A Village Cricket Match
By Archibald Gordon Macdonell
Question: The author A.G. Macdonell has applied humor as the principal ingredient of he story "A Village Cricket Match". ------ Give your answer picking up occurrences from the text.
Answer: A. G. Macdonell's "England, Their England" is an excellent work of satire. The novel follows the remarkable experience of Donald Cameron who was forced to go away from Scotland by the terms of his father's will and pursue a career (appropriate to literature) in London. His first undertaking was to discover what the English were all about, and he ventured on his act of enthusiastic searching. "A Village Cricket Match" is an excerpt from "England, Their England".
The story is a study in humor and satire of the village cricket game. All kinds of strange and unconventional behavior and activities are exhibited in the match which enduringly appeals to the readers. Donald gives a high hearted commentary of the match containing some hilarious incidents:
Elements of humor:
Ambience in and around the field
Blue and green dragonflies playing hind and seek among the thistledown; a pair of swan was seen flying overhead; an old-fashioned person was seen working, leaning upon a scythe; a magpie was seen, lapping lazily across the field; doves were cooing; the sun was shining unsteadily and visibility was impeded with atmospheric moisture and dust( quite unfavorable for the game of cricket); silence (heating up the excitement) was prevailing all around.
It appeared that some of them had been eagerly waiting to watch a match of this standard. Village folks are usually impatient, but here, they were showing some kind of patience
Village people suffer from the unusual behavior of God who seems to have done great injustice by putting up a large financial and social difference between the rich and the poor. When these village people have endured such eccentricities of God, they will have no difficulty in bearing with the match that is going to be played by the people (Man) of eccentric characters. Actually, saying this, Macdonell brings out a faint hint of humor in advance.
Changes brought about before the match started and its effect:
Before the match began, two players of the English team were found absent; so, two Scottish players from the village team were asked to field for both the team and bat for neither of these two teams. This arrangement, however, irritated these two players and they withdrew themselves from the match.
Two missing English players arrived at the spot in a car and they brought with them another person who claimed that Hodge, the captain of the English team had asked him to play and that was why he had come and he was determined to play the match. On the other hand, two Scottish players who had left the team were brought back into the team after negotiations. Finally, it was decided that two sides would play with twelve players, instead of usual eleven players. However, the English team won the toss and decided to bat.
Batting performance by the English players:
Opening batsmen: James Livingston, a club cricketer and Boone, a huge man dressed in Cambridge Blue. Boone got this “Cambridge Blue” honor for rowing, but Donald, the narrator took him to be great player and thought that his inclusion in the cricket team for playing a village match was not at all necessary.
James faced four balls from a bowler who, by profession, was a blacksmith. The first ball went past like a bullet resulting in four byes. The second ball was a full-length and it went over James hitting directly the stomach of the wicket-keeper who was replaced by a substitute wicket-keeper. The third ball was skillfully hit for a six. The fourth ball was also a full pitch that took off his leg stamp. The score was then ten runs for one wicket.
The professor came to bat and got hurt as the fifth ball hit his ears. He went back to the Three Horseshoes. Mr. Harcourt came to play and he unfortunately hit the wickets with his bat before the sixth ball from the blacksmith was bowled. The score stood at ten runs for two wickets with one person retired hurt. Boone who looked so stout was stumped on the very first ball of the new over started by the local rate-collector, a left-arm bowler. The score was ten runs for three wickets. The next player was a singular young man. He appeared quite decent and on enquiry it was found that he was Mr. Southcott, a famous novelist. He hit the very first ball he faced over the three Horseshoes. The second ball he faced was hit into the saloon bar of the Horseshoes, making Mr. Harcourt who was sitting there and drinking beer became so afraid that he had to take several pints to recover from the trauma. The third ball that he faced was hit and it landed in a stream of trout, upsetting the rate collector. Ignoring enthusiastic instruction from the captain, Hodge, Southcott just made one run, playing in his own style for the next fifteen minutes. While playing defensive, Southcott inadvertently allowed one ball to hit him out. The score was sixty-nine for six and Southcott’s individual score was fifty-two. Besides, the other interesting part of the game was the participation of an American journalist who did not know anything about the game of cricket. He hit a ball towards square leg and threw down his bat, and he himself ran towards the cover-point. Finally, he confessed that he thought he was playing baseball.
Humor used to describe umpiring:
Mr. Harcourt who was earlier dismissed was sent for umpiring much to the discontent of the local team. He, being tipsy, declared a ball as ‘No-ball’ before the bowler delivered the ball.
Humor used to describe the bowling-action:
Mr. Harcourt’s calling a ‘No-ball’ made the bowler so confused that he failed to retain control over his bowling-action and the ball, slipping from his grip, hit the fielder at the third-man position. The bowler himself fell on the center of the wicket.