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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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