“Cry Havoc! And let slip the dogs of war…” Except that the hound that made the pitch invasion as Grantchester Cricket Club took on an XI from Ickleton for our first full game of 2013 wasn’t so much a dog of war, as that tail-wagging pacific pooch Boris Wilson.
But, as wagging tails would turn out to be something of a motif that afternoon it seems apt to employ Mark Antony’s words on this occasion (and we know what happened to him, don’t we?)
Conditions were perfect as the visitors arrived at the meadows, which as ever provided the most glorious of settings. At Lords, England were putting the fragile New Zealand batting line-up to the sword, making use of slightly cloudy conditions, but despite similar conditions prevailing at Grantchester, S Wilson (captain and head groundsman) opted to have first use of the pitch.
‘AP’ Stafford and John Anderson got us off to the customary brisk start, thanks – in part at least – to a tentative opening over of spin from Ickleton’s David Matthias who, 24 hours previously, had been saying “I do” in front of a crowd of family and friends. A cricket-loving bride bodes well for a long and happy marriage, one can’t help reflecting.
But all too soon those overhead conditions started to tell and Ickleton’s medium pacers started to take advantage of some prodigious movement through the air, scything through our top and middle order to reduce Grantchester to 86 for 7 with 12 overs remaining and only the tail left to bat.
Things were looking bleak.
Happily, the aforementioned tail wagged against some very part-time slow bowling, putting on 52 for the last three wickets and restoring some respectability to the Grantchester scorecard. It was game on.
And as ever, cometh the hour, cometh the Kennedy. In seven straight overs from the Archer End, TK, fired up by the Affair of the Missing Sandwiches the previous week, ran through Ickleton’s top order taking 5 for 14, with able support from AP whose once-in-a-lifetime slower ball reduced Ickleton’s number 3 (who will henceforth be referred to only as The Victim) to a despairing shout of “Oh Shit!”
Memo to AP: for credibility’s sake, it’s probably best not to apologise to The Victim while telling him: “It’s the only time I’ve got that right”. That, I think you will find, is little or no consolation to The Victim.
At this point Grantchester’s heroics with the ball prompted Boris Wilson, fortified perhaps by a splendid tea, to wander into a deep midwicket position. But he was soon returned to the pavilion – and, with the Visitors at 46 for 7, Grantchester was coasting home. What could possibly go wrong?
Well plenty, as a matter of fact. And all of it did. Two of the things that this writer learned at his father’s knee were: “Catches win matches” and “Line and length counts for everything”. Let’s leave it at that: catches went down and line and length went awry. And thanks to some lusty late-order batting from Pelly and Tomlinson, Ickleton got home with one wicket and seven overs to spare.
A tight game which could have gone either way. In the end, though, the winner was cricket. And we must keep telling ourselves that.