Castle Acre lose battle of the beautiful villages
It was the battle of the beautiful villages in Division Two West of the Norfolk Cricket League, writes Jeremy Cameron.
Mellis has pink houses and sits around a large area of common land where villagers may graze their cattle.
It has a pub and a level crossing and two farms and a quiet pace of life.
A peculiarity of the cricket club is that all the players are foreigners. This is because (whisper it) Mellis is in Suffolk.
However, showing great good sense Mellis applied to join Norfolk (just the cricket so far) and they have been doing very well.
Vying with Garboldisham at the top of Norfolk League Division 2, they were expected to give Castle Acre a thacking.
Castle Acre has two village greens, only one pub now but a vibrant shop and chippie.
It does have a castle and priory so should be adequately defended. It was a strange and enthralling day.
It seemed likely that the whole of the league would succumb to a mysterious last-minute illness, a sudden attack of palsy or moral lassitude, that would render them totally prostrate between three and five o'clock on Saturday and unable to play cricket.
To counter this outbreak, the league sensibly told clubs they could start early, reduce the number of overs and then go off to watch the World Cup on TV.
This was wildly successful. It should have been used in earlier centuries for the plague.
An extraordinary number of heavily-bearded men seemed to have descended on Castle Acre today.
Some of them were playing in the cricket match. One of them could have been WG Grace if he had been taller, fatter and right handed.
Mellis were seeking 200 in their allotted 30 overs. They plastered the ball all over the field and reached 216.
Chris Farrant scored a violent 93 and Nandi Herat 39. It seemed all over.
However, nobody had told Steve Piper and Dean Wall that. In fact there was no pretence at reason
or sense. "Go for it," Wall was told.
He did. Indeed he caused consternation by unfurling a shot never before seen in connection with his bat - the off drive. Twice.
Apart from that, he thrashed the ball in all directions that a crossed bat (or even a cross bat) could find.
He was like a fairground slugger. It was magnificent.
Meanwhile, Piper was doing the same with a straight bat and the partnership tore away.
Then Piper was caught for 88. Next ball, Wall went too. It was all downhill from there.
At least that was how it seemed. Jason Fryett and Luke Fryett put up resistance but the march was inexorable.
Thirty were needed off four overs which soon became 14 off of one.
A wide and two boundaries left Castle Acre needing five runs off four balls.
Five were now needed from four deliveries and two dot balls followed.
Requiring four off the last ball,Fryett got an edge and they ran one.
They were run out on another impossible second and Mellis won rhe game by two runs.
"What a fine game of cricket," said everyone on both sides.
Nobody wept. Nobody flung themselves on the earth. (The ground is much too hard anyway.) Everyone shook hands and went off to watch the World Cup in the pub.
Elsewhere in the league, Castle Rising suffered a comprehensive nine-wicket defeat at the hands of league leaders Saxlingham in Division One while Jack Crisp's unbeaten 51 was good enough to see Narborough over the line against Kirkley and Belton.
Snettisham A continue to head 3 West, while Beetley remain hot on their heels and in Four West, Heacham ended Boughton's unbeaten run.
In the T20 competition, Narborough are in pole positions in the cup groups, while Horsford and either Rocklands or Castle Acre seek to join the finalists.