Playing cricket is like a marriage. Most of the time it is bloody hard work and you wonder why on earth you signed up in the first place. But every so often, completely out of nowhere, a good day comes along. You get a much-needed win and some points in the bag. Job done. For goodness’ sake, don’t question it.
Gunnislake were top of the table on 67 points, while we were languishing in the basement on 15. The omens were not promising, but for once fate was on our side.
The visitors’ opening bowler delivered 3.1 pacy overs before turning his ankle, and their reserve artillery was clearly nowhere near as powerful. Bill made a circumspect 32 before drinks, but someone must have slipped some Red Bull into his Ribena as he came out swinging like Floyd Mayweather and was soon bowled all over the shop.
Zac played an uncharacteristically sedate innings, presenting a beautifully straight bat and displaying unusual restraint in his running between the wickets. Steve had a theory: “It’s since he put on a bit of weight. He hasn’t been the same.”
With our run rate flat lining and plenty of wickets still in hand, the skipper stressed the need for a bit of humpty. This was a job for PJ, the man who taught Brendon McCullum everything he knows about wild leg-side yahoos. “You mean I’ve actually got the licence to go out and wang it?” he asked incredulously, before doing just that, biffing six fours in an unbeaten 27.
Unfortunately PJ couldn’t get on strike as the 40-over mark approached because Steve was at the other end, blocking like Paul Collingwood in his prime. We were just a few runs short of maximum batting points, but the skip could not be shifted. In the end we finished one run short, and the first fine of the day was issued.
After Zac and Helena had indulged in a spot of GCSE maths revision over quiche and cake – something about finding the decimal square root of 19x – we took the field in warm sunshine. The brains trust pored over a diagram of field placings before instructing everyone to “just spread yourselves out”. We struck a couple of early blows, but the game was slipping away thanks to Gunnislake’s big-hitting skipper, Boundy, who was several classes above his compatriots.
The evergreen Geoff Husband, who turns 80 this year, came in at number five and contributed eight runs to a stand of 73. I’m not quite sure where those eight runs came from, as I don’t remember the ball moving more than five yards from his bat at any point. As a fielder it was quite relaxing, and we chuckled to ourselves as he gobbled up the maidens, but it proved to be his team’s undoing.
Boundy reached his century and looked as if he might achieve the impossible by actually overtaking his own team’s total. We had all but given up when he was fourth out with the score on 129, and he could only watch as his mates collapsed like a pack of cards, PJ revelling in his new-found all-rounder status.
Some resistance from the final pair made for a nail-biting finale, and when Helena rattled the timbers to give us victory in the penultimate over we were, to coin a phrase, over the flipping moon. We posed for pictures at the end like idiots. Two of us had already gone home, but we didn’t care.
I was disappointed not to have contributed, but a win is a win. At least my cheese and pickle sandwiches went down a treat.