A Tale of Two Innings

Sept 2nd  2012, Archway Graces

by Robin Smith

Graces a mere 390 for 4 off 40, Fishers: 129 for 4 of 41 – scorecard here

Cricket unlike football is often not a game of two halves. The game between Archway Graces and SJFCC most definitely had a first innings and a second innings; there was no equality of halves in this game.

This fixture was a home game for local boy Lord Robert Vale who had kindly allowed us to play on the ground in his estate. The pitch looked good for batting, made even better by a short tree-lined boundary on one side. Fielding on this ground was going to be a tough ask today but it had been made even tougher because Tim Minchin did not show up to play. He later is reported to have said that he could not have played as the helmet would have messed his hair up and he had a gig to do that night. This was a shame a Tom “Formerly known as hoof rot” Hargreaves had said he was available to play but he did not get a game.

Archway Graces batted first and Fishers opened the bowling with Walmsley and Bungle. There was some excellent balls and some less excellent ones. Bungle was complaining of the uncontrollable swing which at the time we assumed that he meant his belly but apparently he was talking about the ball. The start by Fishers was promising with three catches ( Bambi, Keith “Mac” Cormack and A.N. Other) being held in a row which is a club record. Archway Graces were 53 for 3 – game on.

What happened after the bowling change when Walmsley, Bungle and Bambi had bowled is easy to describe. “Six, Four, Four, Four, Six … Four, Four” With Dave “Streaky” Boxer “Shorts” feeling under the weather and being unable to bowl at any speed faster than slow long hop and Dave “Son of Bambi” Summers taking over; the bowling records tumbled. Son of Bambi went for a club record of 8 overs for 101 runs but this was matched by Streaky Boxer Shorts with 4 overs for 59 runs. During this point of the game “Mac” showed off his ability of finding his balls buried deep in the bush – he had even brought his wife and in-laws to the game to admire this skill.

No matter what bowling changes were made the scoring rate continued on unabated. Amidst this mayhem Bungle seems to have forgotten that he had four overs left to bowl and let everyone else bowl. In a sense he was lucky as his bowling average at the end of the season will be improved by this forgetfulness.

Finally Bungle turned to Lord Vale and his accurate spell slowed down the onslaught. In the end Archway Graces had broken many club records and they ended up with a score just short of 400.

Lunch was taken and after much discussion and the discovery that Streaky Boxer Shorts was too much under the weather to continue it was decided that we should play for a losing draw. This was the moment “Mac” had been waiting his whole career for. He had been told he could bat as slowly as he wanted to. He carefully wrapped all his joints in tight constraining supports to make sure no sudden movement could be made that would have accidentally pushed the ball off the square – you have to admire his dedication.

Fishers started batting at a slow pace and “Macs” wife and in-laws quickly left to go and see the nearby paint-drying show that they had hastily bought some tickets for. Partners came and went but “Mac” continued on to the end where Lord Vale had to see off the last ball of the 40th over to ensure Fishers got the losing draw. “Mac” had carried his bat to the end, in fact he had carried his bat so high during the game that he had been in little danger of scoring.

Archway Graces complained that there was no losing draw in this form of cricket but a quickly hand-written amendment to the rule book proved them wrong.

For me the man of the match was Lord Vale who showed that slow bowling can be accurate*.

*Whenever has 4 overs for 59 with no wickets been MoM, especially when warmsleeeeeeeeey took all 4 wickets!!