The scorebook goes to sea
One major mystery was solved on Sunday after some serious sleuthing by the senior members of the committee. The scorebook had gone AWOL. Bags were searched, cars ransacked and the deepest crannies of the pavilion investigated with still no sign after a fortnight of finger tip searching.
When there is an unlikely explanation it is usually best to look no further than Mr Vadivale. The erstwhile detectives of the club had decided that Sathya must have taken it home in order to write the match report from his last game. Sathya was due to participate in today’s match.
At 2 pm the game was already underway. A fine troupe of volunteers had prepared the ground, the boundary rope was finessed into position by Mr House, Mr Nalboryczyk had marked the creases with an engineers precision and the large mower had dragged Mr Lancaster across the square leaving Wimbledonesque stripes for all admire. OUH won the toss and chose to bat. The wicket was flat but still soft and damp after heavy rain on the preceding evening. 10 of Middleton’s finest were seen counting the number on the field… one was missing. “No worries” said the team secretary, “Sathya said he might be a few minutes late”.
The extra fielder would have been a help to Mr Barton snr, who took the new ball with Mr Kamal. Talbot and Bourne the visiting batters put willow to leather from the start, but not without risk. Edges seemed to fly to catching positions the moment a fielder had been re- positioned to the wrong place, or to go just over the head of another. Talbot in particular was in fine form as the score raced ahead at six an over. Messrs Lancaster and Nalborczyk were in the firing line with the ball rattling over the turf toward them. Mr Barton Jnr used all parts of his body in an energetic display but the rest of the fielding was not as good as desired as the batters began to plunder the attack.
Mr Barton Jnr’s introduction to the attack added pace, but unfortunately not consistency of length of line. Mr Nalborczyk tried to emulate England’s current practice of trying to induce false shots to short bowling. He would have been successful if Middleton could have held onto the two consecutive boundary catches.
Talbot was well into his stride, boundaries were flowing and the score had advanced past 100 when the first wicket fell. Mr Riley beating the outside edge of Bourne, and Mr Carpenter taking the stumping. To celebrate Mr Vadivale’s car tootled into the ground, waving from the window a missed scorebook.
Kumar batted at 3 and was soon undone by Mr Shah, who suggested that bowling a straight one would good enough, and so it proved. OUH continued to press and the bowlers suffered, Mr Shah finally got rid of Talbot, caught on the boundary when going for the 6 that would have taken him to a century. Soon 200 was passed and the skipper called Mr Barton Snr back into the attack. It must have been because it was father’s day that Mr Barton Jnr decided to provide not one but two pieces of sublime skill to cause the fall of two wickets. Fielding at long on as Venables, the OUH skipper, attacked. Eliot saw the ball heading his way, but falling short. Galloping in like Tom Daley, he lined up a dive like Usain Bolt, caught off balance and in mid stride his right hand lunged forward, a vice-like finger grip holding onto the ball. “Never in doubt” said Eliot. Two overs later his ground fielding was more orthodox, a diving stop, a throw from a prone position and a direct hit with the batter nowhere. Mr Vadivale who had now joined us in the field was asked to bowl and did so with aplomb. At tea the OUH total of 240 looked formidable as did the clouds that were gathering in the west.
Much more appealing was the tea prepared by Marc Swann and his daughters. Never has the cream been more clotted for the scones, seldom have the players been more charmed than by the cygnets.
Never has a more unlikely tale than that of “the scorebook that went to sea” been spun. Indeed Sathya had packed the scorebook as light reading to while away the quiet evenings of a school sailing trip off the Swanage coast.
Messrs Lancaster and Ford-Langstaff had to cut short their feast and strap on their pads. The target would only be reached if the start was good. Howard looked in fine touch as he swept the second ball wide of square leg for a boundary. Mark looked positive, ready to hit the ball hard. Indeed the first six of the innings came from Mark, high over mid-ons head. Next ball he was undone, “moved a lot he said”. Mr House took over, and before he could face a ball Howard too was on the way back to the Pavillion. This time a drive to mid off was not quite well enough struck to clear the fielder. Two wickets down rapidly became four, Tim H very unlucky to be LBW to ball which barely got off the ground, whilst Eliot came and went in a single ball. Tim R and Sathya attempted a rebuilding exercise as OUH went through a series of bowling changes, each bowler seeming slower and loopier than the last. Caution dominated before Tim R fell victim to the last ball of medium pacer Singh’s spell, caught by first slip after second slip had dropped the chance. The target was way out of reach and the 20 overs were yet to start. It would be a feat of endurance to save the game.
Sathya survived a life, in one ball that summed up cricket as far from the first class arena as it is possible to be. A very gentle, slow fall toss was sent in his direction, the bat wound up and completed an arc such that the ball curved from the splice of the bat toward OUH’s best fielder half way to the boundary at backward short leg. Anticipating dismissal the disappointed batter trudged toward the pavilion. “No ball” was called by both umpires, the fielder spilled the chance, the non striking batter arrived at Sathya’s end as Sathya departed at right angles. “ Run Sathya, Run” came the yell from the Middleton benches. The fielder picked up the fallen ball and hurled it at the bowlers end. Picking up momentum Sathya launched himself headlong in an attempt to reach the crease before the stumps were broken. In the first class game the umpire would be signaling for tv help in adjudicating. This time the reluctant sailor was given the benefit of the doubt.
Having survived, Sathya waited for the next loopy leg side full toss and hit it obligingly into the hands of the same fielder at square leg, but sadly there was no no ball called to save him.
At 77 - 7 there was little hope, Middleton’s tail is not renowned for its high scoring. Max was able to add some much needed respectability to the total, treating the bowling as it should have been treated all along. Asif added some rare runs to the total but as the ninth wicket fell there were still 12 overs to go. Rob Barton did not give his wicket away cheaply and was resolute in defence for seven of those overs. It looked as if the rain that had threatened to fall since tea would have the final say. OUH deservedly picked up the final wicket with just three overs remaining.
The game concluded with bar and barbecue, the bar was manned by Mr Carpenter while Seril’s bar saw serious action. Thanks to Chris for scoring and to Zippy Stoop who umpired. As a footnote to the game our visitors have added several photographs to the Facebook group, “cricket grounds appreciation” with many complimentary comments.