In the early 1960s when I was in my prime as a reasonable quickish bowler, I was playing for Notts Casuals against Wisbech.
This was the third match of a three-day tour over what used to be called the Whitsun Bank Holiday and, as tradition demanded on the club's fixture list, it was an all day game.
Wisbech elected to bat and we had some difficulty in prising out their opening batsmen and went into lunch with the score at somewhere in the region of 110 for two wickets. Batting at number four was Eddie Davis who with his older brother Percy played for Northants for several years but was now retired from the county scene and was the resident pro for the home team.
He arrived at the crease just before lunch and, with only one run to his name we left the field for what we knew from past experience was going to be a sumptuous affair. Not only that but in 1942 I began my serious education at Wisbech Grammar School and, having played for the 1st Xl, I knew quite a few of the home team and we had quite a lot to talk about.
Instead of allocating 40 minutes for the break it was extended, by general accord, to 85, thus allowing plenty of time not only for food but also drink (well it had been a very hot morning in the field), and the usual speeches through which one has to sit on these occasions. Unfortunately our hosts decided that a flagon of superb port wine had to be done due justice and it was.
(This is beginning to sound like one of Ronnie Corbett's stories, for which I apologise, but as you will now discover the preamble was necessary.)
We all trooped back onto the field in varying degrees of sobriety and it was my task to bowl the first ball. Now our umpire, one Marcus Levy, was a most respected and well-known official, quite portly, (no pun intended), who thoroughly enjoyed his food and drink and it was a hot day!
He always sat on a shooting stick some two or three yards behind the wicket and this day was no exception.
To whom should I be bowling but the aforesaid Eddie Davis. The first two balls he left but the third was a beauty and he nicked it to our keeper to a huge explosion of appeals. We expected Eddie to walk but,ah, he was a pro and stood his ground because Marcus had not raised his index finger, or any other come to that. No referrals or snickometers in those days!
I carried on and Eddie carried on, and on, and on eventually adding another 75 runs to the one he had acquired quite legitimally before lunch.
Come the declaration mid afternoon and, as we came wearily off the field, I asked Marcus why he had not given Eddie out many hundred runs earlier. His reply was apologetic.
"Sorry Roy, but I am afraid that my third glass of port at lunch was the culprit. I was asleep on my shooting stick and was only awakened with the tremendous appeal.
"I realised that something had happened but I didn't know what so I couldn't give what I had neither seen nor heard."
An honest umpire and one who might be the subject of another shorter story in the future.
Roy Williams sent this article in via our Global Cricket Community page. You too can send in your articles, photos and videos and get published here. Email [email protected]
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