Derek Pringle

Clapham has left the building

World famous guitarist makes dressing-room appearance... and exit

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Eric Clapton illustration for Derek Pringle's Favourite Cricket Story
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Second Innings : For the record
Teams: England | Essex

This was in 1987, when Ian Botham was playing for Worcestershire. Botham and Eric Clapton were the best of mates then. We (Essex) had a game at Worcester, but the rain forced us to sit around in the dressing room and play cards. Clapton was with us. He won about 400 quid, and decided he would buy an amplifier and play for us that night at Botham's local pub.

He called the local music shop and placed his order. When the attendant was told that it was Eric Clapton on the line he said, "Yeah right", and hung up.

Anyway Clapton managed to get an amp from somewhere and that was a long and fun night at the pub.

The next day was a Sunday League game, and Botham completely destroyed us with the bat. We lost the game, and at the end of the play, Fletch (Keith Fletcher, Essex captain) was giving us a dressing-down when Clapton stuck his head in to sympathise. "When the man's the man, the man's the man," he said with a shrug, about Botham.

Now Fletch is a bit of a character, forever mixing up names and things like that. He looked sternly at Clapton and said something to the effect of, "Excuse me Ernie, we're in the middle of something." Clapton quietly left the room. We all just looked at Fletch and said, "What did you just call him Fletch?" He goes, "Ernie… don't you know Ernie Clapham, the world famous guitarist?"

As told to Rahul Bhattacharya. This article was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine

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