Clare Hall Cricket Club: Plague stops play

The cricket season may be on hold, however, we are grateful to our faithful College cricket reporter the 'Twelfth Man', who provides us with his unique take on the current state of play.

Unbelievable. Rain last year. Plague this year. Cosmic forces clearly have it in for, among other things, the ever-struggling, if ever-resurgent, college cricket club.

First, Brexit had its effect. With extra college financial pressures, Super Sam felt compelled to retire to the backstop. Then Josh began his run for Liberal Prime Minister by standing as a local councillor and getting returned with a 60% share of the vote: disappointing for a batsman used to dealing out centuries.

That left Dylan Siriwardena to step up to the plate – oops, no Blue Jays here, I mean stride out to the crease and carry the club forward. It was suggested that the club reintroduce at least one official position for such a hard-working individual. Told he was now Secretary while the ubiquitous Sam would be lurking at backstop as eternal General Secretary, Dylan remarked that for him Sam would always be The General.

Dylan duly got the indoor nets at Fenner's going either side of Christmas and, among others, we soon had two new promising stars: Makis, adapting from back and forehand to back and front foot and Loiner Ben, girding up his long-lost cricketing loins. Amelia came in at the end, reminding us that Clare Hall used to have a star player Amelia at the turn of the Millennium: Lister-Kaye.

All was shaping up for the visionary 2020 season: by the Ides of March outdoor nets were already booked with Ian Rush at the Kings & Selwyn ground and a last indoor net at Fenner's. 2018 stand-out Ems Lord sneaked Twelfth Man into her lunchtime seminar series on the topic: In Search of Cricket in Shakespeare's England. This was not really cricket. Little or nothing is known about the game in Shakespeare's day and, mea culpa, the coming Clare Hall season figured as largely as any season 400 years ago.

Alas, plague has delayed play. Before the last indoor net, the 2020 season had to be suspended, defenestrated or whatever they do to cricket in such times. Representations were made to batsman Ian Strachan, better known to some as college Bursar, that positions on the cricket field largely accorded with the WHO guidelines on social distancing and, that being so, the Big Match, scheduled for 17 June, might go on. All that would be required were several minor adjustments (or new bye-laws): viz. the dispensation of slips and sillies, the substitution of a mask for a helmet for the wicket-keeper and the temporary retirement of umpires (Andy, regrettably, having gone into temporary retirement anyway).

Ian demurred but agreed we should have a huge Grand Challenge Cricket Picnic to celebrate the end of the Plague (date yet to be announced).

That left only Twelfth Man to discover an old ball under the hedge on the Kings and Selwyn ground and Dylan to suggest that this auspicious object be used to bowl the Desmond Lam first ball no ball whenever the next Grand Challenge Match is finally played.

Rumour in the pavilion has it that during the enforced Lockdown, a casuistical College President has been writing a valedictory speech in which he argues that, in the event of continuing Plague and the absence of any challenge, victory in The Match is to be awarded by default to the President's XI. It is to be hoped this post will unearth a spokesperson for the Students XI to take up this case.

A plague on the Plague: before the summer is out, may Andy be on hand to call Play.

Twelfth Man