Like many of his age, your correspondent has this week been recalling where he was when the first manned landing on the Moon took place 50 years ago. 50 years to the day that the Carlton Positively 4th XI were scheduled to make their own manned landing at Inverleith Park to grapple with Drummond Trinity 2.
Your correspondent is disappointed that no major media outlet has asked him for a vignette of his experience of that landing. It would seem that most every other soul on the planet has recounted their breathless excitement at watching this historic event. But not your correspondent. There has been an unkind suggestion that editors have been warned off at the risk of his account including some distracting asides on Gustav Mahler’s pioneering, but hitherto unrecorded, space flight. There were concerns that he might waste paragraphs on a speculative account of the toss which determined which doughty astronaut would have the first innings.
Not a bit of it, had they invited his recollections they might have received a fascinating account of how surrounded by empty packets of empire biscuits he raptly absorbed every minute of the momentous event. He shared that one small step for man – or was it mankind? The limits of what the human race could achieve seemed boundless and for him the world seemed a better place.
It would be only one week later that your correspondent himself embarked on an even more memorable mission in the shape of his first visit to Lords where he saw Derek Underwood take 7 wickets on a drying surface to skittle the New Zealanders and win the first Test of that series. The hapless New Zealanders looked like they were batting on the lunar surface – which in keeping with the practice of the time had lain uncovered over the weekend. Is there any truth in the rumour that this experience has scarred your correspondent psychologically leaving him wholly unable to face spin bowling? This is a story waiting to be told, but national editors spurned the opportunity.
50 years after the Apollo XI’s only outing on the cricket field there is a growing chunk of the population who firmly believe that the moon landing was faked – the pictures were actually beamed from a studio somewhere remote in the American deep state. It is disturbing how such conspiracy theories continue and multiply. Less than a year after the astonishing promotion of the Positively 4th XI to the ultra-super-elite levels of the ESCA Positively 4th Division, there are many who believe that this too was faked. The photos of their triumph were rigged. The scorecards on the web are the product of malicious intelligence agencies. The match reports documenting each step in the triumphant progress to glory no more than fiction. The silence of opposing teams has been enforced through non-disclosure agreements and selective assassination. Reputable scientists have spent many hours painstakingly documenting the facts and countering the conspiracists. They have not been helped by the lack lustre performances this season of the Positivelys who seem to play as if they were still in the lower division whose atmosphere they escaped. They therefore looked to Inverleith Park for new evidence to support the truth.
It did not look good at 1pm. ‘Houston. [Beep]. We have a Problem.’
As the Positivelys’ space craft made its landing the rain scudded down on that Sea of Tranquillity that is the celebrated artificial wicket at Inverleith Park. The thought of space flight, let alone cricket, seemed remote as the ground had taken a good soaking overnight and through the morning. There was much testing of the skiddiness of the lunar surface. However there was a small patch of blue sky, just wide enough to propel a rocket through. Mission control decided to wait for a bit to see if atmospheric conditions improved.
The rain eased. The skipper looked cautiously out of the dressing room door. Uttering the immortal words ‘It’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,’ he stepped out on the lunar landscape for the toss. It is not known how a toss would take place in a weightless atmosphere – would the coin ever return or would it continue to spin in eternity. Before the team could speculate too much he returned to report another success by a lunar margin. The Positivelys would once again take the field.
Jaimie and Hannah opened the attack – somewhat gingerly given concerns about underfoot conditions. Opening overs were accurate; the batsmen were content to take things easy and gave no chances. Charlie and Rob took over, Ashraf became a bit more aggressive thumping a couple of big hits over long off. The aerial route had much to commend it given the heavy and wet grass. As the half way mark approached the Positivelys still awaited a breakthrough. Finally it came as Ashraf, having just brought up a belligerent 50, attempted to clear the square leg boundary off Charlie only to find Hannah making good ground to take an excellent catch. But at 95-1 at drinks DT were well placed. Drinks allowed the Positivelys to regroup and they took 2 quick wickets immediately – both to good catches: Eric at mid on reaching overhead to give Ewan a reward and Fraser picking one off his toes to assist his twin. The sun was now shining brightly and the ground drying quickly. 100-3 and the Positivelys felt the door was open. Scoring slowed as the batsmen became more cautious. Jack came into the attack and after a shaky first over found his range and took the middle stump. 127-4 and into the last 10. Hopes of limiting the total to 150 seemed reasonable. However no one communicated this to Owais. Suddenly he broke out of defensive mode to send the ball here and there clearing the boundary regularly. It was a bit of a pummeling and the last 11 overs delivered just under 100 runs. Owais was undefeated on 60 and Amir run out of the last ball for 31. DT finished on 225-8 Charlie 2-27 and Jaimie 2-36 were the pick of the bowlers.
A tad footsore and deflated the Positivelys returned to the lunar module. However with sun out and the ground dry they would have the best conditions for batting. A selection of tasty Asian delights only needed a couple of empire biscuits to be a truly memorable tea. Thus refreshed the Positivelys buckled down to the challenge of chasing another big total.
The opening overs were parsimonious in the extreme and when Eric fell caught behind with the score on 9, the total looked the distance not just of the moon of the sun away but the sun itself. Reaching it would indeed be an achievement. Although no further inroads were made until after drinks, and Paul managed to penetrate the field from time to time, the innings could build no momentum and the run rate escalated. Ewan was bowled for a painstaking 11 in the 23rd over – 71-2. Charlie and Paul got the score to 97 when Paul popped a catch to mid-off and departed for a good 45. (It is a measure of the conspiracy against the Positivelys that no batsman has reached 50 this season; anyone looking likely to is assassinated in the 40s by malicious forces). Charlie and Jaimie then batted well together trying to be aggressive and accumulate batting points but they both fell to change bowler Basil Khan who would go on to take an unlikely 5fer. (In 50 years he will be asked where he was on the day the moon landings were celebrated and he would say ‘Taking a 5fer against the might of the Carlton 4th XI). The conspiracy tightened as wickets fell regularly and the Positivelys were all out for 115.
The Positivelys were comprehensively out batted and out bowled on the day. Only their catching was better. Catches win matches they say – on those grounds the Positivelys should have won.
Well played DT for an enjoyable match played in good spirit – and full marks for being eager to play in what appeared unpromising conditions at 1pm. The afternoon turned out to be perfect conditions for cricket. It is a pity therefore that the Positivelys were unable to play very much.
In an interview about his historic mission the skipper of the Apollo XI, Neil Armstrong, said
‘I think we’re going to the Moon because it’s in the nature of the human being to face challenges. It’s by the nature of his deep inner soul. We’re required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream.’
He might have been talking about the challenge the Positivelys now face in the remaining matches of the league programme.