The Bedouin Cricket Club

  • - I hope your match report this time won’t reference any more bloody obscure plays, said RWT Gillham.
  • - Obscure to whom? murmured your humble correspondent.

The report, therefore....

For generations of students the key message of Thomas Hardy’s
Mayor of Casterbridge is that “character is fate”. Admittedly 99.387% of these same students never actually read the damn thing. They got this much from
a) Google and
b) The subtitle which was,
the life and death of a man of character.
The challenge for the man of character and the event which leads to his untimely demise is that after a night of heavy drinking he sells his wife and child to a passing sailor. Waking, sober, he is filled with remorse and regret and sets about, unsuccessfully, trying to redeem himself.

Which brings me to the match. Being the Bedouin, of course, we got it the wrong way round. Having redeemed ourselves through a spritely performance in the field, we took up our bats (actually our hosts’ bats) and did the cricketing equivalent of getting pissed and selling our wives and children to passing sailors.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Let us take a more leisurely stroll through the idea that perhaps character is fate.

It started with Damian P Holliday Esq. of Peckham who, to his surprise, had been appointed captain in absentia. Taking one look at the sky from which a pitiless sun shone down on the frazzled Bedu and bearing in mind that the hosts were providing the field, the equipment and the tea he did the honourable thing and consigned his team to 35 overs in the field during the hottest period of the day. He was later harshly adjudged lbw for the princely score of 1. Deeply unfair and richly deserved for making the Bedu suffer thus. Character is fate? I think so.

Consider therefore Hadi, a new Bedu recruit. Young, fast, loquacious he steamed in off a 35 yard run and let fly the ball. His reward, 26 extras (wides and byes) and a single wicket. He later batted well (hitting the only Bedu maximum) well until undone by an almighty and il-considered (if indeed it was considered at all) hoick. Character is fate? Certainly. Or perhaps it was just an
homage a Balfour?

At the other end Balfour rubbed Oil of Ulay into his delicate scholarly hands (and thence the ball) and found unlikely wobble in the hot still air. He also managed to find a good line and length. His reward? 7 overs, 3 for 17. So far so good, but the gods were not done with him- and fate had yet to take its pound of flesh. That came later when he hurried to the crease after a mini collapse involving a run out of Pete and an inelegant swish by Cal and Sandy as is his wont, played around a straight one and was dismissed for 1. C is F? You bet it is.

First change bowler was the Rt. Rev. RWT Gillham of Norwich. Rob is a man of conviction, charm and wit. His reward? Six increasingly tortuous overs until, by a process of Darwinian selection, he was replaced by his skipper. He had no more luck batting. Character is fate? I think not.

Let us turn, then, to Pete Williams, a man of becoming modesty and deadly intent. 7 blameless and near runless overs followed, each ball landing with metronomic accuracy on a length. His batting was similarly disciplined. His demeanour always cheerful. His enthusiasm unwavering. His regard for others exemplary. And his reward? Run out on a dodgy return call. Character may be fate, but then fate’s a bastard.

In case you have lost count, here is the score so far.
Character is Fate: 3
Shit happens: 2

Next up is Cal Falck, who having served 25 overs behind the stumps handed over to Sandy and retreated to the boundary. Sharp in the field, enthusiastic with the bat, but unable to adapt to the bouncy artificial pitch. On the day his mind was not in the right place and his normal straight bat gave way to an agricultural scything movement by which he was soon undone. C is F? Up to a point.

Consider therefore the Mufti. The Bedouin have long recognised that he possesses one of the finest – if not the finest – cricketing brains in the land and nothing could illustrate this more clearly than the fact that for 35 overs he positioned himself about the field so that not once, not one single time, did the ball come within 30 yards of where he was standing or trouble his aching back. He was, therefore the freshest and most clear-headed of the Bedu when he went out to bat. His reward. Top score and the gratitude of his team. Character is fate? You better believe it.

Let’s call it 4.5 – 2.5.

After Rob we had Paul Williams, another Bedu initiate. Thoughtful, analytical and with a will to win, Paul bowled 7 good overs (although he took an undeserved spanking from Midi man of the match Ken) and when he went into bat Paul, like the Mufti, set about taking the game to the opposition. There was a brief period when he and Harrison were together when it looked like the game could be saved. His reward? 32 runs and a day well spent. His character was his fate? Amen to that.

5.5 – 2.5.

And finally (for the Bedu were short on numbers) we have the soon-to-be-wed Philip. Philip is as straight as the day is long, a man for whom no smile is too broad, no favour too large. His reward, a genuine, Test-class-Are-you-Jimmy-Anderson-in-disguise red-inker. 1 not out.

So take a bow, Mr Hardy. Character is fate, cricket is character and on the day we showed it both when we bowled and when we batted, just not in equal measure.

For the record:
  • - Bedouin man of the match: Pete Williams for his bowling and batting.
  • - Midi man of the match: Ken Owen, for his batting, bowling and for winning the game for us last year.
  • - The next time: St Pons du Mauchien, Saturday 14 June 2014

Our thanks, as before, to our most excellent hosts, the good people of Club Midi and more generally of the Herault – and here’s to next year.

Moby Dick

Scorecard. Below: 1: Cal-umny - Falk with the gloves. 2: Phil Lunn. 3: Harrison tells debutant Paul Williams "if there's a run out, it's you who's walking back"