Genius is not only characterised by success but by strong levels of variation. The good achieve reliably but genius can so easily falter between brilliance and disaster. And so it was for the GCC team on this sun drenched Sunday. The bowling attack of GCC was ferocious, inspired and (mostly) accurate. Jake and Adam were superb in their opening spells. Jake in particular had the line and ball speed to menace the batsman. The fielding was sharp and quick. A feeling confidence of blew through the field like a cool breeze refreshing the fielders swamped in humid heat. Wickets fell slowly but surely. Catches went to hand, the first two surely taken by Tim and a St Giles sub (thank you Tejas).
AP came on and his spin proved so dangerous; an example of genius, every ball different to the last, variation in line, length, pace and spin. The wicket keeping was not only reliable but also quick thinking leading to a great stumping off an AP spinner. The run rate was low, only some 3 per over. Matt came on and his bowling produced some amazing wickets. Twice the bails were persuaded to fall by the ball gently caressing the off stump. TK’s bowling was like clockwork. One suspects Tony could put the ball in the same place 1000 times in a row and if you put all his bowling performances together that’s probably what he has done. Neil Woods bowled with his usual guile and tied down the batsmen.
But there was price to be paid for the GCC successes in the field. The cricket gods sometimes demand sacrifices and so it was today. After another threatening spell, where he caught and bowled a key batsman, Jake tore a Hamstring. He had to limp, stagger and collapse off the field as if shot in the leg by a sniper. Jerry desperate to make a catch dived hard to his left and the ball, after a ground ricochet, struck his noise, leaving Jerry part of the GCC frequent flyers. Finally our captain strained a leg muscle that left him unable the field with his usual panther like sprints. One hoped that these sacrifices the cricket gods would yield victory but with so many injuries would this effect our batting?
St Giles started to hit out at the end, and put on a good last blast to take the score to 113 in 35 overs; a run rate of just 3.2 per over the modest equation for our brave but wounded boys. Surely a GCC victory was in sight?
Sometimes things don’t work out. In variation lies genius. Two balls and the GCC lay in trouble; two golden ducks did not bode well. Tim, out, bowled. AP, out, bowled. But now TK came on and his batting together with Adam brought the match back to our control. Adam batted superbly with great eye, touch and patience.
TK was a man who would not give away a wicket. His defence was impermeable much like a roman phalanx employing the testudo formation. His bat went up and a slow march down the wicket ensued. The drinks interval came and battle recommenced, but it now entered into the Pararrhexis, the final stage of battle, where the shields are abandoned and the sword slashing begins. Immediately the ball went to hand only for the gods to grant reprieve as a simple catch was dropped. The good will of deities should not be counted upon or tested. So when TK put the next ball up into the air it was caught.
The game now was still looking good at around 60 for 3 at the 20 over mark. The middle order however did not share the taste for resistance that TK had demonstrated. The wickets fell and when Adam went one feared the worst. And so out came Bagdad, soon to be partnered by a determined Sam after Matt’s wicket fell, to face the attrition bowling of the Quisling Crowther. How would this Ephialtes fare against Bagdad’s Leonides? No, it was not this aggressive attacking treacherous bowling that undid the rear guard but that of a youngster whose spin and control of the ball proved so unnerving. Needing to attack, Baggers overreached down the wicket, expecting the bat to do the work his feet should have, and was bowled.
But Baggers knew he could attack because he saw Steve padded up, a man whose stroke play, refined in the dales of Derby, would be surely placed to move the team ahead. Unfortunately he neglected to see the bottles of champagne and rosé at the scorer’s table were now empty. Steve’s first ball was a glorious cover drive followed by a call to run and then a fall. Perhaps now would not be the day and after a brief cameo by Jerry with the bat the match came to an end, the game lost.
Date of fixture: Sunday 3rd July 2011; Venue: Cambridge University Press CG
SGCC XI 113-9; GCC 96 all out. SGCC XI won by 17 runs