This was to be Kevin's first game of the tour, but was he really fit? He seemed to have coped well thus far with the demands on his injured leg ... that is until he had to drive us into the Arns. Grinding and mashing gears, without the use of the clutch, he manoeuvred us in at the ninth time of asking... I was worried: if Kev's foot couldn't operate the clutch, how would it cope with his pneumatic bowling action? "Ill use my new action," he assured me, "the one Chris taught me last year." It wasn't enough to stop me worrying. Still, he handled the press call easily enough, and caught a catch in the warm up.
At this stage I retired to the scorebox with Len Bell, Clackmannan's irascible old scorer. From there, I watched Kevin hop, skip and jump in, using his old action to bowl a maiden. In fact it was Kevin who picked up the first wicket in his sixth over as Clacky's captain, newly qualified Doctor Graham Bhatti, hit a catch to long Bryan. "He should never ha'e been opening," was Len's acerbic comment. Bhatti or Baron, I wondered.
The pro, Harry Sodhi, was still there, however. He was batting well until the rain swept in off the Ochils and swept the players off the ground. Len was pessimistic about the chances of a restart. "Too wet, too cold and too dark," he told me. Why did I get the feeling that another day might have been written off as "too dry, too hot and too bright"?
The half hour break gave me chance to hear about Len's drinking for the millennium scheme. His doctor has apparently limited him to one small whisky a day. This is fine with Len, who sticks rigidly to this allowance and was already drinking his dram for 12th February 1998.
The rain cleared up and Sid came on and cleared up the pro. Harry had made 47 out of 57 and was looking threatening until Sid hit his stumps with an inswinger. At the other end, Bryan was unplayable. He got bounce and turn out of the wicket and picked up three wickets. Chris Healey came on at the other end and bowled well. We were on top.
Dave Gove came in at 118 for 7 in the 38th over of 45. He faced two balls from Bryan, scored a few off the first over of Ollie's second spell and then faced Kev, brought back to replace Bryan. Four balls and four fours later, the mood of the match had changed. Dave slogged Clacky into the ascendancy. By the time he was out for 29 of 17 balls, it was starting to look as if Clackmannan had scored too many.
Tea comprised the usual luxurious fayre and I think that Kate did actually take one of the tea ladies home with her this year.
The weather and some inept batting combined to make our innings a tapestry of fairly unrelieved gloom. The positive feature was another top innings from Chris Healey and his brief eighth wicket partnership with Chirpy. Now, a noted cricket writer once said of Bradman that his batting was so good that it was almost boring to watch. Something of the same might (at the risk of offending my flat-mate) be said of Chris. So correct and compact is his movement, that theré seems no risk of his getting out.
As so often (see next match report), Chris kept his wicket while all around were losing theirs. His infallible days seem to coincide with everyone else's worst. In the end, Dave Wilson proved too much for Chris -- as he was to be for the rest of us later on -- and it was left to Kev with his new bat to provide a few last moments of glee before nightfall. The (all-run) four that flowed from the Super Ginga was probably Kev's first for us and only the fifth of the innings.
Doctor Matravers career best was enough to earn him a nomination for the Mystic Moment award. It also meant that he joined Chris, Ernie, Windy and byes on the list of those reaching double figures.
The Mystic Moment, though had to go to Windy's golden two seconds in the field: crowning a performance of rare ineptitude was his shop-dummy ushering of a ball to the boundary. Apparently a red flower with a dirty great seam across it was to blame.