It seems that nearly every long season in any given sport ends up coming down to one game. Sometimes it is the forced death or glory of a final, sometimes it is the gradual shuffling of teams into promotion and relegation positions, but once it is all said and done one key result can dictate the fate of a team in the last or next to last game. In the first and last recorded season of the Old Testament League, the scene was set for the ages. The league season ran for nearly 300 years and featured many famous father/son teams, not to mention the rise of many 2nd XI’s, 3rd XI’s and 24th XI’s and an incredibly patient league committee to manage the growing fixture list and managing tribunal disputes. In the end, it all came down to the final match between the old guard teams of Seth’s Sabres v The Methuselah Maniacs. With eternal youth being awarded to the winners and the prospect of a decent stoning the losers, only 3 psalms separated the two well trained veteran outfits on the league table. As you would expect, it was a tightly fought battle and after 89 overs of bone jarring cricket, The Maniacs required 11 runs to win from the last over with 2 wickets in hand. The 9th wicket fell from the first ball of the over, the batsman claiming he was temporarily blinded by a plague of locusts as the ball was delivered and being hopelessly bowled. The last 2 struggled to scamper some singles and 2’s to put them within striking distance, requiring 6 from the very last ball of the season. The ball was bowled and contact was made. The ball sailed into the air and into the deep. There was not a fielder in catching range and all watched in trepidation to see where the ball would land. The result, unfortunately, is unclear. The ball certainly landed very close to the boundary, with The Maniacs claiming it had gone for six and the Sabre’s arguing vociferously that it had landed inside and went for 4. After much arguing, it was determined that God would decide and both teams patiently awaited a decision. What is not clear, is what happened next, as the ancient scorebook recovered by archaeologists in 1912 does not record a score for the last ball.
Not surprisingly for our foreign readers, there had been overnight rain. Surprisingly for locals, it was not forecast and the covers had been taken off, leaving the wicket a little sticky but drying slowly on a sunless breeze. Your Brave Leader won the toss and surprised the Castle Cary skipper and some of his players by electing to bat. The thinking was that a shower would surely come and this would be the best time to bat. Records show that there was no rain for the rest of the day.
Once again, the KSCC openers were asked to knuckle down on a tricky wicket, which they achieved initially until Sammy G unleashed the patented pull shot for 4 and then unleashed a slightly different version that flew straight up and required him to walk off the field of play. The Anternator came crashing back to Earth, bowled between bat and pad playing an unconvincing lunge for zero. The Professor and Ballistic Tomlinson got their focus on, and made batting on the tricky wicket look a lot easier than it was. Both men were patient and ensuring that they cashed in when the bowlers fed the ball into their scoring zones. Just when KSCC looked on top, Ballistic found the leading edge trying to push one around the corner and was snaffled. Rayzzo walked out to the middle, walked past a delivery from the spinner and then walked back to the pavilion. This brought Livewire Benny to the crease, who immediately lit up the stage with some audacious stroke play finding the boundary with ease. His bright innings included 2 monstrous slog sweeps for 6, one resulting in the first lost ball at the ground during a firsts game for several years and forcing a scurry for a spare nugget. However, shortly after, he was bowled attempting a third and the skipper came and went in disturbingly familiar fashion, caught on the midwicket boundary playing a perfect line drive to left field from a full toss. Jon Rowe’s solid innings came to end as he was bowled through the gate and suddenly KSCC were in dire straits. Luckily for KSCC, the Fabulous Barton Brothers were brought into the fray and they played their typical game of high pressure running and aggressive scoring to put a jubilant Castle Cary on the back foot. Freddie Barton in particular looked in good nick, finding much needed boundaries. However, the show didn’t quite last long enough. Tommy B drove to cover and then Freddie was bowled by a slower ball. The Destroyer continued to bump up his average with a delightful flick over midwicket and a not out when The Strangler was trapped in front (possibly) on the first ball he faced and the last of the innings. Thanks to the solid partnership between Ballistic and The Professor, combined with the late run by The Fabulous Barton Brothers, KSCC had posted a competitive 174. Less than expected at the start of the innings but not a bad effort in the conditions.
Tommy B rocked Castle Cary with 2 wickets in the first over. The first blasted through the uncomfortable opener to destroy his stumps and then he nabbed a caught and bowled from a leading edge on the very next delivery, kicking off the innings with a double wicket maiden. The Strangler joined in not long later, cutting one back in through the gate and Castle Cary looked broken at 8/3. However, Atkins and the captain Bontoft went into survival mode. The both played through the conditions and saw off first Tommy B and then looked to find runs where ever they could be found from The Strangler. The Professor came on from the top end and, in his third over, used the bat, pads and foot of the dangerous Atkins to wriggle the ball through onto the stumps. Former local product Darren Wood came to the crease and looked in no mood to mess about. He saw off the end of Snooky’s excellent long spell before deciding to take the long handle to the spinners. The Destroyer bowled a fairly tight line but The Golden Boy Freddie Barton came in for some select punishment over the midwicket boundary after a promising first over maiden. Castle Cary were well back in the chase, but Spence made an important breakthrough when the skipper went back to cut one that he shouldn’t have and was bowled when the ball turned back in. It was then Castle Cary’s turn to have a KSCC like stumble, losing 2 wickets in the one over. Spence had one caught at deep mid on and then The Anternator effected a run out as he dashed onto the ball from mid wicket and beat the bat to the bowlers end as they took a suicidal single. However, with Wood still looking like he could take the game away at any point, El Capitan effected a double change and brought on the closers, himself and Tommy B. The game looked won when Wood was trapped in front by a rarely straight pitched slower ball from Your Brave Leader, but Cary tai continued to kick with a swift partnership between numbers 9 and 10 putting the KSCC score under pressure. Requiring 17 from the last 2 overs, they had to then confront one of the great mixed bag overs ever to be seen on these shores. El Capitan put the ball wide of off stump and down the leg stump to supply Cary with some very helpful extras to put them on their way. Unluckily for them, nestled in those great clumps of dirty brown stench were two sparkling nuggets of deliveries. After 2 wides, one found the target and swung in between bat and pad to clip leg stump. Then, another wide later, number 11 copped a jaffa that cut in through the gate to take the top of off and it was all over. KSCC guaranteed promotion and Castle Cary’s challenge for second spot was over.
After the celebrations that night, KSCC were delighted to hear that Middlezoy had lost and that, if results went their way the following week, then first place could still be up for grabs in the last game of the season.