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06.11.2018 11:34
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Faced with uncertainty, the human mind devises narratives to feign predictability. Uncertainty comes in various forms - from fundamental questions such as Why are we here? to more humdrum ones - Will I get wet later?Humdrum it may be but, dealt a 13-week season, impinged upon by football, school trips and family holidays, knowing whether it will rain later has become one of the determining considerations of my life as a junior cricket organiser. Yesteryear, when the weather was really significant, we would consult seaweed, or the posture of cattle. Nowadays, theres a very modern indicator of coming rain: text messages.It starts in the late morning. Parents: Will tonights game be rained off? Im out of town, so would be good to know. I understand the need to drive out uncertainty, the modern middle-class parents desire for the one quiet evening at home that a cancellation can deliver. The thing is, Im out of town as well.Six years into this role and I am also very clear that if we decided whether matches in Englands north-west should be played based on weather conditions at 11am and forecasts for the early evening, our youngsters would play very little cricket at all. The UKs temperate maritime climate, with very few climatic extremes, means that the weather is a state of mind as much as it is an objective fact. For cricket enthusiasts in this damp region, there is a pragmatism about conditions: Well start if its not raining (hard) and carry on if its not pouring.Recently, I drove through heavy traffic and heavier rain to a friendly local club. As I pulled onto the driveway that skirts the grounds southern boundary, I saw a heron wading on the outfield. But the rain had stopped. Our hosts put the kettle on, joined me in conference with the neutral umpire and agreed wed give it half an hour - but would mark the boundary anyway (cordoning off the wading bird reserve at wide long-on).Thanks to the practicality of our hosts and the shared view that its only a game that nobody gains from cancelling, our teens played on. Two-hundred-and-seventy runs in 34 overs showed it was a batters night and that weather is, within parameters, a state of mind.To agree that its only a game may be a luxury thats being depleted. Umpires have a responsibility for ensuring the safety of playing conditions. Thats well understood. An opposition first team player umpiring an Under-13 game once tried to bring the teams off in light rain. His legitimate concern was that the boys didnt have spikes and were slipping. The opposition coach and I walked out to the middle to assess conditions. The boys were loving it, performing sliding stops and soft-landing dives. No more long run-ups, the other coach and I decreed before returning to the scorebox, out of sight of the parents fretting over laundry.With that responsibility placed on the umpires comes an opportunity for litigation. A case has already reached court (Bartlett v ECB Coaches Association, 2015). A fielder was injured on a wet outfield after having argued with the umpire that the game shouldnt take place. The court, in this example, dismissed the claim against the umpire, perhaps noting that the fielder, concerned about the conditions, had nonetheless attempted a sliding stop. The very fact of this legal case, though, will cause a ripple through our recreational umpires, like a cricket bag dragged through a carpark puddle.Theres another impediment to a laissez-faire approach to the weather and junior cricket. Its the hierarchy of needs within the club. Ten-year-olds share the same square as the clubs senior teams. Allowing an Under-11 match to go ahead and damage the first XI track is heresy. The balance is tightest on a Friday night, when the pitch will have little time to recover before the weekends big fixture.On many a Friday afternoon, watching drizzles pathetic, stubborn dampening of the street outside my office window, my duty to play and play on, has shunted up against a wish for it to just rain properly and put us out of this misery. I check my iPhone weather app with the compulsion normally reserved for the Test score. The teasing of rain specks on the windscreen continues on the drive to the ground. The texts are coming in thick and fast. Were on, I announce with fingers on keypad when I get to the ground and find the moisture hanging in the air, making the grass greasy, the square so inviting for a young cricketer to skid across and wreck tomorrows track.As long as it doesnt get any heavier, I explain to opposition, umpire, parents. We dig out bar towels for the fielding team to dry the ball that will still swell like a raisin in a Moroccan stew. Bats left carelessly on the grass will lose their sharp report. The fielders hair, that started in a variety of self-conscious shapes, becomes uniformly flattened on their scalps. Meanwhile, the pitch for our first teams match takes on more water. Should I or shouldnt I just call the game off? I can cope with the rain; its the drizzle I cant stand.This season, Ive been spared the Friday game of cat and mouse with the elements, with the matches I organise occurring on Wednesday evenings. But back in May, we played at home on the eve of a county second XI match at our ground. This was a prestigious fixture, for which we wanted the ground and in particular the square, looking its best. We got under way with grey clouds occluding the sun in the west. Club officials, looking more often at the sky than the play, stood on the boundary. Soon after the second innings started, the clouds began to leak and the covers made it to the pitch before the players reached the pavilion. Three of us stood sentry in the middle, heads cocked upwards like men have done for millennia. Then each of us 21st century men would look down and consult our smart phones, two of which told us it was raining and one claimed sunshine. Meanwhile, the square, the covers, the outfield, our heads and shoulders were rapidly filling in white as snow fell.Want to be featured on Inbox? Send your articles to us here, with Inbox in the subject line. Ian Mahinmi Jersey . "Hes going to have hip surgery on Jan. 7, and hell be expected to rehabilitate for four to six months beyond that," Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said Friday in an interview. Custom Washington Wizards Jerseys . The lawyers filed a 33-page amended complaint Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan, expanding on the suit originally filed Oct. 3 in New York Supreme Court. 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