Javed, The Prince of WalesMartin Chandler |
Author: Battersby, David
Publisher: Battersby, David
Rating: 3 stars
As a teenager I only got one opportunity a year to watch a County Championship fixture. Despite living in the heart of Lancashire, Old Trafford was a long way from home, as was Aigburth in Liverpool. Southport was closer, but only as the crow flies, so the Red Rose’s annual visit to Stanley Park in Blackpool was the one chance, and I have happy memories of days spent watching cricket at the old seaside ground.
Every now and again I have a look at Wisden to try and remember the games I watched, but I never can. My general impression that I was lucky with the weather is borne out, but none of the matches themselves were very memorable. So I am left with just two clear recollections, both from the 1975 fixture against Leicestershire. First was what I still consider a freak dismissal. Bumble, or David Lloyd as he was more frequently referred to as in those days, won the toss and chose to bat. With Barry Wood the skipper put on 47 before Wood was dismissed and Frank Hayes, a great favourite of mine, made his way to the middle.
I watched Hayes take guard. He was facing that steadiest and most unspectacular of county seamers, Norman McVicker. After having marked his ground Hayes, as some batsmen do, took a little walk before going back to the crease and settling down to face his first delivery. I was at around mid on, and was sorely tempted to shout a warning at Hayes when he stood a couple of feet outside leg stump, but I wasn’t brave enough and in any event surely an England batsman must have known what he was doing? A moment later I rued my cowardice as I saw Hayes shoulder arms to a straight delivery that hit middle stump. Why was he so daft? And why didn’t Bumble alert him to what he had done? Maybe one day I’ll get the opportunity to ask Sky’s finest.
My other memory was bumping into my physics master. Science has never been my forte and as a consequence my relationship with ‘BG’ had some strained moments. That morning however he was in a most equable frame of mind, and despite my best efforts to make out I hadn’t seen him he made a point of coming to sit with me for a few minutes. We had a chat and, in that knowing way teachers do, he cautioned me that you could tell a lot about a person by the state of their scorecard. Mine was already in a bit of a state and ‘BG’, I will never know if the solemnity was mock or genuine, shook his head slowly and screwed up his face in that way that frustrated teachers do.
‘Lads with a messy scrawl on their scorecards have a disorganised mind young Chandler, you mark my words’ he said. I suppose it must have been a dig, albeit a gentle one, before he got up, smiled at me, and in a gesture that plenty of adults used towards teenagers then but seem to rarely nowadays, ruffled my hair with his right hand before wandering off.
Why are we being treated to this self-indulgence I hear you ask. The answer is in part, to use a phrase beloved of my younger son, because ‘that’s the way I roll’, but there is some context as well. Javed, The Prince of Wales, is the story of a visit by author David Battersby to a day’s County cricket in 1981. I may be wrong but I get the impression that such a trip was a bit of a special treat for him too, and he was clearly about the same age that I was in 1975.
The first illustration in the booklet is Battersby’s scorecard. It has been completed neatly, accurately and comprehensively. In my minds eye I can see it passing a ‘BG’ inspection with flying colours. Perhaps more to the point is that Battersby saw some splendid cricket. There was the menace of the ‘Big Bird’ Joel Garner as he gave a severe test to the visiting Glamorgan batsmen. Just after lunch Viv Richards, starring for once with the ball, had a spell of 3-0 to set Glamorgan back on their heels, but above all there was a wonderful innings of 200 not out from Javed Miandad. Shortly before the close Glamorgan declared on 336-9. They had been 105-6 after Richards’ burst.
In the circumstances it is hardly surprising that Battersby’s memories of the day are vivid ones, and this reflective account written 35 years later is a nostalgic and enjoyable reliving of a day at the cricket. The lay out of the booklet might have benefitted from a few minutes attention from a typographer, and the description of Garner’s opening partner Colin Dredge as the Demon of Froome (it should be Frome) jars a little, but the truth is that many more people should turn their minds to producing this sort of writing. Battersbury has self-published the booklet in a signed limited edition of 50 at the bargain price of just £3 inclusive of UK postage. If you are interested drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pass your details on.