...an admission from Richard Lee
The under-11's used to
play on Sunday mornings. We (Wembdon) were playing away against Taunton St
Andrews. Both my boys were playing; Jo, aged 1O, and Harry, aged 8, in his
first year of competitive cricket. I was umpiring at the top end, and one
of the Taunton dads was at the other.
under-11s played pairs cricket. There were eight boys in a team. Each pair
batted for four overs. If someone was out, they didn't go off; the batsmen
changed ends and six runs were deducted from the score. Apart from that, it
was pretty much like ordinary cricket, except for the way we handled LBWs.
Nothing was written down about it, but there was a convention that they
were not usually given, and it was never clear to me why not. Some said
"I never give an LBW unless it's plumb in front;" (which sounded
pretty much like ordinary cricket to me); some "I never give it unless
he's using his feet to defend his wicket;" others "I haven't
given one for years." But if LBW wasn't actually banned as a method of
dismissal, how did you explain to a bowler why it wasn't out?
Taunton were going
along quite comfortably until our captain threw the ball to Harry. There
was a dot ball, and then a single, and the batsman edged his third ball and
was caught at slip. With his next, he hit the off stump. So when Harry ran
in to bowl his fifth ball, Taunton
were minus 11 for the over. It bounced low and hit the back pad just above
the boot, right in front of middle stump.
dogs were chasing each other along the third man boundary, and a skylark
was singing above our heads. Had it pitched on the leg side? No. Had it
gone on far enough after pitching for me to be able to say it would have
hit the stumps? Yes. At least, I think so. So was it out, then? Well, yes,
except for this blessed fudge of a convention on LBWs. It isn't out because
we don't usually give them - and I certainly can't be seen to be showing
favouritism to my boy. But how could I allow the fudge to deprive him of a
hat trick - perhaps the only one he would ever take?
all these thoughts and more were jamming each other in my head, Harry ran
in and bowled the next ball. No-one had appealed, and so I was spared the
agony of making a decision. Eleven years on, he's captaining the first team
this season. I've never told him this story, so unless he reads this he still won't know
that he might have had a hat trick if someone had thought to appeal!