23. Nov, 2017


With the Ashes series having started down under, it is time to look back at…



This, surely the most outstanding cricket test result of all time, did not occur at Lord’s, The Oval nor the Melbourne Cricket Ground but on the back row bench in the Physics Lab of Great Yarmouth Grammar School in the summer of 1957.
The players? Me and my mate. I sense that an explanation is here needed.
The Physics master, who also ran the School Cadet Corps that we were all expected to join, while retaining his wartime rank of Major in civilian life had little time for refusniks like my mate and me. While the corps were on parade one Friday morning, he caught us hanging out of a window chanting “You’ve got a face like a chicken’s arse”, to the sound of a matching bugle call Rounding on us he asked “Why aren’t you two in the cadets? You aren’t homosexuals are you?” It is a cliché to speak of a “bristling moustache” but his ginger moustache BRISTLED especially when we both burst out laughing remembering where we had been the evening before!
Next term we were assigned to his Physics class. Eying us with total disdain he relegated the two of us to the very back row of the long, narrow lab, clearly intending to leave us to rot, but not for long, however.
Left to our own devices we turned to the ancient and noble game of Pencil Cricket. For the uninitiated, it does not call for bat, ball, pads stumps or even a pitch, just two hexagonal pencils with the paint scraped off the blunt ends. On pencil A were written on each hexagonal and in order were 1, 2, 3, 4, How Zat? And 6. On pencil B’s hexagonal were written, again in order, “Bowled”, “Not Out”,
“Caught”, “Not Out”, “LBW”, “Not Out”.
The “batting team” would then roll pencil A. If a number was rolled then that would be recorded as their runs. If on the other hand they landed on “Ow Zat” they would have to roll Pencil B and take their chance with the umpire’s decision.
Our next step was to buy a proper cricket score book and so began the test series that ended with England’s monumental win over Australia…not without more than a little help from us. Well, it was Australia!
Our last development was to select teams of famous people of choice to play each other.
To my shame I admit to still selecting teams in moments of enforced idleness, hence…
All Time Female Movie Stars v. British PMs,
Sixties Bands v. Fictional Detectives
F1 Drivers v. Roman Emperors,
British Women Politicians v. Male Movie Stars etc.
However, my favourite match was devised giggling stupidly with a much valued female ex-colleague during a break on a school expedition.
We considered playing after dark and under flood lights out of deference to one of the team captains…

An Eminent Nineteenth Century Lady Novelists XI
An All-time Evil XI.
Lady Novelists
Jane Austen (Captain), George Eliot, Mrs Gaskell, Louisa M. Alcott, Emily Bronte, Charlotte Bronte, Ann Bronte, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mary Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft (nee Godwin), Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

Evil XI
Count Dracula (Captain), Caligula, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan; the swine who kicked me in the back whilst playing rugby in Bishop Stortford; Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Armin, Mao Tse Tung.

We fantasised about a scorecard that contained…
G. Khan, caught E. Bronte, bowled J Austen………….0
Caligula lbw Harriet Beecher Stowe……………………….3
J.Stalin stumped M.Shelley……………………………….....5

I am sure this is sufficient to create the atmosphere of the matches- even to my American readers whom I am sure will quickly transpose baseball for cricket.

Oh yes, my exams. No way would I have passed Physics as Pencil Cricket was not on the syllabus, but I did at least pass “O” Level General Science, (Thank fortune for Biology and Chemistry!)