Above Photo: Shows Metro Cricketers – Chris Lewis, David Burt and Alan Turnbull joining Derby Owls
Date of the Article: 24th Sept
The annual Brian Johnston Memorial Blind Cricket development tournament in Leicester marks the end of the cricket season – 16th and 17th Sept 2017. Teams from all over the country descend on the Leicester University sports grounds for 2 days of very competitive cricket. Everyone agrees that the standard gets better and better each year, probably underpinned by the number of National League players who now come along to join in the fun.
Metro Devils didn’t have a team this year but the organisation is such that you turn up and get assigned to teams where they are missing players of your category. I volunteered for the Derbyshire Owls, being my home county and having my younger brother Andy and two cousins, Rob, and Adrian Stone amongst their ranks. We convinced Alan Turnbull and Dave Burt to join as well. Aemonn Shearing went off to join the Dorset Dolphins.
A very damp and gloomy Saturday morning saw matches kick off (do cricket matches kick-off? I bet Aemonn has an answer for that!). The weather played a major part as the ball was wet, difficult to grip for bowling and not very responsive to being hit especially in the rugby field length grass.
No need to go into the details of all 5 games which saw teams from the northern leagues take on teams from the southern leagues who they would have not met before. Being Devils players, we were able to offer some insight into Berkshire, Kent, Dorset and Surrey but, with a lot of ‘ringers’ playing for each team, it didn’t make a lot of difference. Games were played in a great competitive spirit only occasionally boiling over and demanding the intervention of the umpires to ask for calm!
Noise from the adjacent aerodrome really didn’t interfere too much this year but the sound of those planes obviously going into dives or looping the loop was an interesting backdrop to people trying to listen to the ball coming on soggy, soft wickets
A few highlights collected from the team from the two days:
- Two sensational B1 catches by the Derbyshire Captain for Sunday Abbas: one that was skied off Dermot Bishop’s (Rusty) bowling (almost interfering with the acrobatic planes) and bounced up into his hands, the second off my bowling that had amazing back-spin on it that brought it into his grasp
- Adrian Stone donning the blindfold playing as a B1 for the first time and taking blows to most parts of his body and not always from the batsman!
- Adrian Stewart carrying his bat for 20 against Staffordshire in only his second knock as an Owls!
- Lois Turner, the England Women’s captain catching me out on a ball that was destined for the boundary for 6 (well at least I thought so)
- Endless shouting from the boundary and between players about who was running, who where the ball was and how dark it was getting
- Mr Angry Wicket keeper (me) outburst when first Rusty then Alan fizzed the ball into the stumps impossible to pick up by sound either through rolling or not bouncing – “and breath”!
- Don Sollway (84) being told by the umpires he wasn’t allowed to wear gloves after one umpire had loaned gloves to some of the female players on the Saturday!
- Georgie Ridgeway’s endless running between wickets for the B1s and Lower Partials and tireless performance out in the cover boundary area
- The tension as games came to their conclusion with just a few runs or wickets between teams – you could have cut it with a cricket stump!
- David Parfitt’s quick thinking to run out the early running when Staffordshire B1s were facing
- The Staffordshire player who claimed he needed a runner then sprinted up the wicket for his first run!
- Bobby Stone producing chilled beers from his bag just before the Owls were called up to receive their Development League champions medals
Little time should be spent on the shenanigans that went on at the university hall of residence where we all stayed for the night. Suffice to say that vast quantities of fish and chips were consumed and a glass or two of an alcoholic nature coiffed. The fact that we were sharing the halls of residence with a conference on water divining did make for some interesting bar conversations! Special mention should be made of Don emptying what he thought was mushy peas on top of his fish and chips only to find, eating with his fingers, that it was curry sauce
I came back to blind cricket after a 35-year absence. It is such a brilliant game. I encourage anyone who hasn’t tried it, who enjoys a true team game and likes the challenge of bat and ball and hand, to give it a try.
The final irony: Dave Burt had been offered a chance to play with Kent, but preferred to stick with fellow Devils. As it turned out, he turned down a chance to be with one of the winning teams – yes!!!
The final ended in a draw. No need to go into the Owls/Devils combination performance apart from saying that we beat Staffordshire in the last place play-off!
Many thanks to the Owls and their hospitality, banter, and eager cricket minds. And, to Alan Gardener and Jeff Ridgeway – the Management, for their organisation and support.
Article written by Chris Lewis