The Eye of the Storm


Mystics versus Pencarrow at Pencarrow House, 29th July 2019

Don't worry, there isn't a hurricane, it's the Pencarrow Microclimate

I sent the first version of this match report to Jim on Sunday evening, the night before the match – Jim likes you to get your report in – the report consisting of just this picture, from the Sunday evening weather forecast:

I felt quietly confident that my work was done – but I reckoned without Pencarrow CC.

Of last night's 3:30am whisky drinking crowd: Nice Young BenMan and Nice Young ManBun shout hearty hello's into each other's ears, shrugging off the pain. Matt Cook has to be driven by Sam to somewhere, anywhere, that he can get a pasty.

The clouds are tantalisingly non-committal. We try to cheat the system with an uncommonly early start today – though we've been here at noon before ...

Krups and Naomi arrive! Chris Ferro too! And the maize field is back! You can't beat crop rotation. We try some cr*p rotation: Matt Cook bunks off the team for the first planned game, a 30 overs game, which is a shame because, word having come of Matt's performance at Bugle, the boundary by the corn field had been arranged especially for him at 170 yards.

A wide variety of rain predictions are provided, some Pencarrow chaps feeling confident there is time for a 30 over game and the rain will miss us, even as my Rain Radar app shrieks "45 Minutes To Armageddon!! Get inside!! It's Going To Absolutely P-"

Well, we shall find out. 'Jakey' J. Key fends a couple of low full tosses from the pace attack of Nice Young Benman, carves a better ball for four and we're away. After his own exploratory over, Nice Young Manbun also settles into his rhythm. The sun settles on the pavilion and lowering clouds settle on the hills; Spud and Jakey settle on eight an over. Mark almost snags a rocket of a court and bold [#VoiceRecognition] from Spud; a couple of tough ones in the field get away.

Pencarrow see off a quick whirl from Fraser and Krups: Spud half-volleys Fraser over cover for 4, while Jakey pulls Krups for 6, and shortly retires at 30, a new rule for today. We bring on Jim, and immediately, in his first over, the ball goes straight up in the air. And when it comes down again, the batsman hits it, to a fielder, and another catch fails to stick. Spud retires at 30, Benji Sleeman (Cornwall U-11 rumour?) comes out at number 4, Sean bowls young Tom Clarke at 3, and a group attempt at walking the boundary gets a good 20 yards before the rain turns up and turns us round. The cricket continues even if we don't, Sean bowling Matt Gordon at 5, but only for five minutes before they all thankfully troop pavilionwards in torrential rain. Having jotted down the previous sentence I look up and discover that they'd merely trooped off for a drinks break, and, insanely, they've gone back out again.

Part-time cricketers, as constitute half the Mystic ranks, tend to have their own individual likes and dislikes about our strange sport: for example, some of us find the central concept of a rock being hit towards us at 100mph hard to accept. For others, like Tony, it is the standing around in the rain that he can't fathom. (Tony has a *fabulous* time today: about a fathom's worth.)

Ten minutes later they finally come in, then half a dozen brave souls put the covers out, and stand on the corners of the covers while one chap with a tiny-headed hammer goes around knocking in pins. (Christmas present for Pencarrow: another hammer?)

The rain radar apps predict a ten minute gap soon, followed by another half hour of torrential rain, but the proper cricketers on both sides sniff the air and sniff at this forecast, and as soon as the rain eases, off come the covers.

Chris has done his back and retires as keeper. Nobody can be found to volunteer as sub fielder, for some reason ... so for now we go with 10, Krups taking the gloves. Inevitably, the second half hour of rain arrives bang on schedule. When the rain semi-abates, the Cooks venture onto the outfield. Cleverly, they align themselves so that if Matt misses the ball – "if"?! – the ball goes out of the tiny entrance and shoots across the road. Cookage! The smallest vomitorium of any cricket ground in Cornwall, a gap measured in fractions of the width of my brother's car, and the Cooks find it.

But Matt has been warming up and getting wet, and he gets fingered, and this time he's sub.

Sam to Sleeman, the taller Tinker with him. Mr Tinker swings lustily, but is soon run out, which doesn't trouble him unduly, then Fraser takes a brilliant catch at square to remove Ollie Bate first ball; Ollie returns to the pavilion to "Eye Of The Tiger". Excellent!

99-4 off 19, and rain (re-)arrives (again). Derek also arrives on tour! Sam cleans up Dutch Holland, though like everyone else Dutch has had a pretty good wash by now. More rain arrives, but a perfectly timed early tea does too; and by 3:15, too soon to do justice to such a lovely tea, they are rushing out there again, Pencarrow 103-5 off 21.

Kev Renecke is immediately charging down the pitch, and two of his clubmates are policing the boundary under the trees. Kev offers the same combination of class and violence as our own South African import, 'Punchy' Matravers, or, indeed, as do many South African wines. He skies an edge between fielders before retiring. The cast stay out in a torrent to finish the 30 overs – 149-7.

And so to bat. Spud Tinker and Matt Gordon bowl tight the first few overs, Fraser and Chris Ferro picking off the odd loose ball and quick-calling singles, then hitting their stride. Ollie Bate drops one; 41-0 off 7. Ollie tries to improve his day by coming on to bowl, looking pacey and dangerous before Fraser clonks a last four and retires.

Graham to the wicket! He immediately gets out to Ollie with a quite splendid played on – the ball gets high on him, hits the bat and balloons up, but Graham has lost sight of it, and he stands staring resolutely forwards with (Clem) Hitchcockian misdirection, the pavilion watchers sure he must be caught somewhere in front, till the ball comes down vertically, just behind his head, and tickles the stumps. Graham, not ununderstandably, retires to his car, untickled.

64-2 /12 becomes 93-3 /17 as Chris makes 30 and Tony joins Krups, whose 30 follows. 110-4 /21 is perfectly poised, before Sam alas hits two successive half-volleys one-bounce to the pavilion (the first one leaving a large dent in the silver bin by the door). Tony is dismissed with a fantastic catch from Matt Gordon at slip, earning a handshake from Tony as he departs.

Suddenly Sam starts hitting everything straight straight, straight to the straight boundary. But Nice Young Manbun is bowled by Pete Bassett's speed, and replaced by Nice Young Benman. Incredibly, after the preceding proceedings, we have the chance of both a full game and even a dramatic finish, as Nice Young Tom Clarke comes on and pins Sam down for a maiden, and almost does the same to Ben, until one slightly overpitched ball goes for a straight four.

But 9 to win off 3 overs has become 4 to win off 2, and Sam Cook facing: you would prrrobably take those odds. Sam duly hits the next ball straight to mid on, who walks in a yard too close, and that is that.

The weather quashes any plan for a second game, but it turns out that 30 overs is a surprisingly fun length for a game of cricket. How the Arrows have pulled off any game today at all, though, is miraculous: thankyou from us all, and as I finish editing this report in 2020 Lockdown (sorry Jim), I toast Pencarrow's collective health and happiness with this nice Stellenbosch Merlot I've just opened – "bwuarrrkh!!!"

Nick Healey




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