In the ever-wistful tour-capping Broadclyst v Mystics fixture, a puddingy base did not produce a stodgy dessert. Indeed, the batting was of the light fluffy variety, and not of over-indulgent duration.
Jimmy Ton, the pleasure of whose captaincy I had not previously experienced, was like a frigate master. His casual and amiable decision-making throughout concealed a nous and reading of friendly cricket that I cannot praise highly enough. He tapped at the dials, tinkered the siddlies, the weatherheads and the dunkies into place, as he navigated the emerald green oval under a sea of sooty clouds.
Sammy cuffed Bridger's generous first ball for four through the offside. The second ball he fetched even more cleanly into the very same mid cover boundary grass clumps. He was in.
He was out. A back-foot pogoist to a heavy straight one, and Sean signalled LBW. A remarkable 3 ball innings worth 8. This would turn out to be a relatively useful contribution.
Sid and tall Pete tried to form a partnership, but it was hard going. And Sid soon succumbed. Still Pete plugged away, he was clipping the ball like a ticket machine, but benefitted little. Poor Chris and Sean fell quickly after.
As I walked to the middle, I realised that the mighty Bridger had already struck four times. Never a good thought. I only lasted two balls. My brother was the unlucky official, and from the moment the ball struck the pad, I saw his head drop, and knew the finger was coming. Not very brotherly, but everybody except me thought it was out. Mystic Jodie hung around but she couldn't add to the score, and she and tall Pete, who had just started to hit some fine boundaries, were out in quick succession.
It was at this point, that the frigate master sent in his most trusted crewman. Powder Dunky. He teamed up with Graham to push the score within acceptable margins. Graham made 1, Dunky 29. But the partnership saved the innings. Perhaps it is more appropriate that Graham be associated with the pouring of the powder-keg, and Dunk with the cannon-firing. It was ended when tall Pete mutinied on first Graham, then Jim by giving them LBW. That was 4 of 6 LBWs for the day.
After Jim had come and gone, to top up the score, the master himself came out of the captain's quarters and got his hands dirty. He flayed 16, including a long-awaited maximum, before Greco pouched him from the bowling of Walker sr. who bagged three. Walker jr. had also earlier claimed a wicket.
At this point I should mention that Peter Thomson was 12th man and wicketkeeper to be in some sailor's agreement that I don't pretend to have fathomed. So we took to the field before tea, as only 28 overs had been bowled. So Pirate Captain Rush and Aussie Greco took to the crease for an expectant Broadclyst.
Broadside it was to be however, as Sammy rattled in at a rate of knots, tying the batsmen up in them. Greco survived some close calls, but Captain Rush, perhaps in an attempt to relieve early pressure, flourished the ball towards the mid on fence. To our disbelief, a hand swooped from nowhere, and the ball stuck perfectly. Chris Squire grinned, and his hand opened like a clam revealing a pearl. It was an incredible catch.
Chasing only 97, there was still plenty of cricket to be played. But such a moment was inspiration for Sammykins, who by his third brutal over was on a hattrick. From behind the white fence, Captain Rush audaciously requested the tea interval, but it felt more like a time-out with the score at 12-3. After tea, we watched as Greco dug in. He made a tricky 27, supported by Bridger for a time. Sean bowled superbly, but couldn't quite make his pressure pay. It took the introduction of Weatherhead to dismiss Bridger, and after a good partnership with Morley, Greco. With Greco gone, things were looking up at 65-5. Weatherhead had bowled tremendously.
It was to be a tight finish. The frigate captain decided he should try to take the pace off the ball. So he brought me on. I took a wicket immediately, which was pleasant. With Weatherhead tiring, the introduction of hero Dunky at the other end was a prudent one. Morley had threatened to win the game since he came to the crease, but Dunky elicited a lofted shot and he was gone. The wind was gone from Broadclyst sails.
They were all out for 90 in a game that had everything. No small part of this was down to the careful considerations of Captain Myton. But as keeper of the log-book, I must record that all involved made the occasion what it was. Apart of course, from that deck-scrubber Jim Thomson, who is a wretched landlubber, and chundered overboard as soon as the waves of tour-end emotion got choppy.
P.S I apologise for the tenuous nautical theme, but it was a wet tour, and my mind was saturated.Matt Cook