The Bedouin Cricket Club

Perhaps inevitably, like a dustcart trundling after the Lord Mayor’s show, The Bedouin trooped to Beaconsfield for their fourth and final fixture of this halcyon first season.

They picked up the burst balloons and cornetto cones of summer on this September Sunday as they faced the Mishits of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Would it be the Bedouin responsibility to remind this canker-ridden toppling folly of a public service broadcaster that there was once an unspoilt world of Received Pronunciation and endless repeats? A better world? Much as there had been all-day games, with cracking teas and flat wickets; and opposition consisting of eleven men earlier this summer?

The ragged BBC Mishits would prove to be a group of motley, competitive cricketers with no little skill. And happy to be bowling first on a slow big n bouncy turner, after skipper Harrison won the toss and sent in Mufti Phelan and John Evans to open the batting.

Interested readers (where are you?) may have expected news of Marmaduke Hussey loping in off his short run from the Pavilion End, or possibly Johnny Ball clutching the new cherry and announcing tartly “think of a number!” as he began his run up.

Unfortunately this BBC side was shorn of any ‘front of camera’ participants, save the club masseuse Moira Stewart (who would deliver startling Shiatsu to Sean Graham after tea – numbers were exchanged!!).

Phelan and Evans put on 45 for the first wicket – which was debutant Evans, falling caught in the deep after an excellent knock.

Gilpin, Mishits plucky Australian off-spinner, offered big turn and luckless banter in that peculiar questioning intonation. In a Commonwealth stand-off he was belted several times for maximums by the sublime Kiwi Eddie Binns, in his innings of 109. The Bedouin gawped at his ability to shake off a night of depravity celebrating his club side’s promotion, only to walk in and stroke the ball around like Peter May. Sean Graham looked on helplessly as
The Big Excuse melted in front of his eyes. Simon Rawson, of whom more later, was melting in the passenger seat of his car, with the seat lowered.

Mufti Phelan battled on and gained fluency to record his highest score for Bedouin, in a summer where he staked a claim to be that oft-sought genuine all-rounder.

Harrison declared the innings after a few overs of what cricketers know as ‘farting about’ from Dent, Dekeller, Gilham, the skipper himself and the Undertaker. A padded up nine-year old in next, with a look of small disappointment in his eye as they walked in for tea 230 for 6 declared, having been offered 45 overs. The colt would play his part after the sandwiches.

But first some history… Many batsmen in suburban north and north-west London have had their weekends ruined by the man they call the Undertaker. His name is John Newton and he arrives, usually late, to represent a burgeoning and uniquely charming lower league side in Middlesex.

Be-decked in a face-full of war paint … like some sort of nightmare opium dream when you drape on your chaise-longue staring at the TV screen watching an Oil of Olay advert and suddenly Anna Friel has turned in to John Newton, and he’s wearing a kimono that matches yours and applying thrush cream… he bounces to the wicket and wrist cocked dead straight manipulates that seam in, around and through the batsman’s heart.

Today he bowled unchanged and patiently disbanded the British Broadcasting Corporation.

First he undid the myth of the TV detector van, bowled through the gate. Then he ushered back the governors from some paid-for junket in Mauritius, dismantling their license fee funded conservatories as he did so. Then he roughed up Gordon the Gopher with some spitting off a length. Five for sixty-one (the skipper’s fiddling around with the field had left one or two gaps) from sixteen malevolent overs.

Opposite this sense of crisis, at the other end, fairly early on was ushered off-spinning prodigy nine-year old Sachin Rawson. His father had obviously heard of the legendary pink gin Bedouin Boat Race sessions and decided to get some practice in beforehand as he cowered at fine leg, refusing any entreaty to bowl himself.

After Rob Gilham had pulled off a superb catch at long-ish off to dismiss the dangerous Persaud and give Rawson junior his first wicket, one fielder was heard to welcome the incoming batsman with the words “no pressure… He’s nine”.

Sachin mixed up flight and subtleties of length to bowl a match-winning spell of three for twenty-six.

Another win for The Bedouin. As the Mufti rounded up the competitors and umpire for the presentations Ram Persaud, the BBC skipper, awarded Rawson junior the Bedouin Man of the Match award. He sportingly allowed his elderly team-mates to entrain for London Marylebone, too late anyway for Beaconsfield’s dearth of off-licences, with just one bottle of Buckfast to last ‘til the Metropolis.

Eddie Binns
John Newton: The Undertaker
Bedouin Circus Troup: Centre, Man of the Match Sachin Rawson with skipper Robin Harrison. Behind, Eddie Binns, Umpire Keith, Dougal DeKeller, Phil Dent, Sean Graham and Rob Gillham.