The late Bob Woolmer called the book into which he put everything he had learned about the game The Art And Science Of Cricket. It was his masterpiece, not least because he saw that these elements were halves of the whole, entwined and indivisible.
And somehow the game can offer anyone playing it fleeting moments of either. That’s part of its genius and its mystery. There may have looked to be an obvious split in this encounter, the Authors at least aspiring to artistry in their working lives, Rathbones mastering the science of the markets, but if a divide existed, the casual observer would have been unable to tell. The Authors struggled like holidaymakers with a deckchair, hot and bothered, while Rathbones fielded some high-class cricketers, one with a first-class double hundred to his name. They won a sometimes-chaotic game as thoroughbreds do, pulling away.
The weather had been hyped for days as the hottest since records began and it had its moments. The Dulwich College field, for all of its splendour, seemed to stretch out into vast and forbidding acres as the humidity built, and the Authors’ skipper Campbell found himself unusually popular by losing the toss but using those puppy-dog eyes to earn the right to bat first all the same.
Rich Beard has been good this season, very good, the summer coalescing – or perhaps coagulating – into one long, single innings, indistinct and apparently endless. He was tested by Barr’s rapid, probing opening overs from the school end, though, and when he fell, well caught at slip from the bowling of Rathbones skipper Tom Weston-Davis, it felt like the ravens had left the tower. Vas Khan carved a couple of meaty back cuts before succumbing to the same bowler and the Authors rebuild, supplied by the well-known cowboy firm of Hotten and Falk, over-ran to the point that, at drinks, Rathbones offered to bowl a few more overs than the scheduled thirty.
Belatedly, the pair began to find the boundary, and once they’d gone, Basher Faulks, returning to the ground where he’d hit the pull shot of the century mere weeks before, and a bullish Nick Hogg found their way to 154, a total the Authors spent tea convincing themselves was competitive.
Across town at Lord’s, the England-Ireland Test was stopped by lightning and as the storms rolled south Campbell, fired up and electrically twitchy, knocked over Barnes in the first over of the Rathbones reply, a peach cutting back through the gate. Haines and Brock were unruffled, and both hit hard and sweetly, the left-hand, right-hand combo quickly onto anything loose. By the time John Betts called the players off for lightning, now flashing over Dulwich Village, the game was all but settled, Haines well caught by Falk for a cameo 27 and Brock nobly retiring once he’d reached fifty.
The venerable Faulks went in the fetlock and was generously subbed by Barr, who bowled another couple of rapid overs, but the green screens were soon drawn around the Authors’ chances, O’Dell and Goodhew finishing the job in some style. Will Kendall, with more than eight thousand runs across all formats for Hampshire before his move to the city, graciously remained in the sheds. Earlier he’d kept wicket effortlessly well.
The most famous of Dulwich old boys, PG Wodehouse, opened his novel Psmith in the City with his hero Mike Jackson being bowled for 98 when a bank manager walks in front of the sightscreen. The bank manager turns out to be Mike and Psmith’s future employer.
Back then, the forces of commerce and cricket were polarised. Now they are much more happily intertwined. Rathbones had the style, the art. The Authors consoled themselves with the company, and an extravagant barbecue.
Authors 154-7 (Hotten 41, Falk 28, Hogg 26*, Weston-Davis 3-17); Rathbones 157-2 (Brock 52 (ret), O’Dell 33*, Haines 27, Campbell 1-21). Rathbones won by eight wickets.
Rathbones moment: John Betts calling ‘lightning stopped play’ for the first time in his umpiring career.