The Bedouin Cricket Club

Manaton CC v. The Bedouins CC
Manaton, Devon, 31 May 2010
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Our tale begins with the debate over the flag of the Bedouin. The village of Manaton has a fine church, St Winifred’s, and in its grounds an even finer flagpole. Where better to hang the flag of the Bedouin?

- A moment, said Sandy, for he had read somewhere of the fine granite cross that was once to be found in the churchyard.

It is there no more! The people of the village had been wont at a funeral to carry the corpse the way of the sun thrice round the cross before internment. A former rector, the Reverend C.Carwithen, preached against the custom ineffectually, and so he secretly and wantonly smashed the cross in the night.
- So no flag then? asked Joe.
- Perhaps not.
- My God! We’re playing pagans, said Rob H.

They hung it instead from the clubhouse, causing Rob H to win the toss but lose his mind.
- It will be fun to chase, he said.
- To chase what? chorused his men, for they were old hands and knew that chasing 150 is fun, but chasing 250 is hell.

So is fielding first with a hangover.

Undeterred, the Mufti mustered his troops, including the walking wounded (Fin, Cal) and the Bedouin took to the field. Rob H tossed the ball to Sandy. Those who believe in omens lowered their eyes. The first ball was a wide. The second ball, however spat off a length, fizzed past the edge of the bat and clattered into Alf’s gnarled paw. Loud chirps were heard from the field.

It was some time since they were heard again. After a slow start the Manatee began to attack and they attacked not only the ball but also passing cars, the cows in the distant field and the highest ever score in May. Wickets fell, but not often. By the time drinks came at 20 overs the Manatee had reached a chastening 117 for 2. Rob G, seeking a consoling cigarette chanced instead upon The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
- It says here, he said, that, “Some of the evil may have been inherent in our circumstances. For years we lived anyhow with one another in the naked desert, under the indifferent heaven. By day the hot sun fermented us; and we were dizzied by the beating wind.”
- That and too much booze, said Fin.
- What he said, said Sean. Did I tell you about the time I pulled this bird in prison?

If the first twenty overs were difficult, the second twenty were torture. The Manatee scored with gay abandon, peppering the church and the cows with a series of lusty shots. Balls were lost with a regularity that bordered on the tedious.
- The quicker we get through this, the sooner we get to the pub, said Rob H.

To demonstrate what he meant he caught the Manatee opener at mid on and celebrating by tossing the ball high and wide into the field across the road. It took some time for him to return.

It was not all bad. Spenno nearly killed himself trying to take what would have been the catch of this or any other century. Russell ploughed the deep like a hungry mastodon. Cal threw further than the rest of the team could manage together. Fin held sway in the covers. And Sean… well, Sean…
- It’s these married men, Cal. Tonight, then. Just you and me on the pull. What do you say?

Though the Manatee reached 289 after forty overs, five wickets had fallen and each of five bowlers had cause to celebrate. Undoubtedly though, Sandy’s figures of 1-21 off 8 overs stood out. All praise though, to another Rob – Manaton’s Rob, who scored 116 and to Ollie for his fine 78.
- Well, it’s a big ask, said Rob H.
- We’ll need to concentrate, said Joe.
- There was this time I got arrested in Florida, said Sean. I was living rough…

Rob G and Spenno went in first. The pitch, which has proved so benign to the Manatee now spat and turned like a crumbling fourth-dayer at Headingley. Runs were harder to come by than clean jokes and the overs passed too quickly for comfort. But wickets were in hand and while wickets are in hand, hope lives on.
- We can start to accelerate now, said Rob H.

So Rob G and Spenno got out and Joe followed quickly. Russell, who flat batted one four past extra cover with a venom that the very Devil would envy, fell too which left Sandy and Rob H at the crease.
-I’m here to shield you, said Rob H. Be sure to back up.
- Oh, said Sandy.

The circumstances were not propitious. 20 overs to go, some 200 runs required. Not impossible… but not easy. They proceeded to have a biff. Rob’s biffs were cultured and on the offside. Sandy’s biffs were agricultural and went towering up into the sky. Three times he gave chances. Three times he was dropped. Foul play was suspected for the next ball Sam Butler came on to bowl and Sandy fell to him first ball. Out for 42. Rob soon followed, caught in the deep by – you guessed – the masked avenger aka Sam, and with him, the light began to fade. Alf put up sterling resistance, Sean swatted a few but soon it was all over. The Bedouin had fallen some 140 runs short of their target.
- We should do it again, said Joe.
- Ah, mate, said Sean.

For the record:
Manaton CC 289-5 (Manaton Rob 116, Tom 78). Man of the Match Manaton Rob
The Bedouin CC 147 all out. (Sandy 42, Rob H 36) Man of the Match: Sandy
Manaton won by a country mile, but we had all the fun.

Moby Dick

St Winifred's in the background
Robin Harrison with the umpire
Sandy Balfour and his son Cal
Russell Garside and Sean Graham
Alf Incley
Joe Phelan and Russell
Sandy and Sean
Sandy, Bedouins Man of the Match award
Bedouins set off for their next fixture