The scene was set: Sunday afternoon in sunny Comrie (the Manchester of Scotland). A happy band of Mystics and Magicians were on the way to the final leg of a gruelling tour. The new Mystics theme song was in full flow: Another One Bites The Dust. Nothing it seemed could spoil the happy atmosphere for this band of merry men and women. That is until Jim Thomson (balding in his thirties) announced that the day's captain was Martin Miller, affectionately known as Windy (Henry V and Crooked Nose). You could have heard a pin drop, the music stopped, the sun went in, the rain started. At the back of the minibus there was a snigger from Duncan Chave (anaemic vegetarian). This soon became a look of horror as he noticed the serious look on Jim's face. It was true ten years of Mystics heritage blown apart. Never before had Windy captained the team. All of a sudden I felt like Neil Armstrong must have done in 1969. What was the atmosphere going to be like out there? What were we going to learn about other life forms? Was the Comrie pitch made of cheese? All these questions were just waiting to be answered.
Windy lost his first Mystics toss and Comrie decided to bat first. Merlin's father and I opened the bowling, an inspired captaincy decision, and Comrie didn't know what had hit them. Blistering pace and stunning accuracy had Comrie reeling after 17 overs. How would they recover from 53 for 0? Windy decided to give Comrie a chance after their poor start and brought Duncan on. In his first over, Foster couldn't deal with Duncan's tricks with the ball and was out caught by Adi. In his second over Anderson, the other opener also threw his wicket away; 59 for 2. Duncan was on fire. (The rain soon put it out). 27 overs gone and no more wickets, the skipper decided the time had come for himself to bowl. Maiden after maiden followed. They all took one look at him and ran the other way...the maidens that is. While the skipper bowled yet another negative spell of semi-pro slow stuff, Jim came on and kindly brought Sid into the game. S.Ives bowled Thomson stumped Thomson. 100 for 3.
The score raced along to 130 for 3 and then the game was to change thanks to a magical moment in the field. Gibbons hit the ball to Peter the Prof. A fumbled pick up, a throw in to Windy, a fumbled bail removal but still the strike hogger was stranded. 130 for 4. The score moved on to 152 for 4 and then Windy and Duncan took control. 166 all out. And we had - only been in the field for 54.4 overs. Thanks for the fielding practice, Comrie. The pick of the last five wickets would have to be Sid taking a fine stumping to remove Crumley. Ernie also chipped in with two catches. Was he finally awake? One of them was A.Perry. He had been chain smoking on the boundary and went out to bat leaving an unfinished cigarette with a team mate. About a minute later he returned to his cigarette, thanks to Windy doing his bit for the tobacco industry. A final mention for Duncan for his finest Mystics performance with the ball of 4 for 23. A jolly good all round effort in the field considering the weather and the amount of overs we bowled.
After tea we set about trying to get 167 to win. The opening pair walked out to bat, one hobbling and the other one snoring. Yes, it was Adi and Ernie. Ernie got ready to face the first ball. He smashed it away. Literally, since it was an apple. After the laughter that followed the run chase was on for real. The openers had obviously been watching their captain bat as they trundled to 26 for 0 from 10 overs. Ernie started to feel at home. Village cricket in the rain; what could be better for Rip Van Winkle? Adi decided that the time has come in the 12th over and hit two fours. The cripple and Rip were taking control. In the 15th over, the fifty partnership came up. The rain started to get heavier but our two heroes were not put off and carried on with their vicious assault on the Comrie bowling. Back at the pavilion, Jim's eyebrows crawled in from the rain to join him. 20 overs gone, 85 for 0 and the final 20 overs were about to begin. But the rain had become heavier and the teams left the pitch briefly. As a result, two overs were deducted from the final twenty. So 18 overs remained and we still needed 82 to win.
Adi and Ernie resumed their assault but disaster was to strike. Our brave heroes had battled their way to 95 for 0, only four runs short of a mystic record and a chance to wipe Duncan's name off one of the record partnerships. Adi was caught behind for 43, his highest score in a Mystics sweater. Dan joined Ernie in the middle and scored his first run off a non-test player for the Mystics. Dan was eventually caught for what could possibly be a match winning single. Enter the heroic bowler Duncan. There was now 14 overs to go and we needed 67 to win. Ernie completed a magnificent 50, and because of a satellite delay we didn't applaud until he had reached 54. He really was awake for the first time all week. For the record this was Ernie's third Mystic fifty. Ernie and Duncan were both out with the score in the 140s. Ernie for 68 and Duncan for a useful 25. Sid and Captain Windy were left to battle against the elements and old man Oates for the winning runs and success came with one over to spare. 170 for 4. Hurrah, a six wicket victory in only 37 overs. A special mention to the rest of the batting who were ready but not needed: me, Jim, Peter, Kev, and Malc. Well done guys thanks for being there. And also to the Comrie lads for fielding that greasy ball.
The Mystic moment was deservedly won by Windy for his Mystical Captaincy, and we spent the evening in a shoe box trying to annoy a few more of the Comrie locals. There probably won't be a pub left that will have us now.
The end of another tour victorious at Comrie after last year's mauling. Time to reflect on our Brazilian style skip out to the field at the start of play, Ernie scoring the highest score of the tour, Adi and Ernie reaching the highest tour partnership, Me and Kev dancing on the wicket and all the other Mystical and Magical moments that come with a Mystics and Magicians' tour.