On Your Marks

Vic Marks, Vice president, writing in the May/June Bulletin gave his views on the coming 2021 season.



How we all crave a world in which Zooming and streaming are no longer compulsory activities for the cricket lover. It has been brilliant that we have been able to follow cricket online from Durham to Taunton via the increasingly sophisticated broadcasts provided by the counties over the last twelve months. And within the family of the Cricket Society, so lovingly nurtured by the Chair and his cohort of devoted helpers, there have been numerous Zoom meetings and an awards ceremony, all of which seem to have worked remarkably well. 

But now we want to enjoy these events in the flesh. What we used to take for granted would feel such a glorious luxury, as well as a sign that we are returning to some semblance of normality. It would be fun to go to a meeting where we can eat and chat before being invited to mute ourselves by the host. Likewise a visit to one of our county grounds will suddenly seem like nirvana, albeit a chillier one than staring at a screen in our sitting room. One of the delights of actually going to a cricket match is the mingling of those in attendance. Conversations, unforced and sporadic, can ripple around the ground again. We may ponder the limitations of the bowling attack or, just possibly, the meaning of life - just as the opening batsman has reached 42.

The players, who have shown amazing commitment and urgency despite playing in a vacuum for so long, must also be desperate for a crowd, who can react to the drama on the pitch and appreciate their efforts. Spontaneous applause and even the odd scathing morsel of advice from the stands would be a delight for them. They deserve the buzz of the odd standing ovation.

I know The Cricket Society has adapted adroitly over the last year or so. The last event I attended was the Book of the Year awards ceremony for 2020. I did have an ulterior motive since my (fairly recent) book was on the short list. In the past as Chair of the judging panel I have helped to host these occasions but I was glad I did not have to do it this time.

Instead Chair Robert Winder managed to oversee the event effortlessly in far more taxing circumstances than when we have all been safely gathered in the Long Room. I did not envy his task. He even started proceedings with a joke, which is some undertaking when it is impossible to hear any response from an audience. And it was a good joke expertly conveyed. Thereafter Robert purred along and the evening was a great success even though I had to tear up my acceptance speech after my competitive instincts had been briefly aroused. Before long I recognised that the judges, yet again, had done a terrific job; I have seen how conscientious they are at first hand (and I have another book in the pipeline).

Hopefully the next ceremony will be back in the Long Room, where it now belongs. Likewise, let us hope that in the second half of the 2021 season the stands at cricket grounds all around the country will be heavily populated. My hunch is that they will fill more swiftly than usual since I sense that passion for the game has somehow been enhanced during the lockdowns. Charles M Schulz, the creator of Peanuts and probably not an avid cricket fan, once observed, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it sure makes the rest of you lonely”. We’ve had enough of lonely cricket.