I am learning how to score………not in a nefarious way, but in a game of cricket.
A few years ago my older boys were all playing junior cricket. At one stage they played for three different clubs. This meant different games, at different grounds, but often all at the same time. The only significant benefit here was the exemption I got from scoring duty.
I was able to hide behind the veil of parental busyness.
It is now season 2013/14 and I am back in the cricketing realm. My son is in an under 11 team that plays on what seem to be perpetually cold Friday nights. The older brothers are no longer playing so the families sporting commitments are now on a decline…Thank God….
But now there is nowhere to hide.
Scoring in cricket is a tricky task and best avoided if you suffer from vertigo or if you have been to the pub for lunch. The scorebook itself is like a large accounting ledger. It could be intimidating for those who don’t do maths. The book has a multitude of columns and spaces in which to record all the necessary data. Overs, runs and wickets have to be accounted for quickly and neatly.
Our team manager is spot on. He brings along The Kent Set of Mathematical Instruments, albeit minus the compass and the protractor. A wise move. The tin contains a pencil, a rubber and a sharpener. The pencil has to be sharp. Hieroglyphic type symbols need to be etched into tiny spaces on the scoresheet to mark the result of each and every ball of the 24 overs per innings.
That is 288 markings alone for each of those balls bowled. Added to this are the markings for runs made and wickets taken, as well as the running cumulative totals at the end of an over.
There is a lot to learn. Things at the scorers desk can easily shift from a calm orderliness to confusion and disarray in a matter of seconds. Communication with the opposition scoring partner is essential and often sounds something like this:
“Who’se that facing?
Smith….…. Didn’t he retire?
No…… that was Smythe”
Smythe ..Shit, I gave Smith, Smythe’s runs
Where’s the rubber….
“So that’s Jackson bowling now
No thats not Jackson, that’s Jones
But the bowling order says it’s Jackson
Yeah, I think the coach changed the order”
Screams and excitement. Someone is out.
Smiths out….Caught by Squid…who is Squid?; bowled by who….the kid with long hair; the not out batsman?……. the one with the green bat, shit, I should know him, he’s mine
Boys can you move out of the way please, we can’t see”
“That was a leg bye
A bye….a triangle?
Yes but it’s a leg bye…..an upside down triangle….2 leg byes actually”
The mobile is ringing; it’s ringtone sounding Quack, Quack. Don’t answer it.
“So, two upside down triangles…..
or one upside down triangle but with the number 2 inside it?”
<<Shit now theres no room left>>
broken lead….where’s the sharpener
…….And so it goes on, staccato sentences and fragmented thoughts at the scorers desk until the books are balanced.
Our team manager tells me he learnt to score the hard way a few years ago. He was new, to not just the country, but the language, the game and its rules as well. “I just had to do it” he said to me as he bit into a baguette.
With this in mind I have no excuse and I’ve taken to my duty as rostered.
Image: “Green Bat” - pen and water colour sketch