There was an air of confidence about the Mystics on that Sunday afternoon as we arrived at Killerton House. Maybe it was the reassuring quality of our batting line-up. Maybe we were basking in the warm afterglow of winning back the Chairman's Cup. Most likely, however, it was the knowledge that, whatever time Ernie arrived, there was no way that Windy (in Pembrokeshire at the time) could be asked to captain the game.
In fact, I had already won the toss by the time Ernie rolled up to the ground. I left him to do the batting order. This may have been a mistake, since I found myself walking out to open the batting with Chris Healey. Nothing seemed too threatening out there, and I survived until the start of the fifth over. At that stage, Phil Walker bowled a straight ball to me. Duncan was next in, and it seemed in the team's best interest that I allow the ball to hit my off stump. My work done, I settled down with a pint of Bass to admire the proper batting.
There was much to admire. The track was not hostile - what bounce there was in it was too slow really to threaten - but was too unpredictable for scoring to be easy. Nevertheless, Duncan got to his fifty at better than a run a ball, and Chris Healey was not far behind. They called and ran well, despite Chris Healey's laryngitis, and, with the boundary spectacularly short on one side, there was a good sprinkling of fours and sixes. Duncan was caught in the deep shortly after hitting his third six. 99 for two after 20 overs.
Chris Cook came in at four, and, while he settled in, Chris Healey stepped on the gas. Soon they were scoring at ten an over. Their partnership of 108 came off less than 13 overs. Healey was out soon after he got to his century (102 off 98 balls). The 44th run had been the thousandth of his Mystic career.
Ernie, Sid and Kev played brief cameos, and the scoring rate stayed high. 256 represented a new highest score for the Mystics, and a formidable target for Broadclyst to chase in 40 overs.
They started well, and were 40 for 0 after the first eight overs of Kev and Graham. Then Kev took three wickets (bowled, caught and smartly stumped) in successive overs. At 58 for three, Broadclyst needed to regroup. Phil Walker was joined by their 'keeper, Humphreys. They put on 45 in about ten overs, and the game was back on.
The next wicket to fall was one for the connoisseur. Walker hit a short ball from Sam Cook out to Chris Healey on the midwicket boundary. He called for a single. It seemed on the face of it a fair call. However, so short was the boundary, and so swift and efficient the pick-up and throw, that Humphreys was run out by some distance. It was one of those moments that challenge one's initial perception. As the ball was hit, it was an obvious single, and a call of "No" would have been laughable. As the ball thudded into Sid's gloves inches above the bails with the batsmen just crossing, it was equally obvious that there had never been a run there, and that the call "Yes" was a suicidal one.
Jim Myton, the Broadclyst and Clyst St George fast bowler, was next in. His main concern was to avoid getting out to Sam Cook, a Clyst St George junior. He managed that and, for good measure, hit Sam's last ball for a huge six. Two more sixes off another Clyst player, Ernie, and he was starting to enjoy himself. Ernie, however, who had already had the obdurate Walker stumped, combined again with Sid to remove Myton. In Ernie's next-but-one over, Kev took a catch and Broadclyst were back in trouble at 150 for seven.
Although the tail wagged, we always looked the likely winners. They finished on a very respectable 220 for nine, and some very sweaty cricketers queued up in the small bar. In a showerless summer, it was a smell that was to be with us wherever we went.
A near perfect evening was rounded off with barbecues, thank-yous and same-time-next-years. Everything was as it should have been.
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