I mentioned in Wednesday‘s post that there were three reasons why Mr Tedstone, my first cricket master, was special to me. I then ran out of space before I could describe two of them. Typical, eh?
The second reason is that there were two occasions when he kept me out of serious trouble. The first of those was when I attempted to steal the school’s best pair of batting gloves. It was a spectacularly inept crime. I simply took them home, wrote my name on them, then went back to school and claimed that they were mine. Of course, everyone recognised them and I was sent to see Mr Tedstone. I couldn’t look him in the eye. We both knew full well what had happened and there were plenty of teachers who would’ve hit the roof, but Mr Tedstone clearly recognised that I had already suffered enough and simply sent me back to my classroom.
The second time was altogether more serious. There was a rather troubled lad at school, several years below me, named Carl Baulch. I’ll not say too much because he’s dead now and so can’t defend himself. Suffice to say that a number of my peers decided one afternoon that some form of vigilante justice was required. They waited for him after school and then chased the poor lad around several streets before he finally escaped them.
Now, I didn’t know that this was happening. Even if I had, I probably would have been too scared of the consequences to take part. But I was late home from school that day, because at the last minute Mr Tedstone recruited me and Steve Clarke to help him remark the rubber cricket mat before the first game of the year later that week.
It wasn’t often that I was late home from school and certainly not without my parents knowing that I was going to be. In those pre-mobile phone days parents were a bit less concerned to keep minute-by-minute tabs on their children, but even so it must have been something of a surprise when I showed up almost an hour late. And even more of one when they heard of the other events of the day.
Needless to say, I was roundly interrogated as to where I actually had been – which, with my record, I had no right to respond to with the display of injured honour that I did. On the other hand, being able to cite Mr Tedstone as your alibi was akin to having the ‘Get out of jail free’ card in Monopoly and whilst I have no way of knowing whether my parents checked what I had said, I know that I would have been backed to the hilt.*
The final reason was that Mr Tedstone was never critical of us. He might occasionally tell us that we could have done something better, or that we shouldn’t have done something, but he was always encouraging us to do our very best. The closest that he ever came to an outright rebuke of me was during a practice cricket match. When I was playing for the school I bowled off a nine pace run-up, but when I played games in the field behind our house I used a seventeen pace one. I didn’t do this in school games largely because, if you bowled from the top end of the school ground, seventeen paces meant that you were almost over the boundary.
In this game, I decided to experiment and use the longer run. The game was on a Friday. On the Monday, Mr Tedstone stopped me in the corridor and asked “Why were you bowling off of that ridiculously long run on Friday? Your action is bad enough as it is, and you didn’t get any better results either. Stick to how you bowl usually, you do well enough”.** A great way to teach me yet another lesson.
Nowadays, I have a lot of problems with my bowling. I often wish that I could call up Mr Tedstone to sort them out.
*Those who were involved were punished by having to stay in the dining room at break times. A punishment which lasted all of two days before the staff got fed up with supervising them.
**Sadly, the comment about the length of my runup has come back to haunt me over the past ten years and I now find it difficult to bowl off any sort of a runup at all.