27.7.2003 RUFC

The feedback from recent reports has centred on the lack of narrative about cricket.  So here are three ways of saying the same thing.

The middle piece is influenced by Roddy Doyle’s “The Woman Who Walked Into Doors” – the narrator is a Dubliner, writing in the first person.

In the light of recent poetry, the third piece is a quick contribution.  The last line achieves an impact because it subverts the expectations for rhyme.




The Casuals lost a close game last Sunday having scored a total that should have been plenty.  Oliver Platt took man of the match for the home side with an unbeaten 142.  Tim Taylor, for Huddersfield RUFC, took the overall honours for a well judged 157, getting his side near enough before leaving it to Workman to hit the winning runs.

The fixture rarely produces a serious contest since the rugby club go for a fit but aging cricket team, driven by lager and an enjoyment of the afternoon rather than the result.  Little did The Casuals realise that two of the opposing players had not read this script.

It was ever thus to be an afternoon of tragedy.  There was hubris as The Casuals took the field, fuelled by Oliver’s batting; on and on and ably supported by most.  Duncan, uncharacteristically, had a short stay at the crease, but it was all smiles as the total was going to be enough.  Scott Junior, a Yorkshire colt, bowled well for the visitors.

A good tea was taken.

Scott junior and Taylor then opened for the rugby club and were very steady indeed.  The Casuals were thus further lulled into the complacent zone by this apparent protection of wickets at the expense of scoring runs.  Taylor began to accelerate in the 23rd over when presented with a mediocre attack, but 100 runs were still needed in the final 10 overs.  Here was The Casuals’ nemesis, sadly assisted by a catalogue of inept bowling.  Taylor flayed the ball for 11 6’s and 15 4’s, allowing the fielders only a small role, rescuing it from the river and the soccer pitch.

The Casuals’ confidence turned to anxiety and then, in the pavilion, to depression.  Oliver Platt had expressed dismay about his recent form and wondered if he had been dropped for the game.  Amusing, in the afterglow of his century.  It did little to alleviate the despondency.

The Cooper brothers played well for The Casuals, as did Paul Brown, effective behind the stumps on his debut.




Last Sunday night down the bridge.  Atmosphere as grey and as flaky as a sightscreen in need of a coat of whitewash.  We lost it for lack of care.  We’d only ourselves to blame.  I started it in the 23rd over, poorly directed and short, trying too hard, not relaxing looking where I wanted to pitch it, banging it in like a novice.  And him stood outside leg stump.  Respectful in my first two, only went for one apiece, he was a cautious opener until my second two.


Then everyone was at it, long hops, full tosses, always on leg, and him a left-hander, swinging away for fun, six after six, dumping our rubbish in the river where it belonged.  Greg said it was the boredom after a while, the stop-start of fishing it out of the drink.  We were going to win anyway, too much on the board and them so slow and cautious, like in my first two.  And him out in the dying overs, surely they’ll not get them now.  And we’re rushing, fielders not in position, wasting runs for not being careful, losing the plot and careless, not like they’d been, the openers, careful not to get out, waiting, then six and ten and fourteen an over.  He was a cool one, to wait so long before having a go.


A four off the last ball and they’d won.  The rugby club and good lads, keeping the bottles and the cans going, and the craic.  Big lads, there for a laugh and getting it.  It didn’t matter it was the rugby club, they only played once a year, decent hand to eye but they didn’t have the cricket.  They never won, and we’d too many on the board.  Give ‘em a chance. And it didn’t matter, except for the gloom.  We’d lost it for lack of care.  We’d only ourselves to blame.


Marc said he’d only three players the week before, but we’d plenty on the day and one for them.  Enough for the rugby club.  Ollie wondered if he’d been dropped.  Don’t laugh, it happens.  They were short and fielded, odd at the time, perhaps he’d not arrived.  But he had, and opened the bowling.  Dug it in and got nowhere.  First wicket down for 92.  We’d two helmets, the Cooper boys, their Dad an invalid from bail replacing backache.  Low scores from them.  Duncan hit a six that promised another fifty.  Then a simple return catch.  Their helmet played for Yorkshire and looked a prospect.  Hope he survives.  He took three wickets – me, stumper Paul who stumped well, and Dave Beal, unlikely LBW for 18.  Rupert missed it again for 14 (bowled Spike) and Greg chipped 8.  And on and on went Ollie, not out 142.  Total 245 for 7, enough.  Let’s have a good tea.


They were cautious, him and their helmet.  Half way it was 77.  Three quarters and it was 140.  And him still there.  The helmet gone for 40.  100 off the last ten.  He was a cool one, 157, out in the 39th when the score was 237.  Bill Crossland bowled him with a smile at last.


Greg said he played for the MCC.


Despondency is a strange thing.  Everything right for three quarters of the game and we’ll remember the bad things and Ollie’s 142.  I still ache, all down my right side.  Didn’t start till the day after the day after.  And the flashbacks.  I’ve bowled those overs over and over.  They’re still crap.


495 runs and 13 wickets in an afternoon is still a good game of cricket.




It should have been unbeatable

It finished unbelievable

Platt had been unbeatable

Taylor unbelievable


We spent the last quarter

Fishing from the water

Instead of bowling tight

We bowled terrible





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