by Timothy Elphick TWO celebrity cricket teams batted for supremacy this Tuesday afternoon on the crisply-mown grounds of Downside Abbey, the Benedictine boys' school near Bath.
The players had predicted the benefit match would be "close but competitive" over their pre-match pints of the Downside local Oakhill brew.
But gasps rose from the ranks of spectators lying scattered on the grass around the boundary when the allaction West Indian fast bowler and captain of one of the competing sides, Courtney Walsh, took up the crease. The six-foot, six-inch tall Jamaican, whose team included eight of his fellow players from Gloucester County, sent the ball hurtling towards the pavilion to the alarm of the scorers on the first floor, and again high into the ozone layer above the abbey.
Courtney Walsh was caught off a ball bowled by the Spectator editor, Dominic Lawson. By tea at six o'clock, his side had set the visiting team, captained by Old Gregorian and English rugby international, Simon Halliday, a target of 230 runs.
Courtney Walsh, surrounded now by pressing hordes of autograph-hunting Downside boys, bowled to their friends on the practice nets by the field's edge.
Autographed cricket bats and pictures of the grounds at Lords, signed by West Indian and England players, were casually proffered to anyone who still looked good for a raffle ticket or two.
Simon Halliday's home team, which included three Somerset county players, bravely chased their opponent's total, but as the wickets fell it became clear victory was beyond their reach.
With Dominic Lawson the last man in, and with a score of one not out at the end of the match, the side was defeated by %runs.