The Bedouin Cricket Club

In all my travels following the Bedouin, the annual caravan to beauteous Warnford in the South Down ranks as one of the most memorable. The gently sloping arena set in a bowl of varied green and ochre landscape, beast’s noiselessly chewing in the surrounding fields, and a sheen of ozone blue overhead … set off by flagpole and homely pavilion. In there you will find the Dunn family preparing a sumptuous luncheon and the erstwhile and marvellous Jeff Rees scoring from an Eaglet nest box elevated above the patio area. Legendary Christopher Bazalgette is here, pinging his cigarette ends in to a flowerpot and reminding one of the home side of some amusing indiscretion, while fending intense scrutiny from the Mufti about the facts of his great grandfather’s work in building the London sewers.

The visiting beddowin side are milling around trying not to upset this tranquil permanence, with their contrasting itinerant mild but impossible to overlook strand of delinquency. An Antipodean known only as ‘Staffo’ is in the ranks today. This causes Sherrington to spend many minutes reminiscing about long lost weekends in this gentleman’s company. The bonhomie between them is given free rein to linger as the pairing are together at the wicket after Evans’ early dismissal. Staffo manages to bring out an elegant straight bat, before the memory of Sherrington exposing himself to a kangaroo colony outside Hall’s Gap in the high Victorian peaks creeps back, years of therapy unable to keep the man upright, and in a flash his opportunity is gone.

Sherrington himself would play a remarkable innings. Memorable for two distinct reasons: in scoring a magnificent 82,
he faced 96 deliveries, 65 of which were dots; and he added just 4 runs after a gargantuan lunch.

The middle order all started without converting. Johan Da Silva on his Bedu debut showed his wristy brilliance before perishing caught at point. In the tail, Simon Rawson and Dan Hayes brought a rugged masculinity to proceedings, but became Deacon’s fourth and fifth victims respectively, of a long swinging spell up the hill.

The last wicket pairing of skipper Harrison and Neil Chandler commenced with 201 on the board and plenty of time left in the day. Chandler listened intently to the captain’s cautionary instruction to bat time and keep the Hogs in the field for as long as possible. He promptly threw his hands at anything off line with the abandon of the mythical night watchman (out stumped second ball for six). A very useful 30 not out.

247 to defend and Harrison set about drawing his masterplan. Da Silva has the gloves, Rawson grabbing in the gulley, De Keller fielding behind the pavilion organising the post-match barbecue, Chandler and Andrew Browne sharing the new nut.

Browne has been to Warnford before, but never been set loose here. He is confused. Everything this tough Victorian has been schooled to sneer at about the English game is here. But surveying the scene around him he feels somehow happy and safe, like that joey in the Grampian Mountains cocking it’s young Marsupial head to one side and staring with its big brown eyes at Elliot’s penis. Browne castles the opener Lloyd, before Armstrong is bowled by an in-ducker from Chandler.

Thereafter Wakefield and the talented Barber settled down and pointed the home side towards their target. David Benton, playing for the Bedouins for the first time outside London, delivered those subtle variations of his leg breaks, and he snaffled Wakefield for 22, and the number six Figgis for a duck. Barber was progressing nicely towards his half-century with a new partnership alongside Tyrwhitt-Drake – so skipper Harrison decided to try Benton down the hill. After he switched ends, the Hogs fell one after another, giving Benton a deserved 6-for and the skipper himself three catches. It was left to genial umpires Maurice and Mike to award the man of the match trophies to Deacon of the Hogs and Benton for the Bedu.