Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2011


It’s been a few weeks now since I paid my first visit as an adult to my local hospital accident and emergency (A & E) department, and I thought I would share the occasion with you.

In a rare fit of enthusiasm for moderately hard physical work I decided to clear out the brick shed at the bottom of our garden.  Having swept up the remnants of recycled paper, stray leaves and miscellaneous detritus, and deposited it in a dustpan, I stood up and involuntarily headbutted the wire tray hanging from the wall a few inches below the ceiling.  Given the violence of the blow I immediately put my right hand to the offending spot, only to collect a massive smear of blood.  Had it not been the wrong time of year I would have sworn that it gave a passable impression of a spillage of beaujolais nouveau.

In a state of mild panic I rushed past the pond, careful not to disturb our one remaining and increasingly obese goldfish, into the bathroom, issuing blood in all directions, coating the bath, sink, toilet seat and floor, grabbed the previously cream coloured hand towel and pressed it to my head.  After a couple of minutes I had succeeded in staunching the blood.  Heart rate slowly subsiding, I considered what I should do next, other than mopping up the blood spattered bathroom.  Given the apparent depth of the wound (I wasn’t brave enough to look at it), I determined to get myself to A & E as quickly as possible as it might require stitches.  Insufficiently injured to call for an ambulance, but groggy and anxious enough not to risk the fifteen minute walk, I rang for a taxi.  But not before…………….

Although time was pressing I had not lost the sense of self-respect inculcated in me by my late mother which prompted me to change into clean clothes, shave and clean my teeth before greeting my public.  My head might look a mess but I was going to look presentable in all other respects.  I did not, however, go so far as to adjust my make-up as mum would have done.   Beautification complete, I was able to call the taxi to whisk me to Medway Maritime Hospital.

On arrival I joined a queue (naturally), but was greeted almost simultaneously by a young nurse requesting basic details (name, date of birth and nature of injury) before presenting me with a pink slip to hand over to reception when called, which further transaction took place five minutes later.  As I had not been to hospital since I trod on a football in the school gym in 1972, there was no record of me on the computer system, a fact that was soon rectified.  As ever, I had the excrutiating dilemma of describing my employment status – courage failed me and I answered “retired”, though I did add under my breath that I was also “doing some writing”, which provoked the customary smile of pity.

I was then asked to sit down and wait to be called by a nurse in the “minor ailments” area.  Despite a dull ache above the bridge of my nose I felt fine, in fact perfectly able to read my book without strain for the hour that it took before I was hailed.  The nurse started by asking me the same questions that the receptionist had asked – had I lost consciousness?  Was I suffering with a headache or nausea? What medication, if any, was I taking?  In addition, if a little apologetically, she enquired whether I knew where I was, what her name was and what was her role – all of which I answered correctly!  Had I been a few decades younger I’m sure that would have entitled me to some reward, but all I got was a “well done”.

The nurse also took my blood pressure, which proved significantly higher than it had been of late, attributable, as I suggested, to my current mild anxiety state.  She advised me that the wound was only superficial and could be repaired by the application of medicinal glue rather than stitches.

This took a matter of seconds.  Before I left, armed with advice cards on head injuries and wound care, it was my turn to ask a “silly” question as the nurse referred to it – would I be able to wash my hair, which I would normally do every day?  The nurse’s frightening reply was that I could not touch the wound for five days, putting thoughts in my mind of rampant nit infestation by the Wednesday (this was Monday by the way).  Vanity had supplanted anxiety as uppermost in my thoughts.  But it could have been worse – she might have had to cut my hair!

Impressed by the efficiency and care with which I had been treated, I walked home for a much needed and overdue lunch, a tentative tidying of the shed and an afternoon on the sofa.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


Below is my report of the first day’s play in the LV County Championship game between Kent and Middlesex at the St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury on Wednesday 17th August 2011.

Rob Key, returning to the Kent side after sitting out the two recent CB40 matches nursing his troublesome wrist injury, won the toss on a bright morning at the St Lawrence Ground and elected to bat. Azhar Mahmood, fresh from his all-round heroics the night before in the thrilling CB40 win over the same opponents, replacing the injured Simon Cook, was the only change in the Kent team that had beaten Surrey equally impressively in the Championship game of Canterbury Week.

Openers Key and Joe Denly played watchfully against the accurate opening attack of Murtagh and Collymore, both of whom extracted some bounce and a little movement.  The opening 11 overs brought just 13 runs, with the only boundary coming from an edge by Denly between third slip and gully. Only when Crook replaced Collymore did Denly open up with two expansive back foot drives through the off side for successive boundaries.

Despite his excellent recent form in the four day game, Key struggled in particular, playing and missing on several occasions. When he did play his first shot in anger – a handsome cover drive – it was brilliantly fielded. 

The predominantly blue skies gave way to an off white cloud cover that began to provide more assistance for the Middlesex seamers.  Crook was unlucky when he induced Denly to snick two deliveries past third slip for four, though the opener followed this with two further boundaries with sumptuous straight and off drives off Collymore. The introduction of the Middlesex captain, Neil Dexter, into the attack was greeted by Denly with two more powerful drives through extra cover and mid off.

Key continued to struggle, particularly against Collymore, finally edging an outswinger to Malan at first slip for 17 with the score at 61. Sam Northeast, fresh from his mature fifty in the previous evening’s match, started in confident mood, but was caught behind by Simpson off Crook shortly before lunch for 3, leaving Kent 71 for 2. Denly responded with a cover drive off the same bowler to bring up a fine half century, and Kent went to lunch at 77 for 2.

A highly entertaining afternoon session brought 165 runs and 8 wickets.  Martin van Jaarsveld, who had failed to score in the CB40 match, made just two before being caught behind off Crook with the score at 83.  Denly followed just four runs later when he was given out, perhaps a little unluckily again, leg before to Tim Murtagh for a fine 55.

Darren Stevens and Geraint Jones steadied the ship with a stand of 45, mostly by virtue of expansive drives, before the latter was adjudged leg before to Collymore for 26.  The hero of the previous evening, Mahmood, joined Stevens but anxious to get off the mark off his first ball, he failed to get back in his crease in time to beat the bowler Collymore’s javelin-like throw. 

Kent were now 132 for 6, which soon became 155 for 8 as, firstly, Stevens played tamely onto his stumps off Dexter for 27 and Ball edged Collymore to Dalrymple at second slip for 8. James Tredwell and Matt Coles added a breezy 57 for the ninth wicket with a series of thumping drives and judicious sweeps befpre Tredwell became the second player to chop onto his stumps off Collymore for 31.

Wahab Riaz’s arrival at the wicket placed Coles in the unfamiliar role of senior batsman, and he appeared to take that responsibility seriously by advising the Pakistani international that he should curb his natural game whilst he was left to play his shots.  In fact, Riaz acquitted himself well, even contributing equally to a final wicket stand of 30.  He was left 17 not out when Coles, much to his and the crowd’s disappointment, pulled Murtagh to the mid wicket boundary nine short of what would have been a deserved fifty, a fitting achievement for what was probably his most mature innings in the Championship side. 

Kent were all out for 242, falling eight short of a second batting point.  Collymore was the pick of the Middlesex bowlers, taking 4 for 69 whilst Murtagh and Crook both took two wickets.  Tea was taken at this point.

Middlesex began their innings with 31 overs remaining in the day, and a very late finish on the cards. However, increased cloud cover and slight drizzle called a halt to their innings after just 13 overs at a relatively untroubled 55 for no wicket, 187 behind the home side.  Robson, who had been the main aggressor, was 37 not out and his partner, Newman, 16 not out at the close.

The state of play at the end of the first day is almost identical to the previous week’s match against Surrey when Kent made 266 and their adversaries proceeded comfortably to 50 for no wicket.   Largely by virtue of Darren Stevens’s career best bowling figures of 7-21, Kent skittled Surrey out for 127 the next morning and went on to win by a massive 265 runs following a second collapse by the visitors on the third afternoon in very poor light.

Away from the action on the field, the  day’s highlight was undoubtedly the continuing, and largely unwitting, entertainment provided by the Club’s new tannoy announcer.  Having jettisoned the bizarre “bowled lbw” form of dismissal, he still delights by telling us about changes in the bowling AFTER they have taken place, often prefacing it “as you may have already noticed”!  And it would appear that Middlesex now have three members of the Murtagh family in their side, as today their bowling attack included Tim, Timothy and even James!

Footnote: Despite the unpromising position that Kent found themselves at the end of this first day, they went on to secure another impressive win over promotion-chasing Middlesex by 65 runs on the last evening.

Read Full Post »


On a baking early August day I took in my first day’s play of Kent second XI cricket for many years against Glamorgan at Mote Park in Maidstone.  It was an equally belated return to “the Mote” which, since 2005 when the county was, unjustly, deducted eight points by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for a sub-standard pitch, had not hosted first class cricket.  My sense of anticipation was twofold – an opportunity to see a number of highly regarded young Kent players in action for the first time, and to reacquaint myself with the ground that has always been second only to the Nevill at Tunbridge Wells in my affections.

As I walked up Mote Road, with my right shoulder creaking under the weight of my new holdall bulging with laptop, notebooks, Kent CCC annuals and food, but rendered even heavier by the purchase of three cricket books in the Oxfam bookshop in town, I was saddened, if not altogether surprised, to see that The Cricketers pub was up for sale, a shame as it had often been a handy retreat during the lunch intervals in the past.

My initial impression on entering the ground was that it seemed in remarkably good health (it is still the home to cricket, rugby and squash clubs). The lovely two-storey pavilion, a recent centenarian, looked resplendant with its tiled roof and handsome black and white gable, hanging baskets and recent paint job.  On closer inspection, however, the facilities inside clearly needed substantial upgrading to meet the demands of the modern professional game. 

Alongside the pavilion stands “the Tabernacle”, described by George Plumptre in his book, Homes of Cricket – the First-Class Cricket Grounds of England and Wales as “one of the most delightful curiosities to be found on any county ground”. 

It had been built by the Mote’s most prominent patron, (Sir) Marcus Samuel in the style of “an ornamental cottage with herringbone pattern brickwork and a covered verandah in front”.  Originally Marcus’s private pavilion in which to entertain his well connected friends, it had latterly become a temporary office for the county club during the traditional week, as well as a suitably imposing structure from which “the brethren” the Band of Brothers Cricket Club could sit and watch the game.

Today, it was a dusty shell, though it was heartening to note from the contractors’ awning that a significant makeover was imminent, perhaps a further indication that the local authority and club were making necessary ground improvements in preparation for the resumption of county cricket in the next few years, a “consummation devoutly to be wished” by this supporter.  

The mature trees, primarily oaks, encircling the ground were magnificent as always and the new fence at the bottom end, whilst plain and rustic, gave it a neat appearance.

Entering the pavilion in pursuit of a scorecard, I saw a sight I wasn’t expecting – Daniel Bell-Drummond helping himself to a fruit juice.  A dashing opening batsman, the 17 year old from Millfield School is being touted as a star of the future, and had already been scoring attractive runs in the England Under 19 team.  It had not been expected that he would be released from an international boot camp to play today, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Salivating at the prospect of watching him and 18 year old Fabian Cowdrey, the latest in the distinguished Kentish cricketing dynasty, open the innings and rattle up 150 before lunch, the news from Daniel that Glamorgan had won the toss and elected to bat was deflating – my hopes raised and ruthlessly dashed in the space of thirty seconds! 

Although Kent sported an experienced attack,  it already felt like it would be a day of toil for Kent players and spectators alike, which it subsequently proved (Glamorgan were 287 for 5 at tea when the combination of heat and desultory action persuaded me to leave).

The outstanding moment from the Kent perspective was a stunning leg side stumping by 20 year old Sam Billings off Simon Cook. Billings is yet another prospect in what might (everything is crossed) develop into a “golden generation” for the county.  Already being “billed” as Kent’s best wicketkeeper since the mercurial Alan Knott, he also proved the chief cheerleader in a side that was vocally encouraging of each other all day, impressive given the humd conditions and very different from the deathly hush that falls over the first team for long intervals in the field.

The size of the crowd, a number of whom appeared to follow the second XI to the exclusion of the full county side, probably did not reach 100, with smatterings in the pavilion, alongside the tabernacle, under the great oak tree and on the top of the ground, many sitting in their parked cars in chairs bought from the local garden centre. 

I had not known what to expect when I arrived, particularly as far as catering was concerned.  Whilst I had bought my own food I was worried whether I would be able to get a drink at all, hence my delight, half an hour after play had commenced, to see the bar open and the Shepherd Neame Whitstable Bay handpump hove into view.  A couple of gorgeous pints of that helped to counteract the stifling heat.

There was a quaintness about proceedings that belied the intense endeavour of young men striving in stifling heat to use their undoubted talent to forge a career in the game.  This was epitomised by the hilarious sight, every half an hour or so when the umpires called for a drinks break, of two small boys, the sons of the former Kent player and now part-time coach, Mark Ealham, with a combined age of no more than the number on the back of Kent captain Alex Blake’s shirt (10), bounding onto the field carrying hefty trays of cold concoctions that must have weighed at least as much as their bearers.  Priceless!

It is a pity that there are now no more home second XI games this season because I think I’m hooked!  Oh, and I do hope that the club and the local council can get their act together and bring first team county cricket to this beautiful ground that was, after all, Colin Cowdrey’s favourite.

Read Full Post »