Sunday 12 July 2020
SCCC 160-8 (35 overs)
Holybourne 147 all out (34 overs)
Won by 13 runs
35 over match
SCCC won the toss 

Richard Seeckts writes:

That pesky left arm leg spinner saw that the cricket winter extended to 315 days, during which no current Cryptics died of either Covid or old age. So the delayed advent of the 2020 season saw old and young take to the field at Holybourne like spring lambs in uninterrupted sunshine.

No-one alive can say what it felt like to play in the Victory Tests 75 summer ago, but the sheer joy of playing inconsequential cricket, laughing with old mates and improvising to comply with government and ECB guidelines made this a day to savour. Our thanks to Holybourne for hosting a game arranged only 40 hours before the first ‘natural vector for the virus’  (aka ball) was bowled.

Socially distanced team photo 2020 style

With 12 Cryptics available, Toby Seeckts switched to play for his home village who then offered him the captaincy, a chance to go head to head with his old man he couldn’t resist. Scottie arrived (late) for his 100th Cryptic game burdened by newly revealed statistics showing his only two ducks occurred four general elections ago in 2009. Three Grindrods came in a very small car, George Guy made a debut alongside brother Freddie to join the band of Cryptic brothers. Will Hicks returned, nine years after his first three games, in search of his first run, and old faithfuls Pippa, Keith and Hugh were never in doubt. Toby’s defection left the ‘keeping gloves on Hugh’s hands, with a combined age now exceeding 100.

Both skippers got what they wanted from the toss and Pippa reassuringly played (and left) a maiden over in company with young James Grindrod. Undone by a shooter in the fourth over for six, Pippa made way for Daddy Grindrod to join a son who, thankfully, learned his calling from someone else. James fell for a circumspect 12, followed by Keith for a dot-heavy 16 before Scottie, the man we depend on, strode out at 72-3 in the 19th over.

Scottie asked square leg umpire, Pippa, how many balls remained in the over. ‘Two’ came the reply, and he duly patted them back to the bowler. But standing umpire James Grinders had one pebble left because of a wide earlier in the over; Pippa’s advice had been wrong. Surely this wouldn’t un-nerve a man with seven centuries, 24 fifties, 3708 career runs at an average of 55.34. The seventh delivery struck Scottie on the pad, bang in front and he had to depart for his eighth career LBW and third duck. In his hundredth match. Off the seventh ball of the over. After a week of WhatsApp ‘banter’ largely focussed on the potential for exactly this outcome. Sometimes the best stories need no embellishment. Fortunately, the brave little fella has the vital Cryptic characteristic of not taking things too seriously. Not quite as funny as Flintoff to Ponting at Edgbaston 2005 but as close as we will ever get.

Hugh’s 19 ball three served as a net for better things to come while Grinders was in full flow at the other end, on his way to a classy 54 ended by a deadly straight one from the Holybourne skipper. The youngsters made merry in the closing overs, Freddie biffing an unbeaten 23, Will a savage 10 and Ed a cultured 3*. The Guy brothers anointed themselves as true Cryptics with the run out of George meaning both brothers got a duck on debut. (Is this unique, PAJA? – Ed). The skipper wasn’t required.

Holybourne is synonymous with wonderful teas but, to obtain consent to play from our well nourished PM, Ma Milner’s muffins were replaced by rather less impressive BYO efforts, all consumed outside among the bottles of sanitiser and kitbags, for changing rooms are also out of bounds, an observation I make purely for the benefit of those playing in the coming weeks, emphatically not because the government has displayed any incompetence whatsoever in recent months.

Holybourne began the chase with Seeckts and Cann off to a flying start, Daddy Grinders taking such punishment from Cann that he was replaced by Ed Grinders after two overs. Relative calm was restored but the two 19-year-olds went steadily about their run scoring, reaching 88 without loss by the third sanitising break after 18 overs. Two Grinders, both Guys and a sparkling fresh Scottie had all been repelled before Hicks’s gentle left arm seamers were tried and Cann clipped one firmly to Keith at midwicket on 48. Jug avoidance when the bar isn’t open. Two balls later Garlick (a one time Cryptic) was castled, 94-2. Could we really take 8 more wickets without them scoring 67 more runs in 14 overs?

Grinders took a regulation catch to make Scottie’s journey worthwhile, Hicks slid one past Toby’s bat for 39 in the 24th and followed it with a remarkable catch at square leg in the 25th. Struck hard on the chest without time to move, the ball stuck as he raised his hands in self defence. It was a vital wicket that exposed the tail. Patel launched Hicks high into the cloudless sky only to find Scottie on the cow boundary making light of the sun to take it in upturned paws.

George Guy returned to use variation of pace intelligently, hitting the stumps twice, and the last four wickets fell in consecutive overs. Hicks’s fifth wicket was greeted with tremendous enthusiasm as Dylan Milner politely trudged off for a catch behind. It quickly registered that he’d taken a Michelle (five-fer) in his fourth game, something Rod hadn’t achieved in taking 207 wickets in 171 matches since records began in 1990.

Catching, so often the undoing of the Cryptics, secured a well-earned win but the result was secondary to the  all round enjoyment of doing what, for many of us, summer Sundays are all about.

Right on cue, the ever patient, multi-tasking webmistress, wife of one captain and mother of the other appeared with a bootful of cold beers for all concerned, Coronas of course.

Jingle Bells.

Above: Keith sanitises the part of the bat that came into contact with the ball.

Right: Under the pink and black flag, Man of the Match Will Hicks with his 5 wicket ball.