If any visiting golfers ever want to get a quick insight into the mild eccentricities of the British character they need only wander down the coast from St Andrews to the lovely village of Elie.
Of a summer’s Sunday afternoon you can slip into the beer garden of The Ship Inn, drink good ale and have barbequed prawns and burgers while being entertained by the antics of the pub cricket team playing on the beach.
Yesterday I witnessed one such match played against Grange, a very reputable team up from Edinburgh (I say ‘up’ as one goes up to Elie).
We witnessed the appearance of all-whites attired middle aged gentlemen arriving in drabs for the match. Except they all seemed a bit worse for wear. It transpired that the previous day they had played and entertained none other than the famous Marleybone Cricket Club (MCC) into the early hours.
We were blessed with a beautiful afternoon and a sizeable crowd soon gathered to be entertained by our hungover locals and a Grange team who had never played here before. And I must say they all looked slightly wrong-footed by the state of the pitch, the encroaching tide and the size of the local support.
Anyhow the game started and a few good overs were bowled and some cracking boundaries were hit. However, a local rule is that every player must bowl two overs.
Now, all I can say is that the fourth up for the Grange had either had a very heavy night of it or had never bowled before. For he had the most ridiculous looking and ineffective action I have ever seen. He was atrocious. He bowled four wide’s and put as much pace on the ball as a poorly delivered tossed wet pancake.
It was altogether wonderful though, as he took it all very seriously and looked very much the part with his handle-bar moustache and the most grave demeanour.
At the end of the match things got pretty close and our man at silly mid-off dropped what was probably the easiest catch in the history of the fine game, bringing much laughter from his fellow players. Mind you he was playing at silly mid-off.
But then one of the batsmen made a very grave error. He did not entertain the size and rotundity of his fellow player and decided to go for a quick single. Except the word ‘quick’ was not accurate in describing the movement of his compatriot, who was coloured salmon pink at the start of his 18 metre journey and dangerously lobster red at the end. He puffed his way half up the wicket and then wheezed to a stop, four metres short of a ball swiftly thrown in to dismiss him. He looked round in disbelief and with mildly simmering annoyance at the Herculean expectations of his Grange team mate.
What a fun, fine day.