Background to the recent events.
Since the very start of this little adventure in cricket I've done exactly what I've done all my life and that's basically thought sod normal approaches and let's adopt a guerilla approach and get this done, otherwise I'm going to be hanging waiting for people to get their **** together and I haven't got time for that. So as you may well know if you've been following our story this has meant me buying lawnmowers and borrowing rollers and trying to flatten out really rough football pitches over the winter in order that we might have somewhere flat to practice. I've had to do this under the cover of darkness because I suspected that if I was to be seen to rolling someones football pitch they might get the hump and I'm certainly not in this for confrontations.
Then I started to practice over at Great Berry Open Space which is a council field and realised that the field was generally really flat and we discovered that years ago it had an artificial wicket that had been vandalised. As the spring came I saw the potential for this to be used as our practice field and decided that even though I might be perceived as the local nutter I was going to maintain a wicket in broad daylight and bluff it - be so bold as to give the impression that in fact I was an official green keeper! So that's what I did - Measured it marked it all out painted the lines at the creases and mowed it twice a week and kept in order. I then took it a step further and cut a second wicket so that we had 2 side by side.
Then this Friday I was over there mowing away and a van came up over the bank in the corner of the field and came driving over towards me to catch me red handed in the act of mowing a council filed without consent! As it pulled up the blokes window wound down and they stared at me.
"You don't mind me mowing your field a bit do you"? I said jokingly.
"Well if you can do the rest of it that'd save us from having to do it". He replied.
From what I gathered from the conversation that we then had, someone had reported me to them for mowing the field and they'd said 'When he does it next give us a call and we'll come and have word with him'. Then this morning they'd got the call and drove over here to see me. But they were there to offer me encouragement saying that they thought what I was doing was brilliant! They then asked 'What can we do to help you out'? I straight away said..
"A roller - if you've got a roller that'd be brilliant because even though it's fairly flat it's not that flat and it's potentially dangerous".
"We've just got a brand new 2 ton roller that then when it's filled with water can weigh 3 ton and it's just across the road at 'The Rec'". They ummed and arrghed about it and thought it through and said that there was no way they could get it over to Great Berry. "What else can we do"? They pondered. Then one of them said, "I know - you can use 'The Rec'". the Rec being the home ground of Basildon Cricket Clubs 2nd and 3rd XI.
"Yeah - but we're only practicing over here".
"That dont matter we'll talk to Nigel and see what we can do for you".
"What - we can use the wicket to practice on"? I said in disbelief.
"Yeah - I reckon that'll be alright".
"But no-one practices on wickets - that's unheard of isn't it".
"Yeah - but we like what you're doing here - this is so grass roots and all these facilities and fields are under-used and this is such a brillinat example of grass roots involvement - crickets a dying sport round here - I mean I don't like the game myself and don't quiet get the appeal but we'll do anything to help you out". The other bloke got through to Nigel at The Rec and handed the phone over the bloke I was talking to. "Nigel - it's Martin - we've got the bloke.... the bloke who's cut the wicket over at Great Berry and we're now trying to sort him out with some help...... Who's using your wicket this Sunday"? There was a few seconds as Nigel probably looked at a calender or something. "Right - brilliant......" He turned to me again "What time do you practice"?
"Between 10 and 1pm". He relayed this to Nigel and the finished the call.
"Right - 10.00 go over to The Rec, Nigel will be there, he'll prepare the wicket for you and you can use the pavillion - if you've got tea and millk. there's an Urn there and you can use that - it's all sorted". Agian still in a state of disbelief I had to ask again.
"We can use the wicket to practice on"?
"Yep just see Nigel".
So it turns out my Guerilla tactics have worked. Instead of being seen as the local nutter as far as the Langdon Hills branch of the Parks and Recreation Dept are concerned I'm a pillar of the community!
So today we all piled over there, met Nigel, sorted out some dates and practiced on the wicket! Nigel expanded on what the other bloke had said and went on to say that there area of the Parks and Recreation dept like to be seen to go that extra bit to help people out and again reiterated the comments that they were all really impressed with my committment to cricket and were only too pleased to help us out!