4.8.2002 Hilton

Cooper is Too Good for Hilton.

Umpire Burge has a Blinder.

Hilton 86 all out off 26 overs.

Casuals 87 for 4 off 16 overs.

Bowling: Crossland 0-24 (7); Cooper 4-18 (8); Davis 2-16 (5); Cleave 4-3 (1.5); Wilson 0-15 (5).

Batting:  Walker – 0; Cooper – 37; Platts – 16; Bone – 6; Frost – NO 1;

Priestley – NO 10.

Surprise is defined in The Shorter Oxord as “the catching of person(s) unprepared”.  Surprise can often be humorous if an audience or reader has expectations of a particular situation which are then subverted.   To appreciate this, one only has to give Burge the task of umpiring.  At Hilton last Sunday, he played it straight until the rain came at about twenty minutes to six.  He then began to shuffle about, covering up best he could, hands in pockets, and then, appearing distinctly uncomfortable, he kept glancing anxiously at the boundary.

‘Did he wish to be relieved?’ was a question several Casuals asked amongst themselves, as they sheltered under the eaves of the pavilion.

‘No, he enjoys umpiring and getting wet,’ was the dry reply.

Two overs later he ambled over to the boundary in a more determined fashion than was his wont, looking earnest and pointing a finger at the scorer who was now totally ensconced in the bar, ‘One run short here’.

‘Did you see that?  One of them grumbled at him that there’d been a short run, so he gave it.’

‘It’ll’ve been that miserable wicket keeper.’

The rain had come on as Nick Bone sat waiting for his turn to bat.  He started in an ordinary cricket shirt, added a pullover or two and finally settled on his Yorkshire rugby kit.  Now Nick is a decent bat who treats life as a serious business.  So it didn’t go down well when Burge lifted his finger and gave him run out just as he was about to complete the winning run.

‘I was well in,’ insisted Nick, trying to see the funny side but pissed off at the same time.

Burge was laughing hugely as he sauntered off following the end of the match. After Nick’s tentative challenge he replied, ‘I couldn’t see it so I gave it out’.

Nick later repeated this in the bar on several occasions through grated teeth whilst shaking his head and attempting a polite chuckle.

‘It was a good throw though,’ said no one in particular.

Who was surprised?  Nick was, and probably the opposition who had found an unexpected ally.  The rest of the Casuals simply continued to enjoy that wonderfully mysterious paradox – Burge and cricket.

The game itself had been short but nonertheless sweet for that.  Another win, sealed in the rain at 6 o’clock by an audacious reverse sweep from Nick’s replacement, Adam Frost.  The day had belonged to Ian Cooper who played the lead role of effortlessly elegant all-rounder.  He removed the heart of Hilton’s batting, laid the foundation for The Casuals’ reply and took an awkward catch at short fine leg.  Duncan Cleave’s off spin and Oliver Platts square driving were the pick of the supporting roles.

The fixtures with Elvaston and Hilton CC’s originally came from the Derbyshire ‘pool’, a kind of dating agency for clubs with no one to play.  Both operate in the local leagues on a Saturday, and on a Sunday put out a team of mixed ability.  Whilst Elvaston consistently select a side that will beat The Casuals, no such pattern has so far emerged with Hilton.  Even so, the emphatic result was mildly surprising.

There were other surprises as well, again mild in retrospect.  First, it hadn’t rained south of Derby, when The Holme Valley was in the midst of Noah’s third flood.  Second, the skipper, Rupert Wilson, asked the team to meet at his house to arrange transport, an eminently sensible suggestion in view of the Elvaston debacle.  It was altogether too sensible for Marc Davies who arrived after Rupert had left, more than half an hour late.  Maybe he wouldn’t have encountered the extensive and extremely difficult series of road hazards had he driven straight to Hilton; who knows?  The third surprise that wasn’t, was the pitch – the third or fourth this season that has been slow with uneven bounce.  Such pitches seem to be the stuff of Sunday cricket.

Rupert lost the toss and Hilton’s captain elected to bat.  Ian Cooper bowled first, with Bill Crossland at the other end.  Ian kept the ball up to the bat, swung it away from the right hander and let the pitch do the rest.  Both the openers went for ducks.  His third wicket came from a miscue which Nick Bone did ever so well to take over his shoulder running away from the wicket.  Ian’s final victim was very pleasing –  their wicketkeeper, prize grump and cream cake enthusiast, who had swiped, sliced and slogged his twenty three runs.  After the game he even had the nerve to complain when their skipper didn’t give him the man-of-the-match award.  The only orthodox resistance came from first wicket down, an old head who played and missed pragmatically and got a large step in to pad away the rest.  Having weathered the fast bowling, he then lobbed a Marc Davies tester to Rupert, fielding for once where he could see the ball.

Duncan Cleave’s tightly controlled off-spin then took four of the last five wickets in two overs.  Tightly controlled that is apart from his quicker ball, which nearly decapitated one of their juniors and knocked the keeper over, which isn’t difficult these days.

Their top score of 24 was extras.  Surprisingly, 13 were wides.  Unsurprisingly, 8 were byes, insolently ignored by the keeper.  He also snubbed a sitter off their number three with patronising disregard and completed a flawless day by conceitedly omitting to connect once with the bat in a short but snooty knock.

The partnership of 41 between Ian Cooper and Oliver Platts got The Casuals’ innings going.  Both had some luck, but scored freely when the opportunities arose.  Oliver was particularly strong outside the off stump, whilst Ian excelled with the leg glance and straight drive.  Oliver was out in the eleventh over when he appeared to be deceived by the first ball of a new bowler, who looped an unexpected slower delivery off a long run and yorked him.  The actuality, apparently, was that “a bead of sweat impaired my sight”.  Really?  One day you’ll be a Casual my son.

The following batsman was the veteran Alan Priestley who can still do the business.  A partnership of 31 was broken when Ian misjudged the age of the fielder and took a run too far, but the total was well within sight by then.

So it had been a day of surprises.  Just imagine if Burge hadn’t succombed to the bullying tactics of the opposition.  Nick would have scored the winning run and remained not out.

Dave Walker 1127



Footnotes

Duncan – is it Cleave, Cleve or Cleeve?  The scorebook contains all three spellings.

*

Anyone recognise this Matisse?  A local peasant, resting in the sun after a long lunch, with right arm casually draped across his genitals.

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