Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BANKS

THIRTY?EIGHT years ago I went on my first Fleet Street cricket tour to the West Country with The Badgers, a team I helped found.

Last weekend I made a sentimental return to find that little had changed in the three decades since my global ambitions declared me out CBC (career before cricket).

Sadly, nature has carried out her own Badger cull since my last appearance in the 1980s (two wickets, 19 not out, since you ask) but she has also made our cricket team a working model of life in microcosm.

Some great old stalwarts have gone over the years. Worryingly, I may have fired some of them to save money and evade company bankruptcy during my Mirror editorship in the horrid post-Maxwell years but thankfully successive ageing illnesses have wiped memories clean - mine as well as theirs - and we all exchange smiles and handshakes and the past is a foreign country once again. Most now and Most of us originals are now old and infirm and have appointed sons as replacements. and appointed sons. The batting lineup (Banks, Lamb, Cundy , Wood) and soon might have a familiar ring to it but these are now sons of the originals, mere cricketing clones come to wield the willow as their fathers did before them.

We oldies hide under Panamas and warm our weary bones inside thick sweaters while those stillactive remnants of the old side scoff at the antics of nervous newcomers.

"Are we up with the run rate?" asks a hopeful young Badger in ill-fitting batting pads, black socks tucked into oversize white trousers (end-of-season bargain from Asda by the look of them) and then stuffed into grubby training shoes.

"Hardly," sneers Graham, the world's finest cricket photographer, a legend in his own mind. "We need 39 off the last two overs!" A shout of joy from the fielding side electrifies the novice into stuffing a grimy batter's box down his underpants. "Am I in?" he stammers.

"Not for vey long I shouldn't think," murmurs Graham the Great who over four decades has gathered about him the finest set of kit and the worst set of averages in the scorebook. …

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