Stokeinteignhead v Erratics Cricket Club Erratics on Sun 12 May 2019 at 1.30pm
Erratics Cricket Club Won by 4 wickets
Dr Martin Wright reports...
I was just easing myself into the autumn of my indolence, buttering up the crumpets and polishing off the port, when my fireside idleness was disturbed by an E on the mail.
It contained a missive, no less, from a Dr Hailwood, late of this parish. The good doctor, as some of you are doubtless aware, specialises in the study of topics both recondite and abstruse, but this particular enquiry probed depths obscure even to his learned eye.
Something of a completist in his field, he had found himself shamefully lacking in knowledge of a minor but – to judge by the imploring urgency of his letter – apparently crucial occurrence in the manor of NotAnywhereNearStokeinteignhead, which, he insisted, had taken place in a dim and distant May, long, long ago.
And thus, having doubtless exhausted all other avenues, he had turned to me.
In short, he was keen to ascertain whether I might possibly be able to furnish any details of an affray which had erupted between a bunch of ruffians known as Stokeinteignhead CC (despite, so I gather, being manifestly better acquainted with the Combe of that ilk, not to mention its Inn), and that ragged travelling band of soi-disant scholars who termed themselves, with a commendable grasp of reality, as The Erratics.
Flattered as I was by Dr Hailwood’s suggestion that I might have any knowledge of such trifles, I was about to pen a polite but brief regret, when my eye fell on the pile of parchments which I keep in the coal scuttle to serve as firelighters (such ancient screeds being of little value to a Man of Science such as myself, you understand).
Just possibly, I thought, among these relics might linger some neglected jottings of some wretched scribe or other, which might be pertinent to his enquiry. And, after several hours of shuffling through the parchments, and several excellent glasses of port, I believe I have, as the young folk say, come up trumps.
Thus I am able to share with you, my fellow Fellows, these few fragments. Judging by the sketchy nature of the reportage, one can only assume that these were notes scribbled hastily by an itinerant scribe of the Erratic party; perhaps even (and I confess this is a rather thrilling notion) by one of the participants themselves, on the very evening of the battle. I imagine they were intended to form the basis of a full report, but, as Dr Hailwood assures me was often the case in those days, the wretched soul doubtless succumbed to a combination of fatigue and alcohol which rendered him incapable of further endeavour.
I can make neither heads nor tails (to echo just one of the many incomprehensible phrases to be found therein) of much of the detail, but perhaps you might be able to extract more meaning than I – as will, I trust, the Learned Doctor…
My own clumsy attempts at interpretation are interpolated where relevant.
And so we begin…
S-in-T win toss and bat
MW: A reference to caber contest which degenerated into fighting?
Pitch slow and low, hard to get away
MW: State of ground clearly crucial = poss implies cavalry involved, rendering retreat difficult?
Tight opening - Youngman, Weiler, Siva, Ferro
MW: A list of names, yes, but more likely perhaps a preparatory ritual incantation, cf haka?
Hailwood particularly impressive
MW: Aha! An ancestor, perhaps? Hence the Doctor’s persistence in his research
MW: There follows a list of names and numbers – surely evidence of numerological superstition, viz:
Hailwood 8 1 15 2
Youngman 6 1 12 1
Rithvik 3 1 7 0
Siva 4 1 11 2
Ferro 8 0 25 0
Pullan 4.5 1 10 2
Particularly fine spells from Weiler and Pullan ensured S-in-T on back foot as innings went on
MW: Conclusive evidence, I suggest, of the employment of sorcery on the part of The Erratics, perhaps linked to the numerology above – not uncommon in those days, apparently
Batting standouts = Wharton 24 and Puttnam 20 not out - short arm punches of surprising power.
MW: Doubtless a reference to the two champions of Stokeinteignhead – perhaps the total number of heads taken? Ref. to ‘Puttnam 20 not out’ presumably misprint for ‘knocked out’ – having first been forced back onto his foot, see above
Catches: Wright (phew! - skier), Pullan, Heslop
MW: Clearly prisoners were taken (‘catched’ in the demotic vernacular of its time, presumably) – although I confess to be baffled by mention of a skier, as no reference to snow elsewhere in the record, nor water. Poss prisoner subsequently identified as winter specialist warrior, hence expression of relief at chance capture in summer clash?
Total 111 way below par, surely.
MW: 111 prisoners taken? Fewer than would be wished for? Perhaps Wright, Pullan, Heslop = commanders of specialist snatch squads?
So, our turn:
MW: Evidence of element of duellistic ritual to the encounter – one side charges; then the other?
Wright didn’t trouble scorers
MW: perhaps exhausted by his ‘catching’?
Heslop some fine blows till played back to one keeping a touch low
MW: worrying evidence of use of not yet fully grown combatants in Stoke’s ranks?
Siva kept going with some fine backfoot drives before falling to Russell
MW: foot positioning obviously crucial in these man-on-man standoffs
Good tight bowling from all S-in-T… great movement from Russell, and special mention for lovely legbreaks from young Hayward, prodigious turn and some decent flight. MW: Clearly use of both ground-hugging (bowling?) and aerial (eg, trebuchet) artillery was a commonplace in such encounters
Pullan powerful till holed out
MW: A reminder, if one were needed, of the peculiarly brutal ways some met their end in those days
Molins steady, punching a few through the infield… but Ferro setting the standard
MW: Seems fairly clear; one man attacks with brute force, the other plants the ensign to inspire the troops
Bowling tight, esp Puttnam – tension mounts – staring down the barrel of four an over
MW: Presumably a misprint for ‘four and over’ – a reference to the firing rate of the opposition’s trebuchet?
Ferro as ever a reassuring presence, keeping the Erratiflag flying
MW: For once, an unambiguous statement!
Tension mounts, but Ferro laces brace of boundaries and tension eases
MW: Clearly the Ensign Bearer was also expert at reweaving a pair of frayed edges of the flag under fire, so bringing great heart to his men
Then with 6 - MW: Six what? Heads? Prisoners? More horses? Speculation seems fruitless - needed, Ferro slices one to point, diving forward
MW: Matters had come to such a pass that the Ensign Bearer himself clearly got stuck in, wielding his standard in what sounds like a rather gruesome but effective fashion
Chave edges for a single - MW: A newcomer to the fight, seems to hug the fringes, rather tentatively, perhaps - and so 4 needed. - MW: Progress, clearly…
A couple of wides, then a Chave straight drive to finish!
MW: The opposition’s artillery was clearly losing its mark under pressure, and the newcomer led a successful direct assault which overwhelmed the last resistance.
And so to The Wild Goose!
MW: A rather unseemly reference to what was presumably a celebratory visit to a woman of easy virtue – mercifully at this point the parchment is frayed beyond recognition, so we are spared further sordid detail.
And there we have it. Whether such a fragmented account will satisfy Dr Hailwood’s completist hunger I know not, but I have shared it, along with my frankly speculative interpretation, with him, and now I do so with you too, in the hope it may shed at least a little light on the arcane brutalities of our distant past.
1nb 15w 4b
for 10 wickets
111 (43.5 overs)
Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Bowling
Erratics Cricket Club Erratics Batting
1nb 8w 4b 3lb
for 6 wickets
No records to display.
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