The Bedouin Cricket Club

I didn’t drive my wife thirty miles to hear that word…

Hunched over the blotter pad here, thrashing away – distracted by a documentary on You Tube about Chris Waddle … he lopes around the St Etienne back four, mulleted hair blowing in the wind behind him, almost jogging his way towards goal before unleashing an unstoppable shot in to the top corner … I need to focus, and turn my attention back to the events of last Thursday at Framlingham College, on the back, Quilibets hosting the Bedu for the third year running in this their cricket week.

When I first googled ‘Quilibets’ in search of a definition of the name of today’s Bedouin hosts I was taken to a page advertising Victorian marital aids. Not having had the benefit of a classical education I turned to the telephone and spoke with the learned AH Balfour, who informed me the term seems to be an enigmatic, inclusive nickname - meaning anyone, or anything.

The back ground at Framlingham College is a small and beautiful place where bowlers go to die. On the wall of the small, smart pavilion there are records of battles with the Marylebone Cricket Club, and pleasingly, a framed Beduin pennant, given over to commemorate the first visit of the itinerants in 2011. A game destroyed by rain. On Thursday 18
th July 2013 we were fourteen days into some of the driest and hottest weather in years. Dan Hayes raised the Bedouin flag and saluted.

The hosts skipper Halliday mentioned that scores of 280 plus had been successfully chased twice this week already. Bedu Mufti Harrison seemed utterly confused (not for the first time today) by this helpful advice. A player and bowler light could mean a long hot and potentially demoralising day for the bowlers, particularly if Bedooins bowled first. A bat and Test Match Special on the radio, with sumptuous chocolate biscuits and plenty of shade were the reward, as he called correctly (tails). He limped from the wicket making a high elbow cover drive signal to his openers, looking a little like Neville Chamberlain getting off a plane.

The word in Jazz Hat circles is that this has been a trying season for the Bedouins. Flamboyant, provocative failure has been the theme. Could a scorching day and a seemingly endless list of skilled batters be the turning point? Scantily clad disregard for a lack of slow bowling in the ranks (in fact one short of a full team) did nothing to furrow Harrison’s brow. That morning session was like Britain between the wars, as dashing Sudell and smasher Sharland put on 98 for the first wicket. Brunner loped in the shade, John Smith’s at hand; Juneed took his hookah to the long grass with Fred Barrass, all the better to relax somewhat before their new ball spell later; Fin adopted his baggy brown cap and waited for his chance; Harrison and Gillham ignored any thoughts of ‘later’ and ‘defending’ anything… Gillham drank tea and reminisced about opening the bowling here.

Perhaps men should have been more candid? But alas, the strokeplay went on. Damien Holliday diagnosed the field, and Robertson blunted the dusty medium pacers – before he opened up with two magnificent sixes en route to 70 not out. Still nobody thought about later, and what might be coming. The skipper even sent in a half cut Brunner after 50 odd overs of this. One inside edge from the tired and emotional one and in they came. 280 for 4 declared.

At 15-0 from the first six overs of reply, Harrison turned and scoured the field for his ageing but still effective flight and dip merchant. Hmm. He looked in the other direction for the young leggie, apt to go for a few, but very capable of turn and bounce and surprise. Just tennis courts, red brick, and in the distance a turret of Framlingham Castle obscured by a tree and vapours of heat. So he threw the ball to Nick Brunner.

After tea, with Juneed and Freddie restored, things started to fall off the Bedouin caravan. Suffolk was more Negev desert than East Anglia by now, and when Huggins was dropped at slip 150 short of his final total off Sharland, profanity rent the air. The umpire spoke with the captain, reminding him ladies were present. Quite well hidden it seemed, but apparently present somewhere. Huggins would be dropped again on 99 by the captain – another loud ejaculation slurred the hot evening, followed by a swift apology and much ringing of a bruised hand. A swear box was hastily constructed using old thigh pads and scotch tape, as bowlers tired and ‘filddle-sticks’ just didn’t seem to cut it …

Huggins finished on 181 not out as Quilibets won by 8 wickets.

Quilibets Man of the Match: Tom Huggins
Bedu Man of the Match: Damian Holliday
Roger J Harbinger QC Bar (retd.) reports