The Bedouin Cricket Club

The Bedu arrive slowly but surely at Framingham on a bright, sticky july morning in a range of circumstances; bedraggled, hurried, eager, determined, hungry. Aggers is murmuring away on the longwave radio, Westy is several kilometres into his morning laps of the pitch, and the coffees and teas are flowing. At a fixture that has as previously yielded two defeats, one close, one not so close, the hope is that the pleasantry, beauty and luxury of the day will be supplemented by some fine performances with both leather and willow for the visitors.
Viceroy Phelan takes centre stage for the toss, where our hosts inevitably decide to bat. A quick, nervous head count and suddenly Rawson Sr. (previously occupying a spectator/manager/diner role) is preparing to strap up his bowling boots and step into the breach. Fear not however, as thus unnoticed opening bowler Hayes bursts abruptly from the dressing room, eyes ablaze, resolute and ready for the new ball, which has meanwhile been thrown to Westwood. Belying his long sabbatical from the game, Westy steams in with the same old focused gaze and opens with a peach, back of a length, nipping away and catching the edge straight to gully. Generous lot as we are, the Bedouins kindly offer the opposition player – who surely won’t go on to make it count – a mulligan. And then another. (High standards of generosity are maintained throughout the day, most notably the through-the-legs, over-the-shoulder flick of a stationary ball by a Bedu fieldsman. The ball, once adjacent to the boundary rope, is instead launched into orbit for four. Fortunately this is taken in correct spirits and serves to significantly raise the moral under the hot sun.)
At the other end, Asad, Sorcerer of the Seam, slings his fabled wrist and has the ball shaping in all directions. Befuddlement, dismay, confusion, panic; the flurry of emotions instilled in the Quilibets top order. The breakthrough – the ever-pleasing ‘thunk’ of a disassembled set of stumps – is followed by a remarkable three more in short succession, the swinging ball causing havoc with even the oppositions most able swordsmen. In particular their number five, who is somehow bowled round his legs. Westy at the other end is chipping in too, collecting a fine scalp trapped plumb in front. The score is something in the region of 30-5 and the Bedu have a firm grip on proceedings.
Juneed, perhaps overawed by his own success, throws down a slightly looser over, rummaging around in his locker for the under-used, head high, back of the hand leg break; duly dispatched for four. Phelan makes the call, and spin is introduced at both ends, the subtle flight of Rawson Jr. at the school end, Maby’s consistent off breaks from the pavilion end. Some hefty swipes from Quilibets number six raise the total, but Sachin eventually gets his man – three well spun deliveries setting the trap for another whack, caught on the midwicket boundary. As befitting tradition and Bedu legislation, Phelan takes the ball and throws down some surprisingly rather smart looking off-spin. Before you know it, it’s the lunch break.
The session is certainly a Bedouin one, and the weary travellers walk off under their proudly flying flag, mouths pre-emptively watering in anticipation of one of the better meals to be had in any cricketing summer. One cannot write enough words about how pivotal lunch or tea is to any game of cricket. We’ve all been there before – mediocre cucumber sandwiches and cold chicken drumsticks from a cool bag on a rec somewhere in West London. . . Fortunately, Framlingham’s is a tea of raptures, an oasis of nourishment in the scorching Bedouin desert. Casseroles, cold meat platters, quiches, salads, finished off with probably one too many spectacular vanilla and raspberry pana cotta. After a more than leisurely interval, the Bedu suddenly remember they have to return to the field and bowl more overs.
The second session continues where the first left off; accurate, confident bowling punctuated by the regular fall of wickets. Dan Hayes thunders in from the school end, his heavy ball bowling consistently pounding into the wicket in an area of about one square foot on a fourth stump line. Although a strong Quilibets partnership is brewing, tight fielding and consistent bowling means the score is only just ticking over. The introduction of Russell’s leg-spin proves the breakthrough – a slider sneaks through Greenall'’s defences. He departs for a patient hundred, and the floodgates open again. Atonement for Sherrington who snaffles a top edge, before Will grabs his third; bowled through the gate, clattering into the uprights again. The hosts set an eminently chase-able total of 223, there are plenty of overs left in the day.
When faced with a lowish total, getting off to a quick, positive start is key. Who better to send out than Elliot – a firm believer that attack is the best form of attack - to get things underway? Sharland joins him, and the two make a perfect start, Jake restrained in defence and capitalising on the bad deliveries, Elliot playing cut-a-ball to great effect, sending the opener through point with disdain. Misfortune befalls Sharland, who is out playing on to a wide one. Sudell comes out at three to join the flying Sherrington.
Quilibets turn to spin, Elliot responds using his feet well, and with the singles ticking over, things are looking good. After a while spent nurdling, Sudell reaches his fifty with a six over the pavilion. At the other end, Els drives through mid-on for his fifty, although Ben’s pads inexplicably manage to intercept the ball on its path to the boundary, leaving him perched at 47. After a rather generous series of long hops in the final over, the two take tea (more panna cotta) unbeaten.
The aforementioned batting partnership is soon broken following the tea break and under the watchful gaze of father Roger, Mufti Robin J strides out, shadowed shortly after by Will Russell. Wielding a ‘smasher’ blade, Harrison works the spinners ably, while Will engages in a most polite demolishing of the Quilibets bowling. The pace of the match is steady now, the pair are comfortably rotating strike; Harrison the gentleman, Russell the player.
On the side-line, in the lengthening shadows of the golden evening, fellow Bedu are relaxed. Much maligned magician Juneed is mixing potions on the boundary ropes with his young apprentice, dismissed and unneeded batsmen alike make sightseeing trips to watch the sun set on Framlingham Castle around the corner, and Elliot considers nipping back to his car for his golf clubs in the hope of squeezing in a few holes on the school course.
Back at the crease, after a few gentle nods of affirmation from his leader, Will sends a few more balls back over the bowler’s head, and in almost an instant there are only a handful of runs needed for the victory. Resplendent in his neon green footwear, Harrison crashes one through the covers and walks off triumphantly, a second successive victory for the Bedu safely negotiated.
The clock reads six something, and there is plenty of time for a celebratory, school anniversary ale at the presentation ceremony. Fittingly, the umpires recognise where the match was won – the opening spells of the Bedu earlier in the day. Asad, kindly takes time to say a few mythical words to the swelling crowd and gratefully accepts the MoM champagne.
On then to the Station inn, for round two of the local beer festival. Grievances are aired, and the day is re-lived over pale ales, ciders and substantial quantities of nuts. Apparently, Rob is still waiting for his pizza.

Above: Elliot gets out after lunch, again
Above: Elliot remembers there are Pana Cotta left over
About the Fixture