By the late Cathy Lynn Goodwin
Gary, Reg, Matt, George, Polly, Tony
[The Bill is (C) Thames-Carlton TV. This is a fan-written story and no infringement of character copyrights is intended.]
Twenty-six year old Number 3 batsman, Ken Taylor, was a tall, elegant stroke maker. A left-hand hitter, he had a strike rate and average impressive enough to get him into any A Grade side. In his first innings, he had scored 102 not out, carrying his bat right through while wickets fell around him and had already amassed 42 off 58 balls in his second. Despite this ability though, Taylor, a chartered accountant, wasn't interested in playing cricket professionally. The rather thin, but vocal crows circling the ground on deckchairs and blankets was certain that Taylor would guide his team, the Northross Eleven, to an easy victory over the local pub side from the Leather Bottle. The two teams were old, sometimes bitter rivals.
Over by the far fence, near the Matthew Arnold Estate, Gary McCann had been watching the previous three overs with interest. This summer Sunday had so far been blissfully quiet and Gary felt very relaxed. What better way of passing a moment or two than watching the gentlemen's game of cricket? He had been quite impressed with the batsman in the helmet, who had struck some glorious shots, but had also noticed something else.
Fast right arm bowler Peter Phillips, a blonde haired, well built six footer, was a fiery customer and took it personally each and every run scored off him. He really took it personally. Boundaries he particularly hated and heaven help you if it was a six! Phillips was capable nevertheless, taking 4 for 60, and was his team's strike bowler. He had set his sights on the big time.
Phillips accurate line and length hadnt bothered Taylor, though, and anything short and just outside the off-stump he had murdered. Consequently, when Taylor was facing him, Phillips began to bowl, shorter and shorter. He wasn't concerned or apologetic when Taylor was struck twice on the body and once on the box. The crowd and the Northcross players reacted accordingly and suddenly the match was in danger of blowing up.
Gary could see the signs and hopped the fence to get closer should something happen. He didn't have long to wait. Another bouncer, one too many for Taylor and he was after Phillips, his bat raised like a club. The fielding team closed ranks, running in from all sides, and the batting side, in the small wooden pavilion, took exception. They poured onto the field and all bets were off.
"Sierra Oscar from 358. Receiving, over."
"Go ahead, Gary," Polly Page replied quickly.
"Serious disturbance, Canley Park. Can you send me back up, Polly? Preferably the Royal Marines."
"It's an all in brawl, approximately twenty two persons involved."
"Roger, Gary, understood. Standby."
He did for a time and while he would have preferred to wait for re-enforcements, things were getting out of hand. Even the umpires were powerless and the crowd was at a loss. A police presence, however small, was needed so Gary took off his helmet and sprinted to the middle of the pitch where the main protagonists were slugging it out. He was certainly glad that he could hear a police siren in the distance and he hoped it was heading his way.
As with most big barneys, the sting goes out once the initial lust for blood has been satisfied, and this was no different, as the players themselves began to break up small skirmishes. Gary tried to come between Taylor and Phillips, who were wrestling more than punching it out now. Taylor's helmet had been torn off and he had managed to lose his bat, as Phillips continued to give him a heck of a time. The air was full of blue words.
A vanload of police pulled to a stop and, led by Sgt Boyden, Sun Hill A Relief had arrived mob-handed. Gary meanwhile had his hands full trying to separate batsman and bowler. Doing so, the three of them found themselves doing battle around the wicket at the other end, Gary finding he had not only to fend off blows from each of the players against each other, but also aimed at him for interfering. He was thankful that neither was armed. Nothing he threatened or could, however, could get them to stop.
So involved was he, that he was unaware that the minor altercations had been firmly dealt with and that Tony Stamp, Reg Hollis and George Garfield were standing, watching, while he tried to quell things.
"Now that's what I call community policing," Tony commented with a smile.
"Don't you think we should give 'im a hand?" Reg asked, tipping his cap back with a finger.
"What for?" George asked, quite amused by the turn of events, "seems to me he's enjoying it."
Reg, though, didn't think so and was just about to give some assistance when Sgt Boyden joined them.
"What's the matter with you lot? " he scolded them, lightly. "This isn't a game. Give Gary a hand then."
"Yes, sarge," they agreed as one and went in to resolve the situation. Tony and George hauled off Taylor and Phillips, still trying to have a go at each other even while firmly collared. Gary was sitting, looking quite dishevelled and undignified in front of the wicket. Reg noticed the bails had been dislodged and laughed.
"Looks like you've been bowled, mate," he said pointing.
Gary glared after Phillips, who had given him the most grief, and got to his feet to dust his trouser down.
"No, Reg, more like caught and bowled."
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