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Home -> P.G. Wodehouse -> Mike and Psmith -> Chapter 30

Mike and Psmith - Chapter 30

1. Preface

2. Chapter 1

3. Chapter 2

4. Chapter 3

5. Chapter 4

6. Chapter 5

7. Chapter 6

8. Chapter 7

9. Chapter 8

10. Chapter 9

11. Chapter 10

12. Chapter 11

13. Chapter 12

14. Chapter 13

15. Chapter 14

16. Chapter 15

17. Chapter 16

18. Chapter 17

19. Chapter 18

20. Chapter 19

21. Chapter 20

22. Chapter 21

23. Chapter 22

24. Chapter 23

25. Chapter 24

26. Chapter 25

27. Chapter 26

28. Chapter 27

29. Chapter 28

30. Chapter 29

31. Chapter 30



The Wrykyn match was three parts over, and things were going badly for
Sedleigh. In a way one might have said that the game was over, and that
Sedleigh had lost; for it was a one-day match, and Wrykyn, who had led
on the first innings, had only to play out time to make the game theirs.

Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be
influenced by nerves in the early part of the day. Nerves lose more
school matches than good play ever won. There is a certain type of
school batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his
imagination run away with him. Sedleigh, with the exception of Adair,
Psmith, and Mike, had entered upon this match in a state of the most
azure funk. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had
announced on the notice board that on Saturday, July the twentieth,
Sedleigh would play Wrykyn, the team had been all on the jump. It was
useless for Adair to tell them, as he did repeatedly, on Mike's
authority, that Wrykyn were weak this season, and that on their present
form Sedleigh ought to win easily. The team listened, but were not
comforted. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength, but then Wrykyn
cricket, as a rule, reached such a high standard that this probably
meant little. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very
firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the
other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_.
Experience counts enormously in school matches. Sedleigh had never been
proved. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn
second eleven would play. Whereas Wrykyn, from time immemorial, had been
beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M.C.C. teams packed
with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their
blues as freshmen.

Sedleigh had gone onto the field that morning a depressed side.

It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. He had had no choice but
to take first innings. The weather had been bad for the last week, and
the wicket was slow and treacherous. It was likely to get worse during
the day, so Adair had chosen to bat first.

Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in, this in
itself was a calamity. A school eleven are always at their worst and
nerviest before lunch. Even on their own ground they find the
surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes
magnified. Unless the first pair make a really good start, a collapse
almost invariably ensues.

Today the start had been gruesome beyond words. Mike, the bulwark of the
side, the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling, and from whom,
whatever might happen to the others, at least a fifty was
expected--Mike, going in first with Barnes and taking first over, had
played inside one from Bruce, the Wrykyn slow bowler, and had been
caught at short slip off his second ball.

That put the finishing touch on the panic. Stone, Robinson, and the
others, all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed
them to play their own game, crawled to the wickets, declined to hit out
at anything, and were clean bowled, several of them, playing back to
half volleys. Adair did not suffer from panic, but his batting was not
equal to his bowling, and he had fallen after hitting one four. Seven
wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in.

Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill, but he
was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this. He had an enormous
reach, and he used it. Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into
full tosses and swept to the leg boundary, and, assisted by Barnes, who
had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner, he raised the total
to seventy-one before being yorked, with his score at thirty-five. Ten
minutes later the innings was over, with Barnes not out sixteen, for

Wrykyn had then gone in, lost Strachan for twenty before lunch, and
finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and

This was better than Sedleigh had expected. At least eight of the team
had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather hunting. But Adair
and Psmith, helped by the wicket, had never been easy, especially
Psmith, who had taken six wickets, his slows playing havoc with
the tail.

It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the
game out of the fire; but it was a comfort, they felt, at any rate,
having another knock. As is usual at this stage of a match, their
nervousness had vanished, and they felt capable of better things than in
the first innings.

It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and he went in first. Mike knew
the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling, and he was convinced that, if
they could knock Bruce off, it might be possible to rattle up a score
sufficient to give them the game, always provided Wrykyn collapsed in
the second innings. And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so
bad then that they easily might.

So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. And they had hit.
The deficit had been wiped off, all but a dozen runs, when Psmith was
bowled, and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. He treated
all the bowlers alike. And when Stone came in, restored to his proper
frame of mind, and lashed out stoutly, and after him Robinson and the
rest, it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again. The score was a
hundred and twenty when Mike, who had just reached his fifty, skied one
to Strachan at cover. The time was twenty-five past five.

As Mike reached the pavilion, Adair declared the innings closed.

Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six, with sixty-nine to
make if they wished to make them, and an hour and ten minutes during
which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and
go for a win on the first innings.

At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs, for Strachan
forced the game from the first ball, which was Psmith's, and which he
hit into the pavilion. But, at fifteen, Adair bowled him. And when, two
runs later, Psmith got the next man stumped, and finished up his over
with a c-and-b, Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough. Seventeen
for three, with an hour all but five minutes to go, was getting too
dangerous. So Drummond and Rigby, the next pair, proceeded to play with
caution, and the collapse ceased.

This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter
opened. Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three, and the
hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six. Changes of bowling had
been tried, but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's
defence. They were playing all the good balls, and refused to hit at
the bad.

A quarter past six struck, and then Psmith made a suggestion which
altered the game completely.

"Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair, as they were
crossing over. "There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot.
You can break like blazes if only you land on it. It doesn't help my leg
breaks a bit, because they won't hit at them."

Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl when Adair took the ball
from him. The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that
suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post. The
next moment Drummond's off stump was lying at an angle of forty-five.
Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler, and he had dropped his first
ball right on the worn patch.

Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion,
while the wicket keeper straightened the stumps again.

There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the
atmosphere of a game. Five minutes before, Sedleigh had been lethargic
and without hope. Now there was a stir and buzz all around the ground.
There were twenty-five minutes to go, and five wickets were down.
Sedleigh was on top again.

The next man seemed to take an age coming out. As a matter of fact, he
walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease.

Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot. The batsman, hitting
out, was a shade too soon. The ball hummed through the air a couple of
feet from the ground in the direction of mid off, and Mike, diving to
the right, got to it as he was falling, and chucked it up.

After that the thing was a walk over. Psmith clean bowled a man in his
next over: and the tail, demoralized by the sudden change in the game,
collapsed uncompromisingly. Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight
minutes in hand.

* * * * *

Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lockup, discussing things in
general and the game in particular. "I feel like a beastly renegade,
playing against Wrykyn," said Mike. "Still, I'm glad we won. Adair's a
jolly good sort and it'll make him happy for weeks."

"When I last saw Comrade Adair," said Psmith, "he was going about in a
sort of trance, beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at
the shop."

"He bowled awfully well."

"Yes," said Psmith. "I say, I don't wish to cast a gloom over this
joyful occasion in any way, but you say Wrykyn are going to give
Sedleigh a fixture again next year?"


"Well, have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have
left, Adair will have left. Incidentally, I shall have left. Wrykyn will
swamp them."

"I suppose they will. Still, the great thing, you see, is to get the
thing started. That's what Adair was so keen on. Now Sedleigh has beaten
Wrykyn, he's satisfied. They can get fixtures with decent clubs, and
work up to playing the big schools. You've got to start somehow. So it's
all right, you see."

"And, besides," said Psmith, reflectively, "in an emergency they can
always get Comrade Downing to bowl for them, what? Let us now sally out
and see if we can't promote a rag of some sort in this abode of wrath.
Comrade Outwood has gone over to dinner at the School House, and it
would be a pity to waste a somewhat golden opportunity. Shall
we stagger?"

They staggered.

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