I've been reading about some of the "innovative" plans to raise money for Glasgow Rangers FC in the past few days and one of them is to hold a series of sporting dinners. I'm not sure how many of these you would need to run to help, but would probably need at least three dinners a day for 25 years as a conservative estimate, just to cover the interest payments...
It got me thinking about cricket dinners though. I've done a fair few of them as a speaker myself and they have largely gone well. In most cases those attending are there to enjoy themselves and unless you haven't prepared are largely appreciative of your efforts. I'm very much in the anecdotal side of cricket speaker as there aren't really that many cricket jokes - three, to be precise, at the last count.
The clubs I've spoken at have been appreciative of my efforts, perhaps mainly because I charge much less than most. With a lot of clubs on a tight budget, there are few that can afford a big name, even if they could afford to bring one from down south. Plenty of anecdotes of former players, the background to the blog and a toast to the game of cricket has largely worked well - apart from one occasion.
I was booked to appear at an east coast club one Friday evening, a talk that required a ninety minute drive in both directions. To add to the fun, it was very wet and extremely windy, so by the time I got to the venue after work it had already been a hard gig. When I got there I found that I was not the only speaker, as promised, but the third.The first was from the club and was suitably ribald after the dinner, handing out awards that were not always sought after. The second was a comedian, who used all of the three cricket jokes, leaving me a mental re-write and then came out with thirty minutes of blue humour that would have made Bernard Manning blush and essentially revolved around bodily emissions of any kind. By the time he had finished, it was already 11pm and 90% of those in attendance were feeling no pain whatsoever. Indeed, several were slumped in chairs uttering the type of phrase made famous by Father Jack in television's Father Ted.
My introduction to talk about the great game of cricket was warmly received, but the talk was a long way from what the crowd wanted at that stage. I was reminded of when Jerry Lee Lewis, miffed at Chuck Berry being top of the bill in his place at a concert, set fire to his piano and, as he walked off, said "Follow that, boy" to Berry. I set fire to nothing, especially what remained of the listening audience's imaginations. There was polite applause at the end and some nice comments afterwards, but I didn't feel it went especially well and getting home around 2am hadn't been part of the game plan either. The running order was wrong and it is something I've subsequently asked when I've been engaged to speak at dinners.
To playing matters and Yorkshire's green light to sign Phil Jaques as a "local" player has left them free to sign a bowler as their overseas star and probably left them as favourites for Division Two this summer. If they don't win it with the talent at their disposal then there should be serious questions asked. With other counties still to finalise their squads though, you'll need to wait another couple of weeks before Peakfan's Predictions hit the blog.
In that time Derbyshire will hone their skills in Barbados and should return fit, tanned and bonded. A few wins on the forthcoming tour would be no bad thing - winning is never a bad habit - but is a long was from the raison d'etre of it all. More important is that players get time in the middle and an opportunity to get the winter out of their legs. Runs and wickets will be handy, but the preparation for when the business starts is all important.
See you soon!