A game of Saints

for Dad and Cam, who might understand some of the following.

Mike has been involved in that most gentlemanly of endeavours - cricket. On Saint Helena its the second most popular sport after soccer and is played by about 10% of adults (males only, woman play volleyball). The island only has one playing pitch in use - Francis Field - whose steep cliffs have already killed one player (in the 1800's). There, a rather battered plastic mat sits in the middle of an outfield that wouldn't look out of place as a golf rough. Its a great game to be involved in and there are very few non-saints that play. However, it is played island-style. Back-chat and barracking are common. Bowlers value speed over any sense of direction and practice is unheard of. Batsman sneer at the thought of having throwdowns before their innings. Some do wear helmets though. Fielding has that added element of spice with not knowing if the ball is going to jump off a piece of rock or grass clump and hit dead centre. Matches are played in all weather, including tropical downpours. Mike got bought in as a replacement (the other replacement had broken down) for Western B (the B doesn't signify anything apart from that there used to be more than 1 Western team - for example Longwood C are top of the table at the moment) and when they heard that he used to be a wicket keeper they immediately gave him a place on the team. Mike "neglected" to mention that he hadn't played serious cricket for something over 20 years (but then the previous keeper used to give away about 40 runs in extras per game, apparently). After scoring a duck batting at 8 in the first game he was promoted to 6 (go figure: the first 3 shots must have looked really good in the grandstand) where he top scored for the team (13 not out - we didn't get many runs) he was then promoted to his permanent position of number 4. There he has had a chequered career and is better known for his tenacity and finding imaginative ways to get out just as he's getting his eye in. He is facing some seriously fast bowlers though. His keeping is going better (now that he has a pair of gloves that fits - his next quest is to find a pair that fit and ALSO have some grip remaining) and he even manages to get the odd catch which make the rest of the team happy (catching on St Helena is a bit of a have a go affair). Hasn't got a stumping yet, but that's only a matter of time. The team has now raised itself off the bottom of the table in the wooden spoon race and this weekend even bet one of the better teams (by 20 runs - 3 of which were Mike's - though he does put in that his partnership was worth 30 runs). Below are a few photos of Saint Helena cricket, and the all-important after barbecue.

Francis Plain cricket field, with High Knoll Fort on hill. Yes, it's raining (again).

Our captain Anty Leo heading out. We're hoping for a captain's knock, failing that, a miracle. Note the rain (again)

Eddie Duff (real name Gavin Ellick, go figure) scoring (and keeping out of the rain).

Spectators. Not our team. They lost.

The all-important barbecue. Damien chief cook and bottlewasher (and opponent) assists head chef Eddie/Gavin (I think it had stopped raining by now).

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