Heaven in a wild Flower

Mystics versus Broadclyst at Killerton House, 31st July 2016

Killerton on a sunny summer afternoon is a rare, rare treat. The surrounding fields are lush. Cows stand nonchalantly around, giving off a wonderful sense of ease. In the rich, life-giving trees, blithe birds make a Reichian music whose subtle repetition and variation soothes and delights, as the enveloping greenness forges a deep, spiritual connection to our forgotten natural essence.

It's a bit of a shame about the racket from the diesel generator really. Still, that's the internal combustion engine and the industrial revolution for you. Destroying everything that was good about life on Earth for an illusion of progress. Enslaving us, contorting and twisting our natures to make us fit the inhuman roles required by shareholder capitalism. The constant, life-killing background hum that we try to ignore but cannot; the implacable, toxic unmoral hell that we pretend does not exist but which will eventually consign us to despair, insanity and death.

Anyway it was a nice day. I might be being a bit hard on the generator.

Back for the end of tour, splendidly, were Matt, Triin and Laura, and we had the rare pleasure of a Clem sighting. Sid however was finally broken, and had to be replaced by Krups. Clem warmed up by bowling a tennis ball at Jade, who repeatedly belted the hell out of it - if a good warm up is match preparation, this one was superb. On the outfield Lily, Jenna, Matthew, Abi, Jo, Chloe, Jade, Tommy, Beth, Fabian, Greta and Eliza had an absolute riot, tearing around all day.

Cliff decided he would umpire, and did so wearing an orange bandana. "The Deer Hunter" was mentioned, as was "The Old Dear Hunter". He was commendably consistent, turning down every enquiry with withering putdowns - "Come off it", "Are you having a laugh?" etc . Perhaps he was just remembering some of the reactions he's had from the ladies.

Broadclyst won the toss and went out to field. Sean - finally getting to open for a change - kept them standing around for 5 minutes while he searched in his kitbag for "the velcro for my helmet". Remarkable how detailed a batsman's protection is these days.

Opening the bowling was Charlie Phillips, a very useful bowler with swing, control and subtle variation. He had a terrific battle with Dunc, which he might have won if 2nd slip or extra cover could catch. Sadly, Charlie let his frustration get the better of him, and when Dunc hit him for 6 Charlie picked up the next ball return push, turned blind and hurled the ball back at Dunc, hitting him painfully on the foot. It was like league cricket, only more brutal and stupid. Now, I was extremely pleased this year to hear about the ECB's tougher stance on the behaviour of bowlers, and to read that Leicestershire had had 16 points deducted due to veteran pace bowler Charlie Shreck's verbal abuse of batsmen. Some time ago I opened in a league match against Shreck, and during the 7 balls it took him to dismiss me he managed to call me a c***, a 'little c***', and told me to f*** off twice. Impressive stuff, considering it was his day off. On hearing of Leics' punishment I emailed the ECB to ask what an appropriate runs deduction should be for Broadclyst next year due to Charlie Phillips' actions. The ECB's reply, somewhat alarmingly, was "Don't be a c***. (You little c***.)"

Sean was fairly swiftly replaced by Adi, who hit two gorgeous 4s before allowing someone else a go. First change Jamie Withers was also a decent bowler, and a perfect replacement for Charlie Phillips - he shouted "F*** off!" literally every time he was hit for runs. And his 7 overs went for 60. The next time Broadclyst need a new pavilion they could halve the fundraising time by just installing a swear box. Passing 50, Dunc got more expansive and began trying to hit anything overpitched for 6. This went rather well and he quickly got to a very good hundred. Runs were coming fast, but then par must have been 250ish considering the size and speed of the outfield (and the size and speed of the Mystic fielders).

Fraser lashed the ball to all parts of the square before being pinned by the deserving Phil Walker snr. Fraser's replacement was Tony Baden, who smashed his first ball to the extra cover boundary. He hit the second hard too and set off for a run, but only made it two yards down the pitch before going down like a ton of bricks. Convinced he had torn his left achilles (having done the right one last year), he was in mental anguish as well as physical pain, and it was all very unpleasant, probably for him as well as us. Here was a young athlete in his prime, contemplating the sudden end of his professional career and dreams of representing his country, all while in indescribable agony, and it would be wrong to make fun of it. Unable to stand, he was wheeled off on a little trolley, looking like a bulldog arriving at a pet show. He was duly strapped up, filled with painkillers and delivered to hospital by Sid (who knows a thing or two about collapsing on the pitch, and helpfully has a "take me to the nearest A&E" hotkey on his satnav) and the always empathetic Chris Squire. The latter's report on returning a couple of hours later was "I think he's ok. Well anyway, I left him in a wheelchair by a vending machine. Anyone fancy a pint?"

Innings closed.

Jimmy Ton's first ball caused him to emit his own high-pitched shriek of pain. It was inappropriately loud. Maria-Sharapova-giving-birth loud. Surely he must at least have dislocated his shoulder? No, he was physically fine. Perhaps it was just the anguish of realising what speed the ball had come out. Facing him and Pete, both bowling well, Charlie and Hoops both looked in great touch with the bat and were well in control until each was undone by a moment's loose defence against good nip backers from Pete.

Jamie Withers and Lee Craven completed a very powerful top 4, all of whom scored at a run a ball and looked more than capable of making the required runs. If one had stayed in Broadclyst would surely have cruised it - they were 122-3 at the halfway point with Pete and Jim done for the day. But both perished to a good Fraser spell - Jamie bowled and Lee unluckily stumped, the ball bouncing back off Krups' pads. I was in the deep so didn't hear how much swearing Jamie's dismissal generated but I assume it could at least have funded some new blades for the mower.

Some Mystics were doing their best to help the run chase. Matt Cook dropped a simple catch and let two fours through his legs, looking like a graduate from the Pete Weatherhead Fielding Academy. Not to be outdone, Pete himself, in a moment of pure physical comedy genius, bowled the ball back in from the boundary while standing on a down slope, and managed somehow to propel himself arse over tit onto the outfield, in what for me was the clear champagne moment of the Tour.

Clem came on and rolled back the years with his tweakers, but got a similar battering to the one Jade gave him earlier. Considering it was his first bowl in ages though, he actually did really well. But Rob Scott and Ben Hogan put on 60 and made the 'Clyst favourites again, and when Ben departed the ask was still only 35 from 7 overs with 5 wickets in hand. However Matt Cook came on and bowled his leggies with the kind of control a certain Iraqi "legspinner" could only dream of, and when Rob was dismissed in Duncan's next over the pendulum swung back to the Mystics. 24 were required off 4 but the rate continued to climb, and the last over found them still needing 14. Regrettably, Matt wanted to put everyone on the boundary and had to be forced against his will not to be overcompetitive. "I'm sorry" he said. "It's my genes." A certain coastal shelf got a little bit deeper, and Mystics eventually ran out as winners.

At the end of the day Matthew, Joe, Chloe, Tess, Eliza, Meg, Tommy and Fraser performed the Pineapple Song on the outfield to a can can routine. It was a beautiful expression of our species' primal need for the joy of music and dance. For a couple of minutes, the generator was cowed into silence, and we were humans again.

Chris Healey

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