The Oval, 10th September 2018. Talked of as the most emotional, extraordinary day of cricket in England’s history. Cook’s century in his last match for his country. Anderson drawing in on his record tally of wickets for a fast bowler. Root’s hundred. India 2 for 3. A warm, sunny September day.
Well, it lasted 6 days.
Because it was overtaken in its brilliance on Sunday 16th September when a representative England team took on a representative Scotland team at Clydesdale CC, Glasgow. This was proper cricket, none of your Indian-summer, celebratory parade where fit, athletic players caressed lush, flat outfields.
No, this was cloudy and windy and really, really cold. Here were heroic, but splendidly ungainly dives, as boundaries were saved. Where good-length dibbly-dobblers spat aggressively from coin-sized divots on a good length. Hell, we even had a pitch invasion from Dexter the dog who, despite dozens of efforts to trick him, kept legging it back to chase after the disorientated ball.
Yes, our annual Richie Barnes Memorial Cricket Match was another glorious exhibition of the sublime and the ridiculous. Moments of high quality (Richard Gillham’s one-handed catch, plucking the ball out of the air with aplomb) contrasted with some pretty agricultural stuff.
And at the end of it, England crossed the line in the lead, yet all walked off with smiles on their faces: the English due to their victory, the Scots because they had snaffled my brother Eddie, LBW for a duck.
Children fielded alongside their grandparents. Playing their first game in years, several of us got a thrill out of middling a ball to cover, or getting the ball to spin. Future stars learned of humility and how to play alongside middle-aged has-beens (Eddie and I). Cricket offers a narrative that few other sports can lay claim to. As my Uncle famously said, it is ‘the fifth gospel’ (and I think I said that in another blog).
The match concluded a weekend of fund-raising for our TeachAbilityUK Community Interest Company, and it is important to give thanks to those who helped.
- George Munsey, Scotland international, who, even when politely refraining from smashing us all over the place, stroked the ball to all parts with perfect timing.
- Raman Bhardwaj, from STV, who captained the Scottish team and donated a shoal of raffle prizes – top man.
- Ruth Davidson MSP, who came along to support us despite being heavily with-child, and who also provided some fabulous home-made cakes.
- Esteemed Scottish journalists and politicians – many thanks.
- A crowd of Scousers, from St Vincent’s and All Saints, who travelled up and made merry.
- Aberdeen Standard Investments for kindly sponsoring the day.
- Clydesdale CC and The Shed in Shawlands for being such good hosts.
- And many more, including la famille.
Thanks to such kindness, and that from other donors (in particular O2 Comms Plus in Rainford) we are on course for our big TeachAbilityUK project in 2019 to support education in Sierra Leone – details in other blogs on this site.
Events like these bring out the best in people and remind you that homo sapiens generally finds great joy in sharing, in being part of a communal contribution, and finding common ground with his/her neighbours, friends and family.
Over the weekend, I couldn’t help be reminded that people are people. I just don’t see people through any particular lens and I don’t think it’s just me. No idea if there was anyone there who was a Tory, an independentista, a leaver, a remainer, a Scot, gay, straight or gender-neutral. Or whether they were none of those, or all of them (that would be some unusual person).
Our worth as a human being lies in our core character and individuality, not in the labels that others impose on us.
That’s why our brother Richie, in our eyes, is not thought of as our profoundly disabled brother Richie. He was just Richie.
And if he does indeed have a legacy, to ‘just enjoy being with people for who they are’, might be a pretty good one.