A Corruption of Doctors

Mystics vs Methigion at Reen Manor Park, 31st July 2013

A new team to play!

"A Corruption of Doctors" is how Methigion is described to me; an unusual collective noun, that, unless you read the Daily Mail. As fellow wanderers, they invite us to Perranporth's lovely ground.

Ian Bishop doesn't quite have the pace of his West Indies heyday, but together with Mark Gripper keeps it super-tight, off runups that are refreshingly brief given our 6:25 start. Graham goes LBW in the third over, his snail-like departure from the field embodying a difference of opinion with the umpire. (As you read this, Graham is still coming off.)

Incidentally Methigion find themselves initially with seven players, with two still to arrive, and they ask us to loan, from our considerable entourage, two temps for the latecomers and one permanent. To make... ten. I never find out why they don't want eleven.

But as our entourage are encouraged to act, it gives us our Mystic Moment, skipper Deke searching for the non-playing Sean, to stand in as replacement umpire... for Sean.

Six for one off four is not an ideal 20-over start. The slow progress continues, and the sound of shotguns (or birdscarers?) from a nearby field puts the wind up Chris Cook in the seventh over, our long wait for a boundary ending as two come oneafteranother, Fraser joining in too. (He's 15 now. Deke, one half of our two-professor riposte to Methigion's teamful of doctors, confesses to thinking Fraser's 11.)

Chris lofts a few more and holes out, Fraser holes out too, and Matt ticks over, but still, 35 from 9 is not great; Harley, our new Assistant Dog, trots out to Long Off, as far as his leash will allow, and takes a dump. Will our batsmen take the hint?

(PS Today's "You Are The Umpire": before its embarrassed owners can clear things up, a skied shot lands in a massive pile of dog poo, and "sticks" in it, just as a fielding doctor dives for the ball and, having of course no conventional sense of physical shame, collects the whole lot. The fielder, with ball and poo in hand, appeals for the catch, the ball clearly not having touched the ground. What now?)

(PPS that didn't actually happen. Only in my mind. And in Harley's.)

Tony calls for a quick second, but pulls up at the end of it, and Sam goes out as his runner. Sadly Tony's Mystic debut lasts little longer, even his stationary spanking of the ball causing him too much pain, and he has to retire. "It's my hamstring," he says, "I didn't realise I had a muscle there."

Some people are born Mystic.

And we should bring a road sign for "Sam at the crease": cricket balls dropping like fiery meteorites, maybe. He opens with a monster six over the road, then does it a second time. A third falls short of long on, then a fourth makes it to long on but is put down.

There are now four guys on the boundary between long on and long off. PeterT is one of them; we are lending them our legendary fielders. (It's a legend that PeterT can field.)

When Matt gets out and walks off, and Annie applauds him with "well batted Sam!", you wonder whether fines are getting too easy.

I head out there and (I'm told) invent a new shot, where you're trying that "move your feet" thing that I understand the pro's do, to what transpires to be a short legside delivery, and you end up overbalancing comically to the offside, while a late one-armed swish just reaches the five-feet-distant ball, and toe-ends it to the fine leg boundary. "Haven't seen that shot in any coaching manual" the keeper kindly advises me. Now I've never seen a coaching manual, but he may be right, as when the innings ends several alleged teammates of mine suggest I give the "shot" a name: let's go with the "Fail Flail".

131 is "a good 20-over total for Cornwall", our hosts advise us, and they are absolutely on the money.

Perranporth CC's ground is awesome, by the way. It has benches sheltered by palms, and the view of the town and the open sea from the square is breathtaking, and frankly distracting (that's my excuse). That and the north coast weather (drier! and windier!), and the going down the beach before the game, all have echoes of playing at Bude.

Chris Squire has played his way into the fines book by announcing "There's Betty Stogs behind the bar and Radio6 on the telly: I feel like it's my testimonial and I don't even have to play!" - needless to say he's made to field as our sub.

Matt delivers the early run out of Rob Valentine with a sensational throw from deep to PeterT's stump-sitting gloves. Graham's bad luck continues, a turning edge finding the gap between keeper and slip, and then a hard-earned LBW is overturned after the batsman confirms an inside edge.

A variety of wides and no balls helps Methigion tick over consistently, barely behind the required rate, with quite a few shots beautifully judged to evade flailing catchers. But the splendid second opener Saurabh Sarkar retires - he has to go perform an operation, I hear, what a top chap, but hasn't he heard of waiting lists? - and we all then enjoy Mr Bishop's cultured knock, as he gently, politely, almost apologetically acquaints our bowling with adjacent fields.

71-1 off 12, and Methigion are now finding runs everywhere - tiring perhaps of running twos to outfielders like yours truly who struggle to return the ball, they try knocking one to Deke close in, and running a single anyway. (I say, old chap!)

And 24 to win off 3 overs seems doable, but Chris Cook bowls an awesome over that only goes for two and includes a wicket off a yorker, a ball he didn't know he had. Methigion start joking about "coming off for the light", but recommit to the challenge with many healthy smacks, albeit including a monster skier from Dave Warman that's caught in the deep. As we end, with Robin van Lingen and Bishop Junior looking equally dangerous, it's seven to win off four balls, then three off the final ball - two to tie! - but one run is all there is.

How beautiful.

A lovely new seaside day out, a lovely coastal ground, lovely new peeps who'll delay life-saving operations for friendly cricket, and everything to play for on the last ball? You couldn't make it up. The ghost of playing at Bude has been firmly laid to rest - yes, yes, I'm told Bude once offered up a bowler with sea-foam in his beard ("You Are The Umpire: Believing the bowler to have rabies...") - but hey, time and global warming are on our side there.

Thankyou, Corruption of Doctors!

Nick Healey

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