Love, Warmth and Flops

Mystics versus Erratics at Lustleigh, 31st July 2021

To steer you towards reading this match report with kindness and tolerance, let me begin by making all my excuses and apologies. Not being steeped in cricket life, I often miss the nuances of the game and, being a city gal now, I often find myself watching the rather dreamy scenery rather than the cricket. On top of this, I missed most of the Mystics innings by going to the village shop to get the beers; only one allowed in at a time for social distancing and inevitably the people in front of me were sending complicated parcels to different parts of the world. Got back, settled into watching the cricket and was then volunteered into helping get tea ready.

If only I'd secretly recorded the panel of retired Erratics players who were sitting behind me and keeping a commentary running through the match; expert analysis interspersed with memories of matches and players of the past. Instead, I must give thanks to those without whom this match report would not have been possible. (I seem to have presumptuously moved from apologia to award acceptance speech?) Thanks go to Chloe Sharland for immaculate record-keeping; to Chris Healey for thoughtful analysis and interpretation; and to Mark Hailwood for giving me the lowdown on the (suspiciously Mark-centric) highlights I'd missed such as Chave senior being caught off his bowling and then him taking his first catch of the year (Chave junior).

Anyway, the report. Let's start by setting the scene. In this almost ridiculously idyllic, leafy dell, there was a huge turnout for the Chairman's Cup game. The day was almost as much about the supporters as the actual players; friends, families, cricketers and dogs came together to celebrate and raise a bat to the memories of our oh-so-lovely Rita Thomson and the Erratics' Les Hanson. Steve Berry was remembered too, who had, as so many seem to do, muddied the distinction between Erratics and Mystics. The forecast said a good chance of rain but, in sympathy with the mood, what we received instead was a fuzzy, warm-glow of a day.

The match itself was described as slow: slow bowling, slow wicket, slow outfield. I prefer to call it 'languorous' but then I wasn't playing. The Mystics innings came first and the opening partnership of Chaves (ending as outlined above by M. Hailwood) achieved 69 runs over the first hour. Next up were Tom Bennett-Hughes and Mat Ogley. Mat's previous games on tour made us wonder if it would be one of his glory days or one of his duck days. Bit of both, sort of: 3 boundaries and out in a matter of minutes. Not very languorous but hey, the runs were useful. Tom lasted a further hour alongside Sid, before going out LBW for 25 and was replaced by Sam Cook. Sid, ('He's a bloody good batsman,' say the commentary team behind me) stayed at the crease for an hour racking up 37 runs before being bowled by Big Cook who was playing his 600th game for the Erratics. 600! Chris Squire was out for nowt, I'm afraid, and the final partnership was Sam and Ernie. Sam finished with 16 including a 6 which, I think, caused some debate as it hit a tree. (To clarify, the debate was over whether or not it counted as a 6, not whether one should hit trees with cricket balls.) Jim decided to declare on 167 for 6 but I can't say more on that because I don't understand timed games. I think people were hungry?

If they were, luckily tea was an abundance of goodies -- many thanks to all the contributors. Rita was in our thoughts all week but today we put time aside to commemorate her. Annie spoke movingly in memory of Rita, and Martin Weiler on Les. Their speeches rooted the day firmly in the context of the love, warmth and shared history that have been created over the decades in this little community of cricket lovers. We also heard stories of the fun and games that went on whilst camping at Lustleigh over many years but as it seems some of the fun and games were of the adult variety, it's best to return to the cricket.

Now although this is the bit of the game that I watched properly, I can't promise any improvement in the quality of reporting. I'm trying.

Overall, the innings took on a similar rhythm to the previous one; some slow and steady partnerships interspersed with other batters being dispatched quite abruptly. But instead of the Mystics' 'steady -- oops -- steady -- oops', the Erratics started off on 'oops' with Mat bowling a maiden wicket over straightaway. Kirby and Colclough were hard to budge but with Mat and Ernie bowling 4 consecutive maiden overs between them, the run rate was kept low. Colclough was eventually out LBW off Graham Sharland's bowling and replaced by Big Cook. Kirby and Cook proceeded to almost double the Erratics runs before Kirby was caught by Duncan off Jim's bowling. Quick hat tip to Jonathan Kirby whose 22 runs meant he passed a milestone of 7000 runs for the Erratics. 7000! Cook and Weiler then upped the run rate further still, before Mat caught Weiler off Jim's bowling.

I'm not sure exactly when this next incident happened but I'm adding it here to give you a break from my prose reworking of the scorebook. Jim's fielding involved some kind of slow-motion, Fosbury flop over the fence, followed by rolling about in the undergrowth near the stream. My, how we laughed.

Next, Oscar Cammack was quickly bowled by Sam who then did the same to his father. Big Cook had been in for over an hour and was knocking it about a bit too much (55 runs) so Sam was within his rights to ignore the fifth commandment. Also, Chris had been getting Sam to repeatedly move the sight screen (left a bit, left a bit more, a bit more, no right a bit....) so, you know.

Next wicket was Penny Price, who was run out when Duncan picked up and threw to Sid, giving me a chance to point out that this was Sid's 100th appearance as wicket keeper for the Mystics. 100! Now it was time for the Erratics' bowlers to step up. Cook was followed by Hailwood and Price by Power. There were some big hits by Power (powerful, you might say) but his 6 was followed by a catch from Mat off Fraser's bowling. Out came eleventh man, Youngman.

With 2 balls left of the final over and, I believe, a chance to win the game if we took one more wicket, the Mystics got serious. The fielders closed in on the batters (super close) and Mat threw caution to the wind, bowling 3 wides which all went to the boundary because there were no Mystics 'out there' to stop them. And then it was all over. Erratics finished 136 for 9 wickets and it was a winning draw for the Mystics.

We retired, languorously, to The Cleave to round off a beautiful day and the Erratics' captain regaled us with stories of laundry tips he'd gleaned from Mumsnet.

Suzi Martiny

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