O, brave new world!

Calstock 1st XI (204-7) beat Menheniot-Looe 3rd XI (128 all out) by 76 runs

As a pretentious drama graduate and lapsed theatre luvvie, I still try to catch the occasional local show whenever time allows. This week it was the Miracle Theatre Company’s marvellous outdoor production of The Tempest, Shakespeare’s final play telling the story of an enchanted island populated by storms, spirits, savages and shipwrecked drunkards. It was a fitting prologue to our last home game against Calstock, given that we had kicked off the season in the grip of an almighty downpour up at their gaff.

The Miracle Theatre Company's production of The TempestThe visitors were chasing promotion; we were looking to bid farewell to Looe for another year – and possibly forever – on a positive note. The day had an unmistakable end-of-term feeling about it as Steve took over as captain, throwing his hat in the ring to lead whatever remains of the thirds next year. Often a change of skipper can have an immediate impact, but nobody could have predicted what happened after we lost the toss and took the field. 5-1 became 5-2 became 5-3. Then 11-4, then 11-5. Three of their top six made ducks, bamboozled by four overs of John’s line and length and Dan’s flight and guile. “We’re the MK Dons to their Manchester United,” Ian crowed as the fifth wicket fell. We were halfway to the most extraordinary performance in recent memory and nobody quite knew where to look.

‘O brave new world, which has such people in it!’

Teams at this level often mess around with their batting order, and it’s not unusual to find quality players hiding in the lower order ready to extinguish any early hope. Calstock put on 108 for the sixth wicket, a classic exhibition of counter-attacking which well and truly took the wind out of our sails. I managed to puncture their stern by removing the imposing figure of Porritt for 46, but his partner Newman went on to make a brilliant unbeaten century. He gave just one chance mid-way through his innings, edging me behind to Paul, who couldn’t hang on. I knew he wouldn’t lapse again.

‘And then, in dreaming, the clouds methought would open and show riches, ready to drop upon me, that when I waked, I cried to dream again.’

Free from the pressures of captaincy, Mike led our chase with a belligerent knock. He launched into floaty full tosses and filthy long hops with gusto, taking five fours from one particularly juicy over. Anyone would think he had a point to prove after five months of watching his troops fiddle and fidget their way around the crease. After 20 overs we were 96-1 and in with a real chance. After 31 overs we were 128 all out and shaking hands, bamboozled by the mystery spin of Calstock’s wily skipper. When I joined Mike in the middle he was running out of partners and the required rate was spiking. “I don’t know what’s going to happen here,” he laughed. “But I’m going to have to push on.” It could only go one of two ways. Death or glory. He swung hard and top-edged to the keeper. Blackout.

‘I’ll break my staff, bury it certain fathoms in the earth, and deeper than did ever plummet sound, I’ll drown my book.’

The Miracle Theatre Company's production of The TempestThere is one more act left in our story, a final trip to Tideford on Saturday before the clubhouses are locked up and the kit packed away for the winter. The future of our team will be decided not on the field, but in meetings, votes, debates and negotiations. The fact remains that we have conceded more games this year through lack of players than we have won. Still, it’s not over until the curtain comes down. One last shot at glory.

‘Let us not burden our remembrances with a heaviness that’s gone.’

Sam Blackledge

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