Next to the unconscious form of the bar manager, a pith helmet lay upturned. A small fire had broken out in the corner of the room. A solitary tooth was embedded in the table, glinting in the pale moonlight. Grantchester’s annual cricket tour had come to Stiffkey.
12 hours prior, Captain Steve Wilson was inspecting the pitch. Unpredictable, potentially dangerous and worn in places, the skipper won the toss and opted to bat.
Decorum dictates that the match reporter shouldn’t dwell on personal achievements, so the next paragraph has been redacted for the sake of impartiality:
Menzies, playing with
none of the fluency of a latter-day Gower, timed the ball with such breath-taking lack of precision, that it brought a tear to all right minded cricketing folk the eye. His far from wonderful 87 saw him carried aloft by his team-mates as a means of transporting him from the field as quickly as possible and left to deluded dreaming of being offered a central contract by the ECB.
So, hopefully that should put an end to any talk of immodesty or bias. Suffice it to say that the Grantchester batsmen tore into their East Anglian cousins, like a Norfolk local at a family BBQ.
Dave Fox smashed his way to his highest ever score with a flurry of boundaries including 2 sweetly hit sixes, after which Messrs Wilson F, Wilson S and Ludford pushed the score up to a respectable 221. This, on a pitch, which offered more unpredictable bounce than a kangaroo with an inner ear problem.
After an excellent tea, Stiffkey set about chasing down the total. In the face of an impressively vocal visiting support, Stiffkey made a decent start, losing their first wicket to Foster for 55. Foster, unperturbed by the small boundaries spun an intricate web around their top order, inducing their best batsman to smash the ball to midwicket with a well-disguised long hop, where Jones took a fine catch.
With the dangerous Jackson dismissed, the wickets fell at regular intervals. The fielding was sharp and precise, Captain Wilson setting an example to his team as he leapt like a Stiffkey Bass, propelling himself horizantally through the air. The fact that the ball had long since passed him was entirely irrelevant, and he fell to earth with a noise not heard since Icarus’ effort several aeons before. Applause rang out around the field.
Fox picked up 3 more wickets to add to his half-century. Ludford picked up 2, and with the aid of a couple of run outs, Stiffkey were dismissed in the 35th and final over for 160, 62 runs short of the winning total.
Backs were slapped, rounds bought, tents pitched, and accusatory fingers pointed as Grantchester CC reflected on a match well won. As Jerry spirited he and I back down the A1056, with Radio 1 Extra booming out of his Sub Woofer XL3500, he turned down the music, looked me in the eye and summed up another excellent tour: ‘That was, like, well safe.’ Yes it was Jerry, yes it was.
As far as ducks go, Matt Jones sparkled during his; despite not facing a ball, it was up there with the very best.