The Bottle of Bannockburn

Mystics versus Saint Modans at Bannockburn, 27th July 1993

Even Ian Fleming at his brilliant best could not have conceived of such a thriller as was played at St Modans. A year later and some details are hazy; I do not claim complete accuracy. Some however, are etched on the mind.

Duncan, captain for the day, started well, winning the toss and electing to chase the runs. It was fireworks from the start, with the first ball (from Chris Cook) being hit for four. Second ball and St Modans captain, Pollock, was caught behind by Sid. B. Bell, the new batsman, showed he had the measure of Chris Cook's bowling by charging off the field for his box. On his return, he was immediately bowled.

Despite a sterling effort by our lads (including Andy Payne, Windy and Chris Healey), runs built up. Ernie put down a difficult chance before catching the Aussie pro (will a blush be called to Annie's maiden cheek?) off a ball by Windy for 40: who then followed this up with an LBW. Bryan Wendon and Martin Watts put in a few good overs, Bryan getting G. Bell caught behind in his second over. Some good running, and a six off Bryan, pushed the score along. Martin was denied a wicket when Duncan dropped a difficult chance, but attained glory when Kelly was caught off his bowling by Chris Cook. The excitement continued into the final over when Bryan had O'Neill playing on with one ball and bowled a wide with the next. The final score, and not one which would normally be much of an obstacle to the Mystics, was 132 for 7.

Was it the absence of tea? The presence of Irn-Bru? The rather competitive aura of the opposing team? From this distance who can say? Things began badly, with Ernie playing down the wrong line to the medium pace of O'Neill and being caught behind. Pollock applied the pressure with a close attacking field. This, combined with some good bowling and plenty of enthusiastic appealing seemed to daunt our lads. The runs came slowly. Duncan, despite being given a life by being dropped at mid-on, spooned one up to mid-wicket after Scoring three. Neil Hadley deserved the ripple of applause that greeted his first touch, but was caught at mid-wicket before he could get off the mark. Adi steadied things at the other end. Sid started well and was off the mark first ball, but the pressure field of two slips, gully, close point and short mid-wicket kept the run rate fairly low. In frustration, Sid attempted a hook and was bowled. Windy had started well, and it looked for a moment as if he and Adi might rescue the situation. Hopes were dashed when Adi drove to mid-on and was caught by Moody diving to his right for 12. O'Neill's fifth victim. Chris Healey had barely got started when Windy was bowled by Ghadia, a sacrifice to the need to improve the run rate.

This team in particular exemplified the Mystics' characteristic of batting strength. Chris Cook strode out to the middle looking nothing like a number 8. At this stage, it must be said, victory looked about as likely as my hitting a six over point. Gradually however, a glimmer of hope appeared as the two Chrises pushed the score along nicely. The excitement grew, Chris Healey got his 50 and the 100 was passed with six overs to go. We needed 5 per over. The Mystics were back in contention, although still not on top.

Rain came and went. The fielding was very tight, the game very exciting. The score mounted and a rare misfield enabled the Chrises to run three to take us to 116. When the over ended, we needed 15 runs to win off three overs. Chris Cook hit a four before disaster struck. He set off for a difficult run, was sent back and just could not turn in time. A heavy responsibility rested on a few young shoulders. Bryan smashed his first ball for four and the pressure was lifted for a moment. Shortly after, he was bowled by Mclvor. Two wickets left, two overs to go. Biz looked uncomfortable, missed one, then Mclvor claimed a second victim. There was a ball to go in the over. Andy Payne went in and survived it.

One wicket left. One over to go. Five runs to get. If one looks at the reports of great Mystical occurences such as the death of Socrates, the fliight from Mecca and even the Crucifixion. one notices that there are differing and incompatible versions of the same event. Well, the same is true of this final over. What follows is what I remember.

Chris faced the first ball and glanced it down to third man and they ran two. The second ball went the same way, the fielder chanced his arm and with the overthrow another two were run. Only one run to get, but only one wicket to lose. The next two balls passed without scoring. The tension was enough to make grown men cry and medium sized wooden structures disintegrate. The fifth ball was tossed was struck...the world went into slow motion as the single was taken. As the immortal bard said:
...we that are young,
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

Derek Matravers

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