Weather forecasts were consulted, rain radar maps pored over and crucial signifiers like achy joints and ‘I’ve got a feeling that…” listened to. The general consensus was that we’d get some cricket on Sunday afternoon but probably not that much.
Grantchester is always an intriguing fixture. In the past few years, the club have done exceptionally well to bring cricket to the village and to develop a delightful setting close to the banks of the Cam, so close indeed that idle fielders can see the occasional punt making its languid progress past the tea rooms. Every year, the club strives to do something new. First, a decent square – well-tended and true. Plentiful netting around the outfield; temporary sight screens at both ends; gazebos for shade and shelter; three splendid covers with their own hard standing; and this year, deck chairs in their bright club colours of blue, black and white. Excitingly and enterprisingly, they have used the off-cuts to fashion new blazers too, fetching and eye-catching affairs that certainly make a statement. Further odd remnants have been used to create what might be called caps but given their upholstery, should be better-called hats. Bouffonted to several inches above the scalp, they perch perilously and precariously on the head, giving the appearance of a freshly wrapped sweetie or an overly creamy cake at an eight-year old’s birthday party.
It might surprise regular readers to hear that Camden has its own fashionistas most notably illustrated in the svelte lines of erstwhile Firsts’ skipper, Robbo. He has gone full out to display as many items of the new-style kit as possible: tailored whites, daringly hugging the calf; new shirt replete with our new club logo and over that, a curve-enhancing sleeveless sweater. Each item was enigmatically embossed with the number 23. Twenty three. His number of GCSEs? Waist measurement when he first played for Camden? Batting average? No, his player number for the Threes. And here’s your fun-filled brain teaser to take your mind off the Southampton Test: Which current Camden player has the lowest player number. No replies from Redders, who actually sleeps with his stats book.
And on with the game. The Camden lads took the field under bright skies. The President took the gloves, Hugo and Ali the new ball. Hugo kept them quiet – apart from some harsh and emphatic boundaries – and eventually induced a faint tickle which our keeper snaffled. At the other end, Ali put me much in mind of a young Devon Malcom inasmuch that both bowl in glasses. The speed of delivery was noticeable different, however. As was the attitude. Rather than the “You guys are history” comment from Devon, Ali was more likely to ask, “Any of you guys Reading History….interesting isn’t it?” He doesn’t really have the snarl of a natural opening bowler yet still enjoyed a moment of golden gloriousness when he trapped one of the Walking Deckchairs plumb in front of all three. A huge appeal and up came the finger and off trudged the Walking Deckchair, his ticket well and truly punched.
All this was very well but eagle-eyed stattos couldn’t help but notice that the scoreboard was ticking over at seven an over. Enter the Baker. A miserly first over dragged it back a little. Two wickets in an over – one to a regulation catch at mid-off by skipper for the day Redfern – gave us that fatal impetus of hope. But at the halfway stage the hosts were a mighty 100 off 15 overs. As it happened, Grantchester’s playful biffing was brought to a premature end after 25 overs when the storm clouds gathered over the ground, dulling the light and threatening an almighty storm. Remarkably, the Grantchester captain was all for playing on; the Camden boys felt differently and legged it gazebo-wards. That was it for the afternoon. I suppose in a packed season with a full card, this game would barely register but when it’s your first game since September it was something of an event.
The Camden caravan will be rolling onto the impeccable lawns of Jesus College next Sunday, where the redoubtable Sybil will be whipping her troops into a frenzy of activity. Bring your hand sanitizers for regular six-overly doses. If you’re playing, you’ll need to declare your vegetarianism as the college will be supplying individual picnic boxes. It’s a fabulous fixture by anyone’s standards. Reply to Jon’s Teamer message asap if you want to be in the frame. Redders, release the carrier pigeon if you’re interested.
All best wishes,