Friday, 21 June 2013

A Sign of the Times

Visitors to the Grange Loan HQ of go ahead Edinburgh cricket club Carlton will now find, as they make their way with hushed reverence through the club's grand new gates, that their progress is met with a sign.

A brand new sign. It enjoins the visitor to beware of flying cricket balls and offers them the specific advice to remain outwith the playing boundary and to face the field of play. Sound advice, although several experienced visitors have inquired whether they really must face the field of play even when Fantasy Bob is playing. Normally at these low points in the afternoon’s entertainment they turn their eyes away.  It is, they say, the decent thing to do.  But a sign is a sign and must be heeded.

As signs go, Carlton’s new one seems to have a purpose in mind. There are many signs in the world where this is far from the case. Lovers of such absurdities spend long nights chortling at the strange sign reported to be in a field in the North of England, or a water course in East Anglia which merely says 'Please do not throw stones at this sign.'

But Carlton's sign does reflect a modern concern. One might have thought that a person entering a cricket ground would do so with the general expectation that there might be flying cricket balls – obviously more likely when FB is bowling that when he is batting, but that is a point of detail. The modern mentality though is that a person has to be warned. Packets of nuts are emblazoned with advice that the product may contain nuts. So a cricket ground may contain cricket balls.

At the same time as Carlton’s sign appears, so comes news of a case in Norfolk where a parish council has prevented Bacton cricket club from practicing on the field of play for fear of the impacts on other users of the green. The club is considering moving to an alternative venue. Fantasy Bob takes the cricketers’ viewpoint – not to be confused with that of the vitriolic readers of the Daily Telegraph (which reported the case at length), though they are identical in all important respects. Stuff and nonsense. Though for himself FB would welcome a ban on fielding practice which at his venerable age would be an act of mercy, generally he agrees that cricketers need to practice fielding and a cricket field seems the best place to do so. Fielding practice is not something that can be hidden and other users of the space can see it is happening and act accordingly. A sign on the lines of Carlton’s new acquisition might help them where they are uncertain.

But FB hopes that the small minded attitude of this Council does not percolate to the high seats of power in Edinburgh Council. One of the attractions of cricket in many of Edinburgh’s public grounds is its shared status with other users. On a sunny day cricketers in the Meadows are surrounded by all humanity engaging in every activity known to man (and quite possibly a few others not known). Some even watch the cricket with various levels of understanding. It is a carnival atmosphere and uplifting to the spirit. The historic Leith Links have paths laid out across the ground and players respectfully pause while push chairs and children make their way across the ground. Such mixed use, achieved without the use of signs, is part of the character of these grounds. Long may it continue.

Cricket on Edinburgh's Meadows

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