Mallards v Belmont Knights Aug 4 @ Riding Mill

Do not go gentle into that good night, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Thomas, D.  (1947).  Do not go gentle into that good night.  The Poems of Dylan Thomas.  London, UK; New Directions Publishing.

4 August 2022, somewhere in the Formosa Strait…

 The forces of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (the armed wing of the Communist Party of China) are bringing the joys of Marxist-Leninist-Socialism to the world.  Dongfeng (a licensed copy of the Soviet R-2) ballistic missiles, YJ8 anti-ship rockets (like the French Exocet, but not as good) and naval gunnery (Type 79A 100mm, a Soviet-era cannon) are amongst the weapons being fired by 14 warships and 66 aircraft ‘conducting exercises’ in the seas around Taiwan (a functioning multi-party democracy whose citizens enjoy full civil and political rights).

 HMS Prince of Wales (a Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier and part of the UK Carrier Strike Group) is protecting the free world by keeping an eye on what the damned Chi-Commies are up to.  The crew has been at action stations for several hours.  Commanding Officer Captain Richard Hewitt OBE is holding an executive officer group meeting on the ship’s bridge.

Commanding Officer: Gentlemen, the situation is serious.  Sonar has detected two Chinese submarines off the port side; naval gunnery has ‘bracketed’ the ship four times in the past hour; our F35-B Lightning II aircraft (US-made 5th generation multirole fighters), whilst impressive, have been swamped by the sheer number of overflights by Xian JH-7 fighter-bombers (fourth generation Russian rubbish) and Chengdu J-10 interceptors (decent, but hindered by dreadful hydraulics).  I’ve not been this nervous since the super-over at the ICC Cricket World Cup final in 2019.

Air Defence Officer:  Ship defence systems are stretched, Sir, like the gap between bat and pad when Jonny Bairstow plays a forward defensive.  The PLA are playing a dangerous game.  One ‘mistake’ by them and it could be the end for one of the Royal Navy’s most capable and powerful surface ships.

Marine Engineering Officer: I agree, Sir.  Our pair of Rolls-Royce Marine Trent MT30 gas-turbine engines yield 48,000 horsepower, but we’re struggling for speed.  Some suggest that the pesky Reds infiltrated the shipyard at Rosyth and sabotaged one of the propellor shafts.  Rather like when a bowler runs on the pitch in his follow-through, thus giving undue advantage to the bowling team (law 41.14 Bowler running on protected area).

Weapons Officer: Vulture! Vulture! Vulture! [Ed – this is code for imminent danger due to targeting by an anti-ship missile].  A DF-17 hypersonic missile (developed using technology stolen from BAE Systems) is incoming, relative bearing 10 degrees starboard!  Unlike the other ‘near misses’, this one has ‘locked-on’ to the ship using its radar! It’s travelling at Mach 10: we don’t have a weapon capable of stopping it! Estimate time to impact: 45 seconds.

Commanding Officer: Crumbs.  It’s a bit like the third day of the second Ashes Test in 2013.  The one at Adelaide when Mitchell Johnson took 7 for 40.  I’m afraid we’ve had it, chaps.

Communications Officer: Sir, incoming message on the V/UHF Rohde & Schwarz radio!  It’s a direct transmission on the top-secret 30 Commando Information Exploitation system (developed by Ian Fleming).  I’ll patch it through to the intercom…

“Despot calling Danny Boy, Despot calling Danny Boy.  Are you receiving me, Captain Hewitt? A short-burst high frequency message follows.  Good luck, gentlemen.  Despot out.”

Commanding Officer: Communications Officer, report!

Communications Officer: It’s a series of dots, numbers and letters, Sir, sent by geopolitical genius, deep-cover MI6 operative and Mallards CC supremo ‘The Despot’.  Translating now… It seems to relate to a match on 4 August 2022 between Belmont Knights CC and Mallards CC.  The data are somewhat incomplete, but analysis reveals that Belmont Knights batted first, making 122-3 from their 20 overs.

Commanding Officer: An impressive score, Communications Officer.  Who bowled for Mallards?

Communications Officer: Cleaver and Agair opened the bowling, Sir.  The former posted figures of 4-0-34-0 and the latter 4-0-15-0; tough going against talented batsmen Halliday (who retired on 30) and Davidson (who retired on 31).  Boyce (4-0-15-0) and Professor Ian ‘The Flashing Blade’ Stone (3-0-30-0) were followed by Cox and Holland (S).  Mallards’ Antipodean talisman dealt with Clarke (bowled for 21) and Bradley (D) (bowled for 28); Holland’s wily darts accounted for Pennels (caught by Cox) for 0.

Weapons Officer: A fine effort by Mallards’ bowlers.  Their accuracy and skill in the face of some useful batting would serve us well on ship: they’d be welcome to operate our Phalanx Mk15 Close-In Weapons System, 30mm DS30M Mk 2 Automated Cannon and M134 Miniguns.  Estimated time to missile impact: 20 seconds.

Commanding Officer: Indeed so, Weapons Officer.  But unless they could take out a hypersonic missile with one of their deliveries, I’m afraid we’ve had it.  Did Despot’s message include any other data?

Communications Officer: More dots numbers and letters, Sir.  Analysing now… Nair opened the batting with McCaffery.  Pennels accounted for Nair (bowled for 2), while McCaffery added an impressive 23 in a partnership of 43 with Green (who made 17) before being bowled by Power; Green fell (stumped) to Wilson.  Agair was joined by Cox until he was bowled for 2 by Bradley (N); Cox progressed well before the same bowler stopped him for 19.  Meanwhile, skipper Buckley accumulated a well-made 34 before retiring.

Commanding Officer: Given the time of year and the latitude, I presume that the light was fading (much like our chances of surviving an impact by a DF-17 hypersonic missile in approximately 15 seconds).

Communications Officer: That’s correct, Sir.  It was now darker than the stains on Mao Zedong’s underpants, the dirty old git.  Mallards needed a challenging 9 from the 3 remaining balls of the final over.  Holland (S) and the majestic Professor Ian ‘The Flashing Blade’ Stone added a superb 7 in the gloom, including a tremendous 4 by Holland (S).  Four was needed from the final ball, with the sky as black as the prospects of any country that pursues Marxist-Leninist-Socialist claptrap.  Stone pushed the ball to deep-midwicket and ran a superb two but was run-out (for 2) pursuing the elusive 2 runs.

Commanding Officer: A sad but creditable end to an entertaining game amongst two spirited teams.  Quite why Despot sent this to us now is a little perplexing.  Pass me the data file, Communications Officer.  Let’s see: dot-2-dot-one-4-W.  My God! It’s a ‘kill-code’…

The Air Defence Officer entered the code into the ship’s anti-missile targeting computer.  The Chinese missile dropped harmlessly into the sea, nosediving like the economy of a Marxist-Leninist-Socialist state that is not protected by an artificially devalued currency, manipulation of its balance of payments account and theft of intellectual property from other countries.  The PLA later apologized for ‘accidentally’ targeting HMS Prince of Wales, blaming the ‘error’ on ‘undesirable social elements’ who were arrested (along with their extended families, friends and associates; in fact) and sent for ‘re-education’ in what is not in any way an extensive system of concentration camps.