Right, so we’ve had a look at the lingo, now it’s time to look at the structure, the guidelines – the very framework on which the club game is built. The first rule of club cricket is that you can’t break these rules: that and make sure you turn up on time.
All bowlers must field at fine-leg between overs, regardless of fielding ability. We’re comfy with this, anything different and we begin to feel uncomfortable. Don’t rock the boat, ok? Just go down there, take a sip from that water bottle and let’s all do what we’ve always done, without questioning it.
Any item of obviously new kit is worthy of comment by the fielding side. This might annoy us all when we’ve got a new bit of ‘stash’ and subsequently feel self-conscious, but are we going to rise above it next time we’re in the field and someone comes out in something new and flashy? Are we bollocks. Martin Niemöller and all that.
Never take the slow bowlers lightly. Non-spinning ‘spinners’ (lob bowlers) will see their way to a great big pile of wickets every season, guilefully inducing a succession of hoiks down the throat of cow corner time and again.
Non-drivers buy a pint for drivers back at the clubhouse after away games. In truth, this should be codified somewhere. Perhaps be an Act of Parliament? It’s the least non-drivers can do.
You have to take 10 catches in a row before you can stop pre-match fielding. We do it all in 10s. Everything has to be in 10s. We’re obsessed, unhealthily probably. If you were to take nine and call it a day – perish the thought – that’d be it: the death of everything as we know it. If you went one further up to 11? Well, you’d just have to crack on towards 20, wouldn’t you?
The lowest-scorer collects the money. In a futile attempt to make them still feel part of the team and raise the status of their unacceptable innings from a joke to simply unlucky. Let’s all pretend we’re part of it, eh!
Never wear a sweatband. It means one of two things: you’re 50, or you were a late call-up this morning and decided you should wear it to fit in. Or both, in which case – good on you for still giving it a go, bloody good on you.
Always wear white socks. There is no doubt about this. There is simply a must. You must have white socks. There’s nothing more to say on the matter.
Any old bowler still playing a high standard must be referred to as ‘canny’. Those waiting to bat will talk in hushed terms about how he was definitely rapid when he was younger.
Fat, middle-aged men must always field in the slips. This is a definite, even if they haven’t caught a ball in six seasons. When the dropped catch does inevitably come, they must be congratulated on a ‘good effort’, even by the young seamer who’s wondering how the big lad let himself get into that state and swearing that he’ll look after himself when he’s in his 40s.