In these days of spring time drought one conjures up the lines in T S Eliot’s The Wasteland:
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief
……I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
On day when the pitch was unforgiving, the wind blustering and the sun a source of torment, the cricket did provide relief and the fear invoked by the dusty crease was overcome.
Granchester fielded first and the bowling attack with AP and Adam was menacing. The first few overs were easily to Granchester. There were some great catches and a superb bowling spell, including the glorious sight of the leg stump uprooted by an AP delivery. That very quickly left the Girton team reeling. They had lost three wickets in the first 4 overs and it appeared the game would be quickly beyond their reach. But cricket is a game built on partnerships and the construction of an innings and now the Girton middle order did a fantastic job. Slowly but surely they built up the runs, not risking anything, determined not to give their wicket away. Theirs was a house that needed to be built on uncertain foundations. But build they did and the Granchester team filled with frustration. The extras mounted and the score board ticked on like a regular clock beating out the time for Granchester’s slow demise.
The clock needed to be stopped and so the time for cunning, experience and guile came. The inspired captaincy of our brave wicket keeper (whose body was sacrificed to stop many a run) brought on the attack of Woods and Foster. To say that Dave Foster ties down an end does him no justice. He not only ties down the end, he puts it in a cell and throws away the key. The free flow of runs was halted and wickets came. A dazzling catch by Neil Woods will long stay in my memory. As the ball flew into the outfield off a Foster delivery Neil ran to the ball and stopping low took it at near full pace. Indeed this was a day when the adage “catches win matches” was born out. As much as the extras could have been decisive, if those catches had not stuck, it well could have been a different result. With that Grantchester was back on top and despite some excellent stokes played in the penultimate over by Girton to try and hit out the remaining few balls one felt the final few overs were Grantchesters. The target: 155.
Kevin and Adam opened and much as with the bowling attack, things looked good. Kevin played well despite the sledging from his old team. After a few lovely strokes though he went to a beautifully flighty ball and played on. AP came and then (what has become an expectation) dominated the proceedings. Girton had other ideas and brought on some excellent spin bowling, soon Adam was out and Dave Crowther came in. His solution was to play down the wicket, in fact so far down the wicket it was hard to see which end he was playing from. The run rate grew, AP and Dave built a partnership that broke the back of total. Eventually Crowther was out but his work done with a fantastic partnership. Then the narrative of the game took another twist; Girton’s bowlers were buoyed by the wicket taken and in full flow. Matt did not last long, out to a catch. Neil ready for a big innings was given out LBW with a decision that would we have been reversed should the third umpire been called upon. Was this a collapse, would AP be left stranded runs short of the total? The Girton attack was still tidy and neat with little given away.
No, whereas last week Baggers had played the important steadying role now it was left to Steve Bowler. He proved limpet like, attached to his wicket like a proud brother protecting his sister from bullies. With a mature innings that allowed AP to attack, his contribution meant Bagger’s exquisite cover drive would remain unseen in this match as this partnership would finish the game. AP’s fluidity in attacking the ball in the final overs was a delight; fours that relied on accuracy and timing and a six that combined power, timing and intelligence.
The final runs from Bowler ended the game and the team remained victorious.
Date of fixture: Sunday 22nd May 2011; Venue: Girton Village CG, Cambridge.