For Whom the Bell Tolls

07While Istanbul blazed and Prague swam, on the pleasant shore of the Cambridge Riviera, two dormant cricketing super-powers briefly woke.

With Conington, home to one of the oldest bells in Cambridgeshire, it seemed strangely apposite that Tony Kennedy, Cambridgeshire’s second oldest peeler should open the bowling.

And open it he did. With Sam Ludford nobly assuaging the batsmen’s thirst for runs at one end, TK feasted on the Conington batting order like a member of the Cambridge constabulary in a Greggs.

With Baron Archer of Weston Super Mare circling the boundary rope like a writer around a tepid simile, Kennedy ended with the extraordinary figures of 6 wickets for 3 runs.

Elsewhere Guy D’Oyly pulled off a wonderful piece of fielding to run out Conington’s opening batsman. An act which was celebrated with no more gusto than by the home umpire, whose sombre finger was at odds with his beatific smile and whoops of delight.

Body parts were a theme of the home side’s fielding. Captain AP Stafford gallantly elected to catch a slap at midwicket with his sternum. Kennedy cushioned a well-struck drive with his instep before glowering at the batsman as if to say, ‘if this is what I can do with my feet, imagine what I could do with my hands’.

And so the wickets tumbled: Burkitt skillfully pulling off that wicket keeper’s collector’s item, a leg-side stumping off Foster. Este and Menzies collected their first wickets for the club, and Ludford (The Scourge of Thriplow) manfully stuck to the Dawn French school of bowling – short and wide.

Conington eventually succumbed for the unusual score of 110 for 13.

With tea taken, and the local crowd pinkening visibly under the effects of sun and Sancerre, the Grantchester openers strode to the crease, D’Oyly’s apostrophe blowing in the breeze.

Like the great West Indies pace attacks of the 1970’s, the Conington bowlers tore in with purpose and menace, peppering all 6 of the adjacent strips. Had we been playing on last week’s wicket, their line and length would have been devastating. As it was, the extras column bowed under the weight of wides.

The innings progressed serenely, 44 runs were put on for the first wicket, before Menzies fell to a catch out of keeping with the rest of the Conington effort. Farman emerged from the pavillion with a bat which looked like it had been carved from part of the Round Table and set about the bowling with Arthurian fury. Joined by Wray Jr. the hitting was ‘lusty, direct and showed little respect for boundaries’ – A quote taken directly from Will’s online dating profile. Two sixes, a pair of golden ducks and a reverse sweep later, Grantchester’s innings was over, victors by 4 wickets.

And with Conington vanquished, the crowd’s generous applause ringing in its ears, and the sun on its back, and the bells of Cambridge ringing out for Evensong; Grantchester, that great cricketing super power closed its eyes and drifted off again, vowing not to wake til March.

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