Mystics versus Erratics at Sidbury, 5th August 2017
By way of introduction to my first (and, I suspect last) match report, the following occurred to me:
This was the only timed game of the tour (and Chris Healey's only strop of the tour). It was Adi's only Mystics appearance (more-than-ably shadowed by Matthew) and the only game played in glorious sunshine: (Peter Thomson, in hat, sweater and coat: "It's actually warmer than Cornwall"). Ernie and Dunc shared an innings each.
Perhaps more significantly, this was the first time neither the Chair nor the Secretary played in the Mystics-Erratics match since 1989. Equally significant, but moreso for the opposition, was that this was Gareth Oughton's last game for the Erratics before heading to leafy Leicestershire.
Marky Manbun won the toss and put the Mystics in to bat.
After this, things get a little hazy. The Test Match was quite exciting. And I may have had a couple of ales.
Annie and I scored for the entire match, recording every delivery, dot-ball, cheeky single, glorious 4 and mystical/erratic 6, every wide, bye, leg-bye, no-ball and wicket, every over and FOW. Time in, time out, how out. We even noted the time drinks went out. It's all there in grey, green and white and makes (near) perfect sense. Except I re-examined at the scorebook—the one I kept—and a small tear began to form. I realised I couldn't remember very much about the game at all. I was following the Tour Manager's advice to write it as soon as possible, in order for it to be fresh in my mind. My fluffy, social-'science' instinct had obviously kicked in early on in the first innings because I had scribbled in the margins a few quotes from various players and spectators throughout, with the intention that these would serve as pithy or humorous anchors to my efforts for the magazine. Few now made much sense. So I cheated, and asked Jim to help me. But he was quite busy sending out tour bills and counting out money from the fines pot. e made a start:
Pete and Fraser opened the batting, when the third ball of Gareth Oughton's second over, that started on leg stump and swung around Pete's attempted clip through the leg-side - "a beauty, that" - sent the spring-loaded stumps flying.
Not bad, considering I had no idea (apart from the stumps flying, and Pete's humble comment as he walked back to the dressing room).
In came Sammy - facing ten balls without scoring before finding the boundary four times (including one 6) without once losing the ball until eventually out for 21, caught by Danny off Nice Young Ben Man.
Looking at the scorebook, I could count up how many balls Sam faced, his total, how he was out, and how many 4s and 6s he got. But I didn't know how to write about it without sounding like an idiot or a bit of a tosser. Cricket-speak just isn't in my genes. Lord knows I've tried, and sometimes sound like I know a little bit. I interpreted a funeral recently, and was chatting to a couple of the pall-bearers outside the chapel of rest; they were talking under their breath (out of respect, or because there was a 'lady' present) about the upcoming Oval Test and I joined in with a confident contribution about the value of an unchanged side. Gobsmacked they were, albeit in a very gentle, sweet Gloucestershire way.
Fraser batted on, joined by the Ultimate Destroyer ...
Then, no more. I knew that, having volunteered to write this, I should try to make a good fist of it. So, as Mike Yarwood always used to say (young people, don't bother looking it up, it'll be ten minutes of your life you'll never get back): "And now, this is me."
I know that Adi batted brilliantly. Spectators rejoiced at the way he struck the ball and his shot selection: the Return of the Ultimate Destroyer. Cries of "SHOT, ADIIII!" rang out, again and again. And if I had a pound for every time someone said, "Imagine what he'd be like if PLAYED REGULARLY", I'd have two pounds. Oh and one of the fours hit Ellie's pug, making a somewhat sickening thud. I like to think it hit something solid, muscley or blubbery. That's how I think of pugs. I hope it didn't hit the face. All kinds of trouble there.
Adi made a total of 73* that included 11 fours and a six. Fraser also batted beautifully for exactly an hour (but I think he bats beautifully anyway) for his 23 (that included two fours, which I reckon must have been extra beautiful) before being caught by Martin Wright (er, somewhere in the field) off Gareth's bowling.
Adi was joined by Ernie, who, despite being knackered, played like someone who was knackered, for 44 before being bowled by old whatshisname who's buggering off to the Midlands.
Now, this I do remember. And it's lucky I only use a pencil to score. Sean was bumped up the batting order, replacing Sid at 6. Oh, something to do with needing two more runs to reach his Mystic century with the bat (I'm sure someone thought it must be his 1000 runs because of the excitement among the Mystics spectators). So reluctant was Sean to walk out to the middle that there was a distinct possibility he might be timed out. [Scrutinises scorebook]. Gareth and Nice Young Ben Man had been brought back on for the final five overs before tea and Gareth was now bowling to Sean, who was facing the final four balls of the innings. Dot. Dot. No Ball. One.
Now I definitely remember tea as there was far too much, as always. I have fond memories of the Erratics games at Gras Lawn and the inevitable Thomson pre-match sandwich panic at Moa Hill. These days, we scoop up the food from Tor View, pile up the A30, stopping at the St Thomas Tesco Express (or 'Gateway' as Jim refers to it. Young people, don't bother looking it up—again, ten minutes of your life), panic-buying cocktail sausages and marmite because there's never enough tea. Jo Sharland had been given STRICT INSTRUCTIONS NOT TO BAKE ANYTHING when she got home. She already had two cars, a dog, three teenagers, an Ernie, some pigs and the Borley Descendency to handle. Does anyone know if she sneakily knocked up a quiche back at the farm?
Anyway, as usual, the wimmin got the keckle on, laid out all the food and then did the washing up1 while the Erratics prepared to take on 179 to win.
I don't know everyone in the Erratics side and those I do, not that well. Luckily, Danny, Marky Manbun and Nice Young Ben Man had been on some of the Cornwall tour, so I was able to recognise them with their helmets on. I kind of know Gareth. And I remember that flippin' Martin Wright from the match at Dunsford in 2013 (118*). And I know Penny, but she didn't get to bat. Annie was very helpful telling me who the other people were and they all seemed nice. For the Mystics, Matthew replaced his dad in the field and, having been denied a catch by Chris Healey, showed them all how to field properly and throw the ball swiftly back to hit the stumps.
So Danny, who I know, and Mark Phillips, who I vaguely recognised, opened the batting. It got off to a bit of a slow start, I think it's fair to say, with Sean "99" Webb and Dudley opening the bowling. An early stroke by one of the batsmen (impossible to remember who) went to Sammy (somewhere in the field) and as they set off, Danny called out, "Just one to him." We all chuckled.
Both openers were out in quick succession, with the score on 11, bringing George Cockburn and that flippin' Martin Wright to the crease. George eased himself in gently with thirteen dot balls and a two before being bowled by Dudley. Joe joined the attack from the river end and looked like a bowler transformed. Martin Flippin' Wright, however, hit the ball all over the place, partnering Nick Walding—bowled Dudley for 4, Dan Thistlethwaite—bowled Joe for 2 and Gareth Oughton, who hung around for 20 minutes for his 5 runs before being stumped off Hoops. At one stage it looked like Wright had been run out following an astonishing bit of fielding+direct hit from Fraser. But it seems there was a bit of a collision somewhere, with neither umpire able to see clearly what had happened. All I remember was watching Fraser glide round the boundary to pick up the ball and throw it effortlessly back to hit the stumps.
By this stage, Erratics were on 89 and there were 15 overs left to reach the target of 179. After a short spell from TBH and Fraser getting Wright out, caught gloriously by Sam for 57, the Runs Scored rows for Batsmen 9 and 10 started to resemble braille. There were hushed mutterings of things getting "exciting" as Nice Young Ben Man set himself in for the final third of the innings. I tried immerse myself in the excitement as Annie and I broke several leads in our propelling pencils. Here is Ben's innings:
:::::::. no ball ::::. no ball :::: 1
Now if that's not exciting, I don't know what is. Oh yes. Mark's innings:
::::1 B ::::::: [4B] :::::: [4B] .
Now, I mentioned at the beginning something about a strop. I really couldn't tell much from where we were. It was lovely and sunny and I'd had a beer or two. But I suddenly noticed that, after his first (maiden) over, Healey's run up became a lot longer, and quite a bit quicker. And suddenly, it looked like he was bowling REALLY QUITE FAST. He took a wicket (his 100th for the Mystics—TBH LBW) in that second over and bowled a maiden in the third. Letting off steam apparently. I had no idea. I was just impressed that having such a sore set of limbs, he was able to do that at 7 o'clock on a Saturday evening after a whole week of cricket. Sammy was at the other end and with two maidens finished with 2 2 0 0.
So, Erratics dug in, very, very deeply, for a draw and kept the cup. Derek was marvellously splendid in handing it back again. Peter Thomson gave a lovely tribute to Gareth, who will be sorely missed, and whose farewell speech made me cry a little bit. But I had had a couple of ales.