It's an early start today: 6am. In the old days, when I was a bit younger, we would stay up all night before a raid, drinking Scotch and watching videos of old Gillette Cup finals, but theses days I need to get some sleep.
Dawn raids are just part of the job. It's the only time when you can guarantee a villain will be in his drum. We're going mob handed down to Cricklewood to knock on (or down) the door of a well-known fraudster. He's been selling counterfeit benefit brochures on eBay. It might seem like a minor crime but there are a lot of people out there who have been conned into paying upwards of £5 for a Jeremy Snape or a Micky Roseberry, only to find that it's been a cheap forgery on poor quality paper. It's not right.
|Forgeries, such as this Chris Waller benefit souvenir, bring misery to communities blighted by easy-to-obtain cricket brochures.|
Lucky for us he's at home. We catch him red-handed trying to flush some Colin Dredge 1980 sportsmen's dinner menus down the khazi. It makes me happy that soon scum like him will be off the streets for good.
There's time for a celebratory bacon roll and mug of tea from Brearley's Burger Van. The owner Mike loves telling us about how he used to play professionally and was captain of England. Yeah right! Still he makes a smashing bacon butty so we just let him carry on.
I'm just getting on with my mountain of paperwork when the phone rings. There's a report of a gang of Kolpaks pick-pocketing on Oxford Street. This is a common occurrence, I'm afraid. These men come down to London from places like Derbyshire or Northampton and cause huge problems on our streets. I know that some of them come over here genuinely looking for a playing contract but a lot of them are smuggled in without even a decent pair of whites. I don't want to upset the PC Brigade but for every HD Ackerman there are a thousand ropey one-legged Afghan off spinners claiming a Welsh granny. It can't go on.
A couple of us whizz over there and search their bags and pockets. The leader of the gang gives his age as 50 but looks a lot older. His shoulders were hunched; his complexion pallid and he hadn't a tooth in his head. It's a sad site. He pulled a crumpled, stained piece of paper out of his pocket, which he claimed was a 2010 contract to play for Middlesex. It's obviously a forgery. Even Angus Fraser wouldn't write " ... and as much free biltong as he can eat" into a player's deal.
|The oldest profession: Prostitutes flock to the Lord's test every year to provide 'companionship' for lonely MCC members.|
One of them is clearly fresh off the boat. He's come over from Natal with just a hand drawn map of Leicester, a picture of Gordon Parsons and a copy of the 1997 Playfair Annual. He's trying to get money together to get up to Grace Road and break into their Twenty20 set up.
But before we can process them properly another call comes in and we have to drop everything. It's our old friend Archie Mince - a well known con man and confidence trickster. We have been after him for a long, long time. Now is our big chance to put him away and throw away the key.
Mince - a master of disguise - likes to travel round London and the Home Counties pretending to be various former England test spinners, so that he can persuade individuals and businesses to part with money and goods.
You wouldn't think it would be very profitable but amazingly it is.
And he doesn't care who he steals from.
|From Leicestershire Seconds to cardboard city: Young Kolpaks in London's West End.|
One 80-year-old widow gave him her life savings - some £120,000 - because he'd convinced her he was Richard Illingworth and needed the money to buy a pavilion.
I knew Mince's MO pretty well. He'd roll up at some diamond dealer or car showroom in his whites , tell them he was John Emburey or Eddie Hemmings , and convince them to let him have something whilst "a cheque from the MCC clears". Then he's out the door and never seen again. And he was getting bolder by the day.
It's an old trick. Back in the '70s there was one man going around pretending to be Kent reserve keeper David Nicholls. He was automatically treated like royalty at the best London hotels and restaurants and never paid them a penny. He only got rumbled when an eagle-eyed maid at The Ritz spotted that he should have been playing a Benson and Hedges match in Middlesbrough on the day he was drinking complimentary free champagne in the bar with Vicki Michelle.
We are told that Mince has been up to his old tricks again. He has been apprehended in the Park Lane Hilton after telling the manager that he was ex Yorkshire and England twirler Geoff Cope and he needed the bridal suite because he was marrying Suzie Quatro later in the day.
|Master of disguise: Archie Mince|
The manager became suspicious after he noticed that Mince signed the register with his left hand despite professing to be a former off - spinner. He dialled 999 straight away.
We got there in minutes. Mince was becoming agitated; he wasn't used to not getting his own way. When he saw us he tried to make a run for it but his pads were not buckled up properly and he was no match for us boys. Especially as he was trying to make off with the heavy roller he'd blagged from Harrods earlier in the day.
Back at the station he's charged, finger-printed and banged-up. One more good-for-nothing crook off the city's streets.
It's been a busy day so far and there's just time for a quick bite to eat in the Met canteen. We're joined at the table by officers from the Vice and Drug Squads. The Vice Squad always brag about how much fun it is to watch all the porn they seize and the Drug Squad say that they throw the best parties. That's as maybe, but in the Cricket Crime Squad we'll never have to buy another rubber grip again.
That paperwork is piling up. And there are ongoing investigations to complete. I can be working on upwards of 100 cases at any one time.
A couple of months ago someone broke into the Lord's Art Gallery and helped themselves to some valuable oil paintings, including Jack Russell's emotional depiction of the Middlesex changing room When Did You Last See Paul Farbrace?, and Jocelyn Galsworthy's ever popular Hen Night in the Bowler's Bar.
I suspect that a professional gang of international cricket art thieves are behind these thefts. They smuggle the artworks out of the country and into the hands of private collectors who pay a pretty penny for them. I'm not a fan of modern art really but this is our heritage that is being stolen. I remember once when opportunistic thieves stole the statue of Graham Clinton from outside of The Oval in broad daylight. Luckily they didn't get far. It proved heavier than they expected and it ended up being dumped in a skip.
|Impersonating a MCC committee member is an offence. Paddy Molloy and his nephew/son Paddy Molloy Jnr. got 5 years each, but not before rushing through serious library budget reforms.|
As the clock strikes 6pm I decide it's time to go home. Cricket criminals never sleep so it's up to our uniformed boys in blue to protect the game whilst we at the CCT all head back to our loved ones for some much needed rest.
My wife says that she hardly sees me these days. It's not just because I work long hours: she also has Glaucoma. I offer to cook dinner but my wife insists on doing it herself.
After I have put the kitchen fire out I settle down on the sofa in front of the TV. Maybe we'll watch a movie, or possibly some classic cricket highlights on ESPN or Sky. My wife's not so keen but as she can't see anyway it doesn't really matter.
I finally get into bed around midnight but just as I begin to nod off I get a call on the mobile. It's the Custody Sergeant at the nick ... Archibald Mince has managed to escape.
Apparently he used the heavy roller to burst out of his cell and fled down the road on foot. They think he got to Heathrow and persuaded British Airways to let him on a flight to Brazil by claiming to be Peter Such. It's a disappointing way to end the day but I'm already thinking that something good might come out of it ... I hear Brazil is lovely this time of the year. Must remember my passport tomorrow.