In Patrick O’Brian’s novel The Fortune of War the Leopards are playing cricket against another ship’s team. Stephen Maturin, who has “never watched a cricket match before”, but recalls “the hurling of his youth”, is their “only hope”. Here’s O’Brian depiction of the scene:
Like Stephen I have never watched a cricket match before, so the above description is extremely ambiguous to me. Initially I interpreted the scene as Stephen amazing the teams with his unexpected skills – the Leopards are, after all, the underdogs, and apparently on the verge of losing – but after thinking about the build-up (Stephen brags of his mastery of hurley; he has, during the day, fashioned his own bat out of an exotic tree; and in the middle of the game he wanders off somewhat absent-mindedly), and the description itself, I am thinking it’s rather the opposite: Mirroring his naval incompetence, Stephen is making a complete fool of himself by misinterpreting the rules of the game.
Could someone who knows cricket please illuminate?
Bonus points for pointing to a really good page about cricket, for the Stephen Maturins among us, perhaps. Especially as I believe the game reappears later in the series.