All a Question of Chance

Mystics versus Erratics at Lustleigh, 1st August 2020

I have not long yet been privy to this quaint culture of friendly cricket, or even cricket at all, but I don't think one needs to have been in order to find something quite special in the coming together of these two teams on this day. My view of the match came through a mixture of the camera lens and the short stories of Jorge Luis Borges (who for context was an Argentine writer, known for the philosophical nature of his fictions and said to have been one of the forerunners of magical realism) gifting me a stylised interpretation of events, for which I can only hope for forgiveness.

The Lottery of Babylon is a short story by Borges that describes (full of mysteries as it is) the introduction of a lottery to Babylonian society. Initially the prizes are standard: you either win money or you don't, but the escalation of events is such that the lottery defines the entire course of one's life: it is compulsory, and it is final, lorded over by the divine presence of The Company. In this way the reader is brought to question the nature of chance in the world, and the subtle inevitability of the draws that one receives. It begs the question; was it inevitable that we would gather here today despite the circumstances? Did the prior culmination of events cement the elegant bowling of Windy and rob him of his hat-trick before the game had even begun? Was it divine intervention that swayed the ball such that it got caught squarely in the helmet of Andrew Forrester? Perhaps it would be better to view the game as a battle of the intermingled fates crouching to attention across the field.

Indeed, through the camera it was impossible to discount the intensity of attempts made to steer the game in one direction or another: Jim's frantic fielding too quick for me to capture, and too painful for me to focus without wincing through the action; Krups's patient yet powerful batting which may or may not have been the cause of said wounds; Jonathan's eager and precise captaining injecting the game with energy; Graham's element of surprise in what Windy claimed to be "the weirdest over [he'd] ever seen." Alas, the question of fate becomes more perverse in the shots I had no intention of taking. In one, Ben is accosted by a ball to the stomach. In another Chris Cook is out LBW. Though, still more captured the many forms of batting and bowling which I am too inexpert to judge but which certainly made good pictures. And then there were the photos I missed entirely, but then who can testify to the role Mike played in fetching Chris Squire off of the pitch, or its outcome in the grander scheme of the game?

It may seem inconclusive from the above evidence, but my mind is quite stubbornly settled, cynic though I would claim to be, by the gears of fate manoeuvring to allow Duncan Chave to announce, "I hope Fraser hits a six off of Cook to win the game" mere moments before it happened.

So, inevitable? It's all a question of chance.

Mercedes Mayes

A socially distanced team photo

(left to right) Pete Weatherhead, Ian Hooper, Sid Thomson, Jim Thomson, Jonathan Kirby, Phil Power, Ben Youngman, Chris Cook, Chris Squire, Duncan Chave, Windy Miller, Fraser Chave, Andrew Forrester, Graham Sharland, Martin Sharland, Sean Webb, Jayarupakar Nallala, Martin Weiler, Rithvik Gutha, Matt Crawford

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