Sunday, 22 August 2010

The C Word

There is a word in the English language that retains a power to shock that no other word can. As run-of-the-mill insults have been dulled by overuse, this one particular word is as powerful, and as shocking, as ever.

That word, of course, is 'cheat' - at least as far as the cricket pitch is concerned. To openly suggest that someone is a cheat on a cricket pitch is anathema, and is a good as fighting talk. It is, to reference another old cliche, simply not cricket.

In most sports it's possible to cheat, but in lower-league cricket it's childishly simple - and it can be used to turn cricket matches into an absolute train wreck. Such games rarely feature specialist umpires, and are umpired by members of whichever team is batting in either innings.

As such, the umpires are often required to adjudicate on whether to give their own team members out in cases of run outs, catches and LBWs. Inevitably the benefit of the doubt, residing with the batsman at the best of times, is weighted even more heavily in favour of the batting team.

The danger of cricket like this is when a team uses this potential advantage to totally ruin a game, giving their own batsmen not out again and again to the point where a line has been crossed and that team is simply cheating.

I have never seen a game develop in this manner before, but we had received warning that a certain team in the league was planning to cheat in a return fixture.

Following a fractious game, where the said team were on the receiving end of an absolutely hiding - something I always suspected to have been the real issue all along - I got talking to another member of their club at another game.

He warned me that this team were planning to 'give [us] nothing' in the return fixture. In essence, they were planning to cheat by not giving any decisions in our favour.

I decided that this was probably a result of this team being sore from such a massive bumming, and wrote it off as a bit of post-match anger. So we turned up at the away leg of this fixture yesterday willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

We batted first, having been put into bat, scored 200-odd in a little over 45 overs and declared. I gave two decisions myself, a caught behind and an LBW. When we bowled we realised we'd been had.

The opposition did not give one decision out of ten that were extremely good shouts, and probably another five that could easily have been given. A clear nick through to the keeper and a catch off the face of the bat off my bowling were the two worst 'not out' decisions I've ever seen.

In the latter instance, the batsman prodded forward and hit the ball straight into the waiting hands of silly mid off. That it could not be out was not only absurd, it was literally inconceivable, according to various laws of physics.

For two other LBW shouts, the batsman could have walked. Another was off my bowling. "Why was that not out?" I asked in astonishment.

"I just thought it wasn't out," came the reply, looking down. He couldn't think of a reason it wasn't out, so he didn't even try to give one.

During a drinks break, I heard one of the opposition discussing the situation, with the words: "We can't give these [Sefton Park] 25 points." In the end they blocked out for a draw, managing a pathetic 100-8 off over 40 overs, chasing 210.

I've never called any opposition team cheats before, but I'd have no hesitation in doing so in this instance. Neither would anyone else who played in it.

In retrospect, we should have walked off. When you're playing cricket and the cards are stacked that highly against you, what's the point?

Indeed, what's the point in playing any sport when you know one team is going to cheat? It's not even a case of the opposition trying to cheat the referee or umpire. The opposition IS the referee or umpire - and they're cheating.

Pre-meditated cheating too. The umpires who gave these decisions had either been told not to give any decisions, or they had decided, unilaterally, that they were going to cheat. Given our advance warning, it's obvious which one.

What can be done? The only sanction is to return the favour the next time we play this team, but what's the point of that? The game may as well be called off.

And who would that benefit? Not us, as we delivered a lesson in cricket on both occasions, only denied a second crushing win by their cheating.

So, we can only go into the next game as if it's any other game and hope for the best. No doubt the team in question will feel they have won some sort of victory by cheating us out of win, but the not only diminished themselves, they diminished cricket and everything it should stand for in the process.

On the way out they charged us £55 for teas - sandwiches and crisps - a full £15 more than teas at Sefton, which is a sit-down affair with all manner of cooked foods. Again, we knew we were being mugged, but could do little about it.

The previous week, this team had played our 4th team and been heard plotting to take all the food from the buffet so there would be none remaining for the Sefton team. One of the WAGs, helping out with preparing the teas, had to ask them to put some of the food back.

Cheating is obviously a way of life at this club.

1 comment:

  1. Yes I was not impressed by Magull's attitudes when they played at Sefton Park 4th C.C. on the 7th of August.
    I offered to umpire and was imediatley accosted as i took my position on the field. A adult in a red cap, who had an Austrailian accent asked me to move from square leg, so that he could see the batsman better. I had no problem with this. As I walked to the other side of the pitch I was shouted at to run and the adult in the red cap said, "another Sefton Virgin." most of the team jeered at this. Sort'a takes the whole meaning off the game when grown ups act like that.
    On the other hand I witnessed some extremely negative behaviour from a younger member of the Magull team. A Sefton batsman hit a 4 boundary, a young Magull fieldsman ran to stop the boundary. He gave no signal to whether the ball had gone out and stood watching the Sefton batsmen running and then just through the ball back.I had to ask him if it had made the boundary, on thier third run. Cynical or what?
    The members of this Magull team must have too many friends and no longer need the respect of peers in thier game. "Ye mates are your best competitors!" and whats more, victory is so much sweater when both sides have followed the rules.
    My only advice to any parent who is thinking of allowing thier son or daughter join a cricket club in the north of Liverpool is, be very careful which club you choose. The Magull attitude does not belong in your home; sadly it is deeply routed in thiers!

    Thank you Liverpool C.C. for the rivalry and friendship, always a pleasure!
    Thanks you Nothern C.C. for a top attitude and knowing how to treat visitors.
    Just two of the brilliant clubs in the Liverpool area.


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