket Tragics – 2011 important pre-season information

With the now traditional HHCC season curtain-raiser to take place this Friday (not for nothing is it known as Good Friday) it seems like a good opportunity to keep our many readers up to date with our plans for the season. There's many exciting changes afoot and we thought we should keep you abreast of these things, so the more elderly amongst you don't get to flustered. Change? Yes, we know.

Pre-season training
Net sessions have occurred, and rather unfortunately I bowled extremely well in the last one. Which almost certainly means that I'll be getting my hopes up for a killer season ahead, only to have them dashed against a wall. A wall made of drink, lack of talent, strops, dropped catches, and hard-hitting opposition batsmen. A wall known simply as Cricket.

My goals at the start of the 2009 season (I can't find last year's) were: “to really cement my place as Hyde Heath’s leading leg-spinning all-rounder under 25. So in concrete terms: at least one half-century, a five-wicket haul, and less than three dropped catches. Moderate, but attainable.”

Last year I did score a half-century (two in fact) but neither in matches that actually counted. So this year the aim is to score two that actually matter for the end of season averages.

This year, I'm aiming for two five-wicket hauls, and again, less than three dropped catches. So overall 9and bearing in mind I've aged two years in the last two years) the aim is to really cement my place as Hyde Heath’s leading leg-spinning all-rounder aged 27.

New features
After some extensive reader research surveys and outsourced market analysis, it's become clear that Cricket Tragics has a very niche target audience (of about 15). We've decided to attempt to broaden our readership base – without, of course, neglecting our core reader(s) – through a series of exciting new features. Basically, this consists of writing about cricket-related things outside of Hyde Heath. Yes, it's radical – like when Yorkshire first picked an overseas player – but we feel that now is the time to take the plunge.

The other reason is that we're hoping to start being sent free stuff. Cricket bats, books, match tickets, press trips to India, one-on-one coaching sessions with Shane Warne: if there are any PRs reading this, then Cricket Tragics are very much open to new ideas.

We'll be kicking things off soon with a review of Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew by Shehan Karunatilaka. A copy was sent to us by the kind folks at Jonathan Cape and it really is brilliant. So keep your eyes open!