Blowing it at Bugle

Mystics versus Bugle at Bugle, 3rd August 2011

The Wikipedia entry for Bugle states that for optimum pitch control, finessed embouchure is required. At certain stages of The Bugle innings, in reply to a not-to-be-sniffed-at Mystical 242, Captain Hayder's facial muscles seemed to be contracting and oscillating towards perfect pitch control, but never quite finding it. It was as if, having not kept up his practice, he had been asked to perform an impromptu solo at the Queen's birthday. It was a game destined to be as elusive as a tree kangaroo's bottom serenade.

The Mystic 40 overs began with Ernie and Sid. Application they had in abundance, and both negotiated the opening bowling well, picking off the bad ball, keeping out the good ones. Just when Sid had really started to time it, he was bowled for 29 in what was to be opener Paul Gribble's final over. Pete Weatherhead came next, with his especially extended bat, a feature which surely contributed to the power he managed to impart on two particular deliveries. The most memorable of these was a swiveling hook shot which would have been a DLF Maximum anywhere. Notwithstanding, the Spencers of Bugle began to dominate with the ball. First Keith S. picked up the wicket of Weatherhead, then the introduction of Neil S. blew the middle order away: Matravers, (N) Healey and Hadley the victims. Then (C) Healey entered the fray, and the game changed. A 41-ball 89* (Chris dispatched a phenomenal seven sixes and eight fours) was one of the batting highlights of the tour. At the other end, Ern almost kept pace, and brought up a well deserved half-century before passing the baton (M Sharland, caught Moore, bowled Gary S.) to brother Graham who welcomed it, making a fine 23 in his stead, and supporting Chris Healey's whacky-whack-whack innings before finally succumbing to Keith S.

The club logo features a young bugler - a Treverbyn boy there is no doubt. He stands laconically, almost in jazz posture, and his lips are puckered and ready to blow. But what will he play? Will it be a thin anaemic sound, a bunch of amateurish balloon fizzlers, or will he bask in the warmth of the "largest crowd ever seen at Sandy Park" and perform virtuoso-ly? Perhaps the chance to finish a game without it raining, I was told during the interval, would be encouragement enough. Ever do the skies of china-clay grey hang above the ground at Bugle on the Wednesday of tour. This day was no different, and an agitated mist prevailed for the entire second half.

The Mystics opened with spin siblings (C) Cook and Chave, both of whom copped some stick from the opening bats, although (C) Cook never fails to get on the scoresheet. Having not batted, he therefore would have been pleased with the two wickets of Nathan Toms and Neil S. who had batted fearlessly in the face of a considerable target. They connected cleanly with some lusty swings (one straight into a slag heap if I recall correctly). Opener Gary S. (41) had stuck around longest, however, crunching some tasty blows himself. Hayder, as skippers often do, took this personally. Bringing himself on, it took him two overs to get going, before delivering the killer blow to Gary S. in the third, with a ball I shan't dare try and explain, except to say that it was a good one. This was to be the last over of the first of his three spells.

What followed the dismissal of Gary S. was the opposite of the first innings. A mighty middleorder stand between two of Bugle's finest: Paul Tucker, and Keith S. They chipped carefully away at the total, scoring at exactly the right rate, hardly presenting a chance for the duration. It was a colossal partnership of 136, developed meticulously. Spells from (C) Healey, two Sharlands and Weatherhead could provide no excitement for the fielding side. Hayder's dismissal of Tucker broke the partnership finally. There was even a late run out, but it couldn't have changed the result.

At this point, as the reporter, I must state that other than the story of those two men, Tucker and Keith S., and their journey almost to the very end of the innings together, no other piece of correspondence here seems relevant. Even Healey's excellent 89* became a marginalised thought. All eyes were upon Paul Tucker (56 from 63) and Keith S. (80* from 52) at the end of the game, as the players clapped each other off and shook hands. Their clothes were sopping with rain, sweat and daubed with mud streaks.

At the end, several Mystics flailed their arms like teenagers at the way the game had passed them by. Veterans Spencer and Tucker had sent them to bed without supper. Still, there is always the Chinese take-away, which comes after the traditional trip to the Working Men's Club, some good company and Mystic ceremony. There's a great deal of dignity in the people of this town, but that's not to say there's no chaffing or merriment - The Bugle Silver band has been around since 1858, and I dare say the locals know how to trumpet.

Matt Cook

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