In March this year, Pakistan abandoned a practice session ahead of a one-day game in Sri Lanka after facilities at Colombo were double-booked. Although the nets were available, they were told the main square would be used by local teams taking part in a softball cricket match. Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer described the decision as "a disgrace". Had he been at Mystics v Lanhydrock, he might have learned something - this game was played on a strip which was not even part of the square, and had to finish by 6pm because the pitch was booked for a 10 over thrash by local business types new to the sport, yet the Mystics enjoyed a high quality and worthwhile game against talented opposition. So good is the Lanhydrock groundsman (local legend Brian Read) that the pitch played very well; two well-managed teams constructed an exciting match; and the business types had a great time swishing the bat later on, bringing bar income and potential new recruits to the home club. Cricket was the winner. And Bob - even the business types figured out how to bowl without chucking it. Have a word.
When the magnificent man in his mowing machine had finished his work, Myton and Weatherhead opened up the 30 over match with probing spells against Sparrow and Shopland. It was just as well the two Mystic stalwarts were bowling well, as the batsmen were clearly rather good, and a not-remotely-up-for-it Windy had decided that the best place to hide in the field was behind the stumps, where his slow motion keeping resembled an elderly clown attempting yoga. Jimmy should have been rewarded with the wicket of Shopland, but slip, distracted by a late half-moon from Krusty, spilled it.
At 26-0 from 7 captain Adie brought on Jim T to take the pace off the ball. The batsmen put it back. Not until the score was 63 from 12 did a wicket fall, Shopland perishing to a fine catch by Matt Cook in the deep. Enter Andy Libby, who promptly ruined your correspondent's figures and self-image ("Blimey, I'm useless!") with a couple of towering sixes. Next to attempt to stem the tide were Duncan, whose first over disappeared for 11, and (in an alarming move for the sport as a whole) Cliff. However, Cliff confounded the critics by removing Sparrow, somewhat inevitably also caught in the deep, with his third delivery. His fourth though was textbook: dead straight and wicket to wicket, and at last the stumps were broken. Only the small matter of the ball having bounced about eight times before it reached the wicket prevented him being on a hat-trick.
The carnage continued, with Libby lifting Cliff for a couple of sixes only millimetres above the reach of your correspondent on the long off boundary; it looked suspiciously like taunting. Certainly, it was psychologically damaging ("Blimey, I'm a useless dwarf!"). I was starting to dislike him. What was it Freud said? Oh yes, everyone wants to have sex with their mother. What an idiot. Anyway. Cliff came off, Matt Cook showed his maturity as a bowler by volunteering to come on, and Sam (not for the first time on tour) demonstrated that he too was fully-fledged by having a crack himself. Eventually Libby realised that he'd done enough damage and retired to let a rather younger player have a go, which would have been a generous gesture had there been more than a couple of balls left. Lanhydrock's imposing display finished on 209-3.
The Mystic reply saw most batsmen come out blazing. 20-0 from 2 was a hopeful start, and despite a hiccup while Adie swung and missed at 9 balls in a row (this is why baseball was invented), we kept up with the rate, albeit at the expense of losing wickets. Windy's tentative start blossomed into a fine finish, with a gorgeous on-driven 6 in his 32, but it was the arrival of Matt Cook that really made things interesting. Responding well to Lanhydrock's admirable decision to try and let everyone bowl, he smashed two of his first five balls for 6 over mid-wicket and never looked back. Which was just as well as the middle order never looked like joining in, Shopland in his first bowl for years removing Sam and Pete, and Libby accounting for Cliff.
Libby's spell was also notable for an outbreak of sledging, as he informed Matt (after being smashed for 6) that he was "an f-ing moo-er" and that he'd "only got one shot". Now as official historian you might reasonably expect me to act as match referee, and that there ought to be a fine for that kind of verbal abuse. And there is. It's fine. Anyone who has a go at Matt's cowshot is OK by me. With 55 needed from the last 5 overs and four wickets in hand there was still a glimmer, but Matt's departure for a 59-ball 82 all but extinguished that. Dunc and Jimmy Ton had a go but perished, and with the last pairing being Jim Thomson and the inevitably injured Chirpy, only overthrows were gonna save us. Truscott mopped us up for 190 and a deserved victory for the home team.
But it was a good game, and an excellent day as a whole. I just wish Bob Woolmer could have been there too, to see that it's no bad thing for a club like Lanhydrock to allow a bunch of non-cricketers to have a bit of a slog in the middle. Thanks chaps, we enjoyed it.
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