Between Lan-Hayder-Rock and a Hard Plaice

Mystics versus Lanhydrock at Lanhydrock House, 5th August 2011

Gemma, Sam and I arrived early at Lanhydrock to squeeze in a lunch before the game. Wandering the grounds to find an eatery we spotted Duncan and Chris Squire enjoying an ice-cream. Duncan caught sight of us and tried to avert his eyes. His face had become gloomy as if he had spotted dark clouds on the horizon which could only but spoil the day. Cooks have that effect on people.

My two dark clouds and I located a restaurant/cafe. The menu was small but appetizing. Dark Cloud 1 ordered the mackerel pate, Dark Cloud 2 an incoherent melange of vegetables and chicken, and I ordered the ploughman's. The conversation throughout lunch was riveting. The highlight, if I remember correctly, was during Dark Cloud 2's angst-ridden account of his batting inadequacies when two flies died - both in mid air. We were not to hit those highs again during lunch.

The food, unfortunately, was a disappointment. My ploughman's was served with an utterly irrelevant 'herb' butter - it contained half a blade of chive and no more. The cheese, supposedly a cheddar, had the plastic texture of a bad gouda. The bread was stale, the pickle tart with no sweetness, and the celery stick wilted and out of place. On the way to the game, however, the dark clouds and I managed to squeeze in an ice-cream. I went for two scoops - vanilla and strawberry. Delicious.

The game itself began with somewhat of a bang. Dark Cloud 2 out for a duck, then Cliff out for 6, which meant old foes Chris Healey and Duncan were batting together. Chris smoked 58 from 58 balls. I was umpiring when he thumped a length ball over long on and caught him wandering down the pitch to tell the young bowler: you can't bowl there to me, $%^*-*^%$. Chris can be very authoritative in the right conditions.

The highlight of the innings, however, was Duncan's hundred. Languid, assured, and at times quite brutal, Duncan smashed the bowling to all parts of the ground - though he did take a particular fancy to the extra-cover boundary. When he scored the hundred in the final over he peeled off his helmet, rubbed his hair, and dropped to one knee, screaming: "Come on! come on!" He kissed the badge on his shirt and finished the innings on 101 not out.

Jimmy Ton and Featherbed opened the bowling for the Mystics. Jimmy bowled with some pace and swing; Featherbed placed politely the longest half-volleys he could just outside offstump. The consistency was something to marvel at. No wickets for Featherbed, two for the impressive Jimmy Ton. I bowled four overs and was taken off for Willie Rushton. His eight overs yielded no wickets, but I must admit to having never seen a ball float quite so high in the air from a bowler's hand and still land on the pitch.

Matt Cook's six overs were an embarrassment. I could see in his eyes screams for help. His uncoordinated movements which resulted in what he ironically refers to as "leg spin" almost brought the game into disrepute. However, Chris Squire from the other end produced a magical spell of four overs for four wickets. Most seam bowlers aim for pace, bounce and movement. Squire went for straight. It did the job. All who were present enjoyed his send-off as he pointed their youngest batsmen back to the pavilion after he bowled him.

Chasing the Mystics' 237, Lanhydrock were all out for 189.

Hayder Al-Mohammed

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