I was never much of an autograph hunter in my youth. Perhaps my Dad instilled it in me, but the only autographs I ever wanted were from people I considered great: Weekes, Sobers, Haynes…err, Gatting. In fact, during a Middlesex game I ran down the steps in the Mound Stand to where Angus Fraser was grazing, at fine-leg, and queued up to get his autograph. In front of me was a portly, middle-aged gentleman who (can’t believe I remember this) had two pairs of glasses: one on top of his head, and the other on his nose. What amazed me, though – I was about 12 at the time – was the book or tome he was holding. In it contained thousands of autographs, not just of cricketers but seemingly anyone able to scrawl their name with a biro. To this day I wondered what fascinated him so much about it all. Why would anyone want an autograph anyway? The only reason I got Angus’s was to try and have a chat with him and ask him how I could play for Middlesex!
Anyway, enough ramblings. Two rather interesting letters in the Times for tomorrow:
Sir, I have just returned with three small boys from watching a wonderful English victory at Headingley, just the sort of day to get our young captivated by the sport. But, alas, no longer do the players pop out at lunch to sign autographs, as Lloyd and Gower did for me as a child; and so we went to where they leave. After waiting for an hour most of them walked straight past. The worst offenders were those who are supposed to be role models for our young, such as one who pretended to be on the phone and our captain, who ignored everyone. Considering play finished at 3pm surely they had a spare moment?
Kirkbymoorside, N Yorks
Sir, What was striking about the crowd at the Headingley Test â€” aided by the sensible ticket pricing â€” was the great diversity of the crowd. Around me sat people from 8 to 80, from every class, women of all ages, England and Pakistani supporters intermingled, even a solitary â€” though somewhat baffled â€” Estonian student.
Huddersfield, W Yorks
Ignoring my cynicism and indifference to the world of autograph hunting, it’s sad that the England players alluded to above didn’t have the time to sign anything. I can’t imagine that is in anyway a reflection on the team, though.