Because everyone thought that the ball would beat the fieldsman easily and go for four, no one had their camera ready. Okay, there weren't any proper cameramen there, but there should have been.
The batsman from the Greater Lurgashall XI had slashed at a quick ball of full length outside off stump, and had got a thick outside edge on it; instead of disappearing to the backward point boundary, it gave the very slightest encouragement to the fielder at third man. That fielder being Idle, you understand.
Showing startling acceleration for a fourteen stone lad not far short of 50, your correspondent headed along the boundary, reckoning that the further the ball had to travel, the greater the (outside) chance of intercepting it. The ball had never gained very much height, but was still comfortably airborne, and what had started as an attempt to field the leather orb suddenly became, at best, a 100-1 shot of catching it.
It has become an irritating custom in the modern-day game for someone to shout "catch it!" when the ball leaves the bat and does not immediately go to ground. However, idle plays his cricket with a) gentlemen; and b) people who do not expect their colleagues to pull off feats of athleticism in the field. So instead there was silence, even from the large crowd of WAGs and children. They all thought it a lost cause, maybe a six, probably a four.
What happened next? you ask; I shall tell you. Somehow, instinctively, idle turned a thundering, vertical rotund frame into a graceful horizontal one. The closest picture I can find on google images is the one posted above, who is a nameless Kiwi. I do not actually remember getting off the deck, indeed I am surprised that there was any muscle memory in the idle chassis capable of creating such a manoeuvre.
I did not see the last two feet of travel of the ball into my right palm, but it hit the sweet spot perfectly, and stuck true. The reconnection of the idle torso and terra firma might easily have caused dislodgement, let alone a small earth tremor in the Rother Valley, but I landed comfortably, despite the sun-baked turf and the velocity of the episode. I lay there, quite still, for a second, but cocked my wrist upwards to signal the completion of the catch.
A roar went up and the three nearest members of the Greater Milland XI started sprinting towards me uttering banshee noises, with every intention, it seemed to me, of knocking me to the ground and burying me, not unlike those who play that most loathsome of sports, soccer. So I did the intelligent thing and sped off around the boundary. Luckily I was moving away from the crowd at the pavilion, or it might have looked like an immodest victory lap. Eventually I jettisoned the ball towards the wickie and accepted the high-fives and manly claps-around-the-shoulders of my teammates, who had calmed down very slightly. All present declared it the finest and most unlikely catch they could remember seeing in a match.
There are two golden rules in ballgames: first, keep your eye on the ball; second, never give up. This, it seems to me, is a metaphor for life itself. I shall apply it to my employment situation, and beome idle no more.
Except for this blog, of course.