August 19, 2010

Aberdeenshire cricket

Remembering Christopher Parr

Rene Van Oorschot
CP (left), faithfully fulfilling his duties as the club's social secretary  © Rene van Oorschot
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Picture the scene: an early spring Aberdeen afternoon, on a hill overlooking the wonders of Aberdeen airport, 11 similarly dressed men are loafing about on a field, hands firmly in pockets and heads facing their feet. It has only been a few days since the snow has decided to pack it in for the season and has left in its wake an icy wind piercing its way through the earlobes of the athletes in question. It can only mean one thing: university cricket season is in full swing along with all its associated horrors.

As I stumble in to bowl, my numb hands are unable to find their way along the seam. The result is a wide long hop, which is firmly dispatched for maximum over deep cover by the St Andrews opener, who has a bronze tan (despite the weather) and an imposing chin. No complaints are forthcoming from yours truly as that delivery got exactly what it deserved. In fact, I am pretty content with the outcome: it was a legal delivery, meaning I have completed another sixth of this tortuous over. My team-mates greet the whole affair with a deathly silence, no doubt cursing the day my parents met under their breath.

Then, suddenly, from the regions of cover, a single supporting voice unexpectedly pipes up with, “No worries Ren, floor ‘im with the next one, aim for that runway he calls a chin. You could land a Chinook on that bad boy”. It’s our new recruit, a fresher from the village of Leek, near Stoke. I am stunned.

We are getting a royal thrashing by some… well... wannabe royals in Baltic conditions, and this lad manages to be as excited as a puppy just to be playing cricket. I am not sure what he is so upbeat about. He was out till all hours the night before and should be feeling the effects of that debauchery. I know that since I was with him doing Jaegerbombs (don’t ask) at four in the morning, and personally I feel like I have been hit by a steam train and then defecated on by a herd of diseased elephants, which, coincidentally, is also what I smell like. Oh well. Feeling suitably inspired by his behaviour, I gallop in for my next delivery.

It’s short, as suggested, aimed at the pseudo tan on the chin. The ball only gets up to his knees. It’s pulled for four behind square. I overstep. No-ball signalled. “Damn fresher”.

Three years on and that damn fresher has become a good friend to everyone involved in AUCC cricket, as well as successfully fulfilling the positions of social secretary (a vital position at a club as thirsty as ours) and club captain as well as becoming an all-round club lynchpin. His voice has echoed around countless grounds supporting countless Aberdeen University Cricket Club lost causes. His mixture of flighted and flat offies has had mixed success. He has never failed to take wickets with the aggressive nature of his bowling, albeit occasionally at economy rates that competed successfully with mine in their grandiosity. Cow corner has been the favoured “get out of jail” distribution area for many a batsman frustrated with his pace variation and constant ribbing.

Unfortunately his voice has forever been silenced from all the grounds up and down the country. This man, who in a short space of time managed to become the focal point of AUCC, one of the most tightly knit clubs I have ever had the absolute pleasure of playing for, peacefully, but unexpectedly, passed away in his sleep a few weeks ago. At 21 he was too young, of course, but during his short stay he managed to live as much, if not more, than most of us will in our entire lifetimes.

It is thus that we came to celebrate his life earlier this month at the site of the lovely Leek Cricket Club, where his ashes will appropriately be placed at cow corner. The day was marked with a combination of whiskey, nudity, tears and cricket (not necessarily in that order) and was a send-off worthy of the man in question. Needless to say the AUCC representatives, who came out in numbers, lost a bowl-out (I appropriately bowled a wide long hop) to our superior Leek counterparts, although we managed to scrape wins in a drinking boat race and several physical deformity competitions, the nature of which should not be divulged on a public website.

Christopher Parr, aka CP, aka Parr, aka ParrFour; not a household name, never been mentioned in any Wisden, and will never be one of the ICC’s Legends of Cricket. Yet to us he was one of cricket’s true greats and will be missed, remembered and honoured with many a dram of whiskey and pint of Tennent’s until we meet him again.

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Posted by Pedro on (August 25, 2010, 9:20 GMT)

It's always the weird ugly looking one's who give out abuse, although if he had a chin that big he obviously deserved it.

Posted by waterbuffalo on (August 21, 2010, 0:07 GMT)

I went to India on a 3 week tour in 83, state under-23, we were mostly made up of 17 year olds, and a couple of older guys, we had a wicky who later went on to play for Malaysia, at some tournament in Birmingham, he later went to Northern Ireland and got cancer, and died by the time he was 25, I liked him so much because I opened the bowling, and he would encourage me , he also batted at 4. Gutsiest guy I've ever seen, and my best friend, an all rounder who batted beautifully, also died at 25 in a car crash on boxing day. I miss them terribly.

Posted by nishant on (August 20, 2010, 6:53 GMT)

I read your blogs regularly and thank you for this very well written piece. My condolences to Christopher's family and friends. May he rest in peace.

Posted by Aritro Bhattacharya on (August 20, 2010, 6:44 GMT)

It doesn't matter if Chris was ever mentioned in any Wisden. It doesn't matter if his wickets were results of reckless cross-bat swishes or absolute unplayable beauties. It doesn't matter that he was snatched away at 21, not a die-able viable age. What matters is that he will be missed. As a friend to many. As an acquaintance to more. As a tragicomic story to me.

Thanks for the penmanship, Rene.

Posted by Rounak on (August 20, 2010, 2:46 GMT)

What a wonderful tribute!!! its so strange and at the same time so fulfilling to know that the only game I know and love is loved by people like Christopher,people like him make the game all the more admirable and loveable. RIP CP!!

Posted by Mozza on (August 19, 2010, 14:34 GMT)

Very nice Rendog; touching, but at the same time, humourous. Just what CP would have wanted.

I always thought that the first match you and Chris played together was the one against Edinburgh at Manofield when you destroyed their top order in a display still talked about in hushed tones.

His comment that you remember is so typical of the man. I remember bowling when he was in the field with me earlier this year, and he was pushed back to deep mid-off, yelling out "Keep it pitched up Moz, just you and me son, you and me!" No matter how you bowled, he kept up the enthusiasm in the field, and it became infectious.

I know you were saying that cricinfo were doubtful about putting this article up as the tone might be wrong. Reading some of the comments left by those who didn't know CP show that this edition of the Clog Blog is as popular as it normally is.

Keep up the good work, and feel free to drop in if you want to, CP would have wanted it.

Posted by Lyndsay on (August 19, 2010, 13:39 GMT)

This article is a great tribute, conveying what a brilliant, fun guy Chris was. I believe that the name 'RenDog' was a creation of Chris' and I will make sure that it will continue for many years! You are greatly missed Chris.

Posted by Spuddy on (August 19, 2010, 12:53 GMT)

RIP Parrfour!!!!

You will be forever remembered and missed a lot.

Posted by Douglas Newsam on (August 19, 2010, 12:52 GMT)

What a wonderful article. It touches the very soul of the game of cricket. It is what made the game one of the main focuses of my life, what delayed my completing professional exams because of my need to practice - albeit for the Second XI! Cricket is part of the soul of anyone who plays it with the right spirit. Evidently Christopher did just that. We can ask for little more from life than to be fondly and long remembered by those whose lives we have touched. I wish I could have known Christopher for he was obviously one who shared the love of the game which usually brings with it a love of life and of people. He has passed way too soon but that is not for us to decide. May he rest happily in cricketing heaven. My condolences to his family and his many friends from far away in Barbados, a cricket loving island.

Posted by Ben Fiddes on (August 19, 2010, 12:25 GMT)

Lovely tribute Ren. You write it so well too.

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