Many long years ago, before the days of Instagram, of WhatsApp, of Pitchero, even of Twitter; before the days of All Stars and KwikCricket and the Famous Fives; in the distant times when pads were fastened with buckled leather straps rather than velcro; before today’s junior cricketers breathed the balmy air of Grange Loan for the first time; ie a seriously long time ago folks, the happy kingdom of Carlton was ruled over by President Carter, known far and wide as DC. Chroniclers tell how DC, who existed on a diet of Magners and Smoky bacon crisps, lurked in the shadows of deep fine leg coming into the sunshine to bowl parsimonious spells of off and leg cutters. DC had not been seen for some time. Rumours abound that he had repaired to his shed and was working on his copious memoir of life at the top in the kingdom of Carlton under the working title ‘If only David Cameron had Listened to Me….’
The Carlton Mixed Development Squad assembling at Musselburgh’s Lewisvale Park were therefore uncertain what to think as a stately figure, clad in white, toting a time-served cricket bag, and festooned with a Carlton cap of vintage design came out of the sun slowly towards them. Juniors sought the comfort of their parents. They had heard tales, but those were only stories. Or were they? Surely this was a mirage; blink hard and it would disappear. But no! The figure kept coming, more real with every pace. As panic set in, the skipper held out the hand of welcome. ‘Team’, he said, ‘let me introduce DC the legendary, and now double vaccinated, former President …….’ Applause was mixed with sighs of relief and the team welcomed their celebrity guest. DC modestly accepted the acclaim. Asked by a courageous junior if he would be opening the batting and the bowling, he chuckled kindly and suggested a spell of umpiring was more what he had in mind, but he could be persuaded to bat at 11 if needed.
Celebration of this great news was cut short by an announcement from the middle. The outcome of the toss was not revealed but it had been determined that Carlton would field and so DC took up station at mid-on as the proceedings got underway with Harrison and Kieran opening the bowling. The sun shone brightly, the pitch was firm and a cross wind played across the ground. The Musselburgh openers who were significantly nearer DC’s point on the age spectrum than the bowlers they faced. They treated some well directed deliveries from both youngsters with respect. However neither bowler was rewarded with the wicket they deserved – Harrison was particularly unlucky as successive snicks found the skipper in the slips unable to repeat his miracle catch of last week. No surprise there. A change in the bowling brought more luck – David Rowlands took the off-stump in his first over, Caitlin was assisted by a good catch by Kieran at short third man, and two become three when Caitlin herself held on to a tough chance at fine leg off David. 42-3 off 11.
Diane came on and was given a bit of stick at first by Farhad but once she retrieved her hair-band it was hard to tell the difference between her and Stuart Broad and she stuck to her task well. The skipper came on and got rid of the troublesome Farhad, taking his world famous inswinger out of retirement for one more performance. A smart bit of fielding at mid-wicket by Blair, picking up and throwing the wicket down, got a run out. Jack – a late substitute for Richard who was suffering a bit from a COVID jag the previous day – came on and pinned Chambers plum in front giving the umpire an easy decision. Fielding had been keen throughout – with DC swooping like an eagle on anything in the mid-on region, but runs continued to mount with extras making a handsome return, and at the end of the allotted 25 overs Musselburgh were 136 for 6 – a handsome total.
It may be tactful to draw a veil over Cartlon’s attempt to reach that total. The younger members emerged with credit, the seniors less so. Kieran can tell of how, on the day of the miraculous return of DC, he ramped Farhad over the slips; Blair can say how it took a fine slip catch to snaffle his steer to third man, Harrison can say how he stood up to demon bowler Farhad and put him away through the covers; Manu can say his solid pull was bound for the ropes until a fielder got in the way and caught it; Caitlin can tell of her cultured strokes through the offside and alert running and Jack of how he watched the ball onto the bat before unluckily nicking off. Diane faced more balls than the rest of the seniors put together and never looked like getting out. Well done her!
As the innings buckled, DC found he had to buckle-up. (Ha ha). He strode to the crease, took guard as he had so many times before, pushed the ball firmly to the covers for a single. It looked the start of a match saving innings. Unfortunately, Diane’s long vigil at the crease was ended next ball as she was bowled off her pads. DC unbeaten left the field to the rapturous applause of the vast crowd safely assembled in the fanzone.
Victory to Musselburgh by a considerable amount.
They then sportingly agreed to continue to toil in the sun for a few overs more to let Carlton’s youngsters have another go in the middle which they all greatly appreciated.
Many thanks to Musselburgh for making a rather one-sided match so enjoyable and supporting Carlton’s youngsters’ efforts. Best of luck for the rest of the season. It was a great pleasure to visit Lewisvale again. Even DC said so.