Mystic Mambo

Mystics versus Saint Neot, 7th August 2003

CONTINUITY ANNOUNCER: And now on Channel Four we go over to Cornwall for highlights from the one-day match between St Neot and the Mystics and Magicians. (pause, ironic tone) Ooh. I wonder if David Blaine's playing ...
(Composite graphic of Cornish flag and crowd scene, followed by burst of "Mambo No.5")
MARK NICHOLAS: Hello and welcome to St Neot on an absolutely glorious day, a perfect day for cricket and being English. Or of course, Cornish. It's a wonderful world and we should celebrate all of it. Probably some decent prep schools down here too. I'm joined by Mike Atherscombe, Mike how do you see the teams?
MIKE ATHERTON: Well this is a pretty strong Mystics line-up, with the recall of Matt Cook, who's now fit again after an unfortunate commitment problem. Borley's in awesome touch at the moment, and Barron returns to the fold, which should give them an element of surprise. And this may be Jim Myton's first tour, but already he's impressed me with his pace, his hitting, and his girlfriend. Aaarggh!! Ooowww!
NICHOLAS: You alright?
ATHERTON: Yeah, fine, just the back. Been sitting down for more than thirty seconds. Hang on
(injects himself with cortisone) - that's better. The St Neot team is also pretty useful, with the return from St Austell of all-rounder Duncan Fraser, who brings an intensity you don't often see at this level. There's also a chap called Bunt and two called Kent, so I'll definitely be listening out when you're commentating Mark.
NICHOLAS: Oh, thanks. What a nice man. Here's Dermot Reeve with the pitch report.
DERMOT REEVE: Thanks Mark, well if we look down here, it's basically green, with slightly greener patches, so I'll be expecting a lot of seam movement early on and some quickish bounce for the pace bowlers. A lot of people say the pitches in this part of the world are basically slow and low, and I don't want to be too controversial, but trust me, it'll be up around the throat area today. And one final thing Mark - the cracks are definitely beginning to show.
NICHOLAS: Oh right, cheers.
(takes out compact and adjusts make-up) Lovely. Right, we're all excited and looking forward to the first ball of the day now, so let's have a commercial break. (five minutes of adverts for ambulance chasers and car insurance)
NICHOLAS: Ok, onto the highlights, we join it at 2 for no wicket,.and Rowe is bowling to Barron.

BENAUD: Rowe, from the pavilion end... and again, it's all Barron can do to keep that one out. Superb swing bowling. Rowe comes in again, and - oh, you beauty! That one's swung away late, seamed back in and cleaned him all ends up. There,
(we see the slo-mo) just the suggestion of shaping AWAY from the batsman, (it's a perfectly straight ball..) and a hint of deviation IN (..which evades Barron's wild swish)... that's beautifully bowled.

BENAUD: Fraser now, to Matthew Cook... SHOT. You won't see a cover drive timed better than that all day.
NICHOLAS: For any youngsters watching, you couldn't possibly do better than try and imitate this guy.
BENAUD: Well, I'm too not sure about that Mark... have you seen the state of his clothes?
NICHOLAS: Well I tell you what, if he'd seen that shot, my old schoolboy coach would have been on his knees in front of him.
(clears throat loudly)
NICHOLAS: Anyway..

BENAUD: Got him! The leg-stump yorker does for Cook and the Mystics are 25-2! Superb bowling by Fraser, who's clearly cock-a hoop. Haven't seen gesticulating like that since my Uncle Eric got his trousers caught in the barbecue.
ATHERTON: Well that's done him off his pads actually, it's a half-volley really. Bad ball. You expect those to be put away.
BENAUD: Here's Dermot Reeve.

ATHERTON: Bunt once more.. slower ball, he cuts it AND THAT'S OUT, superb catch by Kent at point and the dangerous Borley is gone.
REEVE: Yes, tremendous weapon in the one day games, the slower ball. Not sure if that was the palm ball or the split-finger, or the off-break
ATHERTON: You're a bit of an expert of course...
REEVE: Well, I mastered them all myself eventually.
ATHERTON: Really..
REEVE: Yes, because when you're near the end of your career you have to try some unusual things.
ATHERTON: I see. You might want to try commentating in Chinese then mate.

ATHERTON: Chris Squire the new batsman, let's take a look at where he's scored his runs in his career - well, as you can see from the graphic, just the four behind square on the offside, nothing in front, nothing straight, and 72 through midwicket. What kind of field would you set Dermot?
REEVE: I think St Neot have got it absolutely right here. I don't want to be controversial but leaving the gap at mid-wicket may well induce the false shot...
ATHERTON: And he's smashed that one for four through mid-wicket.
REEVE: Great reaction from the crowd. He's a bit of a favourite with the ladies this one. There's a blonde over there seems almost hysterical.
ATHERTON: Not related by any chance are you Dermot? Oh and that's bowled him!
REEVE: I think he's closed the face there Athers.
ATHERTON: I think he's closed his eyes mate.
REEVE: Probably a slower ball.
(grits teeth) Hmm.. Jim Myton the new batsman.
REEVE: This is interesting, he's favouring the Mike Brearley approach to headgear, with the two protective flaps coming down over the temples. A little bit unfashionable these days, but that's innovative thinking in my book.
ATHERTON: Those are his sideburns Dermot.
REEVE: Well that's one interpretation Athers. Ooh, big shout for lbw... and he's given him!!
ATHERTON: Now there's complete disbelief here from several fielders and indeed from the batting team. It's as though they thought there were supposed to be no lbw's in this game...let's have a look at Hawkeye... well, pitching middle, straightening, but quite clearly going on to pass safely between the middle and leg stump. Even Hawkeye wouldn't give one today. But 53-5 it is.
REEVE: And now we have a couple of women bowling, always great to see the minorities given a chance to get onto the hallowed turf at lunchtime.
REEVE: Yes Athers?
ATHERTON: That's Jane Tamblyn and Ali McKenzie, and they play for St Neot.
REEVE: Yeeaaah right.... nice try Athers.
ATHERTON: Wonder what the new batsman Healey will make of this... he doesn't look too happy about it.
REEVE: He rarely does. Not related by any chance are you Athers?

(voicing over an absurd soft-focus and varispeed compilation of boundaries which tell you nothing about the flow of the game): The Chrisses Cook and Harley now made a bit of hay.. but not without alarm:

BENAUD: Dropped him!

REEVE: And another one goes down!

BENAUD: Fifty for Chris Cook.

ATHERTON: Dropped him again!

BENAUD: Well would you believe it, Cook is dropped for the fourth time.

(voiceover) When the diminutive figure of Healey finally departed, they'd put on a Mystics record 112 for the sixth wicket. But the upright Cock was still pounding away..

BENAUD: Oh, great shot. You won't see a cover drive timed better than that all day.
ATHERTON: Takes the score to 196, and Cook to 96. And skipper Sharland is calling them off, which is exactly the right decision in my book.
BENAUD: Sorry, Michael..??
ATHERTON: Oh, ask Graham Hick...

NICHOLAS: So tea was taken, and the St Neot fielders were allowed some respite. It was hot, it was humid, but by golly they'd stuck to their task with gusto. The sort of day you'd be glad to see Matron waiting for you with a cold flannel. Hi Mum, by the way. I'm joined by Barry Richards.
NICHOLAS: Great to see the kids having a bit of a go on the outfield isn't it? A riot of energy in their multi-coloured garb.
RICHARDS: I only like to see whites on the field of play myself.
NICHOLAS: Right... Back in a minute.

(There follows an ad break in which Jools Holland tries to convince us that R'n'B somehow sounds better if more people play it, when surely "less" would be the truth.)

NICHOLAS: Welcome back to the highlights of St Neot vs Mystics and Magicians - let's check out the home team's reply.

BENAUD: Matthew Cook to Kent - and that's another huge beamer, expertly smacked away for four.
REEVE: Well you have to expect this with young leg-spinners Richie. It's a very complex art, not easy to control where the ball goes when you give it a real rip. It's a three-finger grip and you have to get your wrist so far round that sometimes...
BENAUD: Dermot.
REEVE: Yes Richie?
BENAUD: Do you know who I am?
REEVE: Em.. not really, no.
(There is a very long pause)
BENAUD: Myton now from the hedge end, in the air.. and that's caught by Cook and the first wicket falls.
REEVE: You're not my dad are you?
(There is some off-mic spluttering)
BENAUD: Eldridge to face now, oh he's spooned it up in that air, this must be out, Hadley's underneath it and... well -
(chuckling) in the end he caught it I suppose...
REEVE: Oh yes, very comfortable for Hadley, who's a very safe pair of hands. Look here's the replay, oh a bit naughty, he had so much time there he's even given it the old jelly legs routine before he took the catch. Nice to see a bit of humour in such an important game.
BENAUD: Dermot?
BENAUD: Go to your room son.

ATHERTON: And that's in the air, Myton takes the catch, and the prolific Kent goes for a fine 32.
REEVE: Yes, dangerous to play the offdrive against spin on a slow turning wicket like this one - always likely to spoon one up to mid-off.
ATHERTON: Let's see if the new batsman Bunt can learn from that... oh he's done exactly the same thing! You have to wonder about the batsman's mental preparation here, whether they've talked through conditions and tactics with their coach.
REEVE: I think that's true for both teams Athers - I watched the Mystics preparing before the game in the London Inn, and there was an awful lot of banter, but none of them were talking to their coach either.
ATHERS: Right.
REEVE: They just left it in the car park. Shocking.

NICHOLAS: And now at last it's the introduction of Barron into the attack. His first ball to Fraser.. and that's smashed to deep square leg.. who doesn't move as it goes past for four. Ah. I know what's happened here. He's lost it in the sun.
BENAUD: Or possibly he's having a little lie down on the bench there, as his brother takes the field instead. Clever ruse, the old body double twelfth man. I remember in 1956 at Melbourne, Archie Duggan overdid it a bit at lunchtime and sent his twin brother out to bowl for him. Six overs later the oppo'd put on 110.
(laughing) Brilliant story Richie. What did you do?
BENAUD: We broke both of Archie's legs.
(gulps). Bit hard on Barron actually, he was clearly asking his skip for a deep square leg and a second slip, and that's how his fielder repays him.
BENAUD: In fact you can hear on the stump microphone, if we just run that again... yes, shouts from Chris Cook at second slip of "Bowl to your field Kev!"
NICHOLAS: Barron again...and that's dropped! By Cook. At second slip. Well, that's a shame. Do you think Cook's a bit deep, Richie?
BENAUD: Not particularly, now that I've read his catalogues.
NICHOLAS: Barron again... and that's caught, Jim Myton's third catch, and St Neot are in all sorts now. Here's Simon Hughes.
(We cut to a bald midget alone, alone, alone in an darkened shed)
HUGHES: Take a look at this. On the left, you can see the first ball Barron bowled, in the middle the second, and on the right is the third. If we just run these in sync, look at the wrist position and how cleverly he varies the action. On the left the arm is low and the seam a bit scrambled, in the middle ball the arm much higher and the seam is all over the place, and on the third delivery the seam is nowhere to be seen at all. I'm not quite sure how he does that. But that endless variation is what makes him such a great bowler. Can I come out now?

BENAUD: No. Hadley now from the pavilion end, and that's hit firmly into the offside and - oh, brilliant stop! Borley at extra cover there flinging himself to his left to save a certain four. Ah... I think he might have hurt himself.
ATHERTON: Well he does suffer from so called "brittle shoulder syndrome" - he did once fracture his collar bone hailing a cab. No question he's done for here.
BENAUD: Yes, they're taking him off the pitch. Might be just a product of age that. Such a shame when people don't know when to call it a day.
ATHERTON: I'm not going there Richie.
BENAUD: I remember in 1958, watching Neil McKenzie - wooonderful player but long past his best by then - and in his second over...
(pause) yes...?
BENAUD: No - it's gone. I'm going for a nap.
ATHERTON: Hadley again - incidentally, we must be having a little technical difficulty at the moment with the speed gun, just ignore the reading on your screen
(the caption says: "SPEED 36.4 mph"). And Fraser smashes that one for four over deep square leg. Well you have to admire his focus and aggression here - he's pounding his chest and screaming, but surely the game's gone now. Last ball of the over.. and he just takes the single, clearly protecting Jane Tamblyn from the strike. Impressive self-confidence from the senior pro. So it's Thomson from the road end... and he's bowled him! And Fraser goes for 49 and he can't believe it! He's smashing his bat on his pads and swearing as he departs. But depart he must, one run short of a half-century. And talking of one run short of a half-century, here's Dermot.
REEVE: Another victim for the slower ball Athers.
(there is the sound of an irritating blond-haired man being methodically pummelled by a grim-faced Lancastrian)

(Naturally, as the end of the drama is nigh, and you want to see the final action, we now cut to a fuzzy wide-angle still of the ground and the voice of Mark Nicholas)

NICHOLAS: The last all-female pairing of Tamblyn and McKenzie - what a great thing for cricket that is - put up a brave show, but at the end of the day the ask was too big. They're probably quite good at netball or something, I'm not sure - we never had girls at our school. So. Three wickets for Barron then, and four catches to Jim Myton too, as St Neot came up 50 runs short. Next cricket on four is... ooh, 2009 probably, so until then - goodbye.

(Cut to a Sunset+Vine logo and a burst of "Mambo No.5". In the distance, you can just hear a desperate bald midget pounding on the doors of a locked shed.)

Chris Healey

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