Sat. May 18th, 2024

4s Get Off To A False Start

Carlton 4s fielding

Carlton Positively 4th XI

The Only cricket team in the world named after a song by Bob Dylan


Your correspondent welcomes all readers to the 2019 season.

He can assure readers that speculation that he had retired has had no foundation.  He has noted that the skipper of the Positively 4th XI has decided to continue to defy medical science and stay in office (if not in power).  His non- batting, non-bowling, toss-winning performances drove the team to new heights of achievement last season.  Your correspondent is sure that there will be much for him to savour in the new season.

He recently received the following communication – he has reconstructed this message into the English language from the series of emojis in which the original arrived:

Hey Dude,

The Carlton Cricket Club website has recently been taken into new management.  They are committed to bringing to the site a vibrantly contemporary feel.  It will be the go-to package for the up-to-date.  It will be modern.  It will be exciting.  It will be the new Carlton.  It will be one verb per sentence. It will be free of distracting adverbs.

We wish to reach out to you to call out that going forward we expect you to ensure that any further report on the club’s 4th XI is consistent with this objective.  It should be radical, cricket based and up to the moment. Use it or lose it; it’s up to you Dude.

Your correspondent put this message to one side as he contemplated the likely challenges of the new season.

It has taken 11 years and 22 movies for Marvel Studios to have reached the end of their series with the release this week of The Avengers – the Endgame.  By contrast, it has taken this heroic match reporter of the Carlton 4th XI a similar number of years and considerably more episodes to have reached a point when there is no end in sight. Indeed over the years many readers, wallowing in the middle of one of these reports, have asked themselves, ‘Is there no end in sight?’

To those faithful millions of readers, the struggles of Captain America as he tries valiantly to lift Thor’s mighty hammer Mjolnir are nothing as compared to the labours of the Positively 4th XI’s captain as he struggles to complete his overs up the hill against the wind.

But mention of the Avengers does not bring to the mind of your correspondent hammer-lifting superheroes with personality defects written deep in their back-story.  Instead, across his mental widescreen, flicker images of leather-clad Diana Rigg and, before her, Honor Blackman.  Enough in those far off innocent days for any teenage boy to think that there might be more to life than net practice. It may be that those early distractions are responsible for certain weaknesses that have emerged in later life – such as the inability to play leg-spin bowling.

Be that as it may, the new season sees the Positively 4th XI – the only cricket team in the world named after a song by Bob Dylan – continue their meteoric rise through the divisions of ESCA.  They now take their place in the ultra-super-elite Positively 4thDivision – the only cricket league in the world named after a song by Bob Dylan.

As ever the new season is filled with promise – with enticing prospects of new insights into Gustav Mahler’s bowling action.  [It may be appropriate at this point if I – the former editor of these pages – interject to say that the new management have retained my services for the specific task of attempting to limit this correspondent’s digressions and irrelevancies to encourage him to stick to the factual and the cricket-based.  I have made only limited progress in this objective over the years – but believe me without my efforts the flood of references to Gustav Mahler and his mythical bowling action would have been overwhelming (or more correctly, even more overwhelming than it has been).  But the new management was concerned that to break this relationship summarily might cause complete mental collapse in the correspondent.  I have therefore agreed to continue to fulfil this important function. I hope therefore that references to Mahler can be minimised.  Ex-Ed]

It is also filled with challenges, of which eschewing the use of adverbs is one of the less daunting.   Not the least of these was getting a side out.  The early illusion that the sun-filled Easter weekend would have heightened the appetite among Carlton’s playing staff to get out on the field proved even more illusory than usual.  By Friday, the non-availability index was at record heights for this stage in the year – so critical was this that the Extinction Rebellion is adding it to its lists of concerns.  But the skipper laboured late into the night to complete his task.

Overnight sickness in a starring junior player meant that the Positivelys’ personnel was not finally resolved until late on Saturday morning when the press gang collared Paul Stones, led him to a tavern, plied him with rum so that the next thing he knew was he was languishing below decks as the ship heaved anchor and made its way down Portsmouth Sound [I think you might be making this up.  Can you check whether he didn’t just receive a phone call?  ExEd]

‘Avengers Assemble!’ With that battle cry, the select crew of superheroes met at Cavalry Park with the sun high in the sky and a pleasant afternoon’s endeavour against the once mighty Fauldhouse CC in prospect.  They waited keenly [Adverb alert.ExEd] for the opposition to arrive.  An hour later they were still waiting, perhaps less keenly [Oh no, another one. ExEd]. Repeated attempts to communicate through all modern media met with no success.  The rules state that failure to muster 7 players 1 hour after the designated start time led to the forfeiture of the match.  The Positivelys therefore packed up – kit and uneaten empire biscuits – and claimed their hollow victory.

In the celebrated 1960s review Beyond the Fringe, there is a famous sketch in which an officer speaks to his men – ‘I want you to lay down your life, Perkins. We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war.

When the call came, Paul Stones was not wanting.  He did his duty.  He made the supreme sacrifice – giving up a match on Sunday at Grange Loan to meet Saturday’s personnel crisis.  A futile gesture which has raised the tone of the season, even as it has barely started.  He is man of the match.

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