No 14: Emergency Call-Ups

Thousands of miles from home, behind in the series, and injuries to key players leave team selection in disarray.

In the ultra-professional 21st Century, just ask the appropriate standby player to hop on a plane.  They’re being paid to keep fit, just in case.  Good grief, players even nip home for the birth of a child these days, despite it being a 24 hour flight each way.

Not so a generation ago. Much the same as Ray Mears, you had to utilise what was to hand, invariably someone who was over playing as a club pro. Not exactly test class, or so you thought, but they are playing first class cricket at home and are on hand.

Tony Pigott delaying his wedding to make his debut in 1982, Mike Whitney launching a test career from the Lancashire Leagues in 1985.

Clayton Lambert left my own club in 1991 to deputise for the injured Gordon Greenidge on the West Indies tour of England. He had been pro since 1984 and was something of a legend in the North-East club scene, and is to this day.

As club secretary, I had to make the calls, everything was done by the board, though making a call to Trinidad to officially confirm we were releasing him from his contract to join the tour was a tad daunting.

Delight followed as our long-time friend made his test debut at the Oval, but an injudicious swipe to the first ball Phil Tufnell bowled consigned him to the International wilderness for the next 7 years.

Imagine Roy Hodgson, shorn of yet another player for one of various minor ailments, and needing to fill the bench for the friendly away to Spain, placing a call to Puerto Banus where the Leyton Orient squad happen to be having their end of season bash.

But, if travelling, always pack your whites, just in case…


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