Should I Stay or Should I Go?
In many ways a classic Greys team performance with everyone making an important contribution, only with a bolt-on loony bit that I don’t want to think about, so I might do it as a prologue or skim over it at the end.
Findon Cricket Club, nestling under the downs; deer cavorting in the lynchets – was a perfect setting for cricket. There was pleasant sunshine but lots of over-night moisture in the pitch.
Findon’s Sunday 2nd XII had a capable feel about them but Captain Ben and the Zonk kept the scoring low with accuracy and variation. Zonk even removed one opener in the third over, but there was a sense that the batsmen were playing within themselves. This feeling was reinforced by an effortless straight six from the No. 3 and overseas pro, off Ben’s last over.
On came Terry, with the glasses and snowy mane. A loosener down the leg, a rank drag-down to the off-side and then third ball straight, short and pulled by the overseas pro – but more of a top edge and caught well by the Zonk who exclaimed it was spinning like a Jevington Skipper. A very crucial wicket!
Meanwhile Zonk took two wickets in two overs, featuring a lovely Zack catch on the boundary, low in front of his feet. After that the Findon innings never really regained momentum. Terry had no more luck and it fell to Rob, or Bob, to remove the No.4, who was on 42, and then his replacement.
The score was 133-4 with ten overs left and the cherry was tossed to ‘Deadly’ Dunkley Edwards. Our erstwhile erratic leg-spinner, a batsman on 57 and a very short down-hill boundary; what could go wrong? As it turned out, nothing! Some lovely flight and dip on his third ball caused a bottom edge into Jerry’s gloves as the keeper stood up to the stumps. It was audible from Third Man but the top-scoring batsman spun around and walked away. Proper cricket! Dunk had no qualms about cleaning up the tail with two clean bowled and a coquettish little catch at midwicket from Rick.
FindonCC had posted 170 all out from 39.5 overs. They had been looking set for 200. We had bowled and fielded very well as a team. In our time–honoured way we stifled and frustrated a technically talented batting side and gently pressured them into mistakes. One might have thought that 170 would not good enough considering the short boundary.
Tea was notable for lovely tea, fresh fruit and the hilarious vegetarian option – minced egg bites coated in golden crumb. Oh and err, … yeah, sausage meat!
The TMG innings started badly; Rick called Biff for an extremely risky single and Biff was smartly run-out. Maybe it was embarrassment on his part, but Rick could clearly be seen flirting and laughing coquettishly with the fielding side. Biff could be clearly heard calling him a ****. Rick didn’t last much longer bowled by a good one. He seemed slightly reluctant to take off his batting gear and wandered around coquettishly for ages before braving the changing rooms.
Meanwhile Rob or Bob, had started carefully playing himself in, single-minded in the pursuit of his regular large score and running out his regular team-mate along the way. In partnerships with Dolly ‘Nine to Five’ Gallagher(16) and Jerry Bairshtow (24), Rob or Bob, played magnificently, gluing the innings together and keeping the Greys always ahead of the rate. By the time he was out for 52 the game was almost in the bag. The scorebook becomes confusing at this point suggesting that only ten more runs were required. I remember it to be more like twenty. What is certain though is that with Zonk on 16 and Captain Marvel playing a straight bat we were still favourites – however things had become extremely tense. ‘Another f**king nail–biter’ said someone. Zonk then holed out with four overs to go, ‘f**king pillow-biter’ said someone, and veteran Terry walked out into the drama.
The target was within single figures but the bowling was intense. Young M.Glover was bowling with pace and movement and Terry could not lay a bat on it. At the Downs end was the frugal and wily Mr Manning. A maiden! Another maiden! Ben pinched singles, four in all, but was brilliantly run out by the keeper who had retrieved the ball himself. The score was 165 for 9; Nine balls left; six needed for victory. Five for the tie.
I’m shaking now trying to piece this together. Adrenalin is making typing almost impossible. The scorebook is now unhelpful. M. Glover’s overs have been given to his Dad, there is no fall of wickets, their book has got three runs off the last over, we have four! I’m pretty sure I faced all of the last over but there aren’t enough balls recorded! You tell me what happened! I have only fragments; shards of memory, bathed in sunlight but shattered and strewn in time. It started well, it felt good to get bat on ball. A forward push, but there is no run. Yes! A fissure in the light. The ball is inexplicably past the fielder. Run. I’m at the other end. The exertion has flooded my joints with excess fuel. They become loose and powerless. The sky falls away and washes colour from everything, depth is compressed and sound is received muted from somewhere remote. I’m back at the striking end; how did I get there? I’m out of my ground. Terry’s not coming; I’m going to be run out if the fielder hits. What a twat I am! He doesn’t and the ball is skittering down the hill into the white distance. I turn and run. Is it going for four? No? Stokes? World Cup? One overthrow, not four. It’s the end of the over. I’m facing – I think that’s good. So, three needed off the last over. Deep breaths. Slow it down. Make like a batsman. I muddle about in the dust; why do they make such a ridiculous mess of the crease? I look to Terry for a connection. He is red-faced, slitted eyes avoiding contact, chewing. He is feeling it. The bowler wants to get on with it. I pretend to look at the field positions. I have no idea where they are. Here comes the young quick. Ok. Nets. Step into it; get something on it. Jesus! That was fast. Did it leave me six inches as well? Next one, then. Fuck-thud in the pad. I’m not seeing this. Like a flickering, hand-held home movie. Tall borders; lupins and fuchsia, an infant totters amid the hum of insects. A wasp squirms in death throes; the tumbler of sweet cordial undrunk. The rocking chair is empty. I waft hopelessly at a rocket down leg-side. Off my thigh. Runs come – two. Yes. Yes! We have not lost! Now to finish the job. Go through motions again. Peruse the field. Why is Terry so wide of the crease he is half way to the pavilion. I want to speak. I don’t speak. Have I thought everything through? Fuck, here he comes – big stride forward to glory!! Another useless thin-air swat. Aarrgh! The games up! The big keeper has it firmly in his hands. A tie. Oh well.
It’s a difficult thing to analyse your own failure and failings. Why did I not think to run? It’s a situation I have been familiar with since perhaps the age of eight! I don’t know. Why do I keep having embarrassing fielding malfunctions after being pretty reliable for 20 years. Why indeed do I bowl four over-pitched balls an over? I don’t know. It’s not through lack of effort, or practice or desire. Partly age, probably, and partly sub-standard optical gear, possibly. Maybe I have run out of gas. At least I can still get it up! And I never would have made the run anyway. DFWTMG!
Updated stats to follow…