Saturday 21st June was filled with glorious sunshine, a welcome relief from the heavy downpours that have blighted the cricket season to date. Fielders were able to hare around in the outfield in pursuit of balls that batsmen clubbed away. Bowlers meanwhile pushed their bodies to the limit, and even the umpires were capable of raising an index finger to signal that the batsman was out.
Sadly, this is not a reality that can be shared by everybody in the world. This is because yesterday was Global Awareness day for Motor Neurone Disease (MND), a physically debilitating illness that currently has no cure. As its name would suggest, MND affects the nervous system. As time progresses, the electrical signals that continue to be sent from the brain and spinal cord, cease to reach the body’s muscles. The terrifying consequence for sufferers is initially physical weakness, followed by inevitable wasting with the hands and feet often affected first. It is an emotionally draining experience for both those given x months to live, and for their supportive families who understand that that their loved one’s cognitive processes remain largely unchanged. In other words, the active mind is locked inside a failing body.
FACTS ABOUT MND
- Motor Neurone Disease affects up to 5000 people in the UK at any one time.
- There is no specific way of testing for MND. Doctors first have to rule out other diagnoses, before the condition can be identified.
- Similarly there is no specific cause; rather the disease has been linked to an amalgamation of genetic and environmental factors.
- Adults of any age can develop the disease. Most will be over the age of 40, but many sufferers have young families when they learn of their diagnosis.
- Twice as many men as women are affected.
Over the last couple of years, there has been increased support for MND from the cricketing community. The Broad Appeal (who can be found on Twitter @TheBroadAppeal) has been instrumental in this movement. For those of you who don’t follow the game, the Broads are renowned in the sport and have international pedigree. The father, Chris, was a successful opening batsman for Gloucestershire, Nottinghamshire and England. Son, Stuart, plies his trade as a bowler for Notts and England, while daughter Gemma is also involved with the England men’s team as a video performance analyst. Chris lost his beloved second wife to MND, and with his children’s help has used the family’s high profile to raise awareness about the terminal illness for a non-profit organisation.
As part of MND global awareness day, people were invited to take photos holding the “Thumbs Up To Cure MND” sign and making the appropriate gesture. As well as the likes of international star, Ian Bell, supporting the campaign at the 2nd Investec Test Match against Sri Lanka, it is important that recreational cricket shows a similar interest. Nottinghamshire Premier League teams Mansfield Hosiery Mills and Caythorpe were only too willing to support the initiative when the sides met at The Fieldings. The home team have a personal interest in wanting to find a remedy for Motor Neurone Disease, with a key figure of their backroom staff having observed its crushing effects in years gone by. Despite the match being played in a fierce spirit, as competitive sport should be, there was a clear sense of communion when the two captains posed for a shared goal.
On the pitch, Caythorpe bossed the game from the second ball of the innings when Gareth Curtis was sent on his not so merry way by seamer Ben Powell for a duck. Matt New couldn’t post a meaningful score for the Millers and was bowled by the accurate Mat Dowman for 20. Over the last few matches there has been evidence to suggest that Hosiery Mills have a fragile middle order. This was exemplified again as regular wickets fell to leave the hosts reeling on 80-5. However, two senior members of the squad rallied against the Caythorpe bowlers. Tom New was trying not to be handicapped by a thumb broken in three places as he defiantly scored 85 (124). It wasn’t a lone hand either as Keshara Jayasinghe took the game to his opponents by smashing a quick-fire 68*. After Kunal Manek’s maximum off the final ball of the innings, Hosiery Mills had made a good recovery to finish 213-7, and suspected that they had a route back into the contest.
This proved to be wishful thinking though as Caythorpe negotiated the opening overs unscathed, and Martin Dobson even unleashed the occasional thumping boundary shot. With the score on 66, Hosiery Mills finally made the breakthrough as Dobson slashed the blade one time too many, caught at slip for 34. This was of minimal significance though as Steve Allcoat picked up where Dobson left off, smearing the ball through the covers time and again. Rob Townsend eventually accounted for Allcoat when he was awarded an lbw decision, but not before the batsman had notched 43 from just 40 balls. Captain marvel, James Hawley, was the mainstay of the innings, and although he found early conditions testing, closed the innings undefeated on 84.
The Millers secured a solitary bowling point when Dowman fell to Jayasinghe for 22, but James Oldham eased his side to victory alongside Hawley with 16 balls to spare. Defeat for the Millers has cut them well adrift at the bottom of the league table, while Caythorpe can be contented with 116 points from 10 games, as they moved into 5th spot.
Despite the two clubs’ varying fortunes, there was only one real winner for the day, that of raising awareness for MND.