Who will YOU be lining up against this weekend? Here’s Ed Kemp with five archetypal club teams to look out for.
PERFORMANCE PROGRAMME CC
Armed with cones, ladders and all-matching teamwear, this lot’ll cover several miles per man before you’ve even tossed up. After the initial jogs, stretches and sprints, an energetic game of five-a-side is followed by dozens of high-tempo fielding drills – all accompanied by a cacophony of high-pitched whoops and simian hollers. If, by some miracle of merit, they lose, look out for their skipper sitting them down in a circle on the outfield for a stony-faced debrief while you head to the bar.
Greeting you with a cold ‘How-do-you-do?’, all wearing 20-year-old woolly jumpers and boasting a kaleidoscopic array of coloured caps, you’ll spot the public school jazz-hats a mile off. And having been prepared for a role in the Cabinet from the age of nine, they’re no strangers to the dark arts: like winning favour with the umpires through polite conversation and eating all the egg mayo sarnies at tea.
From the moment they park up a little obnoxiously (maybe straddling two spaces, or going up on that bank that’s clearly meant for deckchairs) you suspect you’re in for an interesting day. By the time they’ve claimed a bump-ball catch, given a 15-year-old a big send-off and yelled expletives at the umpires – you know exactly what you’re dealing with.
Arriving with minutes to spare in various vans and bangers, they only ever want to bat first and usually do. Though pre-match is a hurried blur of pad straps and fag stubs, their stubbled ex-county age-group openers blast you towards defeat before you’ve even got going. While they’re carrying a few TFCs, the four players who actually do anything are all more than good enough to effortlessly wipe the floor with your team of comparative try-hards, who leave thinking, “If you’re going to beat us, at least pretend you care…”
Short on experience, light on nous, even their captain’s only just graduated to a short handle. Yes, they might have technique, but what good’s a high elbow when the required rate’s creeping up? Well, beware of complacency. When they’ve scooped your fastest bowler over the keeper’s head for four and creamed the frontline spinner inside-out through extra, you’ll realise all their time “training” actually pays off (while tearing out what remains of your hair).
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