CRICKET has cropped up many times in TAC, but never like this. On the evening of 15 May the Trig Cricket Control Board (TCCB) held its first trig cricket match, on Lendrick Hill in the eastern Ochils. Five fine cricketers took part: Alan Blanco (who turned up in full whites and armed with a Colin Cowdrey bat), Tessa Carroll, Anne-Marie Watson and her father Tony Watson, and the editor (who doesn't nowadays own proper whites, but who did wear a white sweater that his mum quite possibly knitted for him in the 1970s).
No one was at all sure of the rules, so these were made up as the game progressed. The axiomatic first rule was that the triangulation pillar (which on Lendrick Hill isn't quite on top) was to serve as the stumps. It was decided that for a batter to be bowled the ball had to hit the face of the trig, not the protruding base (as happened quite often) or the top (as happened once). Ideally four innings would have been played, using each trig-face, but in the event just the eastern one was used.
Bowling was with a tennis ball rather than a Kookaburra, and although a whole bag of balls was taken uphill only one was used despite a number of sixes disappearing into the tussocks. Bowling was under-arm (Watson jnr was the only person no-balled, for a blatant chuck that would have shamed even Murali), and tactics varied between supplying full tosses (the editor's stock ball, in the hope of prompting a bit of willow-wielding) and doosra-style grubbers (bowled by everyone else).
It was decided to try a single-wicket match, with the number of balls to be received by each player determined by summing the digits on the trig's base-plate. The Lendrick trig is S3671, so each player received 17 balls. This is now an official TCCB rule, to be used in all future trig cricket matches which take the form of single-wicket contests. Hence on Snowdon (10684) the batters would each face 19 balls, but on Ben More above Crianlarich (S6958) it would be a whopping 28, regardless of whether there was a blizzard or not. The batter's total was divided by wickets, and if they survived undismissed a bonus ten was added.
Watson jnr batted first and was immediately caught at cover by Carroll (later dollies were dropped by Blanco and Watson snr). Watson jnr found runs hard to come by, and closed on 5 for 4, average 1.25.
Next came the editor, whose lack of foot movement made Marcus Trescothick look like Gene Kelly. He hit the first four of the day, but could do no better than 15-3, having been bowled by Blanco (twice) and Watson snr. He did however survive a tremendous shout for lbw, at which point the absence of an umpire became an issue. It was decided that any serious appeal (itself a debatable matter) would henceforth see the bowler having a free bowl at the unguarded trig.
Third to bat was Carroll, something of a tailender: 2 for 6, avge 0.33. She was troubled by a triple-wicket maiden from Watson jnr.
Blanco batted fourth, and showed what mayhem someone with a grounding in proper cricket can cause amid a shower of amateurs. Indeed so merciless, so Australian was his run-getting that he should really be listed as Blanco, A, to signify his professional status. His 39-0, topped up to 49 with the no-wicket bonus, included a mighty sixer and several one-bounce fours. The fielders became so rattled that a spate of overthrows ensued, and a stumping chance went a-begging due to the keeper yacking into her mobile phone, Allan Lamb-style.
That left Watson snr with a mountain to climb. He ended on 23-4, a valiant effort of which the main feature was being run out by his daughter.
All these antics occupied only 45 minutes, on a perfect evening, so a second match was played, this time on a team basis. The odd number was a problem until someone twigged that two of the players (Blanco and Carroll) came originally from Lancashire, while the Watsons were Yorkshire through and through. Hence a Roses match suggested itself, with the Derbyshire-born editor turning out for both teams. The Tykes batted first and made 46-6, including a tremendous trio of sixes from Watson snr. That still didn't look good enough however, it having again been decided to calculate the result by the Duckworth-Lewis-esque method of runs divided by wickets, and when the Red Rosers were 39-4 with two balls left the win looked in the bag. But the editor contrived to get himself out to both balls, bowled by Watson jnr, and so the evening ended with a win for the White Rose county amid great excitement. Had there been any spectators, they would doubtless have gnawed through their walking poles.
The TCCB hopes that this will the first of many trig cricket matches: there are, after all, several thousand wickets to choose from, most lying idle from one season to the next. The TCCB intends to organise further matches of its own, but encourages independent efforts as well. The range and variety of trigs defies belief, from absurdly exposed wickets such as Bruach na Frithe and Biod an Athair on Skye (the TCCB takes no responsibility for injury/death caused by the proximity of crags or other perils), to notorious "sticky dogs" such as Bleaklow or Black Hill, to any number of tight little grounds maintained by the Forestry Commission. Could the amusingly positioned Stiperstones trig even host a game? TAC, the official TCCB journal of record, is keen to hear more...
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