Howís that, Umpire?


ith cricket being very much in the air and in the news nowadays, it made me reminisce about my brief foray into the game of cricket.

My association with good cricket can be compared to a miniskirt ?short but spectacular. The first time was as a boundary line spectator in an inter-school final match in which my school was getting a drubbing. A ball that had strayed outside the boundary line was thrown in by me in the general direction of the pitch. It landed on the skull of the opposing teamís star batsman (the wearing of helmets was not in vogue in those days), despatching him to the Civil Hospital, resulting in a victory for our school and my inclusion as twelfth man in our school team for seasons to come. However, attempts to emulate my previous performance met with little or no success.

The second occasion was in an inter-gymkhanas match (where I was included in my gymkhana team at the eleventh hour for want of any other person being available), when I was responsible for getting the captain out for a duck at a very crucial stage of the match. Unfortunately, we were both on the same side. I was dreaming of a quick double at the clubís bar when the captain called for a quick single?and he was naturally run out. Needless to mention, we lost the match. The look on the captainís face whenever our paths crossed at the gymkhana would have launched a thousand advertisements for castor oil.

The third occasion was when I once again played for my gymkhana ?this time under the same captain who was coerced by the gymkhana committee to include me in the final eleven. We were at a very crucial stage of the match with the opposite teamís last batsman in, the last over to be bowled, and only two runs required. Much to my surprise, our captain handed the ball to me to bowl the last over (to this day, I have a feeling he did that on purpose so that he could pin the blame on me for losing the match). In the true tradition of Freddy Trueman and Wesley Hall, I rolled up my sleeves, took a long run-up, and bowled a fast ball moving out with the arm away from the off-stump. I sprained my ankle on the delivery of that ball, yelled in pain and the Umpire had no hesitation in giving the batsman out. The Umpireís decision was preposterous because the batsman had nothing to do with that ball ?anyway, the Umpire handed the match to us on a silver platter. The poor batsman walked back dejected while my teammates were patting my ankle with unconcealed delight.

For the last many years now, my cricket has, as accountants would say, depreciated to book value and my game is confined to watching TV or reading newspapers. Last month, I came out of retirement and played in a match organised by my residential colony between the Ladies?XI and the Gentlemenís XI. But being brought up as a thorough gentleman, I contributed in no small measure to the victory of the former.

And so, friends, I bid you goodbye and, like they say at the end of the game, return you to the studio to carry on with whatever you were doing prior to your sharing my reminiscences.

Sam F. Ayem
Personnel & Administration