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February 10 , 2014

Signs and Portents: A Cricket Story

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Of all the men who ever worried the captain of a touring team into an early grave, that maniac Sanderson is the worst. To be sheep-dog to a side on tour is bad enough in ordinary circumstances. Under no conditions does the innate folly of man show up so luridly. You write half-a-dozen post-cards telling a man what train to catch at Waterloo, and you find later that he went and waited patiently for an hour and a quarter at Victoria. Or he forgets his cricket bag, or his aunt dies the day before you start, and there is no time to get a substitute — for him, not for his aunt. And when you have got the whole team to their destination, you must watch them like a hawk. Sharples, our fast bowler, will insist on sitting up to weird hours on the night before an important match, smoking strong tobacco and drinking whisky and soda; with the natural result that his pace on the next day lasts for a couple of overs, and then fizzles out, and he continues with slow medium. I have to hound the man to bed regularly, and superintend his undressing in person. After which I go and argue with Grake, our slow man, to prevent him experimenting with his latest head ball. He is always inventing a new ball, and it is a safe four to the batsman every time. Against Sidmouth, last year, they made 23 off him in two overs.
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