The hardened, veteran detective pulled his Mercedes into the college sports ground. It was growing dark, but he immediately saw the flashing lights of the squad car and the orange tip of his deputy’s cigarette through the darkness. His deputy had been on the scene for quite some time, judging by the four cigarette butts on the beautifully clipped green grass and the abundance of police tape. The deputy flagged him down, and he pulled his car up alongside and turned off the siren, wearily unplugging his seatbelt.
Only five years out from retirement and his force pension, the detective had not been busy of late. The most severe crimes in Cambridge were typically stolen bicycles, student pranks gone wrong and the occasional fisticuffs outside the Regal or Willie Thorn’s snooker club. The local Property Development racket sometimes produced some shady behaviour, but mostly the detective gig had become an armchair ride. He wondered what on earth could have prompted the unexpected dispatch call on a quiet Wednesday evening in late Spring.
‘What’s happened here then Spofforth?’ the detective enquired grumpily as he clambered out of the vehicle. As he grew closer, he noticed his deputy was somewhat pale, and he saw something in his eyes which resembled concern, perhaps even panic.
As the deputy opened his mouth to speak, the Detective noticed with alarm the eleven tarpaulins hastily laid out in haphazard fashion in front of the pavilion. One of the tarpaulins had flipped open in the wind, and the pair of cricket pads poking out underneath were unmistakable.
‘I…..I can’t quite believe it Boss…..but….THERE’S BEEN A MURDER………’
****……THREE HOURS EARLIER……***
It was a grey, cold and miserable evening when Gill’s dirt trackers drove in, car by car, into Fitzwilliam, to play the Remnants – our oldest regular opponents. It was the day before the start of the English summer, where England were to play Ireland, and certain correspondents were heard to ponder which would be the bigger mismatch, with Philanderers putting out a strong side.
With his usual swagger, Phil’s Lombardian disciple Gill did not hesitate to have a bat and called for the customary fifteen eight-ball overs.
Lockie and Cassels got us underway, whilst the rest of Phil and the rest made like penguins and huddled together for warmth in the pavilion eaves. Lockie was soon back in the pavilion following some selfless aggression. But this was merely a pre cursor for the aggression that was to come.
Dodson, fresh from 18 holes and an undoubtedly decent bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape, took the fight to the Remnants from ball one. Exhibiting both manic running between the wickets and a devastatingly swashbuckling blade, he fearlessly scythed the Remnants bowlers to all parts of the ground. Jos Buttler’s bat handle famously has ‘fuck it’ written on the top end, a mantra perhaps noticed and borrowed by Dodson for this, the twilight of his impressive cricketing career.
Cassels, unaccustomed to his form of batting, noted Dodson’s approach and understood that aggression was the order of the day and slogged a few, including one onto Heggers car and one onto a nearby garden shed, both of resulted in the loss of valuable new pink balls.
After a partnership of 66 both soon holed out to Aimes, a relative pie chucker, who then astonishingly claimed the wicket of Pearson the Younger for just 4.
This brought the skipper and legendary leftie Heggers to the wicket. Heggers, distracted by the pink mark on his car, was unluckily cleaned up for a duck. Gill plundered well, facing a mixture of sharp pace and grenade lobbers, and retired out with a top score of 54. Well done Skip.
The principle grenade lobber made it quite difficult to get the ball away, but Sherwin (17*), Pearson C (8) and Farid Purdiss (7*) managed to whack a few of the 23mph bombs here and there to push the Philanderers up to a formidable 170 for6 wickets as the team shivered and cheered each other on from the pavilion wearing as many jumpers, beanie hats and hoods as possible. Have that, Remnants!
It was clear to us that the opposition possessed two proper cricketers in their number, and we were wary. This was no time for complacency, but we had several lethal weapons up our sleeve.
These weapons were Sherwin, Farid, Gerald, Heggers, Charlie P, Ed P, Deano and the absolutely dog-eared pink ball which had seemingly been in the hedge for about four years when it was plucked out and used as a replacement ball for the entirety of the innings. This ball pinged off the Remnants bats with all the velocity of a tangerine, and boundaries were fairly scarce. Unhappily, this meant a lot of chasing the ball for the Philanderers, very few of whom still possess the functioning shoulder required for overarm throwing in from the boundary.
Shez, bowling beautifully, albeit lacking some of the pace of his youth, saw off both openers including one of the proper cricketers with a perfectly set trap involving the large, hairy hands of Dean at mid-off.
The Remnants were not at the races, and they approached a state of disarray when Farid steamed in and took 3-12, including two clean bowled and one excellent catch by Lockie behind the stumps, part of an excellent wicket keeping display which also included a stumping off the Evergreen leggies of Eddy P.
Remnants other gun bat played well and retired at 50, but had been kept well at bay by the excellent bowling of Coteman, both Pearsons, Dean and the returning Farid. In truth, this solitary salvo merely salvaged a modicum of respectability, and the Remnants were extremely well beaten by superior opposition and the rapidly disintegrating softness of the pink ball. 110 for 6 wickets was the score, and 60 runs the margin of a comprehensive victory for the Philanderers and Gill’s Dirt Trackers, in what your humble correspondent fervently hopes will NOT be their last season.
There was only one thing left to do, and that was to thaw out Bill Rusted, our beleaguered scorer, who had turned into a block of ice.
Pre match warm up!
The match ball