The Bedouin Cricket Club

Bank Holiday Monday, and a sea-side trip for the Bedouin, to Frinton. Across Essex we journeyed and through time, to a toy town, a triangular oasis of Englishness that most thought disappeared with Suez. In its “Royal Years” between the wars, Prince Edward and Churchill were among those attracted to its avenues and esplanade. Now ‘the gates’ to the West serve the same purpose as the groynes and greensward to the east, keeping the world out and holding fast the fabric of Frinton.

Perhaps the most precious relic inside the time capsule is Frinton’s cricket ground. A perfect emerald oval, with Willows and Sloe trees to the South and East, and a classic wood and brick pavilion at the North.

Only ten had made the journey. Juneed Asad had reacted to a bee sting overnight, his hand swelling so much that he couldn’t get down the stairs in his house. It was not the last time that unlikely proportions would undermine the cause of the Bedouin.

Meanwhile The Bedu collected in front of the pavilion and things looked good. Perhaps they were a little long in the tooth, but no one could doubt the splendour of their millinery. Hayes sported a tight cap with a severe brim which, with his lock’s frame and steely gaze, gave him the appearance of a sergeant in the colonial police. In contrast, Phelan felt feckless enough to wear an Edward VIII driving hat. Balfour and Harrison were as jolly as the hoops that circled their brown felt caps and Gillham puffed away under a baggy brown and gold number, as though his only ambition in life was to become a living representation of a 1930s cigarette card. And then there was Simon ‘Skid’ Marks. Debuting for the Bedouin, he wore a battered 8 piece hat of blue and red felt, and a noble forlornness of which Lawrence himself would have been proud. Above us the Bedouin flag flapped and cracked on a strong westerly and all was good with the world. If only we could have matched this flare on the field.

Phelan and Marks opened and immediately it was clear that the wicket matched the quality of the scenery. It was as hard as the rock they don’t sell in Frinton and had a flirty bounciness that neither opener could resist. Where Phelan’s tickle trickled for a single, Marks’ more committed fling ended in the warm embrace of gully. Morrison had got Frinton a wicket in the first over.

Doward came out and put an end to the silliness, a decisive forward stride and straight bat returning sobriety. He negotiated the good balls and started building a score. A glorious cover drive brought cheers from the pavilion, but it was a false dawn. Doward carved Hurst to point shortly after Phelan had gloved Morrison to the keeper.

Starts not delivered on was to be the pattern. Petter was in, looking fitter than ever and with perfect balance. He played some pleasing strokes and never looked in trouble until he was lbw to Walker. Hayes, too got in while Balfour… well…

Alexander ‘Sandy’ Balfour is someone who always appears ‘in’ even if just arrived at the crease, yet never gives the impression of staying ‘in’, even when on 80. He found the bounce to his liking, crashed 22 runs and departed.

This paired Duckett with Hayes. Now I’d back these two beefcakes to wrestle a tiger and win. But they were faced down not by a beast, but by a swarm of Liliputian spinners.

So small where they, that from the boundary it was difficult to see what they were bowling. But it wasn’t clear that Duckett and Hayes were finding it any easier to tell from the middle.

The Liliputians also proved to be rapid across the ground, and possess canons for throwing arms.

Adroit field placings and our collective failure to turn starts into scores meant we ended our 45 overs on a disappointing 162 for 5.

This disappointment was soon forgotten, as we dined on Lamb Korma for lunch.

Returning to the field, Harrison placed his men and handed Duckett the Dukes ball. The emergence of two tiny batsmen prompted a meeting of Bedu elders: should we bowl a slower bowler, given the youth and obvious physical frailty of the opponents? The answer was no and, 10 overs later, the smallest of the batters had his 50. Duckett had been hit through the offside, The Undertaker back over his head. Balfour came on and got the breakthrough, Stockdale (R) falling to a wonderful, determined catch from Doward in the deep. Hayes got Butcher, Balfour making the catch look easy at slip, but number 4 Baker finished as explosively as Stockdale had begun.

A sound beating. Frinton then provided us ground to camp on, and kept us company til the early hours, when our fire finally went out and we went to bed.
Above: Cruel Hayes
Above: Feckless Phelan
Above: 1930s Gillham