The Decline of the Cornish Codpiece

Mystics versus Lanhydrock at Lanhydrock House, 29th July 2016

Electing to attend Tommy's passing out parade on becoming a fire-officer, rather than take their turn behind the bar, Sheila and John were missing when we turned up. As was Tommy, of course - although Jack was still there to plague us. The weather forecast had predicted that the day would be fine. However, it had also predicted (on other occasions in the previous five days) almost every other meteorological condition known to man short of actual sunshine. As it was, it was a day of drizzle and occasional showers.

Duncan and Adi opened the batting, and set a gentlemanly tone. Indeed, an air of club-land languor accompanied much of the Mystics innings. This was due, I am sure, to the damp conditions, the tight bowling, and the fact that it was now seven days into the tour. As is his wont, Duncan played himself in, steadily, and was unlucky to be dismissed by a catch from the bowler (Benney) verging on the unfair in its brilliance. Dunc had faced 16 balls for his two runs. After 8 overs, we had increased our total to 13 runs and Kevin Beer had obviously had enough. He threw away his crutches and decided to bowl. However, he was not the man to take the wicket. That was Barney Barnicoat, changing ends and getting Adi rather well caught on the boundary. Hoops, Chris Squire, and Fraser came and went. Ernie, however, was a fixture. He batted resolutely; during one stage, he faced 18 balls without troubling the scorer. He was eventually bowled by Benney for 15, having spent 90 minutes at the crease. When Chris Cook (who has spent some time earlier as an umpire doing a passable imitation of Andy Capp) came to the wicket we were 44 off 20 overs. Despite some good, tight bowling by young B. Turner (5 overs for 8 runs) the over-rate gradually climbed. Pete W. contributed, scoring 28 off 15 balls. The pair were not out at the end, with Chris on 71, and we had a defensible - although no more than that - total of 167.

Pete opened the bowling with a demon spell. Fraser spilled a difficult one, but Pete had Jack T. caught behind off the following ball. Harris followed soon after, coming down the wicket to turn a shorter ball into a yorker. Hodge fell for 5, swishing across the line to Chris Healey. Carter continued to score freely, until Ern, in an astonishing display of athleticism for a man of his age and character, caught a diving catch to his left off a quick ball from Pete. Still, Lanydrock were well over the required rate with 74 off their 20 overs. Nonetheless, the Mystics keep plugging away, Healey (in particular) making it difficult for them to run away with it. The batsman known (to me) only as 'SJ' was at the crease for half an hour or more for his 4, before Chris Healey finally bowled him. Adi took a brilliant catch to dismiss Attfield off Fraser for a battling 47, before Healey bowled Pearce, finishing 3 for 14 off 8. Jim finally got the caught and bowled that had been eluding him all week when he dismissed Collinge. Young Turner held up an end while Barney Barnicoat kept the scoreboard ticking over, until he (that is, Turner) was bowled by Duncan. And talking of holding up and end, we are taken to one of the oddest moments of the match.

Those of us on the boundary became convinced that Barney was sporting an external box. It is a well-known, although puzzling fact, that the cod-piece was fashionable only between the middle and end of the 16th Century (See 'What Goes Up Must Come Down: The Decline of the Renaissance Codpiece', Victoria Miller, Cambridge History Faculty) however there it was. Did the fashion survive in Cornwall? After all, shell suits have not altogether died out in Wadebridge. Even Chloe, her telephoto lens trained remorselessly on the batsman's 'area', could make neither head nor tail of it. The mystery was not solved until the end of the match when it turned out, on closer inspection, to be a ball-cloth. Nothing more need be said.

With Barnicoat and Benney making headway with their last wicket stand, we entered the final over with Lanhydrock needing 8 to win. Chris Cook, summoning all his Devon over-50s bowling experience, keep the ball up in the block hole. They scored four singles, with a sporting attempt at a reverse sweep off the final ball from Benney. Sheila and John had returned to say watch the match. Even Test Match Tommy dropped in between fires. The weather had held off enough for us to get a result, and a very splendid time was had by all.

Derek Matravers

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