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So, stay in your crease.
There is no Spirit of the Virus:
it’ll Mankad you without warning.
(Borrowed from Mike Selvey, President of Middlesex CCC)
Graham Irwin provided this photo of something that his daughter's friend provided for him ...
... it turned out to be a surprise package.
Throughout the scoring world, there were many eyebrows raised at the end of the fabulous World Cup final, when the two official scorers received no mention or medal for officiating in one of the greatest games of cricket the world has ever seen. The key word here is official. The two scorers, David Kendix and Tony Choat were match officials.
For whatever reason, and I’m at a loss to know what it is; various governing bodies and media organisations fail to recognise the importance of scorers. In my twelve seasons as a scorer I’ve heard it all before.
“Anyone can score.”
“Out for a duck. They won’t trouble the scorers.”
And the piece de resistance;
“All you do mate, is put names in a book.”
That one came at the end of a two-day Queensland 2ndGrade game, scored solo in temperatures of 100 degrees. Nearly ten thousand miles from home, I knew none of the players and was immensely proud that everything, including balls faced actually balanced. Talk about taking the wind of out my sails.
I started scoring league cricket in the Cherwell League and at U13 level in 2009. I can safely say that what I was doing in 2009 now bears no resemblance to what I do now. In 2009 I was using a book and coloured pens. In 2011 I taught myself how to score with TCS. In 2018 PCS Pro arrived. In the same year, with scorebooks now all but gone from the professional game, I designed my own very basic linear paper system as a back-up to crashing laptops.
From 18-21 August 2019 I was scheduled to score Northants versus Worcestershire in the County Championship. What an honour to score for my home county that I have supported since I was seven. But getting that appointment doesn’t happen at a drop of a hat. Thousands and thousands of hours of scoring at all levels and eight seasons of one of the most critical aspects of professional cricket – over rate calculations. It was only well after the event that what happened during that game hit me squarely in the face.
With me in the homely scorers room at Wantage Road were Phil Mellish the Worcestershire scorer and Michael Bilson the scoreboard operator. The OPTA scorer was next door in the press room. For the majority of the time Northants were in the field, the over rate was hovering between +0.7 and +1.2. The scoreboard was showing that Northants were level. During intervals I updated Adam Rossington (Northants captain) what he was running at.
On the last day something slightly subtle happened. Even with a spinner operating, Northants were slowing up in the field. There did not seem to be any reason for it. This continued for a couple of overs. Into this equation comes the fact that Northants were now pushing for promotion. Every single point was critical here. They could not afford any points deduction.
So, suddenly, in a blink of an eye, things completely changed. On the sixth ball of that over I decided that over-rate calculations were going to be increased to every over. That sixth ball went something like this.
Plot wagon wheel.
Record data on PCS Pro.
Record data on linear back-up.
Over rate calculation. Now bang on zero.
Get a message to Northants assistant coach to inform him.
Then umpire Mark Newell came over the radio.
“Q, what is the over-rate looking like here? It seems to be slowing down.”
“Mark, you must be telepathic. Can you tell Adam (Rossington) that he is now bang on zero and needs to quicken up?”
At that point the OPTA scorer came in the scorers room with a query.
This, all before the next over started. This routine carried on for nearly an entire session. Constant calculations and regular communications with Mark. All the time, both Phil and I confirmed we balanced. Northants quickened in the field and as they made inroads into Worcestershire batting, hit the heady heights of +1. What a relief to be able to show that on the scoreboard.
The key thing here. The four of us were a team of match officials. Phil was there as calm as calm could be supporting me with the impressive Mark Newell handling the radio communications from the on-field umpires.
I doubt that anybody in the ground, unless they were hacking into our radio transmissions were even aware of what was going on – as it should be.
Playing his part in that final session was Northants captain Adam Rossington as the home side finished on +2.
This sort of things goes on day in and day out from April until September for each and every scorer across all eighteen first class counties first and second elevens.
Scorers are the unseen, quiet, but critical members of your match officials and should be recognised as such.
Our colleague from Surrey Phil Makepeace has provided the crossword on the right to keep the brain cells ticking over.
Almost twenty years ago, when the scorers' position at Derby was in a hut on top of the tea-room, I was scoring a match with Jack Foley, the scorer for Kent at the time. It was the day when the window-cleaners came to the ground. We were busy scoring the match when the top of a ladder appeared in front of Jack. This was followed by a head and a squeegee and very quickly Jack's window was covered in soap suds. Jack's face was the proverbial picture, as he could see no cricket while the next three balls were bowled. After that it was my turn to be without a view. Happy days!
I was scoring a televised match in that same hut above the tea-room at Derby, and the third umpire, David Shepherd, much loved by players and spectators alike, was working in a small room at the end of the hut. You will remember that Shep brought his dressing-room superstition of taking your feet off the floor when the total or individual batsman's score reached 111, 222, etc onto the field when he was umpiring. We were scoring a match together when that lovely Bristol accent called through the open door, "What's the Score?!". It was 111 and we looked towards Shep to see that he had both feet on the table in front of him. What a lovely man!
In a match at Derby some years ago Tim Munton came in to bat with a runner, Graeme Welch. Almost immediately, off the last ball of an over, Tim hit a high catch to deep extra-cover, but the catch was dropped. Tim ran, Graeme ran, the non-striker ran and they all crossed the popping crease at the opposite end of the pitch. The fielder picked up the ball and threw it to Jack Russell, the Gloucestershire wicket-keeper. What happened next? Answers may be sent to John Brown, who promises to respond to anyone who gives an answer.
This is me in Ockbrook & Borrowash CC’s main scorebox. I was attempting to put the first innings score up during an innings break in a Women's Super 8’s match. Jet & Jenna decided they wanted a better view of the ground and stuck their heads out. Needless to say, the quick turn around stopped as everyone was laughing
Here follows an article written by our old friend and colleague, Nigel Plews, when he was invited to contribute to the official ACCS newsletter when it was launched in 1994:
The Umpires’ View of the Scorers
Umpires are purported to have failing eyesight, so our view of scorers may well be described as faceless creatures hidden behind glass, many miles distant, somewhere near the horizons of our world, who seem to make some sort of movement whenever we wave in the general direction of where we think they might be. It has been known for the umpire to make signals towards where the scorers, in the umpire’s imagination, should be, and receive acknowledgements from what turns out to be the press box and be quite happy with the day!
The more astute of umpires, who have better memories, are able to recognise the ground on which they are officiating, by relating the implement being waved from some hut, to a known scorer whom they once met over lunch, eg a table-tennis bat used as a table mat, jogs the memory of seeing it waved somewhere in Hampshire. A balding pate, reflecting the sun (if there is any sun) creating constant dazzle, with the owner obviously intent on solving a crossword, means Essex. It has also been known to signal to a moving person who will cheerfully wave back as he enters Ladbrokes at Scarborough.
There is one view of the scorer which is dreaded, yes, the absent one! It has been known for play to start with no scorer in view at all, and it is then that the umpire’s eyesight quickly sharpens and panic sets in. Normal heartbeat resumes when a pressman appears in the scorebox frantically picking up telephones and waving to the umpires (well, that’s what it looks like to those in the middle). Needless to say, normal service is resumed fairly quickly, with crimson-faced images shaking clenched fists towards the battlefield. This is only likely to happen in Sussex.
Our view of scorers comes more into focus when food is shared in their presence. Sometimes the swiftness of consumption is beyond belief, and the quantity unimaginable, cream cakes disappear as if by sleight of hand. At one time, the purpose of such action was to clear the way to discuss the best places to drink palatable ale, or find exquisite food, but mostly to enquire if certain members of the female species had been spotted in various sections of the ground. Alas, those days seem to have gone, the umpires are rapidly left alone to ponder on the events of the day, whilst the scorers either depart to their secret places to play video games, or just chatter about menus, repetitive muscle strains, VDUs going down, programs not being available, etc., etc., etc…. Sad days.
How can a sane person actually volunteer to sit in a draughty dusty box, surrounded by chattering typewriters, impudent and demanding pressmen, to face a blinking screen, which requires undivided attention, having to keep one eye on the bowler, one eye on the batsman, one eye on the scoreboard, one eye on the over-rate, one eye on the injured fielder, and one eye on the men in white (or blue) coats….. How many eyes is that? He must have a fond love of the game of cricket to put up with all this, because he never actually sees the game these days, does he? The umpire will tell you the answer. The scorer is a valuable part of the team without which a match could not start, never mind finish. He is conscientious, arithmetically accurate to a fault, admired and respected by the umpires, and above all a professional man, whom we look forward to seeing each year for the humour and leg-pulls. Very often the two scorers together finish up as our only friends on the ground! We wish you well in the formation of your own Association, we support your new venture. Good luck, keep your ‘rubbers’ handy and keep waving.
I wonder how many of us relate to something Nigel has written here – a recent example for me was when Tim Robinson was doubled up with laughter at square leg while David Millns was trying to get an acknowledgement to his signal from the groundsman’s hut at Derby. JMB