Foreground Attraction


Mystics versus Gargunnock, 29th July 2001

The Gargunnock ground is beautiful. At about one o' clock from the Pavilion is Stirling Castle, complementing the rocky profile of the horizon. In the foreground, at the time at which I took my notes, was a spectacular batting collapse by the Mystics. Let us begin, however, at the beginning.

There was no toss, rather a neat case of Jack Spratism. Their skipper needed to do the Barbecue and so wanted us to bat first. Our skipper (Jim) wanted the same thing. Clem and Matt opened against a bowler whose run up was such that, in the course of four overs, he had run sufficient to have been able to run around the deck of the Santa Maria roughly 31 times. Matt and Clem were not intimidated. Matt pushed one into cover and called for a run. Unfortunately, and not for the last time, the sequence of pick up, throw, catch and whip the bails off went perfectly and Clem was on his way back. Then, in quick succession, Matt was caught, I was bowled and Freddy was run out (more sharp fielding). Adam looked good for a moment, being caught on the boundary after an almighty heave. It was not the shot so much as his comment after it that gave him instant Mystic immortality: 'That would have been a six at Lords'. Chris Squire was caught after a fighting innings of five. But matches are not won by fighting fives, and at this moment things looked bleak as we were 39 for six from 15 overs.

Duncan and Windy had now come together at the crease. Slowly and carefully they began seeing out the overs and putting on the runs. It was marvellous to watch, and we had the chance to watch it for well over an hour. Their 84 broke their own record for a seventh wicket partnership (it had stood at 73). Talk in the pavilion was that we would probably get 150, which we took to be a defensible total. Then, after a good hour, Duncan was caught for 43. Windy went ten runs later, and we were 134 for seven. Peter was bowled, and Kevin and Jim saw us through to the end. However, the total was on the low side: 137 for nine. Their skipper, Naris, was the pick of the bowling having taken three good wickets (Windy, Duncan and Peter).

Fraser celebrates victory with a slightly smug grin Keeping a lid on the runs would be a premium. Jim opened with Adam and Kevin. Adam began with three maidens. Fortunately, Kevin was prepared to make a game of it from the other end. Good luck to the chap in regaining his bowling action. Despite some very economical bowling, particularly from Clem who finished with one for 18 from eight, their total increased at roughly the required rate. Although they never managed to get away, they could keep up with the low required run rate and we could not find the wickets. They were 42 for none at the end of the 14th, and 85 for one at the end of the 29th. Fuller had got 50. They needed 53 in 11 overs, with nine wickets in hand.

The Mystic's bowlers held their collective nerve. John Cross was in for the opposition, and he had a good eye and a strong arm. Boundaries abounded. The 36th over went for nine, the 37th for even more. The game swung back in our favour during a brief episode of cricket rather more packed with incident than statistics lays down for our guidance. John was clean bowled by Windy, but the ball was called a no-ball. John then set off on a suicidal run, and was out by some margin. Their umpire then stood in stony silence, not responding to our appeal at all. Windy was about to collect his wits to bowl another ball, when the umpire said gently to John, 'I am sorry, but you are out'. The story is that the official was, quite correctly, awaiting acknowledgement of his no-ball call before proceeding to the next step. For his unwavering campaign to be out on that ball, John was awarded the Mystic Moment.

Gargunnock continued to resist. They needed 12 from the final over, and 6 from the final ball. Martin Everett gave an enormous swipe - although it would have never been six - and Jim took a great catch off a ball that was really travelling. Windy had good match. His partnership with Duncan (he got 46) saved the day. His bowling figures were four for 32 from eight, and he also had a hand in the crucial run out of Cross. Overall, the Mystics had demonstrated that, by good, tight bowling, they could defend a small total.

Derek Matravers


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