Stan and Deliver

Mystics versus Erratics, Dunsford, 17th June 2000

This was a game that started early - to enable a scattering of the irredeemable to watch England play Germany at Association Football. More significantly, though, it was a make or break occasion for the Mystics, whose ignominious defeat in 1999 had affected Jim Thomson's digestion for nearly a year. I have a distinct impression that, rather than tossing a disputatious coin, the skippers came to an agreement that the Mystics would take first knock, despite the fact that Kirby and Birbeck were still winding their way from Exeter to Dunsford via Paignton. (They had visited four or five cricket grounds before finally settling on this one, and their subsequent performance was clearly affected by the Devonian version of jet-lag.)

As things turned out, the game was pleasingly patterned according to the structural principles of the chiasmus. I don't need to remind you that the chiasmus is a rhetorical figure much favoured by Cicero and Erasmus, nor that it features the reproduction at the conclusion of a sentence of the characteristics of its opening. Suffice it to say that, after the fourth ball of the fifth over, the Mystics were 10 for 4, whereas at the third ball of the seventeenth over, the Erratics were 83 for 1. That is to say that the Mystics began with a collapse and the Erratics finished with one. The bare facts are that the Mystics rose like a phoenix from the ashes to total 167, and the Erratics faded like the dying swan to total 102.

The game's transformation owes a lot to Antony, traitorous offspring of early Erratic, Jeffrey Stanyer (three steps, no spin, no flight, tons of wickets). As if a score of 60, with eleven 4s and two 6s, weren't enough, young Stanyer followed it up with a four-over spell that tore the heart out of the Erratics. At least Molins had clubbed his way to 39 by the time Stanyer bowled him, but the travel-stained Birbeck and Kirby departed early to consult a road-map, and the innings was wrapped up by the Mystics' novelty bowler (who remembers Jack Iverson?), Chris Squire.

Back at Moa Hill for the post-match bonfire, England beat Germany, while the grandchildren of former Erratics skipper, Bill Hanson, ran around without a hint of a limp. All the Mystics were there, of course; and of the Erratics, only Birbeck and Kirby were missing. They'd got lost.

Peter Thomson

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