“I don’t believe it!”

In a jovial reminder to members of the forthcoming  Sawston match I had lightheartedly referred to the unfinished match of 170 years ago in August 1843. The game finished abruptly when according to the press report: “After two of the Grantchester men had been in for some time for their last innings, the Sawston, not liking the appearance of the game, struck their colours and retreated in a manner not very pleasing to many old cricketers present, refusing to play out the game then, or at any time.”

I had not intended this as a cheap gimmick to swell the crowd with the suggestion of a grudge match and old scores to settle. However this was precisely what happened. In fact Ben, our Chairman, arrived with a pair of boxing gloves in the boot.

Sawston all arrived in plenty of time and looked splendid in their matching shirts and whites. They were young, fresh faced, enthusiastic and raring to go, as were the crowd. The one problem we faced was that at 2pm we only had 6 players. By ten past we had eleven, 5 of whom, though young, did not look fresh faced and enthusiastic. A late night perhaps? This in truth was not very pleasing to many old cricketers present, several of whom had spent the morning preparing the ground. A chorus of Victor Meldrews chanted, “I don’t believe it!”

By twenty past we were ready to take the field having lost the toss. One of the Victor Meldrews opened the bowling but was still in such a state of rage at the delayed start that he had lost not just his temper but his line and length. 14 off his first over. Were we about to be put to the sword and were the Furies of cricket about to punish us for some ancient hubris?

In fact Cracknell of the 14 runs was out in the second over and set the pattern for the rest of the Sawston innings. Their batsmen though all clearly well coached were impetuous rather than patient. This was exemplified by Griggs who hit a quick 37, including 7 boundaries, before being smartly stumped by Myers. Long held the innings together but Sawston were all out in 31 overs for 162. Finlay Wilson took 4 – 36 and William Wray 3 – 13.

Grantchester after an indifferent start won by 7 wickets. Mark Goulder 66 not out and Wray 53 knocked off the runs in 27 overs. These two Grantchester men had been in for some time but on this occasion they both received a round of applause for their respective fifties.

David Foster

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