Mount Edgcumbe v Erratics Cricket Club Erratics on Sun 27 Aug 2023 at 2.00pm
Match was Drawn

Match report THE DRAW (please suspend awareness of this title until the dénouement)

“I’ll be your substitute, whenever you want me” [1]

The annual erratic odyssey to Mount Edgcumbe has for me taken on a wistful quality, as the route (if you use short-cuts) passes close to what was the mooring for Steve Berry’s live-in barge, before Steve was taken off to the great cricket pitch in the sky (with adjacent pub). So, I drive onto the Tamar ferry with the soft-top down (poser, I hear Colclough say), turn one of Steve’s favourites up loud - Van’s Dweller on the Threshold - and climb up to the viewing deck to salute him. Drizzle begins to fall (it is August after all) and when I return to the car, the seats are damp, and the roof won’t go back up. On my mobile, an erratibulletin cuts the wistfulness: baby Sophia is born! Congratulations to Lee and Thelma! This wondrous news of Erratic progeny means Lee’s all-round talents are unavailable today (a reasonable excuse it must be conceded) which is a concern, for Erratics were only ten before the birth-day, a ten that included a non-playing friend of Anuj, and, it turns out, two players who have been up most of the night on a red wine razz. As the motley crew gather, captain Duncan assesses the situation with his customary equanimity.

We think Dunc loses the toss, as seems de rigueur in these parts (did they even give one?) and so seven good men of the Erratics take to the field to join the two inebriates who, in search of metaphors for their addled disposition, are watching two tugs escort a nuclear sub up the estuary. Of all away ground views, those up on Mt Edgcumbe hill must be the most thrilling, and despite squally showers running in from Cornwall, sunlight fitfully articulates the Tamar valley, the glowing flanks of both Exmoor and Dartmoor, and, closer to, Plymouth and its panoply of docks, notably the imposing Royal William Yard, fashioned in a honeyed stone reminiscent of Venice’s Arsenale, where until a few years ago Steve Berry, Phil Power and myself could be found giving tutorials to recalcitrant art students. Tutorials will later turn out to be the order of the day.

The opposition kindly offer us a rotating fielder - not one that rotates per se, of course, but one that is repeatedly replaced by teammates, all of whom will in their turn perform with admirable dedication. In an even more handsome gesture, we also acquire a guest player proper, in the form of young Leighton, perhaps about 11 years old. To suggest Leighton is enthusiastic would be like suggesting that the sea is damp today, something of an understatement. He has brought with him a comprehensive kit bag ‘just in case’, is changed in no time at all, and from the off (Anuj bowling tightly, Matt bowling alluringly and picking up an early wicket) he displays his extraordinary approach to fielding: reluctant to use hands to the point of diffidence, he is more than happy to employ any other part of his body, a method that results in a series of curious sliding stops and ungainly lunges with thigh and flank, until a fierce cut shot strikes him square on the kneecap and fells him in agony. He clambers back to his feet, smiling ruefully. Leighton would do well under the tutelage of John Curtis, whose less flexible variant of said technique is also in evidence, mainly involving boots and shins, but on one occasion of serene nonchalance, a side-foot-flick-then-knee-up into hands cupped in ready anticipation. Leighton patrols the upper slopes with Will, Anuj’s inexperienced (in the cricketing sense) friend, and although Will is somewhat wary of the projectile fired at him, he flings out arms where necessary, hurls the ball in to keeper Perkin at pace and generally disports himself with distinction. On the estuary side of the wicket, Chris Ferro calmly provides a fielding masterclass, saving a hatful of runs.

Erratics are short of bowling as well as men, and by now our two spinners have come on – your correspondent into the wind and Power down-drizzle, tossing the ball high to gather drift and turning it unpredictably off the sticky pitch. With near-inevitability two batsmen succumb. Beyond the boundary fence, in a field that slopes down to the estuary, a flock of sheep graze out of sight, though their bleating hangs in the clammy air, and whilst fielding blearily at slip, there’s a moment when the bleating seems for all the world to be emanating from the wandering Erratic fielders in their damp woolly jumpers.

Edgcumbe captain Andy is, as usual, eyeing up yet another big score, with his trademark juxtaposition of dour defence and impulsive targeted aggression, but wickets continue to fall at the other end. Phil’s partner in wine-crime Jon is by now recovered and keeping expertly, taking a smart stumping. Phil suddenly has four wickets and (a quick query establishes) has never taken an Erratic five-fer! Imagine the excitement then, when the next batsman puts up a dolly catch to ‘catch-o-matic’ Crawford at short midwicket. Matt spills it. But no matter – Phil is in the mood and with the help of another Perkin stumping takes two further wickets to register the outstanding figures of 6-52 [2] whilst your correspondent finally (14 overs into a ‘spell’) removes captain Andy, twenty short of his ton, with a quick out-swinger. Given the reduced (and assorted) personnel and the array of fielding techniques on display, Edgcumbe’s final total of 170 all out (from 49 overs!) reflects a determined Erratics performance.

Following a brief tea interval, captain Chave opens up at a sprightly pace, making light of the awkward conditions with a range of hooks, cuts, and the occasional lofted drive, whilst at the other end Jon and Matt find the awkward conditions awkward indeed, and are LBW and bowled respectively, bringing your reporter to the crease, relieved to be leaving Chris F. to absorb the random information spouting from Leighton as he harangues our gentle-mannered scorer. I nurdle as Dunc powers along, and we pass 100 with relative ease, but a few runs later a ball stops on the skipper as he drives and he is pouched for 66.

In comes Will, looking unsure, even perplexed. Will doesn’t know where to put his bat (or his feet for that matter), but he mysteriously survives his first two deliveries, and between overs I offer what would turn out to be the first in a series of ‘inset’ tutorials. I explain that a guard is obtained from an umpire, so that a batsman can know where his bat is in relation to the stumps. Will learns fast, and makes his mark successfully, but becomes so obsessed by this precision bat-location that he watches the mark like a kestrel until the very last moment the ball is delivered. A second tutorial persuades Will to assume that once he puts his bat down it will stay there, so not to worry about it, but instead focus on the ball. Will’s confidence grows once he makes first contact, so I now propose (you’ll note my subtle tutorial manner) he hits the ball harder, as we need to keep the runs coming. Will whacks a couple of robust shots over fielders, and we rotate the strike, with running tutorials ‘on the hoof’ (‘just a single so I get the strike’ – ‘huh?’), until Will is caught for 7 – a miraculous score, in the circumstances.

Out jogs Anuj. Now, Anuj requires no cricketing tutorials whatsoever, having risen many a Delhi morning at 5am to get his cricket in before the sun can burn him to a crisp, but when he informs me that Leighton may well have been put in next, I suggest that we two employ diligence and finish the job ourselves. Anuj nods, then proceeds to play in the manner to which he is accustomed, upping the scoring rate considerably. Their skipper Andy brings himself on in response and extracts extra bounce and seam. On the pavilion boundary we now catch sight of Leighton, padded-up, gloved, bat in hand, jumping up and down, chanting “I hope one of them gets out! I hope one of them gets out!” We laugh nervously, then Anuj receives a long hop and middles it straight into the hands of deep midwicket, right in front of the dear young chap. It was the way Anuj’s season had been going. At this point we need around four runs-per-over for victory, nothing at all in the era of Bazball, but then bazball has not yet featured Leighton, who waddles gleefully to the middle, pads and helmet a little too large, giving him the aspect of a Lego ‘minifigure’ cricketer. Quick singles are going to be an issue. He misses a couple of balls, and lets another hit him, as is his wont. I go for broke and register a couple of boundaries to keep up with the rate, but one is off the last ball of the over, and with two overs remaining, the question is: how to switch ends? Leighton meets me for another tutorial, swishing his bat before concluding: ‘I have to hit the ball hard’ whereupon with the help of an inside edge and little legs working overtime, we steal a single. I try for another boundary, but it is stopped short and so I call for two – the fielder throws to the non-striker’s end (toward which Leighton waddles) providing the bowler with ample time to consider the romance of the situation before deftly removing the bails. Perhaps it’s for the best.

Phil is next up. A two, then a single from the final ball allows me to keep the strike as we enter the last over, needing eight runs for victory, with the field set back. My on-drive is parried by a diving stop, and we can’t manage the second. The next ball stays low and Phil doesn’t get a bat on it. The third ball he times aerially to long off, one of their best fielders, who surprisingly spills it over his head, and in our relief we inexplicably run two. Three balls remain, five runs needed, Phil back on strike, and he misses and is given out LBW. Five from 2. At this juncture it is heartening to see a purposeful Ferro approaching, batting too low as too often. What I don’t realise is that Chris’s mind has been thoroughly scrambled from an hour of listening to Leighton, most recently (it later transpires) opining on the extraction of DNA from Kiwi fruit. “I’ll just hit it hard” Chris says emphatically, “so either we get four or you get the strike”. But Andy is bowling well, and Chris misses it, and it hits middle. One ball to go, all results possible.

I meet John Curtis as he shimmies out. The final tutorial of the afternoon is pure maths: “So, John”, you have options – a 6 will win the match, a 4 will tie the match, any other score it will be a draw, but if you get out we lose”. In the countless tutorials I’ve given to art students over the years I recognise there’s always one in each group who will listen intently but then return to doing precisely whatever they want. John is a student of this ilk, and ‘whatever he wants’ is precisely nothing: he allows the final ball of the match to strike his thigh.

So, back past Steve’s old mooring to the St John Inn, a perfect low-ceilinged wood-panelled establishment offering, to everyone’s amazement, Bass on draught, triggering waves of nostalgia. One can see why Mt Edgcumbe have switched their drinking allegiances, and when they join us we laugh about fielding techniques and substitutes, and compliment one another on a cracking draw. Erratics are good at draws, they take them with excellent grace, even if to others it might appear that an afternoon has been spent in fruitless toil. What we don’t yet know is that today’s draw will remarkably turn out to be the first and last of the season. So, three stand-out accomplishments: a Power 5-fer, the draw, and a baby. We toast the birth of Sophia, toast the memory of Steve, and to append the day’s tutorials, Curtis avows the Bass red triangle to be the oldest patented logo in the world. We ignore him.

Chris Cook

[1] written by Willie Wilson, first recorded by The Righteous Brothers, and made a global hit in 1978 version by Clout
[2] we would learn at the end of season dinner that Phil thereby joined a select two Erratics who have taken six-fer but not a five-fer. Perhaps Phil should over-consume wine the night before every game?

Mount Edgcumbe Batting
Player name RunsMB4s6sSR
9w 5b 1lb 
for 10 wickets
165 (48.5 overs)
A Ware b  C Cook 80
D Rogers ct  M Crawford 9
Mihiran b  P Power 16
D Dohertt st  P Power 23
Den lbw  C Cook 0
S Hill b  P Power 2
Fernando lbw  P Power 6
Amishka b  C Cook 6
M Battley st  P Power 6
O Hill Not Out  1
R Lock b  P Power 1

Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Bowling

Player NameOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverageEconomy
Anuj Tiwari11.042100.001.91
Matt Crawford8.0033133.004.13
Chris Cook16.0154318.003.38
Phil Power13.505268.673.76

Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Batting
Player Name RMB4s6sSRCatchesStumpingsRun outs
4w 6b 3lb 
for 8 wickets
Duncan Chave ct  D Doherty 66 82 8 1 80.49 2
Jon Perkin lbw  O Hill 6 16 37.50
Matt Crawford b  O Hille 4 9 44.44 1
Chris Cook Not Out  46 70 4 65.71
A.N. Other ct  A Ware 7 19 36.84
Anuj Tiwari ct  D Doherty 15 12 1 125.00
A.N. Other Run out  2 7 28.57
Phil Power lbw  A Ware 2 3 66.67
Chris Ferro b  A Ware 0 1 0
John Curtis Not Out  0 1 0
N.O. One  

Mount Edgcumbe Bowling

Player nameOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverageEconomy
O Hill8.0130215.003.75
R Lock6.001900.003.17
D Doherty11.0051225.504.64
A Ware6.002036.673.33