Given the current times we are living through it is understandable to be nostalgic for those halcyon days of the past : proper cricket teas ; acceptable over rates determined by Winston and not by the frequency of hand-sanitising breaks ; watching from inside on boiling hot/freezing cold days and Sykes bowling at more than 42mph. Or just bowling.
But more than all this, conclusive proof that all change is not progress : the exponential growth of the kit bag.
When I was a boy (and I know this time goes back further than Coe’s) we had one kit bag. For the whole team. There was plenty of space in the changing room and plenty of space in cars on the way to the match. It has to be accepted that 11 sweaty blokes with questionable personal hygiene choosing to share just three boxes was probably a stretch but there was usually the confirmatory cry of “It’s not touching flesh!” to put minds at rest in those days before Environmental Health Officers were, like Chelsea Champion’s league victories, still to be dreamt of never mind proliferating.
But time moved on and soon people turned up with their own boxes and were very sniffy about sharing. This coincided with Margaret Thatcher’s famous quote that,”There is no such thing as society” – people may or may not have liked her but she spotted the first sign of communities unravelling as abdominal protectors were hoarded across our green and pleasant lands.
From boxes to pads to bats and individual kitbags, the disease spread and you didn’t need a Lateral Flow Test to see it. Trying to navigate changing rooms was seen by the great leaders of the day as “Bloody Hopeless” though they did little about it.
Luckily the Germans came to our rescue as avid watchers and supporters of our true national game and from Munich to Wolfsberg to Stuttgart their cars steadily grew in size to match our needs and when the boot of the Ford Sierra was no longer large enough they invented the SUV.
But even their Germanic efficiency and engineering know-how was not enough to keep pace : not only did EVERYONE have their own kit but the bag size grew and grew like a sporting version of The Day of The Triffids (even people who had never averaged more than 8 – which includes most of our line up – what’s that all about? : I go to Sainsbury’s as often as I play cricket but I have never asked for a trolley for Christmas?)
The modern introduction of showers hardly helped the situation as that just meant towels and soap and this was exacerbated by the insidious trend of “Male Grooming” taking hold and leading to compartments for sprays, lotions, gels and hair straighteners. complete with adaptors and mini generators.
In all descents into hell there is eventually a Damascene moment when even those so wedded to their own misconceptions as to prevent any semblance of light being shed on the scene (often found to be Manchester United fans and/or Climate Change Deniers but we will return to that Venn diagram another day) finally spot that something is amiss.
And Saturday, 12th June, 2021 was the date and Brockley Cricket Club was the venue…..
The madness of the last 40 years culminated in one batsman’s kitbag having the dimensions of a BMW X7!
Now for those of you with less interest in the motor trade than our captain, that is a vehicle some 5,151 mm Long x 2,000 mm Wide x (perhaps importantly) 1,805 mm High.
This means that your kit bag can contain just about all your worldly possessions as well as still do over 35 miles to the gallon so what’s not to like?
Well if you are only 1,799mm high then the best place to store your gloves might not be on the top of your (or anyone else’s “kit bag”)
Brockley’s score of about 170 wasn’t awful and everyone did a bit in the face of enthusiastic fielding performance from a Worlington side that were a great mix of youth and experience and a delight to share a pitch with.
In reply the home side were well marshalled by stand-in captain Whiley but Worlington showed resolve and not inconsiderable skill to keep up with the rate on what was an excellent strip and uncommonly brisk outfield.
Worlington deserved their win and are a team that will do well this season whilst Brockley continue to await the return of proper teas with bated breath.