The Return of the Magnificent 11

vs West Bergholt at home 11th July ’20

The day had finally arrived, Pat had completed UN Negotiations, harangued the ECB, written to our MP, and they all agreed. Yes Mr. Chairman could escape the family home and return to drinking, swearing and getting caught at cover once more. He meanwhile explained this was a bid to prevent pitch over preparation, as our square had seen more attention than a 30-year old single blonde at a Monks convention; it was time to think about playing cricket again. The day dawned and activity reigned supreme on an overcast Saturday morning. Life was returning to a forgotten town. Daryl set out a myriad of patterns with the boundary marker to counter the ongoing building work, Doylie cut less than straight strips on the square and Jack fell asleep under the guise of ‘rolling the pitch’. Meanwhile Harry clearly misread the start time and thought the WhatsApp message said 11pm. Yes, village cricket was back.

As most of the team arrived, we had familiar figures and newer ones; James, Connor and Sam joined the throng, although it was clear some of the team had enjoyed lockdown hospitality possibly more than they should (Ed – who are we to judge?), they were good to go and the West Bergholt team had arrived. No idea if we won or lost the toss but we ended up batting first. There is something reassuring about seeing things as you expect them, although some would say it is a bit like watching The Great Escape, Thelma and Louise or the Italian Job. You know what is going to happen but keep watching again hoping it might change, but it doesn’t. Daryl hit a 6, Pat hit a lofted drive for 4 and was caught in the covers trying it again, Colin played Saturday’s delivery on Friday, Sam had clearly joined the Star Trek crew and was on and off the pitch at Warp Factor speed, and by the time Daryl departed for a breezy 39 we were there once more in glorious peril at around 50-4.  We were of course observing Covid restrictions, leaving the pitch every 25 seconds to chat to mates, backing up near some randomly placed line that Pat had invented over breakfast and throwing the ball back to the bowler in a fashion entirely based on personal preference, It was good to notice these new requirements observed for at least half an hour!

Meanwhile on the occasions we were allowed back on the pitch to play some cricket, the script altered. Earls Colne fought back, yes you heard it here first, we didn’t fold like an origami class in lockdown frenzy. Doylie hit a couple of 4’s and retreated to the front row of the audience (socially distanced of course) and James set about a masterclass of batting, some sublime 4’s and a huge 6 put the Colne boys back in the game as the duo laid the foundations for a decent score. Surely not I hear you say?  Doylie finally got tired of crease occupation and holed out for a hard fought (Ed – does he mean boring?) 19 and James accelerated before finally departing for an excellent 74.Could our tail drive home a decent total? Step up Jack (16 n.o), Connor (8) and the dynamic duo, Brommers (6) and the newly acquired batting talent that is Trevor (2 not out) and the magic figure of 180 was passed. 184-8 and we had managed 0 league batting points (Ed – It was a friendly!!).

The great thing about bringing your own tea (yes another Covid special) is that you do get what you want, in most cases that seemed to include chocolate and cake, or you get nothing because you couldn’t be bothered or forgot….or you left your tea on the table and your partner/children/dog ate it all. And so, to the field we took…. The hard-hitting Raj (28) gave young Harry a bit of tap but our man Connor stepped up and showed his credentials with 2-18 from 8 overs including a delicious in-swinging stump smasher. James (3-30) came into the attack with some pace, bamboozling the batsmen and the wicket keeper, who fortunately for Colne retires from the position after the next game. So, along with an excellent spell from Brommers 1-37 from 9 overs, that included 16 consecutive dot balls, surely, we had them – 6 wickets down and a long way from the finish banner. It was here that things started to take a turn for the worse. Bucket hands Connor discovered a hole in his bucket and the first of three dropped chances off the hard-hitting Borges (53 n.o.) started the slide. He along with returning Colner big Joe Smith(41 n.o.) rebuilt the innings and between them caused the post-match recruitment of England coach Bryan the Fearsome for an emergency fielding session. Despite the best efforts of the skipper, big Jack, Sam and James the wicket door remained more firmly closed than a lockdown era pub and it came down to the last over. Two balls in and the game was up. Bergholt had won by 4 wickets and Colne were left to rue what might have been if the fielding session had been a week earlier. So, cricket came back home and a great game it was, sadly on the losing end, but lots of positives (Ed – that is a dreadful cliché!) and on we move to the next challenge. Next opponents at Fortress Colne is v Sudbury on 21st July.

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