My lovely cricket team won a game this Saturday. We beat the top of the table team. In the absence of any League umpires, there was something of a kerfuffle, as happens frequently between amateur teams at our level. I’ll be honest; it baffles me. When we’re refereeing each other’s games, of course there’s a chance that the other side will favour their own – but calling them on it will make literally no difference. We got admonished by the league, and our Chairman and Secretary rightly issued a warning to all players to follow the Spirit of Cricket, and they shouldn’t have to and that makes me sad.

But I wanted to reflect on saturday’s win, and in particular, for those of us who were there, one of the funnest moments of any cricket game I’ve played in.
After nearly eight hours of cricket in the sunshine, and all the shenanigans, and the home team’s first team gathering to cheer their boys home to certain victory…

Mike’s decision to call Dan back for a final over with just five needed

and then two from the first ball

and then one from the second

and then two needed from the last four

And then two needed from the last three

and then from the last two

and then from the last one

And then the airless moment when the ball was chipped up

And not one of us breathed

And the ball just hung there in the sky

And wherever you were on the pitch, you can still picture it now

And trying to work out who was nearest to it

And it was Johnny

And Johnny caught it

Oh my god, he’s caught it

And we took a moment to register

And then we ran

We ran like kids into the middle of the square to celebrate an unbelievable win that we’d all played a part in

And some of us are kids. But some of us are very not. And we ran anyway, in that way you don’t do as an adult, any more than you might jump on a low wall and walk a distance balancing with your arms out, or tiptoe anywhere.

And we remembered the release of the England team running together when they won the World Cup in 2019, and Woakes picking Wood up and carrying him around, and Joffra just sliding to his knees, and we felt the rush of a coin-toss victory after hours of gladiatorial effort.

And because of stupid Covid we couldn’t decide whether to fist bump, or elbow bump, or high five, or hug, and we looked like if you’d blindfolded the whitest, socially awkward group of men and asked them to do Morris Dancing but in wellingtons and really heavy jumpers, and I don’t care because after 515 runs being scored in the day WE BLOODY WON

I don’t reckon that any of your workmates or friends or family got to do that on Saturday.

Cricket is our hobby and, my giddy aunt: on a day like that it is the best hobby. I love it. You love it. Whatever the point of life is, it surely isn’t this, but bloody hell it makes you feel alive. And I don’t know how many more times I’ll get to experience that. But I’m still telling people about it three days later.

We go again, respecting other teams’ different perspective and values. And we’ll have that feeling again soon.

Great work, Long Whatton 2s. We go again on Thursday and we will flail our limbs haplessly in victory like the victims of a nerve gas attack and tell tales to our children* of the day we beat the top of the league on the last ball.

And it was sunny.

Here’s me. Loving cricket.

*not me, obviously. I hate kids.

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