According to Billy Connolly there are two seasons in Scotland – June and winter. He also said that there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing. Sadly, even in June in Scotland the wrong clothing can be cricket clothing. Supporters of the Carlton Positively XI therefore viewed the weather forecasts for the first weekend in June with mixed feelings. Winter conditions might easily return and deprive them of the opportunity to see their heroes in action as they bid to overcome Broomhall CC and take their place at the very top of the ultra-super-elite ESCA Positively Division 4. On the converse, this would relieve them of the dreadful prospect of having to wade through another match report and wonder if the match reporter had witnessed any of the events so fresh in their memory.
Despite overnight rain and looming clouds, underfoot conditions presented no problem and the Positivelys assembled for their second and final outing of the season at Grange Loan. They were mindful that June 2 is special day for Australians – Mark and Steve Waugh were born on this day in 1965, as was Steve Smith in 1989. In honour of the day the Positivelys’ line up featured another star batsman of Australian origin in David Simpson (birthday not disclosed) and there were Positively debuts for Jack Atack, newly arrived at the club and believed by Carlton’s legendary team of archivists to be the first player with a rhyming name to play, and improving junior Mark McKay.
Reminded by David of the Australian flavour to the day, the Positivelys’ skipper tried to restore some cultural balance. In a stirring dressing room speech shortly before the toss, he reminded his team that the Waugh twins were all very well but the date was also the birthday of Sir Edward Elgar in 1857. So overcome with emotion at this information were the team, that they were unable to join the skipper in his stirring rendition of Land of Hope and Glory. Mark and Jack quietly asked their team mates, ‘Is it always like this?’ ‘Yes,’ came the answer, ’and it’ll get worse. Wait till he starts on Mahler.’
The skipper reminded them that destiny was in their hands – a win today would see the Positivelys top the table. ‘God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier still.’ With that redolent phrase he went to the middle for the toss, returning shortly after to report his fourth successive win. The margin of victory significant. A staggering achievement . ‘How shall we extol thee…….…’ The words of the patriotic anthem stirred the breasts of the team. A young voice, preternaturally full of wisdom assessed the implications, ‘I suppose that means we’ll be fielding,’
So they got down to business with Billy and Ewan opening the bowling as a fresh wind blew down the pitch. Billy had first success pegging back former Carlton star Chris Hoefling’s off stump. A nice spell from Billy; he was replaced by Rob who softened the batsman up with a few half trackers before getting one to lift and spoon up to find the safe hands of Jack who made his first contribution in Carlton colours. 56-2 and the Positivelys felt they were on their way. But they had a bit of a wait for their next success as Lucas and Hynd dug in and built what would turn out to be the match defining partnership. After 20 overs they had moved to 94 without further loss. It wasn’t until the 32nd over and late in Anish’s spell that he got one to get past Hynd (31) for Eric to take the bails off. 154-3. Wickets began to tumble and Lucas was finally out for an excellent 95, stumped off Ewan, whose fine second spell got him 3 well deserved wickets. Broomhall finished on 184-9 and the Positivelys felt that they had got back in the game in the second half of the innings. Wicket takers were Ewan with 3-23, Rob, 3-30, Anish 2-25 and Billy 1-27. Mark and Jack were unluckily unrewarded.
Tea was up to the usual standards. Players looked to their waist lines ‘Wider still and wider……..’ But the Positivelys exuded confidence that a winning total was within their capability. As if agreeing with them the sun broke out and the ground was bathed in bright light as their innings began. What came next was a disappointment for the legions of fans who thronged the boundary in keen anticipation of a victory. One by one the prime of the Positivelys batting got themselves out bemused by the slowest of slow bowling. Eric was the first to succumb to the slowness – he had the time to play the entirety of Mahler’s Third Symphony (the longest work in the symphonic repertoire) as Phil Ward’s first delivery came to him. He nicked off. And things began to slide downhill. Wickets fell with the regularity of candidates announcing bids for the leadership of the Tory Party.
An encouraging stand between Cameron and David allowed the Positivelys to dream that they might just crawl home, but boundaries were hard to find and the run rate crept up inexorably. David (20) finally succumbed to the need to press on and was run out 113-6 in the 31st over. Fans’ hope turned to despair as they watched in horror as the skipper made his way to the wicket. ‘We thought he’d given up batting.’ ‘Might as well have ,’ was the response as he flayed around him connecting with everything other than the ball. Cameron meanwhile proceeded to an excellent 35 before being bowled just short of the final batting point. Billy safely negotiated the score past 150 before trying to score the remaining 28 runs required with one mighty blow, and being castled. Jack took a first baller for the team, disproving nominative determinism, and Mark’s solitary delivery was not enough for him to secure the victory. The Positivelys finished 28 short on 156-9. Their innings contained only 7 boundaries – they only needed 7 more……
So, the Positivelys fail to chase down a gettable total for the second time this season, undone again by slow bowling. Their bid for table-topping glory lies in tatters. Nights of deep soul searching are in prospect for the skipper – should he review his long standing commitment to bowling first? Senior occupants of the dressing room are unlikely to bet on such a development. But you never know……..
Well played to Broomhall – a most enjoyable game. The Positivelys look forward eagerly to the return.