With the weather forecasters well short of a length for the second weekend day running, the sun shone gloriously on Killerton and a blissfully uninterrupted day's cricket unfolded at Broadclyst's beautiful home ground. Some less-than-pearly-white whites were donned and occasional Mystic limbs creaked -- all entirely excusable after a full week's touring. At least more excusable than the creaks from those of us who were playing for the first time in four years.
Amongst the Sunday crowd of watchers that gathered by the pavilion any new spectators might have found tour weariness hard to detect however. The Mystics batted first, with a solid opening partnership that England's top test two would have envied. Ernie Sharland watchful and patient, with Chris Healey gradually going up the gears to pick off boundaries all around the park. There was some spritely, well-communicated running between the wickets too -- even when Chris called on a runner after his own hamstring called time on excessive exertion. Fantastic stuff for all to watch and plenty of opportunities to clap:)
This pair took the score up to a healthy 71 after twelve overs, when Ernie was stumped off Pooley, while Chris continued on to an innings top score of 74 (and a Mystic aggregate of 2999). A steady run of mini scores from Squire, Chaves, Sam Cook and Sid helped the Mystics continued innings building, towards a total that at one stage looked like it might get near 200. But some tight Broadclyst bowling in the final quarter of their 40 overs prevented runs from flowing -- especially a wicket maiden from Philip Walker Junior which included an excellent caught and bowled to dismiss Fraser.
171 was the Mystic total posted. Immediately after the mini tea break it looked like a decent one. Untroubled by running in up the slope Ben Youngman opened up with a wicket maiden of his own, and continued to make rapid inroads into the Broadclyst top order (en route to fantastic final figures of five for 27), to reduce the home team to 38 for four off 12 overs.
But any thoughts of an early Mystic win were quickly dispelled by the game's second masterful partnership -- this time from Broadclyst's Phil Walker Senior and young George Daldorph. Phil was solid as a rock, nullifying the Mystic bowling with careful defence on a pitch that by this time was popping and sliding, while George took advantage of a catch going down early on to smack fours and sixes all over the ground. It must have been a real treat to watch if you weren't fielding. The Mystic spin attack, Clem and Jim, bore the brunt in particular and though they managed at least one straight and one turning ball between them, fifth wicket partnership went on for 24 overs and added 115 runs.
The tables were turned, now it looked the home side would romp to victory even before the famous Broadclyst generator had been fired up. Daldorph's brilliant, punishing knock of 96 was brought to a close thanks to a great catch on the midwicket boundary, watched closely and caught low by Fraser (‘I wasn't dropping that one' said Frase). Broadclyst were 154 with five overs still to spare and only 18 needed.
But in yet another twist Sam Cook finally bowled Phil 'the Wall' Walker, with Dan Pooley falling quickly soon after to bring in fresh Broadclyst batters Raghav Mishra and Philip Walker Junior to contend with tight final spells from Sam and Mat Ogley. Thanks also to some impressively energetic end-of-game Mystic fielding, runs were curtailed and overs fell away.
The final over arrived with Mat to bowl from down the hill and nine still required for the Broadclyst win. Mat bowled full and straight -- so difficult to get away. Seven were needed off three, then five off two ... and finally three required to win from the last ball of the tour. Mishra faced up, connected then ran. The first run was made easily, but before Philip could make his ground for the second to secure a tie the stumps were splayed, a run out!... leaving the Mystics breathless and victorious. By one run only. What a nail biter.
As heart rates were restored the Broadclyst BBQ was fired up. Chris Squire demanded fines, Jo Sharland awarded the much-coveted supporter of the tour while Mat Ogley was this year's player of the tour. Such a fine and memorable finish to the 2021 campaign in the strangest of times, and a tribute to the Mystic we dearly miss who I know would have loved this one.