Where the first hour is never dull


Mystics versus Boconnoc at Boconnoc House Deer Park, 31st July 2018

It was a bit eerie at Boconnoc on this occasion. It was a cloudy day, and buzzards circled overhead as we arrived. The deer were nowhere in evidence. Was this a portent of things to come? No, not really although Duncan did achieve the drop of his career. It was a splendid day, the crowd's spirits kept up by plenty of cricket and the usual well-stocked bar.

I can't remember who won the toss, but we batted first. Ady had put in a brief appearance, holing out to the covers to be caught by Rob Foot. Duncan and Chris (Ferro) then settled down to enjoy themselves, putting on over 100 until Duncan top-edged to Todd Searle. Chris followed soon after, caught by Kev Spencer, at mid-off. In fact, the catching seemed pretty solid until Will Thornton, fielding for the oppo, dropped Chris (Healey), who went on to score a lively 24 before a forward defensive failed to stop a ball from John Thurston from rolling onto the stumps. Sid and Chris (Squire) came and went, and Matt and Pete took to the crease. If the Almighty had decreed that Pete's wicket was to be taken by Jon Niblett, then Jon was not meeting him half way. First he put down a caught and bowled (tricky) and then dropped him on the boundary (less tricky -- at least for him, still above the benchmark for me). Matt was stumped off Kev's bowling, and Sam came in to finish our innings with 11 off five balls and we finished with a really rather good 269. This was, in fact, the highest score ever recorded by a Mystics side.

Tea. A very marvellous tea. And lots of it. I still have a picture of it in my mind's eye. It really is a lovely place to just mill about and chat. I think it was there that Chloe told me that I had a very poor forward head carriage. No respect, these youngsters.

The total proved too much for Boconnoc. Sam, who opened the bowling with Pete, took a fabulous caught and bowled. John Thurston was the highest scoring batsman, with 37 before being caught off the bowling of the Secretary, who finished with 2 for 24 off 6. Duncan somehow managed to catch his thumb with his other hand (or something) and dropped a simple top edge from Rob Foot: quandoque bonus dormitat homerus. All the bowlers did well -- with Matt getting 3 for 6 off 3, and Chris (Healey) 1 for 3 off the same number. Pete managed to persuade Kev to continue a run of poor form against us, bowling him under a wild swing. Old Homerus nodding all too frequently, it seems.

It is very good to see that the cricket tea is being taken seriously as a subject of serious study. As ever, I have the Chair to thank for his encyclopaedic knowledge of cricket-related publications; I shall add Phil McCann's Cricket Teas (which, to the surprise of none, features the Erratics) to my academic library (McCann, 2019). Let me end with two aper├žus relevant to the subject. We can all agree with Hugh de Selincourt's view that it is "an outstanding feature of the match" (de Selincourt, 1979, p. 142). A deeper thought comes from Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Saverin who remarked, in his VIIIth aphorism, that "The table is the only place where the first hour is never dull" (Brillat-Saverin, 1825/1970, 13). If his nationality were not evidence otherwise, one might have thought this stemmed from a reflection on the nature of cricket and the aforementioned sacred ritual.

Brillat-Saverin, Jean-Anthelme. (1825/1970). The Philosopher in the Kitchen. (Harmondsworth: Penguin).
de Selincourt, Hugh. (1979) The Cricket Match. (Oxford: OUP).
McCann, Phil. (2019) Cricket Teas. (Stroud, Amberley Publishing).



Derek Matravers


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