Sir, I feel the death of Ronnie Scott cannot be allowed to pass without some reference to his deep and abiding love of cricket. Although best known for his work in the jazz field, he shared with many other jazz musicians a fondness for our great national game and would often turn out in his early days for our local team, the Cricklewood Casuals.
I remember fielding next to him in the slips one day, and saying to him, "Ronnie" - Ronnie was what we always called him - "Ronnie, you are a creature of the night. How can you play such a sunlight game? You rise and do your work at night, often not retiring to bed before first light. How can your body clock allow you to rise during the day in time for a whole game of cricket?"
There came no answer from Scott's bending figure. Then, after a moment, there came a loud snore. Scott was fast asleep in the slips! How we laughed! Yours etc.
From Mr Reg Wallop
Sir, I must endorse everything that the previous writer has said. Ronnie Scott took a keen interest in many sports besides cricket, possibly because he had a compulsion to bet on the outcome of so many events. I believe he would spend hours in the back room of his jazz club watching horses races, and that one of the very few ways you could get through to him on the phone was to ring up and pretend to be a stable boy with a tip.
I was once playing with him in the old Cricklewood Casuals Second XI (he had actually been picked for the First XI but they were playing away in Suffolk, and he had refused to go, saying, "I'm not doing any more out-of-town gigs this month"), and he was put on to bowl in the last over, when the other side, with their first wicket standing, just needed 17 runs to win. Before he bowled the first ball, he said to me, "Bit of a moral dilemma here, Reg. I've placed 50 quid on the other side to win. Could be some loose bowling in this over ..."
He then bowled 10 wides in succession. After that he winked at me, said, "Just kidding," and clean bowled the last batsman next ball. A lovely man. Yours, etc.
From Sir Arthur Scrapie Sir, I think I may have already mentioned that Ronnie Scott could get through a whole over of cricket fast asleep without falling over. When I asked him how this was possible, he said that nothing was easier. He had quite often played entire evenings at out-of-town jazz clubs and been fast asleep throughout.
"I tell you what, though," he said. "Being a jazz musician, working nights and sleeping days, means that the best place in the world for me to go on holiday is Australia. When you fly to Australia, you are immediately acclimatised when you arrive - you're awake by day and asleep by night."
Then he nodded off again. Yours, etc.
From Jim Wallrush
Sir, You might not think that jazz and cricket would mix very well, but Ronnie Scott took advantage of the terminology of jazz when he was bowling to communicate with his wicket-keeper and let him know what to expect. Slow numbers in jazz are often called ballads, so if he was about to bowl his slow one, he would call out "Ballad coming up". Similarly, he might say "Up tempo" for a fast one. Occasionally he would whistle a tune which I recognised as one of Hoagy Carmichael's old songs, though I couldn't make out which. I asked our wicket-keeper if it meant anything to him.
"That's Hong Kong Blues," he said. "Means he's going to try a Chinaman."
This didn't always work. I remember once he was hit all over the ground by one batsman, who turned out to be a local drummer and could understand everything Ronnie was trying to keep secret. After he had hit him for three successive boundaries, the drummer said, "Keep swapping fours, shall we, eh, Ronnie?" I don't know what it meant, but it didn't best please Ronnie. Yours etc.
From Mr Bobby Randell
Sir, The only time I ever met Ronnie Scott, he wasn't there. I had been asked to turn out for a cricket team called the All Star Jazz XI, and one of the reasons I agreed to play was that Ronnie Scott, whom I had never met, was playing in the team. Well, none of the players looked very much like him so I said to the bloke beside me in the slips, who was a young guy, that I had hoped to meet Ronnie Scott.
"Well, you won't today," he said. "He's gone off to play in another cricket match. He sent me in as a dep."
And do you know, it turned out that all 11 of us were deps! Well, that's jazz for you. Or do I mean cricket? Yours, etc.