Team Picture taken at tea against Hendon St. Mary's
Back Row: Danny Kemp; Eddie Sketchley; Stewart Newport; Stewart Satterly;
Front Row: Ian White; Wayne Smith; Jim White; Robert Latchford; Andy Brooks; Ian Hill
Back Row: Danny King of the World; Whippet/Clumsy; Stewie; Shakey; Q
Shakey, Young Ian, Whippet & Handy Andy - with players like these, who needs opposition?
Ian waiting his turn to bat against Hendon St Mary's (number 3 and still another 20 overs before I get in!). What did that bloke mean "looks like Mike Gatting"?
Tex before going out to face Hendon and Edgware...
..and returning having secured this year's duck trophy with a fine late-season run (of no runs!)
Nets 25 April 1999
Right, so me:- I'm forty and I've been playing for the club (Octopus - I
know it's an unusual name, but we found out recently that when the club was
formed it was attached to a local sports hall. Being the eighth sport
associated with the hall, the founders called it Octopus. This surprised us:
we thought it was because we regularly turn out with 8 players!) for the
past ten years. My experience of cricket before that - nil (not even school
A friend of mine who happened to be Octopus captain that year invited me
down to the nets (just to make up the numbers); at the end of the nets they
were less than bowled (arf!) over with my prowess, but asked me if I would
play if they were short at any point. Being stupid I said yes; within two
weeks my friend fell off a ladder, wrecked his shoulder and the rest (as
they say) is history.
In my first season I won the duck trophy; I've never won it since but that
would be the limit of my batting achievements. In my fifth season I got a
bowl; the over went so well that they trusted me with another in my seventh
season and a spell of two overs in my eighth! Fielding duties are generally
long leg and mid-off, although two years ago I did pick up the fielder of
the year trophy (and promptly dropped it!) this was more due to the number
of mistakes everyone else made that year rather than my own prowess.
I am that most invaluable of members to a cricket team like ours; someone
who turns up regularly (oh yes, and does the scorebook). As a category, I
think I fall into the no-rounders - you'd be waiting a long time for
reports from me if I entered myself as batsman or bowler.
As for this week, despite many of the local teams attempting to start the
season, we were in our last week of pre-season nets (We play on a local
council parks pitch; we know full well that they won't start preparing it
properly until late-April, so there's no point in trying to use it until
May. We have been proved right this year - I went to look at the pitch
yesterday and it was most definitely NOT playable). We've been advertising
for new players and the eight of them that turned up outnumbered the
existing membership - this meant that I was a touch too busy to get the full
bowling stint one usually gets in the nets (running two nets with our usual
eight players who turn up can be a tiring business).
In all I guess I only delivered about 25 balls - one of unutterable dross
(way down leg - would have brained the batsman in the next wicket but for
the net in the way) and 24 good (as defined in the CC web-site definitions)
- I guess that's percentages of 4% crappy 96% good 0% brilliant.
My problem is that in the nets the nets themselves seem to act as a guide to
getting the ball to approximately the right place; on the square those balls
would have all been threatening third slip (the position - we've never
actually employed a third slip in all my time at the club. This is due to
lack of decent catchers, not lack of desire on the bowler's part!) or
backward square leg. At some point this season I intend to experiment with a
set of blinkers made of cricket nets to try and simulate that indoor
feeling. If I manage to work anything out, I'll keep you posted!
May 2 1999 Octopus v S. Loughton
Welcome to the start of the season!
Naturally, this being a bank holiday weekend, we expected the weather to be foul.
Naturally, this being the first game of the season, we expected to play with 10 (or less) men.
Naturally, this being the first game of the season, I expected the wicket to be awful.
Naturally, this being the first game of the season, I didn't expect to bat or bowl.
How wrong we can be!
To tell the story of the game properly you'd have to go back to the previous weekend;
we had a host of new people at the nets, and the skipper went around checking for availability
for 2nd May. He was going to call everyone at the start of the week, and we all (well not me,
as I knew I was going to be playing) waited for the calls. Sadly, his phone packed up, so
despite the (for us) incredibly large pool of players he had to select from, we were still unsure of
whether we had eleven come Sunday morning!
As the time for the game to start approached, the sun came out in full force (70degrees F. might
not sound too much to those of you coming out of an Aussie summer, but for us in early May this is unheard of) and so did we - a whole team of eleven sauntered out on to the pitch - six new players and five "senior pros".
Fortunately the game provided an early return to reality. The first chance of the new season fell
to me - I was at mid-on and the batsman chipped the ball cunningly to mid-off. As no-one else
seemed keen to attack it, I sprinted towards it (note to any Octopus colleagues who may read
this - I'm writing it the way I remember it, OK!) and despite a valiant sliding effort I could only geta couple of fingers to it. . .
And just to rub it in, while fielding in an unusual fly slip position a ball went to my right so quickly that I could barely get enough of my hand on it to prevent it going for four runs (see previous note)
There is just so much more of that innings I'd like to tell you about, but given that I intend to post these reports on our web page and some of my team mates might read them, I basically daren't! I'll draw a veil over most of it, but say that we did get them all out (mostly bowled) for 129.
Just a word about the predictions up there - the weather was sunny (for England), we had a full team, and while I didn't bowl, I did get a bat (more of which later), but I got one right - the wicket was awful! Due to the council considerately draining the local canal into a newly constructed silt pond at the foot of our pitch has had its drainage ruined. One end had dried low and slow; the other had done so as well, apart from one small patch that dried slow and true. As a consequence, our new club motto ("Oh F***, Sorry" - adopted after we realised that this was the most frequently uttered phrase in the nets) came into play at least twice as the ball rolled under the bat and onto the stumps. Incidentally, we are aware that the silt pond will come into play at some point in the season when the big hitters decide that straight back over the bowler is a good way to hit the ball for six - I'm not going in there to fetch the damned thing though!
Batting - it actually happened! Due to the captain having no idea of what our batting order should be (remember, six new players), I got put in the order at number four. After I cured the nosebleed from being so high up the order, I padded up and watched our openers claw their way to 30 off the first 14? 15? overs. After the fall of the first wicket, the skipper was considering changing the order to get the score moving along a touch more rapidly, when the second wicket fell and I was on with instructions to try and move the score along a touch more quickly.
Now, there are many things you can say of my batting, but few of them are complimentary, and none of them involve scoring runs quickly. My first run of the season came after I was dropped for the first time; we had actually made our ground and were considering a second before the ball finally came to rest on the ground, via some portion of the fielder's hands. My second and third runs were of a similar nature, before I finally hit one (also in the air) that went nowhere near the fielders – perfect placement? At this point the fielders wanted to know whether I would pick their lottery numbers for them.
For me the moment of the game was a near-perfect (no-one would believe perfect!) off drive, past bowler & mid-off that only the slow outfield prevented for going for four! Sadly, at this point, wickets had tumbled at the other end, so I decided to stop being the "flashing blade" and play my usual, dour, no excitement (and usually out quickly) game. Three balls later, the bowler offered me one that I just couldn't resist, and finally the wicket keeper held onto a catch (off his chest and lying on the ground, perhaps, but very definitely held). Should I have learned the lesson and gone on playing in the cavalier (i.e. totally stupid but somehow productive) way? Doesn't really matter at this point, but I might have
to think before I go out into the middle again - as always, however many games I play, I can't predict when that will be. I'd like to report that the batsmen went out and smashed the runs we needed; failing that I'd like to report a doughty tail-ender's fight to hold on for the draw. We lost! By, ooooh too many runs to worry about! Never mind (sob!) always next week.
So, the scores on the doors are:-
6 (count 'em) runs
two dropped catches (possibly an unkind way of putting it)
there catches dropped off me
a couple of reasonable stops in the field (good in the context of first game of the season)
several pints of beer and a curry.
May 9 1999 Ealing Wanderers v Octopus
I'll try to be a little shorter than I was last week!
That should be easy, as my own involvement in this week's game was somewhat
restricted. As anyone who's ever visited our web-site will know, we don't
usually play away games more than a couple of miles from home.
Unfortunately, the Cricket Conference managed to send us halfway to the back
of beyond this week!
At least we had a full team (as one of our spectators turned out to replace
the man who went down with "gastric flu"(alcohol abuse?!) at the last
moment), which was really our last moment of good news that day. In keeping
with our need for players, two more new faces joined us on the trip, making
eight debutants used in two games so far! Without them, we wouldn't have
kicked off the season at all.
Our hosts chose to play a 40 over game; this meant that our lack of proven
batting could be exposed, so we had to restrict them. Sadly, 214-6 was not
quite the restriction we had in mind. From a personal point of view, pulling
a thigh muscle (it was a surprise to find that I had one!) in the third over
of the game meant that I was restricted to falling over onto the ball a few
times; high speed chases and agile dives were definitely out (no change
I settled down to a pleasant afternoon filling in the book (I am, you may
have guessed, the team's scorer, records officer and unofficial press-man),
only to be interrupted by the clatter of falling wickets. We were all out
for 89, to which my contribution was a two-ball duck:-
Ball one - rears off a length (I don't know what this phrase means, but I
read it in the paper once and have always wanted to use it!) and nearly
decapitates the keeper - fairly good trick as it hit my chest on the way
through (bruised, but I'll survive, thanks for asking);
Ball two, hits the toe end of the bat (defensive shot - obviously not very
good) and bounces onto the stumps.
Just as well I'd told my batting partner not to go for any quick singles!
Could have been worse I suppose - we might not have played at all! I'm
unlikely to start this week, but I'll turn up and score anyway, can't trust
the others to keep the scoresheets properly balanced (i.e. equally incorrect
for batsman and bowler)
I'll keep you posted
June 20 1999 Octopus v S. Darjis
Well, I returned to action this week after last week's "rest". Sadly, Darjis had no
interest in the World Cup Final and fielded their full-strength line-up, whereas we
still have to work out if we have a full-strength line-up, let alone what it is!
For (at least) the second time this year our batting failed to get started properly.
Skip managed a very good 45 against accurate bowling on a damp pitch with a wet,
large, long-grassed outfield. We actually thought for a while that we were going to get
through the whole of an innings without a single boundary, but Skip took a leaf out of
the Andy Brooks batting handbook - hit a four then get out! The curse of the new bat
(buy a new bat and it will always end up scoring no runs) hit both Wayne and Danny,
who borrowed Wayne's new bat; both of them moving powerfully up the duck's trophy
table (still led by young Ian who also added to his duck totals). Me? 0 not out - the
world's most annoying score!
We never really looked like making the total. Ian, Syd and Andy K took a wicket each,
and considering that they retired some batsmen, I think we really lost by only ("only")
four wickets, instead of the seven it says in the book! I'm afraid (given that Stewart
regularly reads these pages, and he's somewhat bigger than me) that I am forced to
mention Stewart's attempt at a catch. Young Ian would have been on for his second
wicket, when Stewie (yes, he IS very similar to the character in "Spin City") called very
loudly for a skier, positioned himself for it and looked very confused as the ball passed
some six inches away from his waiting hands. I suppose that TECHNICALLY it wasn't
OK, not really a great afternoon for anyone; I'd just like to say that morale in the team
appears to be pretty high - fairly shortly we're going to get onto a winning run and then
watch out a very samll area of North London!
27 June 1999 Octopus v Newlands CC
This is one of those games that nearly didn't get played. We'd been
expecting the rain all night and Sunday morning, but there didn't seem to
have been enough to stop the game. As we arrived at the ground the patter of
tiny drops turned into the patter of very large and continuously falling
Since the opposition had come from Pinner (note to non-locals - quite a way
for a Sunday afternoon friendly) we determined to hang on as long as we
could to get the game started; we eventually got under way at about three
o'clock, came off once and played through reasonably heavy showers just so
that we could get a 30-over game completed. Naturally, the last 15 overs
were played in bright sunshine!
Anyway, we had the joy of fielding in the rain. Despite the attempts of
their opening bat to run everyone out/p*** off the bowlers by taking quick
singles (and returning later as a runner to try the same tricks!) we managed
to restrict them to 115 for 7 off their 30 overs.
"Handy" Andy Brooks revelled in the conditions to bowl an unprecedented
10-over spell taking three wickets for 30-odd runs. Whippet/Clumsy managed
to dive for the ball (and miss it!) in the second over, condeming him to
wearing wet, muddy whites for the next 58 overs!
Me, I barely touched the ball. After one protracted spell of inactivity, I
managed the patented "Rabbit in the Headlights" panic as the ball was driven
(straight along the ground) to me and I couldn't remember what it was that I
was supposed todo at that point - the bowler was not best pleased!
Skip decided to promote "Tex" Avery to open with him, and this (unusually
for us) got us off to a quick start - both in terms of run scoring and in
terms of their speed between the wickets. Neil "Neil" Cutmore assisted Skip
and at 60 for 2 off 15 overs we looked to be in good shape.
It wouldn't be an Octopus game without a collapse. We heard the clatter of
tiny wickets, and when Whippet/Clumsy went to join Handy Andy at 78 for 7 I
felt I was bound to get a bat, coming in as I was at number 10. The lads
managed to keep close to the required run rate, and needed 9 off the last
over - shades of Australia v South Africa or what? Andy, facing, hit the
first ball for four; the second went the same way. On the third, Andy hit it
and hesitated; Whippet was off like a flash, and I could see myself going
out for the last three balls! Luckily, the fielders hadn't been expecting
him to run, so my possible heroics weren't necessary.
A win by three wickets; our second of the season and Skip's first. The sun
came out, and the beer tasted good that night!
Octopus v Botany Bay 11 July 1999
Starting slightly late and with only 10 men (we were annoyed until we learned that Aussie Mark had broken his arm in two places - get well soon mate) we had the unfamiliar task of batting first on our home pitch. For once, the pitch gremlins didn't play up, and we posted our first 200+ total of the season, Skip pushing on his recent good form with 82 and "Tex" confirming that he can score the runs we expect with a quick-fire 33.
Handy Andy and I put on a respectable 35 (unbeaten) for the sixth wicket, my contribution being 9 not out (my highest score for the club - pause to point out that this is my highest score for the club in TEN years!!!) and Handy hitting 22 off the last over!
After losing three wickets in the first four overs, (Q returning with his trademark S*** Ball Took Wicket) Botany Bay were never in with a realistic shout, so the game petered out into an ill-tempered draw (usual things; umpiring decisions, dropped catches, annoyingly time-wasting batsmen, and sending an eight (might have been 10) year old into bat ahead of grown-up batsmen in the hope we'd be kind to him (we were, probably our mistake!))
I think after that one, I was the only player to have any genuine reason to celebrate afterwards; so I did!
Hadley Wood Green Sports v Octopus 18th July 1999
The most baking dayof the year so far, and we play at a sun-trap without an ounce of shade in sight. Toiling was an apt description of our bowling that day. We were a bit short of players, minus Stewie, Skip, Q, Mark and Whippet so we put out our first team in living memory to feature TWO father/son combinations - Syd and his son David; Young Ian and his dad Jim.
Inevitably, we met the easiest pitch we'd seen for ages with a weakened bowling attack.Happily Wayne's mate Darren turned out to be good for a few overs, so my much-hyped return to the bowling crease wasn't necessary!
217-1 they got - at 195 for 0, and with their record opening stand of 197 in their sights, Danny came on to bowl and was rewarded with a wicket first ball! Gee, we were cut up for them. . .
We tried, honest we did. Wayne and Darren hit a spirited 67 opening partnership, but the second phase attack didn't quite make it.
In the end it was left to me 'n' Shakey to stodge out the last 10 overs for 15 (11 of which came off the last over) - six not out this week, you'd almost think I was in some kind of form!
Ian Saturday 24th July - Butler&Tanner v EPG Exiles (Frome)
As I have for the last seven seasons, I went on a (single game) tour with a
bunch of like-minded drunkards from my last job. This year's target for
abuse (as for the previous two years) was the sunny Somerset town of Frome,
some 150 miles away (by the tortuous directions supplied by
Arriving at our weekend base by 12:30 I was pleasantly surprised to find
that I was not the first to arrive, and in fact we got a full team checked
into the pub/hotel and down to the pitch before the allotted start time!
Unheard of - we must be getting old.
Sadly for us, we agreed a 40 over format, each player to bowl two overs
minimum, then a maximum of five in total; what we for got to do was to agree
a retirement score for the batsmen! Their ringer (local county player) did
decide to retire at 100 (and came back at the fall of the ninth wicket to
score another 30-odd) but that did all the damage - 238 for 9, a big ask for
a bunch of occasional cricketers. And before you ask, yes I did bowl my two
overs, and an extra one! 3 - 0 - 23 - 1, and the wicket was bowled, middle
stump thank you very much.
So, having opened the innings for the team last year (and scored a
creditable 16) I was perhaps just a little miffed to find myself at number
10 on the list this year. A quick 12 (including boundaries off successive
balls!) at a point where the game was effectively lost was good for my own
self-esteem, though useless in the overall context of the game.
So on to the main point of the trip; drinking, eating, baiting the
opposition captain (and a couple of players) who joined us at the pub and
generally taking the p*** out of one another. Staggered off to bed at 2:30,
looking forward to getting up pleasantly at 9:30 (ish), a large breakfast,
slow drive home, and vegging out in front of the Grand Prix all afternoon,
my snores drowning out the sound of the cars!
Sunday 25th July - Octopus v Star CC
Things started to go wrong fairly early - 7:30 am to be precise. Wide awake
with the birdies, no chance of getting back to sleep. I got up showered,
messed around and was still down for (a very good) breakfast before 8:30. My
comrades in beer staggered in at various points in the next hour and a bit,
but finally I decided I might as well head back to London before the roads
got too crowded.
I got home at 12:30, several hours earlier than I had expected, just in time
to take the phone call which said "Ian, do you need me 'cos I'm very
hung-over". Since I was home and feeling fairly reasonable I thought I might
as well put in an unexpected appearance for the club. When I got there,
another player (Darren, the new lad who hit 28 last week) was unavailable,
so a quick phone call got Anthony from Tex's house - the team included both
of Syd's lads and a flatmate; not too auspicious!
Early in the game I found out just how tired I really was; a looping catch
to me at mid-on, and though I was always going backwards to it, I still
should have taken it! Happily, it didn't seem to matter as wickets tumbled
regularly, and we (we? Well, Wayne, Young Ian and Stewie got all the
wickets) got them all out for 96. Oh, and Shakey's first ever wicketkeeper's catch,
he didn't even have to get horizontal!
It wasn't one of my better days in the field, but it wasn't a bad one either!
So far, so reasonable. However, their opening bowler was the fastest thing
we've seen at the Town Park this year. Despite a doughty innings from Shakey
at number 3, and an "unorthodox" 4 from new boy Anthony (and six from Syd)
we were 44-6 when I went in. Three balls later, we were 44-7 as I played
late to a slower ball (neat trick if you can do it!).
Stewie and Alec (Syd's older boy) managed to get the score to within reach,
but Stewie fell to (yet another) shooter for a very patient 41. Though Syd's
lads managed to bat a while longer, we subsided to 80 all out and a loss of
From 12 runs and a wicket (it may not be much, but it was MY 12 runs and a
wicket) to a dropped catch and a duck - After Saturday I felt I could do
little wrong on the cricket pitch; Sunday I was ready to retire! But I'll be
back. . . .(neat slogan!)
August 15 1999 Octopus v errr... Octopus??
Away again this week; I was back in the team, my sulking/resting stint over
and done with and we get a nice short away trip over to Southgate.
Admittedly, this being us, we arrange to meet to leave for one o'clock; as
always, five of us are there at the specified time, and the people who know
where we're going (and have the kit bags) don't turn up 'til some time
We manage to get there a mere fifteen minutes late, to be greeted by a team
ready in its whites and waiting for the off. Bob (Skip) goes out to the
middle and loses the toss. It was only after the opposing captain said that
as the away team in a cup competition they always prefer to set target that
we realised that he'd tossed up with wrong captain! Despite the appearance
of the field, (short boundaries, two strips cut on the two - what I shall
refer to as - squares, one of which had evidently been used the day before)
apparently two games could be played here!
Eventually (by the wonders of mobile telephony) we discover that our
opponents (as opposed to the opponents for our erstwhile opponents) are not
going to turn up, and despite the obvious siren call of the public house, we
elect to get a bit of practice by playing a six a side game.
Without going into the mechanics of how the game is run, it starts with me
umpiring, scoring and wearing my pads ready to come in at number four (out
of six - par for the course). Bob and Neil are our openers, and are going
along fairly smoothly until Bob is hit on the pad with a straight one, and
(having asked at the start if we were playing to normal dismissal rules) I
give him out lbw! Oooops - I think my chances of playing for the rest of the
season have just taken a turn for the worse. . .
After AJ has been and gone, it's my turn to bat. I'm sorry, I know it was
bad of me, but I wasn't really able to get myself in the right serious frame
of mind for this. I managed to get two runs before I swung, missed and got
bowled middle stump. At least I was still laughing, unlike the Skip who was
not amused with me by this point (Sorry Bob).
I should also mention Q's honesty in walking after Stewie had taken a catch
behind off him; neither the bowler nor the umpire thought he had hit it, but
off he walked anyway - I wonder what would have happened in a game
(actually, I don't - he would have walked. . .)
We subside to 68 all out, leaving Stewies team to chase the runs. Their
opening pair attempt to play properly, trying to get most of the runs in
safe shots rather than swipes (swine!). Fortunately, they managed to part
themselves with a fine comedy run out. As I indicated, the boundaries were
not too large (on the one side, anyway), and a gentle tap sent the ball to
the boundary fielder, who seeing confusion between the runners set off for
the bowlers stumps with the ball still in his hand. Barely three yards away,
he releases the ball and runs out the striker (I think) Danny, King of the
World by inches. Never seen anyone run in from the boundary to complete a
runout before. . .
We had to use at least four bowlers, so despite Bob still having the hump
with me, I got to bowl, and in my first over I managed to get a wicket
(batsman caught by Handy Andy at mid-on, thanks Andy)! - This is my first
wicket for the club, and I manage to get one of our own players out. . .must
mean something. I end with two overs, one wicket for eight; only one rank
bad ball, many of the others bouncing too unpredictably off the damp, muddy
and frankly somewhat overgrassed pitch for the batsman to attempt anything
other than a little push.
Despite my fabulous containing job, Bob brought back the opening bowlers in
a vain attempt to break through, sadly it was not to be and we fell to a
three wicket loss.
Then we got to go to the pub.
22 August 1999 Octopus v Loxford Falcons
Well, although you are now all used to my deathless(?) prose adorning these pages,
today we are going to give the match report over to Shakey - mainly 'cos I was off on
holiday for this one (I can pick 'em!). A couple of interjections of mine are in orange
Since Bob forgot to pick up the scorebook or any scoresheets from you, we used
the opposition scorebook on sunday and I scribbled down the important stats so
you can update averages etc. Probably most of our batsmen would rather you
didn't though !
With possibly the strongest side that we have put out all year we (you guessed
it) completely crumbled against a side that only had 2 obvious bowlers.
At one stage we were 15 for 6 (big cheer when we scraped past 19 !) and then 28
for 8. Eddie (Whippet/Clumsy) and Simon Q put on 43 for the 9th wicket (top 9th
wicket stand this season, but well short of last year's record of 61) (which was
the only stand of note - possible worth putting in the averages). At this stage the
opposition had put on the sympathy bowlers (13 year old and fat bloke both of
whom probaly bowl 10 overs between them all year normally) and we managed to
last until there were only 10 overs left.
Only incidents of note (no drops this week):-
1. Andy B's (Handy Andy) expression when he was out for 0 - he arrived saying 'I feel really
up for a knock today Bob, put me in early' The opposition could not work out why
we all fell about laughing when he completely missed out from Mr Fat Bloke that
removed his middle stupm.
2. Paul took a catch on 2nd attempt and appealled for it twice !
3. Eddie in bar afterwards 'I don't seem to be able to score anything apart from
Good afternoon out though . Last home game of season.
August 29th 1999 Hendon St Mary's v Octopus
Well, after Shakey's turn at the reports last week I'm back - make of this what you will.
I got back from my holiday on Thursday, slightly surprised to find no message from Skip on the
Bleep (answer phone - I just don't like that name). I was even more surprised to get a call from
him on the Friday asking me if we had a game! Another fine piece of Octopus organisation!
Still, to be fair, we got a full team out (even if we did have to call on young Ian's dad again!) and
set off only a tiny bit (30 minutes!) late for an away ground we all swore we knew fairly well!
Eddie/Whippet/Clumsy had decided to wash his kit at 10 o'clock that morning, so that was lying
on the parcel shelf of the car trying to dry all the way over - sadly for him (and much to our
amusement) it didn't. Less to our amusement was the fact that we only had six of us at the
ground for the expected start time; we (much to my disappointment) agreed an overs game.
Now I don't usually like overs games 'cos I tend to go in late and have to try to score runs quickly;
not my game (actually, I'm not quite sure what my game is. . .), but Bob/Skip eases that worry
by putting me in at (DEEP BREATH, DON'T PANIC) number 3! ! ! !
(Paranoid theory - he still hasn't forgiven me for the lbw in the practice game;
psychological theory - he's making sure the openers don't want to get out;
nice theory - a reward for years of devoted service - Naaaah!)
We get under way Skip & Stewie opening up; it's slow going at first 22 off the first 10 overs but
no wicket (don't pads keep your knees warm?). Then speeding up, past 50, past 78 (previous best
this season) past 100 to 110 with 6 overs to go and then the wicket falls. Six overs to go, runs
required quickly - where have I seen this before? Oh yes, not unlike batting at number 9 for us!
I get my first run (and with it my highest aggregate for the season for this club) by chipping the ball
over the bowler and watching mid-off & mid-on collide instead of catching it. Next over, Stewie clips
the bowler over square leg for a lovely four and receives a muttered "another false shot". More
mutterings from the bowler after the next one goes past him for four, and the next is clipped for a
single - then I get to face this angry man. Naturally, this is where the decent batsman late cuts the
ball past the keeper and slips; so I did (except my late cut is played with a straight bat and a large
amount of edge - never said I kept to the coaching manual, did I?). Repeating the shot two balls later
did nothing for the bowler's blood pressure, but wonders for my score. 9, joining my highest ever.
Stewie suggests I try to hit everything - good idea, so next ball I bottom edge onto my pads and Handy
Andy gives me out lbw!! (I reckon Skip bribed him!); despite this being the season's most ludicrous
decision by far, I start to walk off, only to be called back by the fielders who couldn't believe it!
It didn't really matter, I was caught a few balls later for no addition - damn! that first 10 for the club
still eludes me! We finished 153-2 off 35 overs.
They start off quickly - 50 for 0 off the first 10, but fine bowling from Handy Andy (he needed to get
back in the good books) and Q slowed them down sufficiently that they needed to start taking a few
chances, and the wickets tumbled regularly. Another four wickets for Whippet, perhaps he should
have wet kit every week. We used our fifth wicket keeper of the season (obviously a popular role)
and Danny King of the World was desperate to get a dismissal - he did pull off a fabulous tumbling
throw for a run out, but sadly for him that doesn't count for the keeper stats! Still, no byes is a pretty
good start (isn't it Eric - hope you're reading this one!)
We won by forty runs, and spent the rest of the evening celebrating Q's impending birthday - but 'cos
he bought me a drink I won't tell you how old he is.
September 5th 1999 Hendon & Edgware v Octopus
Well, I think that about wraps it up for the season.
As usual we manage to create a crisis about a perfectly normal organisational point, meeting up
and getting to the ground! Never mind, we did get there, and started about ten minutes late.
Normally that doesn't matter, but September, when the nights are drawing in and there are late
evening thunderstorms predicted, it can be a problem. Happily, it wasn't.
For the second week in a row, we bat first; after the glory of number three last week, I'm restored
to a more normal number10 (Skip: "I want straight batsmen all the way down". I cannot begin to
conceive what he meant by that!) . Elevator cricket; responsive to life's little ups-and downs.
A nice little opening stand between Skip (his second six in the eleven years I've been with the club;
actually two runs & four overthrows, but why spoil a good story?) and Gloves (although I'm going
to have to find a new name for Wayne now that Danny has taken over behind the stumps!) may have
been helped by a couple of their players turning up late. Seventeen overs into the game, their Aussie
quickie launches himself at our poor 'ickle batsmen, and before you can say "Traditional Octopus
Batting Collapse" he's removed four of the top five, all bowled (Poor Tex; fourth successive duck,
three of those to balls he just couldn't have seen! Even their wickie was scared by the pace of that
But we haven't given up, and still fight on to 189-8 (with Handy Andy hitting a huge six off the quickie
on to the A1 - v. major road for non-locals) befoe I come out to face. The leg spinner at the other end
nearly takesmy head off, before Handy takes a leg-bye to the quickie, leaving me to face five.
Ball 1: Straight, no trouble
Ball 2: The throat ball (it has been unkindly suggested that for anyone else in the team this would have been
hip high, but I'm not going to respond to that sort of slur). Normally my response to the throat ball is to
throw myself flat and pretend to be looking for a contact lens, no chance to duck this time, I just manage
to get my bat up. I worked out later that all the close fielders were so convinced that I'd been hit by the
ball that none of them went for the easy catch! Phew!
Ball 3: Leg-side, left alone (missed!)
Ball 4: Straight again - easy meat!
Ball 5: Wide of off stump, yes I waved at it, but I missed. Made it through the over, but. . . they're appealing
and Whippet/Clumsy (who was given out to the second worst lbw decision this year by AK-47) gives me
Waah! 191 all out, my fourth duck of the season (thanks be for Tex; I'm still avoiding the duck trophy!).
We managed to get the early wickets we needed, good catches by Tex & Clumsy and a fine piece of bowling
by young Ian to remove the player who looked to be the danger batsman. Then patience until the four and
five self-destructed in the run chase. Another four wickets to Clumsy, Danny King of the World took three
behind the stumps and AK-47 atoned slightly by assisting in a run-out and we win by 45 runs. Me? I touched
the ball a total of four times (not counting fetching it from over the boundary) and I suppose that's the real
frustration of being a Crappy Cricketer; while their fourth wicket partnership was going on I couldn't really
go up to Skip and ask for a couple of overs 'cos I felt I could get these guys out, and I didn't have any
useful suggestions as to how to get anyone out, so I just watched everyone else do the hard work.
Ho hum, I guess there's always next year!
Best moment of the season? 8 against Preston - might not sound like much, but the partnership it was in
meant that we set a realistic target and made a game of it (and still lost!)
Worst moment of the season? After a(nother) duck against Star, their wicket keeper came up to me as I
was walking off and told me that I looked just like Mike Gatting! Cheek. . .