Cricket, or, The Americans Are Stumped

An Unfinished Play for Voices

Brit:  It’s a lovely day here on the Worrumbygadhampshire (pronounced Whomp) cricket pitch.

American: It’s cold an’ wet.

Brit:  Brisk.  Today we have a special treat for our listeners, guest commentator Guy Max, who has come courtesy of our new Yankee-Redcoats Commentator Exchange Program.  Guy, tell us about yourself.

Guy:  Well, I usta play football.

Brit: Dribblin and goalin and scorin and all that.  Jolly good.

Guy:  Who dribbled?  That’s old people.  And basketball players, I guess.  Old basketball players maybe dribble for two, eh?


Guy: Heh.  No, I usta play FOOT-BALL.  As in touchdowns and quarterbacks.  FOOTBALL.

Brit:  Footer.

Guy:  Hmhp.  Yeah, whatever.  Well, I usta play, but then I got my injury.  Then that injury got injuried, and then another one piled on, and what with all the injuries I thought, Guy, it is time to retire.  Graceful-like.  So now I talk.  Dat’s my story.  Hey, somethin’s happening.  There appear to be figures, kinda flickering through the rain.

Take it, Brit.

Brit:  Today we have an exciting match- a grudge match, a historic match- between the School Tie Squirearchies and the Buggerunderbuggerunderbog (pronounced Bug) Under-Dogs.

Guy:  I see a bat.  Is that a bat?

Brit:  The Bug-Dogs are playing on a sticky wicket today.

Guy:  There is something wrong about that bat.

Brit:  Hilary Fossdyke and Evelyn Pandernose are first up.

Guy:  That bat… it is a bat, but it ain’t.  Hey, so this is a women’s team?

Brit:  I fail to understand you, Mr. Max.

Guy:  Call me Guy.  Hilary.  Evelyn.  Girls.  Ergot, a girls team.  Maybe dat accounts for the not-rightness of that bat.

Brit:  Hilary Fossdyke, fourth Lord of Hamtoe, steps confidently up to his wicket.  The rain does not seem to be troubling him much.

Guy:  I feel an injury recurring to me.

Brit:  Have some lemon squash.

Guy:  No.  [Guy faints]

Brit:  Ladies and Gentlemen, Guy Max will no longer be enlivening this historic grudge match.  [speaks off] Haul him away.  Do we have a back-up?  Then get him out, man, get him out!

Brit:  Our back-up Yankee, Mr.-

Bang: Bang.  Mr. Bang.

Brit:  Mr. Bang.

Bang:  but you can call me Bang.

Brit:  Thank you Bang.

Bang:  If I can call you [a noise obscures this colorful request]

Brit: Bang, you come to us from the world of

Bang: America.  I come from the world of America.

Brit:  Technically, I think, Britain and America are on the same world, Bang.

Bang:  Nah.

Brit:  From your formidable physique and rather remarkable garb, Bang, I take it that you are some sort of professional pugilist?

Bang remains silent.

Brit:  Mr. Bang?

Bang:  Buddy, you talk to me in English or I don’t know you’re talking to me.  Then we get radio silence, and if your people here are like our people there, then we got a problem.

Brit:  Are you a boxer?

Bang:  Nah.  Pro Wrestler.  Bang Bang Baby.  And now I’m making remarks.

Brit:  Yes you are.

Bang:  Professionally.  When are they gonna get started?

Brit:  Dear God, they’ve started already.  Yes… yes, it looks like Lord Hilary of the school ties has scored a respectable six; Evelyn, Earl of Endersham, seems to be feeling the rain rather.

Bang:  We’re all feeling the rain.  I’m feeling the rain in my injury.  Are those blurs people?  {Suddenly and shrilly} COULD DOSE SHAPES BE MEN?  [He faints]

Brit:  Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain calm; Mr. Bang is only dead.  No, no, I see a slight movement of Mr. Bang’s head.  Speak to us, Mr. Bang.

[A horrid groan]

Lemon squash is being applied.  {OFF}  Carry him off and bring another.  At this rate, we’ll have the colonies back by teatime!

Voice:  Hey.

Brit: [Screams]  If thou be of flesh, show thyself!  Fiend!

Buck:  Easy.  I came out to see what was doin.  Guy was mumbling something about bats.  Bats are in my line.

Brit:  You- you are a bat?

Buck:  I am a Buck.  Buck Hairoil, at your service.  Say, you seem like you’re an announcer short.

Brit:  Buck Hairoil steps into the breach, Ladies and Gentlemen.  [There is a respectful hush and a sussuration of rain]

Brit: What’s your game, Buck?

Buck:  Baseball.  I played third base, but mainly they wanted me in to hit the home runs.  I hit ‘em with a bat.

Brit:  A Batsman.

Buck: Aw, shucks.  I ain’t no hero.  ‘Cept I guess to the kids back in Ottatunqua Iowa, my home town.  They kinda look up to me, like a big brother who don’t write, don’t call, and don’t come home for reunions.

Brit:  Very filial.

Buck:  Naw, it ain’t like that.  ‘Cept I guess for my three prom dates back in ’78 out behind Ottatunqua Central High’s dumpster.  That got kinda- what you said.  But enough ‘bout me.  Someone said there was a game that needed describin’.

Brit:  And so there is.  Lord Hilary is gesturing; he doesn’t look happy.

Buck:  He probably wants this [produces cricket ball from pocket].  Probably they all want this.  It hit me right in my injury while I was moseying along to see what was doing.  Thought I’d keep it with me a while to see it didn’t get up to more mischief.  [Hurls it at Lord Hilary; it strikes Lord Hilary in the brain and he goes down and sinks into the mud].

Brit:  Ladies and Gentlemen, Ladies and Gentlemen, is there a little fussy man with a Gladstone- ah, they’ve found one.  They’ve raised Lord Hilary out of the mud.  The little fussy man is shaking his head.  This is a solemn moment for us all.  Oh, no, it is ok, Lord Hilary’s heir, Lord Hilary, has been produced from the crowd.  He has picked up the bat- and the heavy mantle of responsibility that comes with any real title.  He is a plucky-looking youngster.  He stands before the wicket- and before the world- they are taking the body away.

[Brit is overcome]

Buck:  I would step up to the plate for my comrade, who is weeping like a woman and pulling up the grass, but I frankly have no idea what is going on.

[There is the sound of tramping boots]

Constable 1:  Ho!

Constable 2:  To be precise, ho!

Buck:  Can I help you gentlemen?

Constable 1:  I am Constable Keepcalm,  and this is Constable Carryon.

Constable 2:  To put the matter more precisely, this is Constable Keepon, and I am Constable Carrycalm.

Buck:  Buck Hairoil.

Constable 1:  I would refrain from making any statement, sir, until you are in the presence of a solicitor.

Constable 2:  Keep mum and come along.

Constable 1:  Ahem.  We are arresting you, sir, for the slaying of a member of the aristocracy.

Constable 2:  Though he rarely appeared in the House.

Constable 1:  Because he rarely appeared in the House.  [They begin to drag Buck Hairoil off]

Constable 1 prods Brit with the toe of his boot.

Constable 1:  Buck up.  Stiff uppers and all that.  The BBC expects it of you.

Brit:  The BBC.  Yes.  [Resolutely] Send me the next American!

Brit:  Ladies and Gentlemen, I must apologize for my unseemly conduct.  Though I was not, for the record, weeping like a woman.  I shed a single tear in honor of the passing of Lord Hilary.  And as for ripping up the grass… well, I ask you, what else can any true Britisher do when he observes a weed besmirching the purity of the cricket grounds?  [Cheers]  Lord Hilary- young Lord Hilary- is looking pensive.  Could he be contemplating the state of the Home Farm?  Brooding over the tragic fate of his father?  Evelyn swings- Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a hit!  Evelyn runs hot for the wicket.  Lord Hilary- Lord Hilary is just standing there.

A Voice:  I don’t blame him.  He probably don’t get it.  I know I don’t.

Brit:  Ah, jolly good.  That unmistakable Yankee twang emerging from the fog.  I believe- yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have the next American.  Step up to the pitch.  Mind the gap.  Ha ha.  We have Mr.– oh!  We have a lady this time.  And what a lady!  Ms–?

Voice:  What’d you just call me, sugar?

Brit:  A dame.  You are, of course, Ms.–

Voice:  Duval, Ms. Belle Duval, an’ I play Volleyball.

Brit:  Ah.  Volleyball.  A sport.  A completely legitimate sport.  Yes.  Oh yes.  Good.  Jolly good!

Belle Duval:  Do you think you can explain this lil ol’ game to me, sugar?

Brit:  Frankly, no, but I’d love to give it a try.  If you squint that way, yes, and tilt your head slightly to one side, good, and lean forward just a bit, oh yes.  Now tell me what you see.

Belle Duval:  Your weddin’ ring.

Brit:  Blast!

Belle Duval:  And if you’re suggestin’ that Volleyball ain’t legitimate-

Brit:  Oh no.  [Alarmed] She’s advancing on me.  She has a look of grim determination on her face.  She’s about to mention a high attainment in some martial art.

Belle Duval:  I’ll have you know I have a black belt in Judo.

Brit:  And now she will kick me in the usual spot.  [There is a thwack]

Belle Duval:  OW!

Brit:  Sorry, duchess, but I do get kicked there rather a lot.  I’ve learned to take precautions.

Belle Duval:  Right in mah injury!  Ow ow ow!

Brit:  You really shouldn’t assault people with your injury, you know.

Belle Duval: Oh, go boil your head!  [She limps off]

Brit:  Right.  That one was a dolly.  Next, please.