I first started scoring seriously in 1984 for my village team and was quite happy doing it for the next 35 years. It was very much village and even parks cricket often with few or no facilities. In the last twenty years my old team, Drayton Parslow CC, has played in the Four Counties Cricket League (FCCL) in one of the lower divisions and very much near the bottom of the cricket pyramid. I was also the club secretary and with my excellent chairman we basically ran the club and so I gained considerable administrative expertise and experience in so many areas.
Scorebooks were always used with hardly any clubs using electronic scoring. One would be lucky if there was more than one umpire and scoring could be made even more difficult if umpires and scorers were reluctant players who did not understand all the rules nor gave the correct signals and complete the scorebook properly. It had its compensations though as one normally sat with the players and even spectators and enjoyed their banter and could even share a drink with them. Players often enjoyed a drink and a cigarette even during the course of the game and for some it was not a drinks break but a smoking break! Games were also mainly very local, sometimes only a five-minute drive to the next village and turning up at 13.20 for a 13.30 start.
Moving to Lymington in late 2018, I was quite happy to continue scoring in the same vein and for one of the lower league Lymington teams with the normal scorebook and in lovely New Forest settings. This expectation though soon changed as it seems that even at the top level, scorers are in demand. Having scored for Lymington seconds in 2019 in the Southern Premier League I then moved up to scoring for the firsts in the 2020 season in the Prem Div/Div 1 (West) and now with the firsts in 2021. One has to be very impressed by the dedication and commitment of the players and officials and the high standard of the cricket. Taking the whole of Saturday and plenty of travel shows the commitment of everybody associated with the SPL both on the pitch and the excellent running of the league itself. And scoring games with players who have county or national counties championship experience, something completely beyond my expectations.
So, would I prefer village cricket or top-level cricket? The season 2021 has been very tough and very much a baptism of fire not only because of covid but driving to and locating grounds and their facilities for the first time. The lack of refreshments (with two notable exceptions) and even getting a cup of tea at times has been frustrating. One notable scorer in the Premier Division has been missing his scones with strawberries and cream! The early season was especially difficult having to sit in the open on some bitterly cold days. It was also the first time this season of me using electronic scoring through Play Cricket Scoring (PCS) Pro and so using it proficiently has been a steep learning curve. Players, spectators and supporters (especially those unable to be there) appreciate the ball-by-ball updates. And now they want ball by ball video. At least the use of PCS Pro has eased the scoring burden until something goes wrong!
The camaraderie of village cricket is still missed since it can be more difficult to have a rapport with players in the SPL although hopefully that can change as one becomes more familiar with them. Scorers can offer so much and be part of the team itself. Rapport and help of fellow scorers in the SPL though have been appreciated and especially when one can spend up to eight hours with them and am looking forward to meeting up again next season. The days though are very long and scoring 100 overs in a day are yet to be my cup of tea and what when timed games return? For away games there is then the long drive back on some unfamiliar roads. A couple of hours on the Sunday morning is then spent doing a press report for the local paper, the Lymington Times, and the club website. The scorer is an ideal position to do such reporting helped by PCS Pro and all the stats it generates.
Good luck to everybody associated with the SPL and may 2022 see the return to normality.
And in memory of my Drayton Parslow CC chairman, Barrie Norman who died in tragic circumstances early this year.