Chesham Bois' own website jokes, "did he edge the ball or did he not? Who knows!" before going on to conclude, "Only our second win of the season, but very satisfying to win so well." "Very satisfying huh?" Somehow I doubt it...
Nonetheless, after re-reading Monday’s polemic on the correct spirit in which to play village cricket, and after lengthy discussion with various cricketing luminaries, I’ve had some further thoughts on the subject.
1. Perhaps we had it coming.
In 2009 Hyde Heath played 22 and lost only twice. In 2010 Hyde Heath played 20 and lost only 5 times (twice on tour), with a record number of 14 victories for the season. The last two times we’ve played Chesham Bois at Chesham Bois, we’ve won by 10 wickets. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before a team got tired of being steamrollered by Hyde Heath.
2. Fielding a weakened team?
In the previous piece I mentioned how at village level captains often negotiate prior to a match about the relative strengths of their teams in order to try to ensure a balanced contest. Perhaps we ought to field a weakened team against opposition who we know to be consistently inferior. Perhaps we could do things like reverse the batting order when we’re only chasing a hundred or so. That would not only make the game closer, but also give valuable experience to the middle and lower orders, and perhaps help to prevent the collapses we see so often.
This of course is easier said than done: it's all very well to say what a captain ought to do or ought not to do, but the balance is bloody hard to achieve. How many matches have we lost after trying to 'make a game of it', thereby taking our foot off the accelerator and then being unable to regain the upper hand?
3. We could have taken it in better grace
It’s all very well to take the moral high ground when a batsman doesn’t walk, but the best way to do so is to continue to play the game in the manner that we advocate – namely, hard but fair, and with a smile and a laugh. Descending into a strop for the rest of the match perhaps doesn’t reflect that well upon us.
None of this is to say that we shouldn’t try to win every game – Monday’s piece explains why if you’re not trying to win, the game quickly becomes pretty pointless. Just that at village level winning isn’t everything: in the same way that a batsman not walking can ruin the day for everyone, so can a very good team consistently thrashing a pretty poor one quickly become tedious.
Basically, what all this shows is that cricket is awesome - by far the most intricate, involving and consistently intriguing sport there is - and that village cricket is perhaps its greatest incarnation.