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A.G. Macdonell’s novel England, Their England is a sarcastic humorous tale depicting 1920s English urban and rural society. A Village Cricket Match is an excerpt from the novel. The chapter is a satirical commentary of a village cricket match being played between a local team of amateur Scottish villagers and professional English players from the city.
The chapter begins in an anxious stage of the match with both sides struggling to level up. Shakespeare Pollock, Southcott and Hodge were the fielders. The batsmen guarded tenaciously, hunkered down on their bats. A single came from a snick through the slips. A run was brought by a ball that escaped the publisher’s massive pads. The batsmen, who were inherently careful men, one being old and the sexton, the other being a postman and hence a Government employee, were not taking any chances and thus did not take a run although they could.
Then came another single off a mis-hit, followed by an eternity in which no wickets fell and no runs were scored. It was finally broken disastrously when the postman smacked the ball hard at Mr. Pollock, who snatched it up and threw it frantically towards the wicket in a surge of enthusiasm. There were two overthrows as a result. The scores were equal, and two wickets remained to be taken. Then there was silence. The gaffers, who were experiencing both joy and senility, could hardly lift their beer pots.
Throughout the narration, the author presented amusing scenes for the readers. The sexton, a guy of solid muscle from his years of digging, struck it square with the middle of the bat, and it flashed like a meteor, straight at the young man in the blue jumper. With a piercing cry, the young man leapt backward out of the way and collapsed onto his back. The enormous Boone stood just behind him. He had no hope of getting away and was struck in his belly. It was an accidental catch but a grumpy Boone received mass applause. Now, the scores were level with one wicket to fall.
The injured and limping blacksmith was the last man left and the villagers’ last hope too. The baker was going to run for him. He swung aggressively at the first ball he got and sent it straight up into the air to an incredible height. This narration gets quite eventful and the author is a particular kind of genius to depict a cricket ball flying in the air, then keep readers captivated for three pages with a precise, rapid narrative until it lands.
Chaos ensues and all three batsmen sprint to gain a run for victory. The three collided halfway down the pitch with a tremendous clang. With the catastrophic defeat of their three champions, the village’s aspirations were wrecked. There was also uncertainty and disorganization among the fielders. The two cracks, Livingstone and Southcott, were approaching with speed. It would be easy for either of them to catch it. Mr. Hodge had to not only choose amongst them but also make a quick decision.
He first yelled for Livingstone to go for the ball but then after another quick thought, changed his call to Bobby. This led to Bobby Southcott rushing forward and stumbling over Donald, causing him to be shot headfirst into Boone’s chest. The result that followed was nothing but a series of unfortunate events as the professor got sandwiched between Boone and Livingstone.
Finally, the ball came down and hit the professor’s head. The ball then jumped a foot or so into the air, pinged on Boone’s head, and then trickled down the wicketkeeper’s back. Mr. Shakespeare Pollock leaped into the maelstrom with a final ear-splitting roar of victory and grabbed it off the wicket-keeper’s trousers – only a foot from the ground. The game was a draw. However, the players of Fordenden unaware of this still attempted to land a victory, yet again making a mistake. They all ran for the same wicket, realised their blunder at the same time, and turned around to run for the other.
But their effort was in vain, for Mr. Pollock had grabbed the ball and the match was a tie. In the end, both teams spent the evening at The Three Horseshoes, where Mr. Harcourt spoke in Italian about England’s glory. Donald returned home to Royal Avenue at 1 a.m., feeling that his experience of their national game had taught him little about the English.
The chapter undoubtedly delivers a rather comical description of the match which ensures the readers a burst of hearty laughter. One learns a lot about cricket from this narration. The narrator outlines the strengths, weaknesses, peculiarities, and nobility of the individuals who have gathered to guard their wickets and score runs.