Some teams are imposters. The Invalids turned up and played with eleven able-bodied cricketers, The Vagabonds had stable jobs and homes, and there wasn't a Gypsy amongst I Zingari when they visited Broadhalfpenny Down.
But the Hollywood Golden Oldies were everything that they claimed; playing in Gold, from Los Angeles, and their opening batters had an average age of 70.
They arrived smiling, saying hello to spectators, asked about the history, posed for selfies, and brought steel drums for a post-match Sundowner concert; they "had me at hello" (1).
On their last visit to Broadhalfpenny Down 28 years ago, one of the Americans said "I'll be back" (2), and here they were on their final date of an eight-match tour.
Hollywood scored their runs like Ernest Hemmingway went bankrupt; "gradually and then suddenly"; Reed, Henderson, Stearns, and Blackburn bowled tightly and without conceding wides and after 8 overs just 32 runs were scored. Then were were no balls, fours, a six, three retirements and a pulled hamstring.
More spectators arrived in case there was Hollywood royalty on display as a further 96 runs were added in the last 12 overs. Tom Ladeburg effected a run-out, and both Beardall and Northwood picked up LBWs.
Hollywood finished on 128 and were so confident with their score that they went out to the field without a wicketkeeper.
The Brigands Captain, Gerry Northwood, smelt a victory chase and put himself in to open, but returned shortly afterward, then Jonas Waktare and Dave Turner missed straight ones. "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride" (3).
Henderson and Wood put on 40 by sweeping and pulling to the short legside boundaries. Then Beardall fell to a diving catch and, under pressure, with runs needed, out came teenager Tom Ladenburg; "no one puts baby in a corner" (4).
Tom nudged, drove, and pulled the ball putting on more than 20 with Steve Blackburn who found his form at just the right time, moving his front leg out of the way and swinging to the vacant Long On boundary.
Once Ladenburg was out, and Blackburn retired having got to a sublime 25, it was left to veteran Andrew Reed to hold his nerve and pinch quick singles and overthrows. With a few balls to go, Peter Stearns smoked a cover drive to see Brigands home on his debut, his family sitting beside the Bat & Ball; it was "the stuff that dreams are made of" (5).
Hollywood 128-4 lost to Brigands 131-6 by 3 wickets with an over to spare
Brigands v Hollywood Golden Oldies
Andrew Read bowling for the Brigands
Exit stage right
Beardall caught out by a diving Hollywood catch
Stearns and Read see Brigands home as the sun sets in the Hambledon Valley
After the match, a steel drum calypso concert
On the last tour., in 1995
Footnotes; Hollywood Movie References
All About Eve
The Maltese Falcon