I found out the news towards the end of last summer. We were all in Bude, on some tour or other, and the wind was less blowy than usual. It was mild and English and generally tolerable. I was advised that these were conditions for cricket, which was in turn associated with this tour jazz. I didn't mind, I suppose I played the game myself.
Over tea I told them all what I thought. "Cricket," I said, "Is a game which you can never win." In response, they all cheered and a long-haired fellow called Zaheer was seen to ring a giant cast-iron bell with both hands. He stood on the long tea table, and over the drone he bellowed "how was that," annunciating each delighted syllable. An opponent named Steve had declined tea, and was instead encircling the square hundreds of times on an old yellow bicycle.
I realised I had drifted, and found my own head laying in the long strands, which had just fielded a warm-up ball. There was a little rushing sound as it creased a halting path through the grass. A grumpy fellow jogged up silently and retrieved it. This was my captain.
"Hullo." I said.
He said nothing, turning away in white.
If you sit up in this place, Bude, and have had little or no sleep, the gulls confuse you. And the noise of mothers and child of the coastal air. Everything is grainy and yellow with buoyancy. I want to describe the singularity of that warmth, but we are now separated from that day, a year ago. You may even find yourself there again. I have, as if reliving it today.
A spectacled man in a sandbox drew lines to mark the emergence of Sammy. Sam and Sid, Sam and Sid. A perfect cadence nigh. And we have seen the sum of Sam on this day, as he rocked back, poised, as he rolled wrists restrained, and as he drove the gulls to cower undercover.
"Don't mind" I said to Sammy, "I don't care for those gulls. You drive them Sammy, you drive them."
Sid's son looked on, someday to shine, trusting in the subtle reveries Sid was to find. Two bright Parishes spun fine, and in the son and the father found their line. For Sid, there were 60-odd lines to mark his time. And for the sibling, fifty-four from thirty-nine.
"I say, Peter! Peter!"
Peter made 30 runs that day. It was good to see him and the captain embrace in the middle. Something unusual about the two of them out there. Couldn't put a finger upon it. I had a go too in the usual way, then Webb, then the new boy JC Gray.
Then we were back inside for this tea business.
While this Zaheer fellow was truly abroad, he had no ring-a-bells. But I did notice that the food was lavish, and heard that we were to further dine later. We did, it was in this place like an eye-bath. When the glaze of sun becomes to distinct in ones lenses, the cool inner sanctum of the billiard club cannot be matched.
I thought about the batting a little. I took my plate and mug aside and observed the groups of boys and girls, youth and inexperience. T. Hall had only been 13 years old, and yet had shown spirit with ball. I knew too that he and Parish could bat, for the young have it in their souls, and with time it fades away or not. And bat they did with grace and courage.
The sand grains dropped from the palm of late afternoon. Captain Long did not last. Mellow cries welcomed Chave's clean catch. The older Parish. It was like a bolt into earth, and a dull thud. We were taking notes on fortune, who scribbled here and there across our notebooks. At the hilt of the victory sword were two men of 62 and 73. There were boundaries, but it was not enough.
But I will remember the day for the sibling. I had never before believed that he was bionic. He could only show his gift in fragments, so as not to arouse suspicion. But he knew his power must come to our aid, to solve our riddle. So he told me. He said -
"Matthew. I am a bionic boy."
And I believed him.
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