Reading Andy Bull's piece for The Spin about the ECB's trial of red and yellow cards in the amateur game brought to mind the only incident of recent times that may have produced a flash from the umpire's pocket.
It involved a florid opening bat, left-handed and afire with the combat between our two great dynasties. He had an odd habit of shouting 'runs' every time a shot of his beat the field, and he conveyed his opinions of our bowling to his partner in a stage whisper. He batted well though, and quickly had a decent score on the board.
I was lurking at square leg, a reasonably reliable hiding place down the years - the odd, full-blooded pull to stop, but usually just nudges and deflections from the seamers - when he somehow skewed a drive high into the air.
It was unavoidably mine, and in these situations, I like to keep my team-mates guessing... I drop a few, and every now and again hang onto one too. This one was spinning hard because of the mis-hit and demanded a bit of concentration, so when it settled in my hands I looked up expectantly, anticipating the usual shouts of astonished congratulation.
Instead, led by our keeper, they were ignoring me and surrounding the batsman and umpire. I hadn't heard, but apparently when the ball went up, he'd begun a loud commentary speculating on whether I'd catch it or not, something like: 'Is he going to drop it? He's going to drop it... Drop it!'
There was no doubt that it was a deliberate attempt to distract me, and it incensed some of our players. I suspect that, given the chance, the umpire would have shown a card for it, and joking aside, it probably deserved one.
Yet it wouldn't really resolve the problem or offer a sanction. From memory, they were chasing, and so a ten-over exclusion from the game would have meant nothing - his game was over anyway. I've never been a fan of runs being docked - five is the suggested penalty for minor infringements - it is somehow too artificial.
The cure is simple really: when you feel the red mist descending, just remember how ridiculous you look, a group of adults playing a game not very well and then arguing over it in a way that you'd pull up a five-year-old over.
Imagine what a dick you'll feel on the drive home...
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