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Nostalgia, Trousers and Sutton cricketers

Walmley 1sts vs Sutton Coldfield 1sts
13th July 2019
Type: Warwickshire County Cricket League Premier Division
By Robert Mathieson

Whenever Walmley play Sutton, I am racked by guilt. Sutton was the first club to benefit from my support. It is worse than that, because it reminds me of a lost youth which would have been better spent supporting Walmley. Let me explain.

In the summers of 1946 and 1947 my father introduced me to watching cricket with a weekly Saturday afternoon trip to Rectory Park. Mother and sister were left at home. It was ‘boys time’. The cricket was just as described in the fashionable novels of the time: a pageant in a green setting of men in white amusing themselves and the spectators in the sun of boyhood. And what men they were. I can still remember them – Sharpe, Swift, Dainty, Odell to name but a few- and I could identify them easily in the field. So unlike the Walmley players I watch week by week. I would have hoped to have been able to distinguish whether it was Captain Waugh or Dan Bevan opening the innings for Walmley on Saturday, but even Father Bevan was unsure. The big change has been the trousers. In the 1940s cricketers wore proper trousers with front pleats, buttoned flies and turn ups. The smart cricketer, and Sutton only had smart cricketers, no longer held up his flannels on braces, but rather than an ugly brown belt, he used a tie. Traditionally these were either representative of their old school or regiment, but there were those who aspired to Free Foresters or I Zingari ties, usually under false pretences. These, together with matching caps, provided all the identification scorers (especially scorers, I agree Sarah) and spectators could wish for. How miserable, in comparison, are the modern cricketer’s clowns pantaloons held in place by knicker elastic! On some other occasion I will elaborate further my views on the clothing of cricketers. It is a subject worthy of further discussion. I have particularly strong views on socks.

On Saturday 13th June Walmley were at home to Sutton Coldfield. Captain Waugh won the toss and asked Sutton to bat under heavy cloud cover. Recordo Gordon and Mohammed Fahim Jan were in top form and Sutton were quickly reduced to 18 for 4. A very early finish was in prospect, but Tom Eustace and Nawarathnage started to put bat to ball and were particularly severe on Jono Newis and Sarmad Bhatti. I am always pleased to see Tom Eustace. He has been hitting Walmley bowling into the distance since he was a ten year old. Jono Newis will agree. Further, Tom has a lovely mother who usually greets me with a hug. The later Sutton batsmen put their first four to shame and managed to raise the innings total to 198 all out. Gordon took 5 for 24, Fahim Jan 3 for 23 and Roshan Balaji 2 for 42. Captain Waugh again left his tent to bowl 10 overs while conceding only 11 runs. Dan Bromley distinguished himself with one of his two catches being a blinder. Another fielder, who shall be anonymous, but whose initials are JN did not distinguish himself for the first time I can recall.

Our two Dans (Bromley and Bevan) opened the innings for Walmley. Bevan contributed a creditable 30, but gave the impression he is happier against spin than seam. At last Roshan Balaji started to show his talent and it was a pity that he lost concentration and was bowled, off balance and with head in the air. Sarmad Bhatti dominated the rest of the innings, just like the previous week, with elegant and powerful stroke play. He does not understand what is meant by the ‘nervous nineties’ and everyone was sad to see him out, caught on the boundary, for 92. Is there any other way that he could get out? His current form is formidable. Captain Waugh scored 34 not out, without anyone noticing. Recordo Gordon continued with his attempts to hit the ball into Northamptonshire, but he was facing the wrong way, which probably explains why the ball got no further than the bowlers hands.

Walmley won by 4 wickets.

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