While Camden and Coton’s second elevens duked it out opposite the Plough, three miles away the two clubs’ Firsts were similarly locked together in a must-win game over at Queens. Usually when such coincidental fixtures occur (bafflingly described as ‘ironic’ by sports broadcasters who didn’t listen to ALL that English lesson on irony) the TV cameras are stationed at both events, relaying and intercutting pictures of dramatic, see-sawing moments. The final montage inevitably features a fat bloke with a bald head and wearing a replica shirt two sizes too small, crying; a stunning young woman, bottom lip atremble being comforted by her boyfriend who is thinking, “Well, there goes MY Saturday night. Thank you sport. Thank you”; and two teams, one deflated, the other doing that funny bouncing up and down thing that footballers do when they’ve won an important match, with the commentator announcing, “You really don’t need words to explain who were the winners and losers today.” Unfortunately, Camden’s multimedia budget doesn’t stretch much beyond its WhatsApp group. Even so, it provided an excellent backdrop to the events at both matches. Despite the lack of real-time broadcastable images, the two games did feature something not even Sky have pulled off. Of that, anon.
To the cricket: the toss lost, The President and Ramesh strolled to the wicket, the latter strolling back shorty after, his stumps rearranged, the scorebook unsullied. Time for Sourav. Picking up from the President’s Match a fortnight back when he recorded his first Camden half century, he set about Coton with a view to scoring another. A word on our hosts: among the usual greyheads of the lower leagues, five teenagers: a young man who opened the bowling; two sisters, both bowler; a female wicket keeper and a further female bowler. Excellent work there.
The President came and went, to be replaced by Ali, who played the most Ali-ish innings imaginable: a few nice drives and clips, hustling running and with Sourav going well at the other end, contributing to a decent emerging stand. At 80-odd for two at 20 overs, I think we all got ahead of ourselves – just go at six an over for the second half and we’ll be out of sight…Hmmm. Austin Junior then gave catching practice to the covers when he didn’t get to the pitch of his drive and walked in with 17 against his name. Nick G, not wishing to leave the on-side out of it, dollied one up a few balls later and all of a sudden, the wickets were tumbling. Hridoy and Liam came and went; thankfully Sourav stayed, reached his fifty and added a few more before popping one up to probably the only fielder who could have taken it for 64. Very good work indeed. But with the Baker misfiring, Camden were in trouble – 120 all out was quite possible. Ginto had other ideas and decided to build an innings of note, by which I mean he blocked the first ball before smashing the next four for boundaries. A busy 27 not out from him and an invaluable unbeaten 15 from Ritish saw Camden to a challenging 174-9 at 40 overs.
Meanwhile, over at Queens, scenes. Absolute scenes. The Camden attack were taking chunks out of the Coton top order, most notably when Vish produced a caught and bowled which sent their top gun, The Popular Kiwi (TPK), on his way. I know it’s lazy writing to turn to social media for information but it’s all we’ve got and I’m doing this for free. From the Camden WhatsApp group:
Will: Shame there’s no photographic evidence of Vish’s caught and bowled. Unbelievable effort.
Ryan: So good he WhatsApp’d me directly to tell me. (Editor: Check if Vish was texting from Third Man)
Fahim: It was the BEST c&b I have seen in my 3 years in the Cambridgeshire leagues. OUTSTANDING. (Editor: You’re setting the bar pretty low there, Fahim)
Matt: Talk us through it.
Will: Imagine the Matrix. I didn’t see it but heard the shot. Sounded like he timed the shit out of it. By the time I looked up, Vish was celebrating. All the better for it being The Popular Kiwi.
Chris: One-handed, while apparently looking in a different direction.
There’s so much to pick over here. Firstly, you’ll be pleased to know that when Will wasn’t watching, he wasn’t at slip. That would have been somebody else not watching. I’m intrigued that Will writes excellent weekly match reports, yet on this evidence, listens to the game more than he watches it. Interesting. Maybe we really should put a bell in the ball. Thirdly, having read acres of Cardus, Arlott and even Swanton, I can’t remember a single time when one of them employed the phrase ‘timed the shit out of it’ though their writing would have been the richer for it. And lastly, what of TPK?
I’ll tell you what: this. The President and I were watching Sourav and Ali in the middle when a vision in whites appeared at the ground. The President did a quick count up of Coton’s fielders – eleven, so this was not a late-comer. The chap disappeared into the pav, something that spurred the President into action. Who was this chap, rootling about? He set out to find out and discovered from the lady he asked that he was her husband. He was also TPK who having been dismissed by Vish had not only sloped off the pitch but also the ground and driven over to Coton in search of…a rounder ball. The prefect sphere has been troubling philosophers, artists and scientists for hundreds of years. In the 14th century the Pope challenged the painter Giotto di Bondone to draw a perfect circle freehand. 700 years later, scientists produced a perfectly spherical ball made of silicon, though I’m fairly certain it isn’t kept in a musty kitbag in the Coton pav. Perhaps TPK was looking for a ball which didn’t have a strip of Velcro down the seam or some strange magnetic property that was attracted to Vish’s palm. So there we have it: a player from one game high-tailing it over to another one during the match. Beat that, Sky! I shall look forward to Grealish popping back to Villa Park at half time at the Etihad in search of an Alice band. TPK was convinced that Camden were bowling with a less than round ball. Do we even have one of those little bits of kit that you see umpires using in proper matches on the telly? Redders, use that under-worked philosophy degree and give us 1,000 words on how to define balls. Please read the question carefully before answering.
And that’s that. The clouds gathered, the rain fell and fell some more, and huddled around a phone, we watched Joe Root become a 21st Century Boy.
10 points when 20 were there but what can you do? Win our last two matches, that’s what.
Score Card: https://camden.play-cricket.com/website/results/4182261
Nick Austin (August 9, 2021)