Tuesday 30th August 2011
SURE as eggs is eggs, my sister packs a bloody good packed lunch. Hope she’ll observe the tradition of tucking in early. Scarborough remains one of the few grounds where you can chuck a ball about during the interval. There’ll surely be some kids out there keen to face a wily, old off-spinner.
I’ve not been to North Marine Road since those daft holidays with my then teenage son, Gaius. We’d leave stuff in Hull, travel light for a change: single rucksack, sheet sleeping-bags, the odd anorak or jumper, but mostly essentials: bat, ball, binoculars, Playfair annual.
The day rain ended play early, we purchased supplies en route to the camp-site, pitched the tent in a thunderstorm, and crawled in… only to find our spare clothes soaked by a self-emptying milk bottle. Hung everything on a pavilion rail next morning. Players familiar with our antics duly took the piss, as expected.
But this is hard. I’ve only been to one day’s cricket since Gaius died, seven years ago. It was a great partnership of youth and experience. He bowled leg-breaks. Took the field together from Taunton to Todmorden, cycled and hitched our way through fourteen counties.
“Three concessions and one adult, please.”
My brother-in-law is paying. Mention of my recent status upgrade confuses the man on the turnstile, who admits us all at the lower price. My niece is bemused:
“Must have thought me a child,” murmurs the thirty-year-old doctor.
Yorkshire are batting. A chance to watch young Jonny Bairstow and Adam Lyth, live. Ah, that skin of grass, made greener by grey terracing and tall-walled houses. Applause echoes. We never saw them lose here. The sun comes out, the fifty up.
A loosener. I get off the mark with a ham and tomato. Lyth pulls through mid-wicket for four.
Later, walking round, I say hello to Kevin Sharp, the batting coach. Gaius and I played cards with him one wet Barnsley afternoon. He nods an…
“Awl rite mate.”
Won’t recognise me now, of course. Without my lad.