“Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day”
For those players in the September of their cricketing career an early autumn Sunday where the sun shines, the breeze is a zephyr and the company convivial is a moment for reflection and recollection of times past; when bodies creaked less and the ground seemed more forgiving. Is this it, is this the last game of this and so many other seasons? Fortunately the cricket was competitive and compelling, enough to banish thoughts of such heresies.
As openers Moorman J and Lancaster H compiled a substantial stand the boundary talk was of Owls and Jays, creatures known best to those who spend the lonely hours preparing wickets and outfield for whom we are all most grateful. Today’s wicket showed some signs of stress, unsurprising when it has had so much wear this season. Joe dealt calmly with the mostly ups and fewer downs, although one rising ball, which took an edge to sail handsomely over first slip for four, resulted in the waiting batsmen debating the merits of fetching a helmet. While Hunt tested from the farm end, the more gentle offerings of White from the Church end were met unflappably by Howard. Joe ticked along nicely profiting from any width and as the clock struck 3 was raising his bat for fifty. It had been an early start, some had failed to register…. Sorry skip. Howard accumulated peacefully, picking off the slower ball and when offered the chance cutting to the point boundary. Beardall, looking unfeasible fit and strong replaced Hunt. Slips appeared, and expanded. First three, then four and finally five were stationed. He had an extra yard and was a severe challenge. With the century stand all but certain, Joe was bowled to be replace by House T, captain for the day.
Turville were short of a brace of players. Jack Morris kindly turned out for them, the Barton family made up the extra fielder. Jack was to turn in the best bowling figures of the day. He drew a false shot from Howard, whose leading edge led only to short mid –wicket. With an hour to bat and the score creeping into three figures Riley T joined his namesake. The pace of Beardsal was blunted and the acceleration toward the tea- time declaration beckoned. Jack was midway through an 11 over spell, he was supported by the youngest member of the visiting team Charles Hunt, whose legbreaks spun venomously. When Charles veered off line Jack was stationed to field, Jack in consecutive balls cut off seemingly certain boundaries. Jack had Tim House on toast, stumped by many yards, Charlie did for Vadivale S and then Jack dispatched Dipple M as the supposed acceleration never came. Richard Morris came in to support Tim R for the final overs. Honours finished even in the family battle, Richard scoring only singles and Jack twice beating his father’s edge. 188 looked respectable but was less than expected with Turville’s batting reputed to be the stronger part of their game.
The entire Barton family constructed a feast for tea. Compliments about the sponge cake were voiced near and far, a place in a Berkshire tent suggested. Grapes were plentiful, strawberries overflowed the bowl and the sausage rolls were devoured with gusto.
Petit S. took the new ball with Williams G. The first two overs were not pretty, although one half chance did come Joe’s way at mid-off. Spilled half chances and mis-fields were a common occurrence this September afternoon. Left handed opener, Bucknell played with positive intent, but lost his partner, Cook in the third over, Joe relieved to hold onto the chance. After a stern reprimand to himself, Simon tightened length and line and was unfortunate not to strike again. Number 3. Briffit likes to biffit. With Bucknell scoring freely and Briffit supporting, a quick finish to the game seemed possible. Call for Vadivale said the captain. Vadivale did not disappoint, first a chance to Joe at mid-off, regulation surely, but to great surprise not taken. Two balls later, Bucknell picked the same fielder, no mistake this time and redemption for Joe. Next the demon Vadivale had Briffit bowled and Salisbury bowled in the same over.
The Barton boys were called on to bowl. Robert the elder, Elliot the younger.
Rob had Halfhead neatly taken, pouched by House at short mid-on, and now the two stronger batters in the visiting team, Beardall and Hunt J. were together at the crease. The equation read 90 to score in 20 overs. Elliot was taken for eight in his first three ball, two beautifully timed and powerfully hit shots to the long on boundary wise heads murmured “ here we go, game on”. No worries thought Elliot, who with the first ball of his second over deceived Hunt with a slow bouncer wide of the off stump. Hunt could only slap the ball into the grateful hands of Dipple at point.
Charles Hunt joined Beardall. Not yet 13, his technique in defence was a model for all on the pitch, his running between the wickets in support of Beardall showed cricketing intelligence, he will be a thorn in our side for years to come. The Captain, carefully leaving the pace of Dipple to the closing overs finally called on his man. Nine runs off his first over was not the captain’s wish. Like Elliot before him, he chose his second over to strike. Beardall comprehensively beaten by an off cutter which did just enough. The game was now MSCC’s to win if the final two wickets could be taken. Jack Morris could not match his batting performance with his bowling becoming a second victim for Dipple. Ten overs remained to gain the last wicket.
Young Hunt proved obdurate, prizing his wicket in boycottian fashion. White at the other end scored faster but looked vulnerable. With nine balls reaming the wiles of Riley convinced White to play a false shot and the game was ours.
Players retired to the pavilion eat a Simpson barbeque and drinks wines and sherberts served by messrs Lancaster and Pettit, all three provisioners of style and substance. Many thanks to the services of Chris who once again kept scorebook and board updated.
Two games remain in this season and this September, let the sun shine on all who play – flannelled fools rejoice.