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Essex Shield

Tales from the Boundary

To Walk or Not?


I know a bloke who got a roasting from Charlie Griffiths for walking in front of the sight screen at Southend!   Forget your five-fers and centuries, that is impressive, unbeatable and unforgettable.  Worth a few drinks in any pavilion.

Quite why folk indulge is such walks of shame I know not.  They must know they shouldn't, probably don't mean to but suddenly find themselves caught like rabbits blinded by car headlights, held in ridicule by players, spectators and umpires, probably feeling like Kenneth Williams in Carry on Cleo - "Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!"

When to walk?  That is the question (that's why I used a question mark).   I'm not talking here about the slight nick on the leg side or a feather outside the off stump.  We all know that depends on one's nationality (we all know which one), the state of the game, whether any of the other side have done the same and which side of the bed we got out of.

I was at Headingley in 2019 for Ben Stokes' match (unfortunately on the Saturday), stuck up near the back at the Kirkstall Lane End.  (Incidentally, it's well worth the extra for a seat at the other end, unless you enjoy being cooked like a chicken on a spit when the sun comes out).  However, there comes the time when one wishes to inspect the facilities.  Intervals are not good times to do this so occasionally (more so as one gets older) it is necessary to move during play.

It's a logistical conundrum.  Calculate the time to exit the row, making allowances for negotiating the glasses of beer that may be on the ground, time to descend the steps, taking account that not everyone will be walking in the left hand lane and there may be a people jam at the bottom, then decide which conga line will be the quickest to reach one's chosen destination, be it the bar, burger/ice cream van or the essential services facility.

Regaining one's seat, like telling a joke, is a matter of timing.  If one is leading a group of ‘returners’ it is necessary to ascertain how many deliveries have been bowled in the over.   One might get caught out if the batsmen are holding a mid-over conference or the field is being adjusted.  Don't rush, don't dawdle, stride purposefully.  The sense of achievement is worthwhile.

When to leave?  That's another question (hence another question mark).  On that Saturday it was not too difficult to answer.   My companion and I decided to leave half an hour early to avoid the rush.  I doubt many, if any, left early on the Sunday!

Andrew Appleby