The year is 2048. Climate change has ravaged the planet. Rising sea levels have submerged most of coastal Europe. Only a few areas of the Earths surface remain fit for human habitation. Over the previous three decades temperatures soared in mainland Europe pushing millions of people north into Britain and Scandinavia. Resources became scarce and war broke out. Millions died as the traditional establishment power blocks and the armies that protected them were destroyed by a group known as ‘The Shadow Faction’. What remains of the amateur Sussex cricket scene has been re-located to the outskirts of Reykjavik, Iceland – the only country left in Europe with a temperate enough climate for slow-paced, team-based summer leisure pursuits. (Lets say Iceland hasn’t been submerged by any rise in sea level due to a massive increase in volcanic activity that has actually added a huge amount of landmass – just in case anyone is gonna be all pedantic or anything).
We join the future Greys as they sit around the ceremonial post-game fire having defeated WG Gracefully in a 7-a-side t10 game. A no-longer-particularly-youthful attack of Morten Flynn, Rudy “lil Chief” McHugh and Albie Day had restricted WG to a meagre 70 runs, though the pick of the bowlers, as usual, was the 90-year-old Terry Burgess who was still turning out for the Greys wearing the same shirt he’d bought at the turn of the century. James Hoare was down to play but had pulled out of the side midweek due to injury. Again. Ellen Covill, Ben “New Ben” Maxwell and Greta Flynn had made light work of the run chase. A smattering of now-retired former Greysmen were there to watch the game, though, of course, many were also now dead.
“These cockroaches are really juicy!” said Morten as he removed a critter-laden skewer from the fire and passed it round his team-mates. “You don’t mind paying the oppo 9000 Krone for tea when they’ve put a bit of effort in!”
“I remember when we moaned if we were charged 50 quid! And back then there were other things to eat aside from cockroaches and charcoal” said Terry
“Uncle Terry…..” said New Ben
“Young man” said Terry
“Uncle Terry……is this the first time the Greys have ever managed to get the WG captain out for less than 50??”
“First time I can remember” said Terry, “We must have played against him 50-odd times now and I reckon he’s scored more than 5000 runs against us. I remember, in 2018, he twatted an unbeaten 174. Of course, he was just in his 20s back then”
“What was it like in those days, Uncle Tel?” said New Ben, “before the world went wrong and everything started burning”
“Funnily enough” replied Tel, “It was that game in 2018 when we first started to think the planet might be a bit messed up. The signs were all there. Global temperatures were through the roof. It was 45 degrees on the west coast of France, it was over 30 degrees in Sweden. Records were falling everywhere – it was 33 degrees in Aberdeen for fuck sake! So much of California was on fire that you could see the smoke clouds from space. We played WG at the start of August, already 3 months into a drought, the likes of which none of us had ever seen before. It took us 3 and a half hours to bowl our 40 overs…..”
“40 OVERS!!!!??????” exclaimed all the Junior Greys in unison
“Yeah, well that was just the norm. At that point we still lived overground, you could still just about stay out in the sun all day without it liquifying your skin. You didn’t even have to wear these reflective bionic suits we’ve all got on. Obviously, it was already getting a bit hot for sport – it took us so long to get through our overs because we were all moving at about a tenth of our normal speed, and that wasn’t particularly quick in the first place. It was still a great game of cricket! Hang on….I’ll pull up the match report…”
Terry pulled out a USB 1.0 flash drive from his back pocket and inserted it into the USB port behind his ear. All the archived data from the Mighty Greys website appeared on the lenses of Terry’s Shadow-Tech reading glasses.
“Before I destroyed the…*coughs*….uh…I mean, before all the major server centres got destroyed during the war, I downloaded all the stats and match reports from the Greys website. Let me just take a look here….ahh yes!! WG Gracefully 2018….”
TMGS vs WG Gracefully 05/08/18
It was a really rather warm afternoon. After losing the toss The Greys were made to bowl first and most of them had a sweat on before they even started playing. Little did they know, they would be in the field for the next several days, as the opposition captain flayed the bowling to all corners, making our increasingly bedraggled Greysman chase the bowl into several different hedgerows, ditches, back gardens and compost heaps.
“You have to remember” said Terry, interrupting his own reading of the text, “this was before smart-ball technology. If you hit the ball for four it didn’t automatically stop 50 yards from the stumps and fly back to the bowlers mark, it just carried on going and usually got lost in woody thickets at the boundaries edge”
“Why didn’t all cricket clubs just put a chicken wire fence round the boundary or something?” queried Morten, sensibly
“I HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA!!!!” Terry replied, “Anyway, lets read the rest of the report….”
The Isfield track was hard and flat and really quite soul-destroying to bowl on. Ashton removed an opener early on, getting a touch of bounce with the new ball, but after that the going got tough and WG started to amass an imposing total. QB and Alan bowled well, but like Ashton were perhaps not at their most consistent, understandably in these tough conditions. Hat-Rick too bowled a mixed spell but was perhaps unlucky with a very close LBW shout.
The pick of the bowlers was probably Master Terry ‘The Shadow’ Burgess, who twice relieved the torment of the fielding side, firstly by removing one batsmen clean-bowled with a flirty, coquettish yorker that lured the batter in before leaving him red-faced and dejected as it danced past his advances; then he did for another as Jerry took a truly outstanding one-handed catch down the leg-side. Jerry seems to be making a habit of these wonder-catches and the race for the Norfolk Enchants trophy must really be hotting up now.
There were few highlights for our boys as they mainly watched the ball fly past them to the boundary, but seeing Zack injure his back by putting his body on the line for the Greys cause and THEN CARRY ON FIELDING LIKE AN ABSOLUTE TROOPER, stirred them on to keep the WG total down as low as possible. Roborbob responded by claiming the 4th and final wicket of the innings clean bowling his man, breaking a bail in the process and sending a piece of it flying a record-breaking 31 paces from the stumps!! WG finished on 265 for 4.
“Uncle Terry” said New Ben
“Young man” replied Terry
“Uncle Terry. This is great and everything but……and don’t get me wrong, i love these ‘history of the Greys’ chats we have…..but I meant ‘what was the world like back then?’ – not just the cricket, but…ya know….everything!”
There was a shortish silence as everyone waited for the silver-sage to respond. Sensing he’d maybe confused the old man, New Ben continued:
“I heard that the Earth was covered in forests and woodland, full of life! Thousands of species of plants and animals as far as the eye could see! Trees every shade of green and flowers all the colours of the rainbow, animals that lived free on the land and some that could even fly! It must have been incredible!!? I can’t remember it. I can’t even imagine”
Terry’s eyes began to look sorrowful, “Yeah it was kind of like that, I guess” he said wistfully.
“I mean, what happened to it all? How did we get here? You know, just us and the cockroaches and everything covered in ash??” asked New Ben
“LOOK, WE FUCKING FUCKED IT, ALRIGHT!!??” shouted Terry. “NO-ONE ELSE IS GOING TO FUCKING TELL YOU CUS THEY’RE ALL TOO ASHAMED BUT I’M SICK OF LYING TO YOU GUYS. THE TRUTH IS, WE, US, THE HUMANS OF LATE CAPITALISM!! WE FUCKED THE WORLD AND EVEN WHEN WE WERE TOLD WE WERE FUCKING IT WE JUST CARRIED ON FUCKING IT!”
The Junior Greys sat in stunned silence as Terry’s sweary, emotional and very loud confessional continued:
“YOU WANNA KNOW ABOUT ALL THOSE ANIMALS YOU’VE HEARD ABOUT???? WE ATE THEM! WE FUCKING ATE THEM. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES WITH SOCIAL LIVES AND EMOTIONS, WHO LIVED IN HARMONY AND BALANCE WITH THE NATURAL WORLD – WE FUCKING ATE THEM!!”
Everyone began to cry.
“WE CHOPPED DOWN ALL THE FORESTS SO WE HAD SPACE TO RAISE BILLIONS OF THEM, THEN WE KILLED AND ATE THEM. OVER AND OVER, A GLOBAL CONVEYOR BELT OF DEATH THAT DESTROYED THE NATURAL WORLD. Well, Duncan’s carbon footprint didn’t help either. That boy was on a long-haul flight every other week and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t carbon-offsetting…”
“But…but…it was for a good reason, right?” said New Ben, “You must have needed to do it? To feed everyone or something?”
“NO. WE JUST LIKED HOW THEY TASTED!….. Look, when you say it out loud, it just sounds insane. Utterly utterly insane. And it was. But it was just normalised in our culture somehow and no-one really questioned it. I guess it was kind of caught up with our pathetic notions of masculinity as well”
“What do you mean? Did you have to hunt and kill the animals you ate yourself?” enquired New Ben
“Uh…..no they were killed in these huge factories of torture and death. We just bought them wrapped in plastic at a supermarket” said Terry feeling a bit embarrassed. “Interesting side-note: the plastic is the reason there are no animals in the ocean anymore”.
Everyone began to cry again.
“Look, I think we’ve all got distracted from the important stuff here” said Terry regaining his composure and sensing he needed to lighten the mood somewhat, “lets get back to the old match report and see if the Greys managed to chase down that 265 shall we?”
“Ok” said the Junior Greys in unison.
The Greys batsmen set about the run-chase well. Hat-Rick looked untroubled before receiving the only ball of the game that kept low, getting trapped in front for 10. Biff too had batted nicely, playing one exquisite late cut to 3rd man for four before being bowled by a wicked yorker from the dangerous young WG opener. Alex continued the theme of Greys top-order batsmen looking set to make big runs before getting a good ‘un. He had played two fantastic drives, one through mid-on for four, before being bowled off his pads by a sharp in-jagger again from the young quick. The top order were perhaps unlucky to have all been on the receiving end of such good deliveries, but had bravely soaked up most of the overs from the danger bowler leaving others to benefit.
Dunc fell next having perhaps not given himself enough time at the crease before attempting the full clunk, and Jerry, who had nothing to prove after his outrageous catch, came back to the hutch shortly after. During the middle overs The Zonk and more especially Roborbob set about the rest of the WG bowlers – Roborbob smearing a number of sixes, including one that went several miles over mid-wicket, and reaching his 50 in no time. Eventually he went down swinging, defeated more by the sweltering temperatures than the opposition bowling, on 75. Ashton continued to take the fight to WG, bringing up his 50 with a cheeky PSM-winning reverse-sweep. Another tired shot saw him fall, clean-bowled on 74.
Late innings rallies from Skip (run out for 3), Ally G (10) and Terry (15) who scurried between the wickets with real purpose and hit some fantastic 4s – including a delicious late cut off a young quick – weren’t quite enough to get the Greys to their target, and as the injured Zack came in to face the last ball our heroes still needed about 16 runs.
As umpire, Duncan briefly put a plan into action to clinch victory for The Greys, signalling a wide to the final ball of the day that looked like a legitimate delivery to most. Would he do the same thing for the next 15 balls we all wondered??? Would Zack twat the next one so hard over the boundary that Duncan awards us 15 runs? After all, he did just take a massive swing at that last one despite strict instructions not to injure himself further. The answer, of course, was no. The Greys lose by 15, but what a great game. A great long game. A long sweaty game. Cricket is fucking great.
“Actually, that’s a weirdly prosaic match-report from the Zonk” said Terry, “but I guess a match as good as that didn’t need any gimmiky write-up”
“Who’s Zonk?” said New Ben, “Did he die during the war?”
“Oh no we killed him way before that” said Terry. “He was just unbearable, always banging on about climate change. Self-righteous prick”
“I dunno” said Morten, “reverse-sweeps, environmentally conscious…..he sounds really handsome and awesome to me!!”
“Ok shut-up” said Terry, “we’ve been out here for 2 hours nearly – everyone back in the bunker.”