Contango at a Canter

Mystics versus Contango at Dunsford, 27th July 1997

The game against Contango proved to be a considerable departure from the encounters of bygone years, not least because we were playing at a new ground, set in an idyllic location within sight of ruggedly beautiful hills. Indeed, with the searingly hot weather it was easy to imagine that instead of being on the borders of Dartmoor we were, in fact, playing cricket on a Caribbean island (Spookily, we later discovered that the groundsman was about to start a new job at Sabina Park). Another change was the format of the game -- two innings of 20 overs apiece, a novel approach which could one day solve the eternal tension between the Sunday League and the County Championship.

The game got off to a traditionally late start after the groundsman eventually located what we were assured was the square. Contango had first crack with the bat and set about their task with some relish. Numerous forays were made into the stream to retrieve the ball, most of which were successful, although a six struck off Jim by the reliable Contango performer, Tim Western, sent the umpires scurrying to the pavilion for a replacement. Tim looked every inch his father's son as he produced a blistering array of strokes, breaking Mystics hearts. Well, maybe not quite EVERY inch. Another junior Contango had a good day -- Liam Rice negotiated the last five balls of the innings without facial injury, Ernie having the foresight to have removed Fiery Fred from the attack by that time.

Despite the mainly below average performances in the field there were some notable exceptions, not least a stunning, mystically momentous catch by Annie, a marvellous stop by Kate's shins and Ffion Wardrop's bowling which returned figures of 2 for 4 in 2 overs.

Contango having closed on 120 for 6, the Mystics' classical opening pair of Adi and Duncan strode purposefully to the wicket. Some suitably rustic hitting ensured a creditable first innings score of 113 for 7, with Dunc, Ernie and, once again, Ffion making valuable contributions.

Contango's second innings again began at a blistering pace with Western fils once again providing the entertainment, stroking 52 from 27 balls. He was finally stumped by Windy -- a late replacement for Ernie who had found the dual pressures of captaincy and 'keeping too much (and if he can't manage it, one worries about a lesser man like Alec Stewart). Despite the fast start, some creditably tight bowling managed to repair most of the damage and the innings closed on 127 for 6, leaving the Mystics a feasible victory target of 135.

The Mystics' calm, mature approach was reflected in the two mad run outs that saw the end of Adi and Fred. Adi turned for a seond run just as the boy Western was unleashing another howitzer throw from the boundary and was so far short of his ground that we might be better to talk of furlongs than yards. On the plus side, Windy top scored with a rapid 42 and Sid contributed a quickfire 32. However, despite valiantly improving on their first innings score, the Mystics were left 11 runs short of victory.

The final twist in the day's curious events was provided by the occurrence of the first ever Mystic pair. Unfortunately however, the scorebook was not sufficiently legible to identify the culprit.

Oliver Gardiner

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