Saturday, May 26, 2007

"Dad: this one's on you"

Malcolm's Yorkshire Dad is presently rumbling round Harrogate Crem.

He spent the last decade of his life in a wheelchair: a double disability for a man for whom sport (football, cricket, and later crown-green bowls) was vital. This was a man for whom the Elysian Fields were Yorkshire Cricket Club's posthumous away game.

Only towards the end of the Old Boy's life did Malcolm discover that Dad (and his mate) had been offered a Yorkshire trial. They turned it down: it would have meant a day off work from the LMS shops at Sheffield Brightside. Instead, they served their time, collected their cards, and went to London. The Met Police needed lads capable of playing a decent game at Inside Right, or bowling consistently at Canterbury Cricket Week.

Then there was the story about turning up at White Hart Lane to play the Army (by then it was wartime: professional football had been suspended; Highbury was, appropriately, a boot camp). At the last moment, Denis Compton turned up, borrowed a pair of boots, to play for the Army. Dad was, in effect, up against an England front five. He never disclosed the score.

But the Headingley Test was always something different. Once, he calculated how far his electric wheelchair could make, but was defeated by the trip home. He would not stir from watching the screen. The Old Boy liked vision from the TV, supplemented by the radio commentary (at maximum volume: the ears had gone, in part a legacy from tending three Packard engines on a war-time MTB up the Aegean).

Today he would have relished. He would have been psyched up by Vaughan's ton yesterday ("The least he could 'a done. He's Lancashire, ye know."). Then, today: Pietersen ("Bloody South African!") playing like the reincarnation of Compton in his pride, Viv Richards in his style (a comparison already made by Graham Gooch). And, for the cherry-on-the-cake (alas: Dad was diabetic), Yorkshire-reject Ryan Sidebottom pitching it up, line-and-length.

At stumps, the Old Boy would have tended his pipe, and muttered something about "Hope to see sumthin' better tomorrow, before rain sets in." We knew that was praise indeed.

Thanks, Kev. Thanks, Arnie. Have a pint on Dad. Sphere: Related Content

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