French House 2 June

By Mark Gilkes

England 1 Sweden 1 Salmagundi 10

So why, we all asked, have we appointed a foreign coach (i.e. from that part of Scandinavia known as Sunderland) when we end up with the same kind of dubious guidance we had before? This is what many were thinking when Sven Goran ErikSamuelson, prior to the toss, canvassed his team, received a request to bat first, then promptly went out to the middle, dispensed with the toss, and offered the opposing skipper first use of the pitch. Would it backfire, producing the kind of dismal performance seen earlier that day in Saitama?

The uneven surface of Alleyns Old Boys’ ground suggested that perhaps the direct ball was appropriate. Bowling to plan were Mike Fox with 3 for 7, Seorais Graham with 2 for 10, and Jim Monahan with 5 for 29, but, allowing French House to use all their overs was perhaps letting them back into the game when we should have finished them off in the first half. Fielding was difficult, with uneven bounce; the highlight was when wicketkeeper James Tait took a slashing edge high to his right – in a position not dissimilar, in relation to his body, to the shot that beat Seaman which Tait earlier that day said should have been saved. All it needed now was for Freddie Ljungberg to come on to bowl for the French and the mood of despondency carried over from the football would have been a smorgasbord of doom.

A poignant moment arrived when Searois Graham was required to bowl to metatarsal-injury-cover-late-call-up Ranald (also known to him as Father). “I’m gonna hook, I am, Son,” came the cry, at which half-deaf Sven Goran ErikSamuelson piped up, “Somebody call my name?”

Just as he was very fair in allowing Ulrika an innings ahead of Nancy, Sven Goran ErikSamuelson decided the batting should feature those who had not bowled. Mark Gilkes took this to mean that Chris Packham, O for 14 off four, would be opening, but Sven had actually in mind himself and twelfth man Ian Todd. Contriving to get a twelfth man onto the field to open the innings is a little like playing Emile Heskey on the wing – logical in that so many others made a case for him by their own ineptitude.

It is a Salmagundi truism that we never bat out our overs. Today was no exception, as only 23 were used. The crucial difference was that this was entirely sufficient to get the runs required. What is more, the other Salmagundi truism, “Don’t worry where you are on the batting order, you will definitely get a bat,” was also proved wrong as Svenny and Sweeny (Todd) calmly compiled a 10 wicket victory.

Just like England’s performance that morning against Sweden, there were no chances – unless one counts as relevant the five or six dropped catches. (The figure of five or six depends on how athletic or enfeebled one rates the turncoat French skipper Jason Amesbury.)

With such a comprehensive victory, where was the tension? Well, it was in this: with 18 runs required for victory, both Sven Goran and Sweeny Todd were on 43. Could they – ErikSamuelson and Todd, batting with Ikea CD rack and truncheon respectively – get the runs for their fifties before French House bowled 4 wides, byes or no-balls? The answer, resoundingly, comes in the negative, which is why the signals from umpires Graham and Brewin were so vociferously shouted down from the scorer’s table. Both umpires soon got the message and stopped signalling extras, and, as French House had brought on to bowl the 10-year-olds Louis Monahan and his friend Michael, everybody in friendly spirit contrived to play the game in something of an impromptu homage to the recently departed South African skipper Hansie Cronje – in that it was obvious who was going to win the game, so what difference did it really make if we all conspired to ensure personal maximum return? Todd, on completing his half-century, then cleverly farmed the strike in reverse to allow ErikSamuelson to complete a not out half ton of his own.

With such a cosmopolitan mix of South African, Swedish and French reference points, it would have been fitting if the worst joke of the day, about the Scotsman Tait marrying the French House player Tetteh, had worked…but no Tetteh Tait ensued.

Despite the Nordic influence of Sven Goran ErikSamuelson, nobody this season has yet made a Salmagundi out of turnips.

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