And so to Hammerwood……a chance to arrest the slump the Might Greys had fallen into during the long mid summer. An end to the endless debate as to its cause: was it the dry, flat pitches? Midges in the outfield confusing the catchers? Holiday fever? The arrival of The Man with the Scoop in his Bat?
The portents were ill – a skittish horse carrying her ladyship through the village as the lads first shuffled onto the pitch, had it spotted the scoop? But first sight of the pavillion melted such thoughts; proper vernacular village cricket facility – nails to hang your clothes, a faint whiff of something long dead beneath the flaking floor.. The Greys started to feel strangely at home. Perhaps this would be their day.
The home team’s lively start was soon halted by Southon’s first spell which brought to mind a slo-mo Mike Hendrick in his pomp. They simply had no answer. The middle order tumbled, unable to respond to the fine ‘pressure cricket’ served up by The Greys. Spells by Hoare and Newland led to kamikazi batting. The midges were away as catch after bloody wonderful catch was cupped. Oh my god. Their openers’ temerity to take on a Newland half volly on leg plucked by Scoopman from the bucolic air round about long on.
And then Sewell, smarting after sideways looks and double teapots following his stately performance in the gully, bowled a couple of straight ones to set up a hat trick delivery.
“When was the last Greys hat trick?” the crowd was heard to mumble. An answer came there not. And neither did the hat trick. The final wicket falling, like the last sandcastle to a fervent tide, to Azami.
76 was needed.
The scoop reflected a mood of quiet optimism across the boundary skipping rope.
It was a short scuffle. Four after four after four after four. And then a six, clipped by Brasher just beyond the boundary skipping rope. Here we go, here we go – oh yes m’lady, oh bloody yes! The flow of runs barely distracted by the single fall of wicket. A six from Covill; a skippers knock leading the Mighty Greys ship into the dock built for winners.