A day in Fernhurst

Published May 28, 2013

It had all begun a couple of hours earlier – I’d run myself out in a particularly stupid fashion. I was seething – not for any rational reason, but just because I’d driven from Cardiff, and my game had lasted four balls. And I’d let the side down badly. Never a good feeling.

So when we took to the field after tea, I was more than usually eager to try to redeem myself. We got off to a decent start – two early wickets – but then things started slipping downhill. Two strong batsmen set about our attack, scoring freely and easily. Lots of undignified fetching. I watched my son’s head drop as he was struck around the ground. That’s never a good feeling either: I’d rather take a pasting any day than see Will suffer one. Soon they’d cleared 100 for two, and a barnful of overs left. As Clyde and I crossed between overs, he muttered that at least we’d be able to get the rush hour home.

Then Chris gets one of their hitters. This isn’t redemption, hardly even a glimmer of hope. But it’s good to see the back of him, and Chris calls, asking me to take the next over from the far end. I’m on the fence at deep extra, and start repeating the mantra ‘make it count, make it count’ while being befriended by a barrel-like Staffie called Archie.

Right, up and at it. I pace out my run. Feeling quite pumped up, a bit of a pause as the sightscreen is moved. It’s their haymaker at the other end, and there’s no doubt he fancies himself a bit. Maybe that’s his weakness….

Make it count, make it count. Get some shine on one side, take a good hard look at the base of off stump, start running in. Hit the crease hard and well, my hopelessly stubby fingers seem to get some direction on the ball. It’s well pitched up, heading somewhere just outside off, dips in late, beats him. Middle. There’s that millisecond’s silence that seems so much longer, then I realize I’m standing screaming yes, yes, yes, like a psycho in white. The batsman stares at me, furious, then heads off.

With the next ball, the full story is told of how exasperating a cricketer I can be. The task is simply to make the new batsman play: I bowl four wides about three leagues down the leg side. Idiot. Idiot. Four more balls, including another big inswinger that leaves me in the direction of off stump and scuffs the turf just outside leg. Hermann can’t believe it missed, and watches it sail off for four byes…..

Last ball of the over – try something different. Scrambled seam this time. It’ll be a bit slower, but maybe, if the seam grips on pitching, it’ll surprise him. In we go. Batsman forward, plays inside the line, there’s an appeal. I’m not sure what’s going on, looks to me like he missed it. That’s extraordinary. Peter was standing up, took it cleanly, stumped him. Astonishment and delight – Peter’s still got that magic, and two wickets in an over always feels good… but it’s not over yet.

Next over and Chris gets another of their youngsters out. Now it’s getting interesting – suddenly they’re six down and still about thirty to get – in all honesty we’d probably still back them, but it’s not a cakewalk any more. Dignity restored if nothing else.

OK, me again, but not until after a drinks break. Must keep concentrating.

Back on my mark, here we go. Let’s just try that inswinging yorker again – seems to be working. Bowled. Blimey. The atmosphere is getting a little heady, we’ve picked up four in the last thirteen balls – that’s not like us…

Next man in. My hunch is we’ve got the upper hand now, he’ll have had to get padded up in a hurry, and won’t be thrilled about having to succeed where his mates have failed. So let’s make him wait a moment, while I stare him up and down, and then have another good look at the base of off stump. Get your run up right, Lyndon. Just do the same as before – it worked last time. Good grief, it has again. Bails on the floor, the batsman’s on his way. I don’t really believe this is happening, but the yelling around me suggests it is. I’ve also lost track of the game completely. But we haven’t won yet – come on guys – there’s still work to do.

New batsman’s in, big gangly b*gger. Don’t let him have a swing of the bat, or it’ll travel – business class. Mind you, he doesn’t look all that composed, and I don’t think they’ve been doing anything crafty with the batting order. OK guys, everyone in – hat-trick ball. Hat-trick ball? Are you kidding? This is territory uncharted since my teens.

Right. Strategy. Lots of aggression, Lyndon, but manage it – don’t waste this one. Here we go. Off stump, off stump, off stump … and heave. Over goes the arm, it feels OK. And it is. I look up to the unimaginably bizarre sight of eleven grown men, average age comfortably over 50, sloughing off decades and screaming like eight year-olds. Will is first to me. How amazing is it that he’s here at all? If I ever doubted the effort that goes into being a parent, this proves it was worth it. I hold him so tight, I don’t want to let him go. Maybe he’ll have kids to tell one day. But Ted’s yelling ‘we should run you out more often’, and Andy’s screaming he wants to have my children. This is hysterical, demented, collective lunacy.

One over later and Chris, Mr Reliable, has seen off their last batsman. How lucky am I to be at the centre of this maelstrom of happiness? Life is, despite so much daily evidence to the contrary, good. And how magical it is to feel anchored, uniquely and forever, to a glorious patch of greensward, and a noble history. Three cheers for the Bushmen. We were there. Even in the middle of this, it’s always a team effort.

Lyndon Jones
May 28th, 2013


This piece has been allowed to remain for a considerable time on the site for three good reasons; it describes the most extraordinary victory in recent Bushmen history; it is very imaginatively and modestly written; last, but not least, the author slipped me a fiver.  MK

1 Response to “A day in Fernhurst”

  1. Site June 15, 2016

    In an historic moment for Fernhurst Horticultural Society, Elizabeth Tyler swept the board at the spring show on Saturday.

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