Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Guest Post: The Umpires View

Folk often say to me: ‘Les. What are you doing in my garden?’ And more often than not I reply: ‘DRS? Not on my watch!’ An’ they look at their feet all confused and sheepish like and shuffle away, as well they might because ol’ Les treats the Decision Review System as the mangy dog that it is; wi’ contempt and not a little hostility, as a stain on t’most wonderful game that t’Good Lord thought to invent on ‘is day off, and as a terrible waste of time that could be spent playin’ more cricket!

More often than not I’m unable to voice my objections to DRS in a logical and cohesive argument, I’m too busy foaming at t’mouth and throwing stumps around, so instead I’m going to tell you a little story. Is thee sitting comfortably? Then Les’ll begin.

Once upon a time, or back in the day as Nephew Billy might say, newly qualified driver, Lesmond Butterworth, was hurtling around Wetwang in his Uncle Wally’s Old Speckled Hen…that’s a rather tasty MG for those that don’t know, and a pretty decent pint an’ all!

Any road. Well, not any road. In fact, a very particular road. The B3149 to be precise. And I’m on it and heading toward Wetwang village centre at a rate of knots wi’ a bag o’ hot chips in me lap for Nanna Butterworth’s tea and me eyes is stinging on account of t’fumes of hot malt vinegar risin’ up from t’bag.  Nanna Butterworth likes a punishing amount of vinegar on ‘er chips. I’m carefully doing 65mph round a blind bend when who should be comin’ t’other way but Constable Constable, grandson of the artist and a decent bowler of leg breaks. 

Swerving to avoid him on his Raleigh Insurgent I bounce off a passing lamp post, caroom through an hedge and finish up in t’ village duckpond surrounded by indignant ducks. (I’ve never seen a happy duck either in t’pond or on t’cricket pitch). Across t’road, and climbing out of a bush, is Constable Constable, who retrieves his helmet, jams it on ‘is head and marches over. 

“Now then young Lesmond” he says, fixin’ me with a steely glare. “What am I to do wi’ you?” ‘E twitches his voluminous moustache, a sure sign of trouble. It’s t’same twitch ‘e gives when he’s just been slog swept for four by Driffield 3rds. Hates a slog sweep does Constable Constable, and ‘e usually traps t’miscreant leg before t’very next ball. And ‘ere ‘e is, twitchin’ that ‘tache at me.

 “I could ‘ave thee for careless driving” ‘e says. “Or for driving wi’ undue care and attention” he goes on. “I could even ‘ave yer for desecrating duckponds young Butterworth!” he bellows. I’m bang to rights and he knows it. I know it an all and I reckon me driving days are done before they’ve even started.

“Now give us one on them chips” he says. Dipping ‘is and in t’bag and popping one in his mouth. “Great God Almighty!” he exclaims, backing off an’ clutching ‘is throat. “Is thi trying to poison thaself, Les?” I look at ‘im an I say: “Nay Constable. These is fer Nanna Butterworth.” His face turns ashen and ‘e makes a sort of strangled noise like a cat in a coalscuttle “This is Nanna’s tea?” he asks. ‘Aye’ says I.  “And they’re getting cold.” There’s a pause. “Right then” he booms climbing back on his bike: ‘Follow me!’ And we race from village duckpond to 92,

Butterworth Villas, Wetwang, East Yorkshire in record time. Not only is Les not in trouble, but them chips is piping hot on Nanna’s plate. Happy days. Happy lass.

Now I tell yer this story because it ‘appened as might, back in t’days when Britain were still in black an’ white, yer could ‘ave a day out in Leeds for two bob and Fiery Fred were still wheelin’ away for God’s Own County. I were back there t’other day and thought to pick up a bag o’ chips from Wetwang chippyas a special treat fer Nanna B. Barry Simcock hosed them down wi’ vinegar as usual and even threw in a pickled egg and onion fer good measure. So there’s Les, eyes streaming, flying round that bend at 85mph and who should be coming t’other way?  No-one. Not a soul. Road is empty fer miles and miles. Constable Constable is long gone. Even t’ducks is nowhere to be seen. But suddenly, there’s a flash. I pull up. Is Ken Codrington out taking photographs of courting couples wi’ ‘is old Box Brownie again? Surely not? ‘E were warned about that by t’local magistrate on any number of occasions. And then I see it. A yellow box on a fat, grey pole looking smug as a quick bowler wi ‘ a tail ender in ‘is sights. There’s no negotiating wi’ this calumny. No human bein’ to tell yer story to. Just a quick flash and a fine in t’post.

Now I’m not saying that a speed camera is a bad thing, and I’m sure it has its place in motoring safety (probably in a skip if Nanna Butterworth gets her hands on it). But if I’m to be punished, let it be from a human being who’s as fallible as me, not some box of tricks on a stick. If tha’s made a mistake let the man, or woman, in charge do thee the decency of pullin’ yer up and dressin’ yer down. Yer never know, yer might even get away wi’ it!

And I’ll just finish wi’ this. Sooner or later them telly boffins’ll create a DRS in a box wi’ no need even fer two umpires let alone a third umpire.

So ask yerself this. Will DRS count to six (sometimes five, sometimes seven)? Will it hold yer smelly jumper and cap while yer bowl an over? Will it produce a pair of scissors when the straps on yer pads are over long or there’s a thread trailing off t’ball? Will it tell yer that thy foot is not so much over t’popping crease as in t’next county?

Will it ‘eck as like!

Written by the star of Cricket AM and the second greatest Umpire ever LesButterworth

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