Keep your eyes on the ball! Especially if you are a spectator!

Uncle Robert loved cricket and he was always a spectator at our village matches. To watch his three grandson’s play was a real joy to him and he just loved being involved in the cricket games. He always stood at the same place to watch the game. Uncle Robert would lean over the hedge and he always had a walking stick in his hand. The walking stick would be gently tapped against the hedge but if we had a close game the stick would be tapped more frequently and furiously.

A hearing problem caused his voice to be a little louder than most people and because he liked to comment on the game you always knew exactly how the game was progressing. If I happened to be bowling poorly the shout “Get ‘R.E.’ off, he is bowling rubbish” would soon be ringing in my ears. I did not like being taken off bowling at the best of times but the booming voice that confirmed your poor bowling was not always appreciated.

We always knew when our team was struggling because ‘Uncle Robert’ would summon the Captain to come to him from any part of the cricket field. Walker was our Captain. “ ‘Walker’” he would shout, “Come here, I want a word with you”. Our Captain would have to go across and be given a few words of cricket wisdom. The rest of the team used to find it very amusing when he did this.

Later in life “Uncle Robert’s” health failed a little and his eyesight became very poor but he still liked to go to the cricket matches. Instead of standing at the hedge he used to sit in his car and he was able to just peek over the top of the hedge and see the cricket. He never lost his voice and one night, after being told that my bowling was rubbish, I lost my temper! I was so incensed that I tried to bowl a bouncer at the opposing Batsman the next ball.

The ball went out of the field and it was heading in ‘Uncle Robert’s” direction. All the team ran like crazy to see if he was OK but ‘Uncle Robert’ was sat serenely in the passenger seat of the car and looking out of the car window. “Have you seen the ball ‘Uncle Robert’ we asked but he said he had not so we searched high and low for the cricket ball and were very perplexed as to where it actually was. We could not find it so the Captain decided to get a replacement ball and carry on with the game.

Two weeks later “Uncle Robert’s” wife was cleaning the car and found a cricket ball under one of the front seats. “Why have you got a cricket ball in the car?” she asked “Uncle Robert”. “I did not know I had” replied ‘Uncle Robert’. One of his grandson’s then realized what had happened a fortnight earlier.

The cricket ball had gone directly through the passenger window of ‘Uncle Robert’s’ car, just past his head. He had never seen or heard the cricket ball thudding into the back of the car due to his failing eyesight and hearing. How it missed him was unbelievable and he had a miraculous escape from a serious injury. If you are watching a cricket game, keep your eyes on the ball!

When ‘Uncle Robert’ passed away he was sorely missed by all the player’s in the team. Cricket needs character’s and he was one of the best!