London Fields drew with Hackney Umpires
by our special correspondent, "Big" Phil Clark
Anish Kapoor's Orbit, the twisted tangle of red metal that casts a spiralling shadow over the patchy green astro-muff of Victoria Park, was a suitably surreal backdrop to this contorted match against Hackney Umpires.
The twists came before a ball was bowled as London Fields lobbied for a 36 limited overs fixture in the face of the Umpires' insistence on that infernal format known only on these baffling shores - the timed match. Out of the protracted captains' negotiations came a compromise even more incredible, a formula never previously pondered - a 36 limited overs timed game. It promised to be like watching Liam Gallagher slow-dance with your grandma.
And so it turned out, as Taz Miller won the toss and calculated his way through the thicket of permutations to decide to bat first.
In a match played within such parameters, few details seem vital amid the general whirl of uncertainty. Some flashes nevertheless did penetrate the haze. Fields started steadily against some tight Umpires bowling, with Stacey and AG recognising that even the Orbit can't skyrocket without a twenty feet deep concrete foundation - a sensible theme soon adopted by Mark Holden. Such right-mindedness, however, was detonated by a flurry of wides and head-high full tosses - the bowlers clearly worried what would happen if the ball touched the suspect green surface - and the entry of Dwayne Baraka, who proceeded to flog and flail the attack to all parts on his way to a dervish of a half-century. Planes and geese swooped overhead. The clouds turned demonically black, swallowing the Orbit. McCrindle came and went, Fields skirted along to 189/7 and the astro conveniently grew an inch and turned a tinge of red-rust in the break between innings. A blue tulip sprouted on a length outside off at the Stratford end but was picked by a passer-by who disappeared on a tricycle.
Wanting to capitalise on such goings-on, Clark and Yates opened up but bowled unrewardingly straight, in violation of the natural twisty order of things. Taz rightly threw the pill to Krony, a man more in keeping with the curled and crooked atmosphere. The gnarly Bok's indecipherable hybrid of rapid, bouncing leggies boggled the Umpires and delivered a golden flagon of four wickets which would've been greater had the catching not been equally incomprehensible. Benefiting from such madness, Darrin Lewis' long-hops and fullies were caught by everyone.
For a few tantalising overs, it seemed Krony's and Lewis' conjurings would be enough to confuse the Fields to victory. It was not to be. Recalling the timed part of the timed limited overs contest, the Umpires saw their opportunity and pounced - blocking, smothering and comatosing their way to the result that we knew from the start was hurtling towards us but, blinded by the fluoro Viccy Park vortex, had convinced ourselves wouldn't come: an 8-wickets-down-in-the-gloaming draw.
Perplexed but keeping the Orbit firmly in view as the sky split and heaved out the showers it had been threatening all day, we slid to the pub to ask the questions that still plague us: When is a non-result a result and a result a non-result? What happened to the blue tulip? How can leggies bounce that high? What is time anyway?London Fields Batting
189 for 7 in 36.0
|Dwayne Baraka||—||Run Out||Unknown||53|
|Dave Krohn||—||Not Out||Unknown||22|
|Mark Holden||—||Not Out||Unknown||2|
|Paul Alexander||—||Did Not Bat||Unknown||0|
|Darrin Lewis||—||Did Not Bat||Unknown||0|
150 for 8 in 36.0London Fields Bowling