Cricket is a game obsessed with results, statistics, analysis and historical records. At Phoenix we are blessed to have the services of a dedicated and talented scorer in Conor Dillon. In the first of a new series of interviews with players, members, characters and behind the scenes heroes of the club we took a few moments to ask him a little about himself and his thoughts on the game.
Conor Dillon (scorer & statistician)
1. How long have you been involved with Phoenix? I joined Phoenix early in the 1999 season. I made 3 or 4 appearances for the 4th Xi that season and one appearance for the Taverners.
2. Who or what introduced you to the club? My brother found the club in the telephone directory and drove me up. John Doran and Paul Brady welcomed the new guy.
3. Have you always been involved in cricket and did you play? Growing up in Limerick cricket did not have a high profile. I emigrated to the U.K. in 1988 and got involved in social cricket from 1989. We usually played timed matches with 20 overs after 6.30. I always struggled to score runs but over the mid 1990s I became a competent blocker and managed to bat out a few draws. In the field my ratio of catches to chances was pretty poor.
4. When did you start scoring? At that level the batting side provide the umpires and keep the scorebook and scoreboard going. I took to scoring duties from early on and from 1993 I learnt to record the balls faced by the batsman as well as bowled by the bowler.
5. What is it about scoring that got you hooked? Scoring is a great way to stay involved, watch the game and perhaps contribute to how the club runs its affairs. My working history has always involved me in administrative duties and my mental arithmetic is reasonably good, touch wood. My concentration is also at a good level.
6. You use two different types of score books, which is your preference and how do they differ? The conventional box scorebook involves the scorer in up to three entries per delivery: the bowler’s column, the batsman’s column and the running total. With the Frindall scorebook there is only one record per delivery and there is no place to keep a run by run total so that the running total must be checked with the other scorer at the end of each over. With the box scorebook if I am asked what a batsman’s score is I have to add up his runs (although I usually try to note 40 and 90). With the Frindall scorebook I am keeping an over by over record of the batsmen’s scores and so I can answer this question more easily. With the Frindall scorebook I find it harder to track the bowler’s analysis because it goes down rather than across although Ireland scorer Stella Downes assures me that this can be overcome. Recently the fact that I use the Frindall book has allowed me to assist our new coach, Tony East. Overall I prefer the Frindall book for longer games although I think the players still find it more difficult to read.
7. Scoring: Art or science? This is a tricky one. With my eyesight I sometimes find it hard to be sure of the circumstances of a batsman’s dismissal and although my concentration and numeracy are good I have often come close to giving runs to the wrong player. Also the team have had to get used to me coming onto the pitch at drinks break to ask for a catcher’s name because I still don’t know who fields where.
8. You’ve scored international games, how did that come about? In 2005 Ireland hosted the ICC Trophy with the early stages held in the north and the latter stages played around Dublin. Very few of the visiting countries brought their own scorer and so there were opportunities for locally based scorers if they were available. Sean Jennings (Leinster scorer) and I scored two matches at Rathmines: Oman v Uganda and Papua New Guinea v Uganda with Uganda losing both narrowly. In 2006 I was available for the Ireland Under 23 Xi in the European Championships and by 2008 I was comfortable with the Frindall method and so was asked to score the Ireland A match against Bangladesh A although nobody volunteered to score for the visitors. In 2009 I was available for two of Kenya’s one day matches against Ireland. Murray Power is the Appointments Co-ordinator for Irish scorers and he assesses the availability of Dublin based scorers for matches in the Dublin area before allocating matches as fairly as he can. Next month I am looking forward to scoring for the Aussies against Ireland.
9. You’ve watched a lot of games at Phoenix, in different grades, in the past few years, does any particular individual or team performance stand out as a highlight for you? I will try and pick one from each year and let the experts judge which was the best…
2002: 3rd xi at YMCA – Shaun McEvoy got 100 and Allan Cox took 8 wickets but we still needed a run out to win by 14 runs.
2003: 3rd xi at home to Rush – Bruce Walker made 93 but when he got out we were 193 for 9 and there was a dramatic last wicket partnership of 15 before we got past Rush’s 207 with Allan Cox and Jim Gallagher the heroes;
1st xi at North County- Jason Molins made 132 as we chased the home team’s 254 to reach the LHW final;
1st xi at home to Limavady – Jeremy Bray made 141 and David Ford 96 not out as we set the visitors a target of 324 which they reached!
2004: David Langford-Smith took 5 wickets for 36 at North County but we lost the LHW final
2005: Thinus Fourie scored 4 centuries but we were not safe from relegation until David returned from injury
2006: A big partnership between David and Corie at Malahide which turned the match in our favour
2007: After 5 defeats against Rush during my time as scorer we beat them by 26 runs in the DGM which paved the way for our progress to the final
2008: A poor season
2009: Andrew Downton’s 4 wickets for 7 runs in 10 overs helped to contain Rush to 179 which we chased comfortably enough.
10. Twenty 20 or Test Cricket? Test cricket – I like the concept of patience and durability winning out
11. Anything you’d like to add? I wish to take the opportunity to thank those who have helped me in my role. Liz Fleeton, Paul Brady, Jim Gallagher and Kevin Gallagher encouraged me early on. Andy Butler gave me my first promotion and Eoin O’Brien and Michael Fanagan gave me my second promotion. Thanks to Siobhan McBennett and Alan Tuffery for coaxing me through the old Standard exam and to Geraldine Banks for teaching me the Frindall method. Thanks to all the captains and players I have worked with over the years. I would also like to thank all the other members of Phoenix who have built a working relationship with me and all my fellow members of the Leinster Cricket Umpires and Scores Association without whom the weekend could be more difficult. Finally, I am grateful for the friendship of John Doran and Michael Fanagan.