Tales from the Boundary
"Anyone Fancy Some Cider?"
One of the problems faced by the match day stewards on the main gate at Chelmsford is to keep the visiting supporters’ cars out of the ground. The car park there is barely large enough to accommodate all the staff, players, press, official guests and a small number of its own club members, so opposition supporters always have to look elsewhere for parking. Whenever the Indian tourists visit the ground the stewards have to be especially vigilant; it seems to be taken for granted that parking will be available – preferably without charge – at any time of the day, and the supporters seem disinclined to take ‘no’ for an answer. Many are taken aback at the very suggestion that admittance should be denied, even though a sign is clearly displayed indicating that parking is not available. Rejection triggers all kinds of reasons why they should be allowed to bring their cars into the ground. If these people are to be believed Mr Tendulkar has hundreds of cousins who have all been told that it will be alright to bring their cars in. Faced with this scenario the stoical steward does well to adopt a defensive stance when approached by a driver anxious to get past him.
I was on duty at the main gate when the Indians played a match against the England Lions in the summer of 2007 when a large car pulled-up and the driver announced in a matter-of-fact way “Indian cricket team”. The usual alarm bells immediately rang in my head. It was very close to the start of play and none of the male occupants of the vehicle looked as though they had wielded a bat in anger for quite a few years. I asked the driver if he could be a little more specific in terms of identification. His front seat passenger then leant across and spoke to me; I thought I heard him say “I am delivering some cider”. “Delivering some cider?” I repeated in mock disbelief. “No, no, no”, came the prompt response, “I am Dilip Vengsarkar”.
When the car drew up at the gates at the same time the following day Mr Vengsarker, who - for the benefit of those who need clarification – was one of his country’s finest Test players, again leant across his driver and said, “I am delivering some more cider today!” He laughed heartily and said “Very good joke – I laugh all day long – I remember it all my life”.