Keith Baker Memorial Game - Penkridge CC

Sunday saw us at Penkridge Cricket Club host a memorial game for my Father, Keith Baker who sadly passed away in September last year.

Dad played for a number of years for Rugeley Cricket Club and undertook a number of roles from Captain to Junior Coach / Organiser, Treasurer, Secretary, Umpire and finally President. Mum did the teas, whilst both myself and my brother Rob did the scoring before eventually playing in the same team as Dad – and in my case captaining him! Finally, after my move to Penkridge, Dad became a keen supporter of Penkridge whilst still looking out for Rugeley’s results every weekend. 

Last summer was pretty horrendous for us as a family – in May Dad was admitted to hospital for a week before being discharged, before I had major surgery to remove my colon and a seven week stay in Intensive Care after some complications left me battling for life. I clearly remember talking to Dad on the last day I spent on Intensive Care, with him telling me “you’ve made your point, now stop messing about and get yourself home!” – typical Dad. Little was I to know that this was the last time I would see him, as he was admitted to Intensive Care himself that same night before passing away a couple of weeks later.

As the winter progressed, a few of us came up with the idea of getting a game organised, with some of our old team mates from Rugeley, along with some current Penkridge players and some of us who have played for both teams all taking part. So, on Sunday we all met up at Penkridge for a light hearted Twenty20 game, with the teams captained by myself and my brother Rob.

Given Rob’s recent record of controversial early declarations, we thought it best my team batted first – so, after a few members of my team - Jon Price, Paul Szewcyzk - had checked the rules on drinking whilst the game was in progress (positively encouraged!) we got underway with another first for me, opening the batting with my son Josh who was playing despite still recovering from the broken foot he sustained in March. As it turned out, he lasted much longer than me – retiring on 28 not out whilst I was dismissed as usual by Chris Saunders. It’s become a standing joke that I normally get out to one of the Saunders family – his Dad Trevor (a good friend of Dad) usually used to get me out, and Chris has carried on doing that!

Anyway, the innings progressed with Kevin Langdown, Matt Jenkinson and Liam Kettle all having to retire when reaching 25. Liam provided great amusement by hitting Club Captain Gary Pope for a big six over midwicket, Club Chairman Jon Price managed to bat for the best part of two overs without facing a ball, and former first team captain Paul Szewcyzk managed to get bruised by Rob Baker hitting him on the thigh with one of his medium pace dobbers! 

All of this meant we finished with 154 off our 20 overs, with wickets shared around between the opposition – worryingly brother Rob getting a couple, though fortunately not getting me out! After a few quick team photos, we got back out into the field quickly to make sure the game was finished before the rains came.

After Paul Szewcyzk had opened the bowling having had choice of ends (unbelievably) and Steve Jenkinson had retired for the opposition after a brisk 25 (including a couple of boundaries off son Matt), Simon Carter and Mike Redden both made around 20, as did my stepson Joe Morris before I stumped him, much to the displeasure of his Mum! Well, if he will miss the ball and wander around out of his crease…. A couple of wickets for Kevin Langdown, Richard Birch and Liam Kettle had Rob’s team in a spot of bother, which would have been worse had Martin Porter not been dropped in the slips of the bowling of his son Tom!

Mandi Patel made around 20 for the batting side, and was controversially joined by captain Rob Baker in his second innings of the day as they edged towards victory. At this point I made the inspired (!) decision to have a bowl myself…. Now, given that I could barely reach from about 12 yards when giving pre-match throw-downs the previous day, I’m not sure what possessed me to think I could bowl properly. This fear was realised as my first ball was possibly the worst seen at Penkridge in the 66 years of the club’s history – five bounces and about five yards wide. After having a catch disgracefully bottled by Matt Jenkinson at long on (yes, it would’ve got my brother out and provided months of fun), Mandi Patel couldn’t work out where to hit my latest offering of garbage and chipped it back for a return catch sealing a victory by around 10 runs.

Left to make a short speech at the end (in my brother’s words “keep it short, the bar is open, tea is ready and nobody is here to listen to you), we were able to present awards to umpires Nick Giles (beer) and Dave “Waggy” Jones (HP sauce, gin & tonic), scorer Claire Porter (wine), as well as the Man of the Match award, judged by the umpires and given to my son Josh. Never going to hear the last of that one…..

Mum had prepared another barely adequate tea which was heartily received – one day she’ll finally get the hang of producing a good cricket tea – and a few beers were sunk while old stories were exchanged and a loose plan to do the same thing again next year was started.

The raffle and collection on the day raised around £500 for the four charities that we’re hoping to do a few fund raising events for this year – North Staffs Hospital ITU that cared for Dad, Wolverhampton New Cross ITU that saved my life, Crohn’s & Colitis UK and the British Heart Foundation.

All in all a really enjoyable day, money raised for good causes, some amusing cricket played and a good tribute to a keen cricketing man.

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