Monday, 11 May 2009

The Return of Jiminy

  • Nowadays the old knees aren't what they were and I restrict my cricketing appearances to few and far between. But in the past I played for and ran a local league side . Surprisingly we won far more than we lost, I say surprisingly because our main raisons d'etre were
  • a) to enjoy ourselves,
  • b)to give every one a chance to do something regardless of ability,
  • c) to talk about it in the pub afterwards and
  • d) try and win.
After several club name changes we finally settled on one suggested by my brother which conjured up the spirit of the team - Jiminy Cricket Club. We were initially worried that the Disney copyright lawyers might not like it but after taking suitable advice - amazing how much "expert opinion" eleven players can come up with over a pint or two - it was decided this was definitely a Cricket Club called "Jiminy" and not a "Jiminy Cricket" Club and if they objected they could go wish upon a star.

Unfortunately after several seasons the club eventually died a death due to dwindling numbers attending the pub after matches. But out of the blue the name is to be revived. Following a conversation on twitter ( concerning attempts to Save Benno from his sacking as skipper of his village 2nd XI ) another tweeter, Dan Slee was so enamoured by the name that a "New Jiminy Cricket Club" has been formed in the Walsall area and hope to play their first fixture soon . They have kindly appointed me Honorary (regrettably I think that bit means I don't get paid) Fielding Coach, which I humbly and gratefully accept (the fact I know not who they are or where to find them is just a minor inconvenience to overcome).

It is in this capacity that I offer the following recollections from Jiminy's previous incarnation as two examples of Dos and Don'ts when fielding. Both took place in Hoglands Park, which for those that don't know Southampton is a large park right in the city centre, split into quarters by 2 much used diagonal paths, with cricket pitches taking up 3 of the 4 quarters. With benches lining the paths and much pedestrian "through traffic" matches played here tended to gain a bigger audience than elswhere.

So, especially for my new protogees, 2 Dos and Don'ts of Fielding

John (who mus have been in his late 50s at the time) was fielding at Long On (to non cricketers that's almost directly behind the bowler right back as far as you can be on the boundary). The batsman smashed a ball straight back high over the bowler's head towards John. With a cry of "catch it!" all heads turned towards John, only to see him chatting to a passer by who was sat on one of the aforementioned benches. The other fielders stood shoulders slumped, all assuming that this was going for six. But we were forgetting John's 40 odd years of experience. He calmly put his roll-up that he was smoking behind his left ear, carefully placed the can of beer he was drinking from onto the bench, took two paces forward, caught the guy out, hurled the ball back into the middle and carried on his conversation with the spectator as if nothing had happened.To this day, still the coolest thing I have witnessed, anytime, anywhere.

This one also took place at Hoglands Park, coincidently again with the fielder (this time Jarvo) fielding at Long On. Similarly to the previous example the batsman had smashed the ball straight back over the bowlers head. Now to be fair to Jarvo, positioned a couple of yards inside the boundary by the sight screen, it was one of those horrible ones to judge. Coming straight at him, the ball held up in the wind slightly and was one of those that leaves you in two minds, either to take a few strides forward and attempt a risky catch or take a few strides back and ensure you field the ball on the bounce thus preventing a certain boundary. Amazingly Jarvo, in a moment of sheer panic, found himself not in two minds, but three and opted for the third. With the ball dropping out of the sky towards him having been hit from 50-60 yards away Jarvo simply stood his ground and volleyed the ball back from whence it came. Again, to be fair to Jarvo, it was a damned good attempt, and actually was in with a decent chance of a surprise run out had the other ten fielders, two batsmen and two umpires not all simultaneously collapsed to the ground in laughter. Jarvo spent the rest of the game claiming it was exactly what he intended to do, whilst trying not to put any weight on his right foot. A quick after-match visit to A&E revealed two bruises, one to his foot and one to his ego. To this day I find myself laughing out loud and the thought of it, and feel the need to remind Jarvo of it every time we meet.

So remember New Jiminys, a bit more of John and a bit less of Jarvo, here endeth your first coaching session of the season.


  1. Dear Wurzel,

    Thank you very much for accepting the post of Fielding Coach in the New Jiminy Cricket Club set up.

    We have nothing to offer but fear itself. Or rather we have nothing to offer, in the words of Churchill, but blood, sweat and tears.

    A big thank you for the loan of the JCC name. Rather like a franchise, the Jiminy brand represents all that is good in cricket.

    Sponsored bats? Sky TV deals? We shun 'em. Sledging 13-year-olds on their debut (hello Alsager CC). This is not the way of the miniature cartoon cricketer.

    Instead, we proudly fly the flag of picking up a bat and ball just for the hell of it. And so you can take a 50 yard run up before bowling a slow beamer into the next door net.

    In truth, we were a rabble before taking the JCC name. Now I feel we are being moulded into an efficient fighting force with the little chap as our inspiration.

    We've been netting for the past 12 months off and on in three locations.

    Firstly, a leisure centre whose grandly titled 'projectile hall' got turned into a gym.

    Undetered, we took to the road. Our next destination closed down before we even reached it.

    Aiming for the stars, we set up camp at the indoor school at Edgbaston.

    It's a quality venue. Twelve lanes of perfect strip. The Under 17s being put through their paces on the one side. Promising kids on the other.

    We quit in shame after we could no longer stomach the sight of 12-year-olds performing perfect cover drives as Aussie coaches with bowling machines demanded more.

    Packing up our ragged kit bags and shopping bags we have now moved on to a high school in Dudley.

    This is a net sandwiched between trees and a vandal-proof concrete gun emplacement that passes as a community 5-a-side pitch. The sun shines right in the bowlers eyes as he delivers the ball. There is a wicked divot at bouncer length.

    In short, it's perfect.

    We operate a squad rotation system with net attendance varying from three to 12.

    Our standards vary, from the poor to the very poor but we are united under the Jiminy banner in our love of cricket and our passion for perfecting our Haka-like appeals for anything that hits the pad because, y'know, I have to work with the bloke and there's no way that wasn't out.

    Your fielding workshop has proved inspirational.

    We shall keep you posted on our progress.

    Yours in sport,


  2. I can see that the Spirit of Jiminy lives on. Like giving away a pet that you can no longer care for, I am relieved to see that his name has gone to a good home. :-)


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