The Bedouin Cricket Club

Frinton on Sea, August 21st 2014
Brian Lara used to give the bowler 40 minutes, or so he claimed. “The first forty minutes belong to the bowler. Anything after that is mine.” Fans of spread betting might want to bear this in mind when deciding whether to put a fiver on a 32-38 call on, say, Ian Bell, but it wouldn’t have done them much good when deciding whether to go high or low on the Right Honourable A Brown of Burrumbuttock, NSW in the People’s Republic of Australia. The ageing maestro strode to the wicket at not a lot for one with the air of a man who was perfectly happy to regard cricket as a contest between bat and ball with the crucial qualification that this applied on balance and over time and that on this particular day there was no contest at all on account of finally, and not before time, he was taking his rightful place in the batting order and did not plan, if you’ll forgive the phrase, to piss it away like a banana bender on the Walla Walla Road.

But I digress. The Mufti had won the toss and with several members of the team trapped in traffic heading for Clacton Air Show had elected to bat. And as a succession of Bedouin went in, made a few and got out, AB towered above it all at the other end and compiled as nice an 80 and you could hope to see. Elliot belted five fours through the covers before giving a relatively tame caught and bowled to the young Frinton opening bowler. The Mufti, by his own admission was not at his most fluent. Sandy, looking like a man who hadn’t played cricket since... well, actually, like a man who hadn’t played cricket full stop – managed two half decent drives before playing down the Jubilee Line while the ball took the shorter Central Line to the top of his off stump.

To this succession of partners the Sage of
Dismal Swamp offered his legendary mots bons: stay in, have fun, take your time and all the while ignoring the one thing he should have said “Do what I do.”

Such was the purity of his stroke play and the fluency of his running that the only time he looked like getting out was when he got the giggles after watching the manner of Dougal’s dismissal. Picture, if you will, the perfect ground on a perfect day, a few clouds overhead and the occasional fighter jet rising from the distant horizon. The Frinton 2nd change bowler is lobbing up balls that, say, Charlie Meyers would have thought a whisper on the slow side. AB is stroking them with a straight bat through the off side and taking his 1s and 2s. But Dougal is made of sterner stuff. The ball comes to him, shoulder height at the walking speed of a maimed camel. Lining up a radio mast 4 valleys beyond the siight screen he gives the ball a mighty hoick. It flies off the top edge and into the safe hands of the man at deepish gully. Dougs looks to both umpires confidently expecting a no ball call... but call came there none and off he troops with a face like a Virat Kohli with haemorrhoids.

It was only when John Evans came in that AB found a reliable partner and together they steered the Bedouin to a highly respectable score of 225 for 9 declared off 41.3 overs.

It was a timed game and this left the Frinton team about 38 overs to chase it down. Not easy, but not impossible. A decent and sporting declaration that just about favoured the Bedouin. And this soon looked to be the case because nothing retards the scoring of runs like the rattle of wickets and each of the Bedouin bowlers in turn found some luck. Neil and Martin Assad opened well and bowled accurately to the offside field. AB, James Maby and the little Maestro kept the pressure on and with 15 overs to go Frinton found themselves 7 wickets down and 150 runs short of their target.

At which point the Frinton 5 star Boot Camp arrived and took up residence, much to Sandy’s alarm, at deep midwicket. For those not familiar with the rituals of Essex this is an exercise class for ladies of a certain age and indeed girth and was run to a backdrop of watered down house music by a large sergeant major type whose own stomach suggested that he was perhaps one or two beers past his finest hour. And while the ladies did their thing (all together now, bend and touch and bend and touch and bend and...) Sandy, fielding for once in the deep, tried to keep his mind on the...

...pitch where a boot camp of a different sort had taken up residence in the form of Justin F who was giving a master class of a wholly superior kind. 150 off 15 overs should, in the normal course of things, be a defendable total. But this was not the normal course of things. This was a top class batting and no bowler, except possibly AB, could restrain the flamboyant artist at the crease. There was a brief moment of hope when he gave a catch to deep mid on, sadly spilled, but apart from that it was as flawless a display as one could hope to witness and not even the grumpiest Bedouin begrudged Frinton their victory with 3 balls remaining. Fittingly, Justin ended on 100 not out, which is how every spectator rated his innings and he was, unsurprisingly, the Frinton man of the match. The Bedouin man of the match was similarly self-selecting and the award, rightly, went to AB.
It was a good game, it was played in excellent spirit and everyone got something from it, even though it will be some years before Sandy is entirely free of the insistent, rhythmic chorus of the Frinton 5-star Boot Camp. All together now:
And bend and in and Bend and out and Bend and turn and Bend and shout.....

Moby Dick