Alexandra Park CC v Octopus CC 1st - 5th July 2009

 

Fixture chaos rained upon the Octopus apparatchiks in the build up to game 10 of the 20009 season. It took no less than 3 Hornsey officials to reveal fortress Aloysius was to host a charity match, clashing with our fixture versus Warners End.

 

Warners End have long been know as the Mariah Carey diva select XI* and each year their pre match rider gets longer and longer. Edited highlights of this years effort include:

 

• 3 x blind masseurs (preferably Eunuch)

• 2 x midgets butlers dressed as wee Jimmy Krankie

• On no account is anyone to look the captain in the eye or address him without the follwing prefix: “Sir Lord high Admiral, king and chief protector of Warners end”

• There must be a kite made of bin bags flown throughout the match, just past the midwicket boundary

• Items to be present in the changing room:

- Corby trouser press

- Wisden 2008 (signed by Kumar Sangakarra: “To Dave, with love”

- Pot pouri (Unicorn urine scented)

- Spangles

- A goth

- 3 x bowls of peanut M&M’s – strictly no yellow

- 24 x bottles of Pellegrino Mineral water chilled to 11 degrees – NOT 13 like last year

- A dancing badger (modern Jazz preffered)

 

When word came back that due to the fixture clash we were to be playing on the artificial pitch, the good folk of Warners end declined to travel. So it was with great haste that an away fixture against Alexandra Park CC was secured in the palatial environs of Alexandra Palace.

 

With Joshi absent, Ogilvie was once again the makeshift skipper aiming to address the 2 game losing streak. Losing the call for the 3rd match running Ogilvie employed his unique blend of Derren Brown style suggestion, low level Jedi mind tricks and an unerring ability to misread the conditions as the AP skipper chose to field.

 

It soon became apparent that AP Sunday 2nd’s and Octopus were kindred spirits. With the skipper describing his team as “absolutely terrible” and one of their guys sitting down to a pre match pint, asking who won the toss whilst looking quizzically as 5 of his team mates took it turns to drop the ball in a lacksidasical warm up. All of this was going on 20 minutes after the allotted start time. It was like looking in the mirror.

 

At 2.30 Lamplough and renaissance man James opened the batting and a bright start ensued. Then ended quite quickly. 28 runs were on the board before AJ was castled for 5. The first victim of whiley, welsh, wizard wilding. Bounding in from the pavilion end the ginger slinger soon had his next victim as Hodge dollied one back for a 3rd ball duck. There are many things in life one cannot buy and recently for Will that list would contain runs and Czech strippers.

 

The pain continued as Lamplough’s defence was breached by Wilding, bowled for 16. Hayward followed shortly after with the deadly digit rising to adjudge adjacency. 32-4 and Ogilvie-Winter looked to start the fightback. Wilding’s last over was looming and Winter had the dubious pleasure of facing. The end of over chat that preceded was bereft of the usual trite “lets keep it going” or “we need to build a partnership” and was replaced with the following:

 

Ogilvie: “Alex, I have good news and bad news – which would you like first?”

Winter: “Erm, bad news I guess”

Ogilvie: “I’m not leaving this end for love nor money”

Winter (taken aback): “Oh, right, what’s the good news?”

Ogilvie: “It’s his last over”

Winter (incredulous): “Surely, we’ll take a single if it’s on?

Ogilvie (dead pan): “No. That won’t be happening. I’m staying here”

 

Possibly put out a bit by the un-collegiate attitude / terrible captaincy displayed by Ogilvie, Winter mistimed one to mid wicket, who true to warm up form spilled the chance and wilding was seen off. The tumble continued shortly afterwards as the 5th wicket fell for 41 with Ogilvie picking out the previously ham-fisted fieldsman who made no mistake this time. Butler next to the crease with kind of mistaken optimism only possible from an Australian. With his side in peril Julian strode to the crease with the T20 designed long handled / short faced Mongoose bat, designed to smash the ball to all parts with little or no cultured stroke play required. Despite Winters plea to “go back and get a proper bat” the flmain’ galah took guard. Keeping true to the bats intended use, Butler proceeded to play a series of air shots with all the culture, panache and success of a Ute driving, vest wearing, fair ‘dinkum, AFL watching Aussie dole bludger, attempting to kill a kangaroo after knecking 28 schooners of Tooheys new. It was clearly going to be shit or bust for JB and after several heaves, the ‘goose connected and he was off the mark. The fun ended shortly afterwards as he was caught at slip by the close-catchers shirt. 52-6

 

Marsh in next and the difference in styles was like switching from dizzy rascal to Brahms. Albeit with similar results: 69-7. Reid to the crease with butler-esque intent and an adult bat! Ably steered by Winter, the tail was wagging; 20 runs were added by the pair before Alex popped one up to depart for a hard fought 28. The wagging paused respectfully as duck trophy incumbent Ingram came and went without troubling the scorer. 89-9. Last man Braham defended the last ball of the over and Reid was back on strike. Sensing that Simon may not have the same destructive intent, Reid proceeded to make hay, smiting the ball to all parts, accelerating the score to a modest 118 before Braham fell LBW for a quacker.

 

A wise man once stated that cricket was 90% mental and 10% physical. This is certainly true for Octopus who it could be argued are a load of mentalists who at times have all the athleticism of a Rohypnoled Stephen Hawkins. But when you are defending 118, the only course to victory is a positive attitude and an unwavering self belief (And 9 wickets for less than 118 runs).

 

So, it was with a level of belief that 118 runs on the board shouldn’t bring, that Octopus took to the field. With the pitch playing up like a sleep deprived toddler on red bull and a fierce bowling attack - anything was possible. Crocked skip Ogilvie elected to open the bowling from a shortened run up, looking to bag a hat-trick following on from the last two deliveries against West XI. The hat trick went begging but it was 3 in 4 balls as the AP opener chopped on! The vital early breakthrough secured and if Sam’s knock hadn’t done so already, the momentum was certainly shifting now.

 

It wasn’t long before speed king Sam, doing what he does best, knocked over the other opener with only 14 on the board. The spring was well and truly in everyone’s step by now, with the whole team fielding like demons trained by Johnty Rhodes, with bodies being put on the line and Ingram in particular winding up his arm with vicious intent. Having done their job of taking early wickets and fuelling Octopus belief Reid and Ogilvie made way for Lamplough and Butler. The change of bowling soon bought # 3 as Lamplough’s slower paced bowling lulled first the AP number 3 and then the number 4, both clean bowled going for their shots. Butler on at the other end with the help of some low bounce soon had the better of the AP number 5 and with number 6 falling LBW to Lamplough AP were 35-6. Much like a German vegetarian the home team must have feared the wurst.

 

Butler and his Clearasil like ability to target nasty spots, soon found a soft one which kept low and castled their impressive looking #7. Forward short cover was next to pounce, as Hodge had the #8 caught on the drive with a reaction catch from Butler. Hodge soon had gloveman winter in on the act inducing a top edge that resulted in a steepling catch being taken. It was left to the hobbling skipper to finish them off, a dubious LBW leaving the opposition skipper and AP number 11 agog as Octopus claimed a fine 56 run win.

 

 

Warners End v Octopus CC 1st - 10th May 2009

 

On the back of two defeats, Octopus packed their bags and headed to seasonal nemesis Warners end.

 

From the edge of the oval it was hard to make out the cut strip. From the edge of the square it was hard to make out the cut strip. There is a good reason for this: there was no cut strip. So with the playing surface looking greener than a sea sick Kermit the frog who’s just found out Mrs Piggy is boinking big bird, it wasn’t a hard decision to have a bowl if we won the toss. And win the toss we did.

 

In recent years Octopus has made strides towards respectability; a new kit, regular net sessions throughout the season and active encouragement of drunken pedalo theft a la Freddie Flintoff. Another example is attempting to arrive in plenty of time before a game to have a structured warm up that doesn’t only include smoking, comparing hangovers and reading the News of the World. 9 Octopi managed this against Warners and it seemed to pay off.

 

Ogilvie opened the bowling with his de rigueur hangover which had been conspicuous in it’s absence against Enfield. This missing ingredient may have been the spark that bought the elements of great Sunday cricket into alignment, creating a moment of magic…….A half cut Ogilvie lumbered in and the ball was dispatched stumps-ward………the no cut pitch, almost visibly twitching with malevolent intent sucked the life out the delivery, before popping it up in a trajectory that bared little similarity to it’s pre impact flight……. the mis-timed prod caught the edge and ballooned…….a fully warmed up Joshi was out of the blocks like an Indian Usain Bolt in off-white, snaffling the catch low down at forward short leg! 0 for 1 and the Warners Skipper, fresh from a century the week before was back in the hutch.

 

The other opener didn’t last too much longer – Ogilvie, seam and Pitch coming together to knock over off stump. Two down and 8 on the board. The number 3 bat didn’t like the look of a pitch that was beginning to read like a Stephen king Novel – with extra clowns. It wasn’t long before the death rattle was heard once more and Warners were staring down the barrel of what isn’t commonly know as, but should be: an Ocotopian collapse.

 

The Warners no 5, Sampik, was next into the firing line. An ankle height chance was shelled in the covers with Sampik on zero. Conspiracy theorists have attributed the drop to a complex plan aimed at artificially extending the game, thus avoiding the Sunday tea time trio of hell: Antiques Road show, Songs of Praise and Last of the Summer of Wine. This theory has some credence with the square leg umpire overhearing the ham fisted miscreant mutter “There’s no way I can take another old man rolling down a hill in a bath being chased by Nora Batty”.

 

A period of stabilisation then ensued. I say stabilisation, it was more a case of stand back and watch as a chanceless century was built by Sampik. Sporadic wickets fell at the other end (Hindle taking his first in Cricket) to slow the runs just enough to give the Octopus a chase-able target of 202, with Sampik finishing on 115 n.o and extras just missing out on a maiden 50 on 43.

 

The local chavs were so enamoured with Sampik that to show their love of his innings they built a massive bin bag based kite and flew it just past the deep mid wicket boundary. The Pharaohs’ of Egypt had the Pyramids, Shah Jahan erected the Taj Mahal in the memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal and the chavs of Warners end made Sampik a kite out of bin bags. I think we all know which of those will still be remembered in 1000 years time.

 

Tea was taken and the skipper requested the heavy roller. The request was met with a quizzical look and a Cadbury’s Mini Roll. Not quite what was required to calm the pitch.

 

Hayward and Hodge opened us up and there were 20 on the board before Hodge missed a fader, bringing Bisht to the crease. The runs were coming easily enough on the mini-roll becalmed turf and only a moment of indecision saw for Rocky, nicking one behind for 32. The skipper to the crease, helping Hayward to add 12 runs before the opener departed, clipping one to silly mid on for 28. Sunny was in next with bold statements of 80 runs on his last game for Octopus, so with warm encouragement of “Don’t play any stupid shots or you’ll walk home” ringing in his ears, Sunny and Harsh built a formidable partnership in double quick time. Sunny’s impressive array of attacking cuts, pulls and drives taking him to 78 before the skippers fight for the strike proved too much and an ambling Sunny was run out strolling an easy second. The formidable 114 partnership coming to an end. The skipper applied the finishing touches and the Octopus were victorious by 6 wickets with 6 overs to spare.

 

Sunny departed back to India with his match winning 78 runs and the news that the Taj Mahal is soon to be replaced in the world heritage top 10 by some black bin bags in Hertfordshire. All in all a good day.

 

 

Octopus CC v Holtwhites 1st - 3rd May 2009

 

The first home match of the season for the Octopi was billed as the biggest match of the season .With Holtwhites having beaten comprehensively last season home and away.It was time for Octopi to get a taste of their own medicine.

 

The pitch looked dead green and it was decided between captain and the vice captain that Octopus would bowl.But after seeing a few colts in the opposition the decision was changed to bat first and probably a very bad one at that.As they had quite a few first team players.

 

The Octopus were 10 in the morning and true to reputation Gopi pulled out in the morning leaving one of our spectator Bhola Chef Kunwar to play cricket after 10 years .Octopus have a habit of reviving many a cricket careers. Along with him the other debutant was Julian who last played for 17 years ago but looked good in nets.

 

The match started badly for Octopus with Andy who is yet to open his account this season getting out to his second successive duck and his stumps rattled.With Pete following shortly to some good pace and swing bowling from their opening bowler Tarling in a similar fashion.

 

Harsh and Rocky tried to rebuild the innings before the latter was comprensively beaten to a inswinger by Tarling to a painful sound of the stumps rattling at the back .Sunny walked in to some advice to play in and bat sensibly but it fell on deaf ears .After hitting a glorious boundary he hold out to long off, trying to be too ambitious. On his day he can take the game quickly away from the opposition but this was not his day and neither was Octopus’s.

 

When Holtwhite introduced spin.The wickets kept tumbling down from one end.While Skipper Harsh kept his ground firm and was anchoring the innings ,in the end pressure to score was too much and he holed out to long off to well made 33.

 

The lower half of the score card looked like telephone numbers. Only other batsman to end up in double scores was Pete with 12 making it very easy for him to calculate the averages. A remarkable 4 ducks in the match. There were a lot of excuses like green pitch, no sight screens, but it was superb display by Holtswhite which made it difficult for Octopus to get going. Their keeper who later came out to open was particularly vocal and a constant pain in the ears. Though a very nice guy. Octopus folded to 62 in 18.5 over’s.

 

With so much time it was decided to skip tea and get on with the match. Sunny promised to run through the opposition but failed to deliver and proved expensive and rudderless despite good pace and swing. While the opening bowlers looked out of sorts.

 

It was Julian the debutant who provided the breakthrough with his immaculate line and length.Bhola with his good fielding on fine leg were the positives.

 

Julian impressed with his bowling an ended up deserving with 3-7 in 3 overs.The Holtwhites steamrolled Octopus in 13. 4 overs.

Post match tea was served courtesy Mrs Joshi and for a change it was spicy Indian food and everyone ate to the full. Syd our self proclaimed bowling coach was supposed to come and watch his former team in action but Simon Braham had to hurry a message and stop him from coming. The match finished so quickly that the groundsman had gone and had to be called to close the gates as he had gone for his usual break.

 

In the meanwhile Octopi played some football to take the mind off cricket.But everyone is already looking forward for the Holtwhites away game and barring rain it is going to be a good game.

 

 

 

Enfield CC v Octopus CC - 25th April 2009

 

Bats have been oiled, disintegrated jock straps replaced, studs tightened and suspicious stains have been expunged from the Octopus uniform…….a glorious moment was upon us – the start of the 2009 season.

 

For the first time in a number of years the elements of weather, player availability and opposition readiness came together to form a first fixture Venn diagram spelling out: GAME ON

 

Enfield CC provided the opponents and the luxuriant venue for the ’09 curtain raiser with the fixture having been secured following Enfield’s perusal of the fancy new website. Matchmaking online can be fraught with disappointment – expecting a statuesque blonde with athletic build who’s hobbies include, travel, the arts and yoga, the reality can be quite different: an overweight ginger with a weepy eye and a limp who’s hobbies include stalking, Jeremy Kyle and witchcraft.

 

Despite assurances to the contrary we were met with the Enfield 1st XI. Oh dear. The impending fixture had also been proudly displayed on the Enfield CC notice board, outside the ground for the past month, attracting previously faceless Octopus officials and ex-players to the game. The Octopus team sheet had a familiar look with a good balance and what with Hayward sporting a two day hangover and an inability to retain simple instructions, it was business as usual.

 

The toss was eschewed for an agreement whereby they would bat first, enabling them to look at their 4 Australian trialists. Australian trialists? I seem to remember Octopus having an Aussie guy a few years back who I think had been expelled from the colony, possibly after a trial for crimes against co-ordination. Like a midget in a paddling pool we were out of our depth.

 

Ogilvie and Bisht were handed the new ball and kept it tight in the opening overs but with their best efforts nonchalantly defended by the Enfield opening batsmen, one felt this was the calm before the storm. And so it proved. Moving through the gears like a well oiled machine that had been engineered by WG grace to churn out chanceless attacking cricket strokes, Enfield were soon hammering the attack to all parts. With newly erected flats overlooking the ground being regularly shelled with leather exocets. The runs came and the batsmen went – the top three retiring having made 50’s. The Octopus fan base were shifting uncomfortably in their seats.

 

35 long, faintly depressing overs had passed and the embarrassment that we might go the whole innings without taking a wicket was fast approaching reality. The collective none-for was averted in the penultimate over, Ogilvie knocking back middle stump with a regulation delivery which had the executed shot connected could well have shown up on radar at Stansted.

 

Enfield finished their allotted overs with a hefty 252-1

 

Rumour had it that buffet connoisseur and ex England captain Mike Gatting lived within sniffing distance on the tea table so the troops wasted no time in tucking into the tea, as the Octopus fan base gave a blow by blow account of our shortcomings. Not quite the tea and sympathy that was needed!

 

Bisht and Hodge were given the dubious honour of opening the batting with a stern brief from the skipper to play themselves in. All looked good as Rocky took it too them as only he can, with Hodge prodding from the other end. 34 was on the board before a freak piece of fielding saw for Hodge. In the context of the Octopus benchmark it was freakish, the casual observer would probably call it athleticism.

 

Fresh from winter nets at Lords the skipper came to the crease and edged his first ball to slip. A proper cricket dismissal that the MCC members would be proud of. The duck trophy had an early pacesetter.

 

After spending 30 minutes looking quizzically at his thigh guard, intermittently trying to secure it to every body part bar his thigh, Hayward was fully padded up and striding out to the car park. After some redirection he was soon taking guard in the middle.

 

He took a while to get going - his swishes outside off looked about as convincing as a big handed lady-boy. Yet get going he did – a cracking backfoot cut for 4 signalling intent and quieting the local catcalls.

 

What followed was most impressive. An array of drives, pulls and cuts from Bisht and Hayward had the Aussie corked hats quaking – 128 was added with a maiden 50 for Hayward before he was clean bowled for 52.

 

The partnership had seen an Octopus victory move from impossible to possible, taking a few steps to and a cheeky wink at probable. With Ogilvie in at 5, he was soon joined at the crease with Impossible as Rocky was caught on the boundary for 91.

 

The services of Mystic Meg are not needed to predict what happened next.

 

The rest of the batting was far from prolific. Ogilvie watched from the other end as Winter, Marsh, James and Ingram failed to trouble the scorer and when Ogilvie was out for 15, swiftly followed by Shakey the scores of batsmen 6 to 11 spelled out a ghostly “00000” as the middle and lower order went down like Ronaldo in the six yard box 163-3 to 179 all out.

 

Winter was first back to the hutch LBW, Marsh followed suit with furious claims he’d nicked it (he hadn’t). Ingram, on the back of 305 run-less days strode to the crease with steely determination and a new tactic of “see the ball, hit the ball – run”. Sometimes 1 out of 3 isn’t bad, in this case the it meant the elusive digit eludes Si for another week. The duck chase really began to heat up as shakey managed to clip one vertically, only to see it plummet back to earth with laser guided precision onto the stumps.

 

A gutsy batting display saw us fall 73 short against a very strong Enfield team. Holtwhites 1st team up next – re-arrange theses words to form a sentence: fire the of out frying pan the into the.