Captains Day, where we play with ourselves and win
23 August 2020: Barn Elms. Match report by Les, an actual journalist…
Beyond the bio-bubble: Captains Day in a time of coronavirus. Gazing up at the greyish skies above him, Dr Amar’s face was suddenly etched with concern. Dr Amar may indeed be right – Covid-19 may have no immediate vaccine. But if that is true, then the very nature of seeking solace both in the socially-distanced company of old friends and the sport we love, may be the closest antidote we will find. At least for now.
“Let me be clear,” he told CK1 during the change of innings. “The only way we can ever overcome Covid-19 is if everyone in the world went into lockdown together for six weeks. That is it. There is no vaccine – in the same way that there is no vaccine for Ebola, HIV or even the common flu. It’s unlikely there will ever be one single one either.”
That, dear reader, was the stifling reminder that Salix CC had come together at a moment in history the likes of which we have never seen – nor may ever do again. It is said that in times of uncertainty, we seek comfort in the familiar. We revert to what is timeless. We cling to what we know. And Captains Day 2020, in this of all years, was a moment where all of that held true. My last match for Salix was its 25th Anniversary . Back then I wrote this report through the voice of an aging Ofsted inspector eager to crack crap jokes and show things could never be as good as 2007.
Today, I write as a more sombre father of a four-year-old, all too aware of the transience of life. Grateful too that in times of turbulence, there is still a comfort and timelessness in small things.
And it resides in the game of cricket, just as much as it does in Salix CC.
And so, to the 80-overs itself. Let’s start with some of the towering figures of yesteryear.
First, Mr Padders, whose inner wisdom and steel demeanour always belied his years. Yes, back in the noughties, Padders was unique because he’d always let his cricket do the talking, rather than get caught in any political drama or sporting histrionics.
Today his inner steel is still evident by the fact he bats without any kind of helmet. The inferred message? “Seen it all. Nothing to fear here, lads”.
Padders blistering range of cover drives and rapacious cutting confirmed it too. That he accumulated over 40 runs in both innings without a dismissal was exhilarating to watch. (However, his bowling must have slowed down a bit, because your correspondent actually managed to hit one or two for 4 – which certainly didn’t happen back in the day) . Then of course, there is CK. More than 4,000 runs for Salix and there is still no one in the team who can dismiss him. What can you say? Players of this stature and quality don’t come around often. To have CK still running in and giving 150% even on a “bring your mates” Captains Day is like watching a Glastonbury headliner continuing to perform with Margate-based Boyzone tribute band: Bayzone, believing that their true potential is still on the cusp of being realised.
During my first innings a rising drive was certain to be heading for a boundary but for CK diving Jonty Rhodes-style to his left to pluck it out of thin air. “Bad luck mate,” said Captain Tuffers afterwards. “You hit it to the one person in the team who can actually catch.”.
There is more I could mention, but I’m going to have to hurry now as I am running out of puff and have a plane to catch. So, let’s hear it for Yesterday’s Man and Steve-O, once part of any Salix bowling attack – now the resident photographer and scorer, respectively.
All rise too for The Nurdler, whose timeless commitment and dry humour was just as pleasant to rediscover as the gluten free chocolate cakes he baked and brought for lunch.
Mike Ellis, whose spinners have definitely accelerated and whose second innings lofted drives made up for being dismissed for a duck by the Captains Day ringer (*) (who incidentally happened to be my brother).
Talking of inherent family dynamics, young William and ROE gave Captains Day a father-and-son theme too. William was less than pleased having been dismissed by his dad in the first innings (but more than made up for it with a convincing 25* in the second). (As indeed did young Ben and the elderly RLM Ed).
Great too to see the return of Mr Quiksilva, who I last recall a spinning partnership with during the infamous “bat-burning tour” of Sweden in 2007.
Arsey, who at Captains Day five years ago absolutely sprayed it about the place, did the same again – particularly engaging was his great battle with CK, who ended up bowling him for 23 in the first innings.
Kudos too to Smutty, who took some devilish blows over the course of the day, as well having to organise the entire thing.
And of course Delilah and Dozy, who too put in sterling performances.
But enough about the past. Salix, after all, will be shaped now by its future – and there are some amazing folk to salute.
Captain Dills might give the impression of being a warm-hearted millennial who is just “happy to play cricket”, but watching him fire up the Saiborg during the change of overs (“stop spitting everywhere, there’s a f-cking pandemic!”) was a reminder that there is more steely determination to him than that. Dills captaincy showed shades indeed of Nasser Hussain – who, by the way, also bowled leg break.
The Saiborg seems the most smiley, outwardly-happy person (the antithesis to Captain Angry of a decade before) and brings a refreshing self-deprecation to proceedings . “I really don’t want to bat,” he told his mate as the wickets started to tumble in the second innings of Dills Delight. “Because it’s getting dark?,” the mate enquired. “No,” he said smiling. “Because I’m too bloody drunk.”
There is a saying: in times of crisis, seek out those you know and look for the good in those you don’t. Captains Day 2020, in this of all years, is where all of that held true. Dr Amar may indeed be right – Covid-19 may have no immediate vaccine. But if that is true, then the very nature of seeking solace both in the socially-distanced company of old friends and the sport we love, may be the closest antidote we will find. At least for now.
Dills Delights 1st Innings 128 for 4
Elvis Evils 1st Innings 146 for 7
Dills Delights 2nd Innings 145 for 5
Elvis Evils 2nd Innings 131 for 4 won with one over to go