Jaguar Home - 6/5/01.
Ohhh - all the fun of the first game at home (trying to remember all your kit; has someone done the teas; someone remembering to put out the stumps/ boundary markers etc) PLUS the fun of it being the first game at a new home ground - how does the scorebox work, where are the correct dressing rooms, showers(!), where do we put the teas, how is the pitch going to play! Frankly I was impressed that we got under way just the fifteen minutes late!
Possibly even more amazing is that for the first time in three years we only had ONE player making his debut - this was Chris Wright, and we shall hear more of him later!
Jaguar like to play the overs game (personally I don't, but it wasn't my choice) and stand-in skip Whippet (check the people link for more details of who is who!) lost the toss so in the great Octopus tradition we're fielding! AND IT'S FLIPPING FREEZING!!!! (but let's not complain too much, at least it's dry(ish)).
A quick wicket for Q was followed by a large stand and the feeling of "here we go again", before Chris announced his arrival on the scene by taking a diving catch. The man formerly known as Little Danny, but who is henceforth to be known as "Ned", was the beneficiary of the catch, and went on to take four wickets in his ten overs, before hobbling off to a quiet fielding position clutching his back!
Jaguar were kept down to 149 by a combination of good bowling by Ned, Q, Whippet and Chris Wright (again!), some decent fielding (for the first game of the season, including a fine slip catch by Norm), and a slow outfield.
So, it's an overs game and we don't have Uncle Fester, Cap'n Hook or Bob to open. This leaves us with the opening pair of the Cat and me - not likely to strike fear into the heart of the fielding team (unless they're scared of hypothermia!). Well, it was a slow start, some reasonably accurate bowling proving difficult to get away. I faced out the first two overs from the nippier of the two, before the Cat got a single to rotate the strike. Fortunately the odd extra had meant that the scoreboard wasn't totally moribund. Sadly, the nippy man saw off the Cat for that single, and Smudger came in in typical blustering fashion.
I faced out four balls of the next over before one finally strayed towards the leg-side. Sadly for me, it wasn't outside the leg stump, so when I missed the ball it didn't miss me. LBW duck first innings of the season - rats! Still, at least there was a real scorebox to operate!
And the operation was necessary... Smudger and Norm both hit unlucky 13's. Young Ian tried to make up for running Norm out but perished for 7. Chris (34) and Ned (17) gave us some hope with a dashing partnership, more good work from Whippet and Q getting us within sight 19 to get off the last three overs; then 15 of two, then 10 off one.
And much though I'd like to tell you that we won, sadly we didn't. We did have the fun sight of Danny (kotw) trying to hit an eight off the last ball but getting bowled all ends up - nice to know he wasn't playing for his average! - leaving us depressingly short.
Still, plenty to take heart from and looks set fair for a reasonable week's weather so perhaps we'll play next week as well! Here's hoping
Warner's End Away - 13/5/01
Not the most auspicious of starts - only 10 of us actually managing to get under way for the first trip of the season, but at least it was a nice village ground - perhaps a tad small on one of the boundaries, and no shade from the luvverly warm sun, but who was complaining.
So, Cap'n Hook walks out to the middle, fields the toss, wanders back and announces that we're batting. "So you lost the toss" we quip; "No", he replies somewhat surprisingly - changing years of Octopus tradition of getting hot and sweaty in the field followed by panic stricken chasing of a total! And when my hand went up in response to the traditional "who wants to open?" query I was even more astonished to be told to pad up!
Again, as last week, neither of the opening bowlers was seriously fast, and the wickets aren't particularly hard, dry and fast as yet so there was plenty of time to play the two openers. Cap'n Hook managed to get me to scamper an early single, so at least the spectre of a long stint at the crease for zilch disappeared.
It wasn't quick scoring - only 18 off the first 10 overs, but we saw off the opening bowlers (always a target for the openers) and Cap started to get stuck into the second phase bowlers. Despite the shortness of the boundaries, I wasn't getting anywhere near them. Apart from a two pulled to mid-wicket, most of my runs were singles pushed to (a friendly deep) mid-off or little nudges around the corner. My one attempt at an attacking stroke resulted in a drop by the keeper - I guess he'd gone to sleep watching me like everyone else.
In the fifteenth over, just like last week, I played all round a ball headed for leg stump. Unlike last week, I didn't get my leg in the way, so that lovely clatter of stumps sent me back to the pavilion for a massive 9 runs...37/1 after 15 overs.
Smudger doesn't hang around. By the time he was out for 24 (four fours) in the 23rd over we'd shifted on to 75, and Chris (no-nickname) carried on the fun with a quick fire 21 (including a six, and a couple of lovely fours) to push us to 114-3 in the 32nd over. Hmmmm... partnerships of 37, 38 and 39 - could this be a trend? Don't be daft!
Shortly before this point I gave up the joys of scoring and replaced Syd as umpire. Whippet had come in at number 5 (nose-bleed city for him) and sadly I had to adjudge him lbw as he attempted the splits in front of the wicket. Danny(kotw) soon followed him... one ball later to be exact! Danny(kotw) took the opposite approach to Whippet - he didn't move his legs at all. So two lbw's in two balls - was Young Ian going to fall the same way as a hat-trick victim. Short answer - No. 119/5.
Normally, after a couple of quick lbw's like that we tactically replace the umpire. As no-one came to relieve me I can only assume my life would have been in danger had I returned to the pavilion at that moment! Anyway, at this point Cap'n Hook took control. Assisted by young Ian (who perished to a sharp catch at mid-wicket) and Syd, Cap took the score onto a creditable 169/6 as we declared at tea - his own contribution being 88 not out.
As we walked off the pitch, a couple of small drops of rain splashed us....
We spent the next forty minutes watching a downpour wash out any chance of seeing a reply from Warner's. Even after it stopped, there was too much standing water to even think about going back out. Sad really, that could have been quite an interesting second half of the afternoon!
Titanic Away - 21/5/01
A guest entry from the skipper - includes the new and exciting "Cap'n Hook Player ratings". Ooooh....
With the meeting of two sides with names like these, you expect water and lots of it. And to an extent there was.......given a week long deluge the outfield was damp to say the least. No standing water but plenty of evidence that there had been.
Another toss won by me and given an artificial track, first go seemed a good idea. Ball came quickly on to the bat but as we all found a sweet hit off the bat would not travel very far along the ground. And the aerial route was not much better as Chris found out when a ball that pitched, first bounce, 10 feet from the boundary didn't go all the way!!
Well it is was going to be a low scoring match and pre match estimates were quickly revised to 120 being a good score, so given the Octopus skill at self destruction and cock ups of the highest order, we managed to scrape 90-7 off 47 overs!
Three players managed to run themselves out although Andy might just blame Stan and Chris might just blame me for rashly calling two and I might just blame nobody but myself for trying two to the same guy who did for Chris. And with Eddie getting stumped, (as good as a run out only with a little more suicidal tendencies), we were a little underwhelmed in our total (16 top score by Chris). We did however feel that we were in with a chance if we bowled tightly and fielded as well as Titanic.
And we did to an extent, Eddie bowling very well and taking 4 good wickets and Chris with two. It was getting close with Titanic needing a tricky 4 an over until a couple of costly overs (one by a pissed off Captain) swung it back to Titanic. They eventually won with 3 overs remaining for a 3 wicket win. A good competitive game in the end, It was low scoring which given the strip was a surprise but given the outfield was no surprise at all (180 runs in 80 + overs)
Capn Hook................who will not mention the 4 LBW appeals, all plumb and all turned down that darkened his mood for 10 minutes at the end of the game.....many team-mates didn't notice the difference.
Players looking forward to the tour and spirits high despite defeat
Uncle Fester: Overthrows off Cap'n's bowling, nuff said 5
The Cat: Gazelle in the field, not between the stumps 6
Capn Hook: I must not lose my temper, I must not lose my temper,..........etc. 4
Chris*:Straight bat, straight ball, straightforward catch 7
Norm: Duck and a drop, and overthrows off Cap'n's bowling (always going to cost in the player's rating stakes!!!) 5
Sven aka Thor: Just nice to see him 6
Q: A flashing blade and a slower ball 6
Whippet: Good with the ball not so with the bat....Charge!!!!!! 7
Ali B:Tidy with bat, and pad exchange, very entertaining (Stan was in his 'element') Good performance in the field 7
Syd**: Quick singles with son, although Ali B. looked the dominant partner! 6
Ian***: Bye Bye Bye 6
Nickname suggestions to be ratified by Tour Committee
* I'm Sorry I haven't a clue.................but am looking at his roots.Suffolk.......... and asking Eddie
** Fred, as in Fred Hargreaves off the old 'How' programme
*** Ronseal, does exactly what it says on the tin, waterproof in 30 minutes
West Malvern Away (Tour) 26/5/01
After the fun of getting there (see tour diary) and the joy of being yelled at by our Worcester landlady (mainly Q getting the yelling at, admittedly) it was a pleasant surprise to find a little hidden jewel of a ground waiting for us to play on. Cap'n H wins the toss and (surprise again!) we bat. I was a little disappointed to find myself at number 10 - see, you miss one game and it's a struggle to get back into the team! (Must check how the openers did in the Titanic game!)
Uncle Fester and the Cat got us under way. It's Unc's (supposed) 42nd birthday, and he looks in good touch. The opening was slow (last comment about scoring rate as it never really got any faster!) and our brave boys put on 27 in the first fourteen overs. As always, we hope for the fireworks to start a little later. Cap'n Hook put on 22; Unc gets an appropriate 42; Chris (did we agree on Tractor Boy? ) put on a quick 20. The finely tuned engine that is our middle order suffered a touch of a cough with both Smudger and Norm falling cheaply.
Fortunately this brought Danny (kotw) and Whippet together. Now, on the previous evening (in a drunken haze) the two had made a bet that W would outscore D by 3 to 2 in runs, with a couple of horrific forfeits as the consequence. This led to some catcalls from the sidelines, a couple of (suspicious) refusals of runs, plus a couple of apparently suicidal (for the partner) singles! Whippet went for 12 with Danny still there on 7. I came in at number 9 (with Q, who was supposed to b at 9 declining to come in as he thought it would be only for a couple of balls before the teatime declaration), scrambled about unpreposessingly for the only run of the partnership (new bat you see - the old one had lost its middle and it took me a couple of years to notice!) still leaving Danny (kotw) behind on run rate. Batting with Shakey (and Q appearing for a ball at the end of the innings) Danny scrambles to 8, Octopus to 136 all out.
Now, dear reader, as I see it a forfeit is paid by the party which does not win the wager. At 12 to 8 in runs scored neither of our dear bretheren won the wager, so both forfeits should have been completed. Sadly, I have to tell you that neither was! What do you think?
For those who don't know, Worcester was at the heart of the recent floods in the UK. It was little surprise, therefore, to find myself fielding in barely dried marshland at fine leg. Whippet and Tractor Boy removed the top three wickets for 30 runs Sensing victory, we quickly worked to throw it all away by allowing their 4 & 5 batsmen to progress fairly serenely to 102. Another quick burst of wckets (still Whippet and Tractor Boy, though Q & Cap'n Hook had bowled meantime) got them down to 109 for 7 with three overs remaining.
And very little happened in those three overs. A few extras, a couple of runs, and we're left needing three wickets off the last three balls. As Phil Newport (more of whom later) was to say a couple of days later "it's a plan that doesn't come off very often". And it didn't!
An honourable draw, a couple of pints with the oppos, then off to celebrate Unc's birthday. Mmmmm... curry!
Worcester Nomads Away (Tour) 28/5/01
Bizarrely for a Sunday friendly team we managed to go away for a long weekend and not play on the Sunday - lucky it was bank (public) holiday Monday really. (Want to know more of the tour? Click here)
A rag-bag group of weary, bleary (supposedly) cricketers made the tactical decision to turn up early for the game. Reasoning?
1: Possibility of a net practice
2: Cap'n Hook was playing in a Father-and-Son 20 Over thrash at the ground in the morning (no, his only child is a girl - we may cover the reason for this later)
3: Lack of available transportation (and maps and local knowledge) meant that we couldn't go our separate ways or we'd never all get to the ground.
Tip for young players #1 A ten hour drinking binge the day before a match is unlikely to improve your performance.
Two of our number had had to depart on the Sunday morning; we were to be graced by the presence of a couple of Cap'n Hook's relatives; his nephew Nathan (who had also been playing in the Dad 'n' Lads alluded to above) and his brother Phil - as in Phil Newport 3 tests for England, 6000+ runs and nearly 900 wickets for Worcestershire - that was the good news. The bad news was that despite our pleas of "we're weak medium" we were to face a team comprising some Nomads first team players, a number of county standard colts and a smattering of "other" players. Were we over-matched?
Well, the first ten overs seemed to turn into a six-hitting competition - 90/1 off 10 demoralises most teams - but just a couple off overs later it was 94/4 and we were feeling a bit better (Shakey - keeping wicket - felt a lot better taking a catch behind; the batsman walked off grumpily, plainly annoyed at missing out on the run-fest!). Tractor Boy and Q at least kept their heads up and took a few wickets between them to keep the slaughter to a minimum. Young Nathan bowled a few quick overs (I'm not entirely sure, but I think that it was at this point that Cap'n H attempted to take a slip catch with his shin. Top class lump, which is going to keep him out of this week's game) before his Dad (PJ Newport, keep up!) came on.
My moment of the tour - Shakey is not a regular wicky, so seeing PJN amble (poetic license) in off a shorter run than most of our bowlers S decided not to retreat too far. He has apparently recovered the feeling in his right hand now, but the look on his face of mingled pain and astonishment made me long for a camera!
And my stroke of the match? Their skipper brought himself in at number 10 (ooohh... very apt in these electioneering days!) and just leaned into a cover drive that raced away for four without ever getting more than an inch off the ground. Class! You may notice that I haven't said much about my fielding in either of the tour reports - this is because the ball and I didn't seem to get together very often. I did manage to dive onto (literally onto) a cut in the last over, but that's as far as reportable incidents go!
Thankfully they declared at 201/8 off 40 overs. On a true track, with a short boundary one side, and a few semi-decent batsmen we had a chance to make it interesting. Openers were the problem - Uncle Fester was still feeling his exertions from the previous game, Cap'n Hook had a damaged shin, which left just me and the Cat who'd opened this season. You may remember I was slated for Number 10 last game, with the assurance from Cap'n Hook that things would be put to rights in the next game; stupidly I had persuaded Whippet to ask Cap whether he (Whippet) could captain this game. Cap agreed, and I'm left with egg on my face, number 10 on the scoresheet and took myself off to the scorebox for a sulk.
Tip for young players #2 When sulking don't do it in a small room of which you are the only occupant!
Cat & Q opened. After 10 overs we were 21/1 only 69 behind their rate then! However, our luck was in because PJN had come in at number 3 for us. I was about to write "I don't know what game he was playing", but he was clearly playing cricket - which left me questioning what the heck we'd been doing for the last x years! The man had so much time to play strokes, and instead of calling for a run, he called the number of runs he was going for and.... on and on.
Tractor Boy (23) came in for an entertaining stand of 70; Cap'n Hook hopped about interestingly for 15, Norm came and went and we were left with Father and Son Newports. Sadly the partnership took us to 137/6 - even more sadly it was PJN who perished trying to hit over (very) long on. Uncle F and Nathan also went soon after, then it was my entrance 139/8, 8 overs 4 balls to survive. Discussion with Whippet suggests that in deference to our hosts we should still try for it! He slams four fours in the next few overs, and I scramble a couple of singles before we decide that the game was effectively beyond us and a draw was now honourable!
So it's fair to say that I wasn't backing up significantly when W called for a quick run - it's also fair to say I was surprised, and I think that caused him to hesitate, which caused me to.... anyway it was probably better for the team that I was the one to go; not good for my temper though. I think that had there been more than 11 balls to go I would have gone off by myself a bit to recover, but I did make it back out to watch the last over (self control at its finest).
We survived. A whole tour with two draws and no defeats can't be too bad.
Tip for young players #3 It is not advisable to travel 3 hours back in the same car as the man with whom you just shared a run-out!
Northchurch C. C. Away - 10/6/01
Cap'n Hook, Whippet, Tractor Boy, Uncle Fester, Smudger, Danny (kotw), Q and Thor - what do they have in common? Basically they were all missing from our line-up this week! That's all bar one of the bowlers we've used this season, plus six of our top eight run scorers not available. And we still managed to put out a full eleven (just) - thanks to Norm(NORM)'s friend Maruf turning up for us and a couple of Syd/Fred's lads also turning out.
It was a damp, overcast afternoon as we arrived at Northchurch. It had been raining, but this stopped as we got there. In order to try to get a full game, we agreed to a 35 overs game - not my favoured format, but the one least likely to be destroyed by the weather - lost the toss and were "invited" to field. At this point I should also say that in the middle of that list of players above were the top five candidates for captaincy, leaving only me, Cat and Shakey as likely skippers. Earlier in the week Shakey volunteered for wicky, Cat had done it before and wasn't bothered, so that just left me! Aaaargh! Oh, and Shakey went down with the 'flu (tho' the little hero turned up and filled a position on the field) so Norm ended up keeping - bang goes one of my bowling options!
Well, Maruf and Ned opened up for me - Maruf slipping a bit on the wet turf, but taking the first wicket. And I'm afraid I have to admit to a dropped catch - actually I would have been happy to drop it, I just never really got underneath it at all. And that was a touch of the story of our day in the field - but I get ahead of myself!
Angry Tom replaced Maruf in attack; their opener tried a little trickle to leg not having spotted me hiding behind square-leg umpire. I picked up, spotted the non-striker on his backside halfway down the wicket and gently returned the ball to Angry Tom, who gently demolished the stumps! It's only my 13th season with the club and that's the first run-out I've been involved in (while fielding anyway). Only hitting a six, making 25 and taking a wicket to go then I'll have all he achievements I need to retire! (Oh damn - I'm going to be playing with this lot forever, aren't I?)
Despite Angry Tom's two wickets and Fred's first one this season, their number 4 batsman was WAY too good for our bowling - everything he tried came off and he got his hundred just before we came off for tea! Chasing 209 to win - time for the Captain's rain dance, only I must have got it wrong - the sun came out for the rest of the game! *Sigh*
I decided that this was no time for me and the Cat to open the batting. Norm(NORM) on the back of his recent 40+ at work replaced me (in my dream line-up) at number two. Like the rest of the afternoon's decisions, this one was not a conspicuous success - Cat and Norm back in the pavilion for 8 runs in 8 overs; effectively game over (game was over after Northchurch passed 150, but let's not quibble!). Ned and Ali B were a bit more entertaining; Maruf looked correct, but didn't score many and then I was in for a captain's knock at number six.
Given that it was an overs game and that I couldn't stodge for the draw I made a decision not to leave anything but the widest wides. Started well with a deliberate one pushed down past slip, and repeated the stroke a couple of balls later to pinch the strike. The next over was all leg side, and I couldn't get the bat on it (not for want of trying) until the last ball of the over where I worked it away for one. Next ball, a solid enough push back that the bowler got his foot on - then one that I couldn't resist pulling... Now I think I mentioned the new bat last time I; the old bat would have just top-edged the ball up gently for mid-wicket - the new bat at least made him wait a few seconds before catching me! Grrrrrrrr...
Angry Tom came in and made the highest score for us, to go with his best bowling - the rest of the innings basically faded to 83 all out. Not so much beaten as smashed! I have to admit that as captain I didn't take it well, but them's the breaks folks. Did I enjoy captaining? No - but I'm glad to have done it the once. Would I do it again - go away!
Am I going to do the Captain's ratings? No - except to say that on a scale of 1 to 10 only Angry Tom (and Maruf's bowling) would rate above a 5. And I'd be way below that, sorry chaps!
Royal College of Science Home - 17/6/01
Saturday dawned grey and leaden. At points through the day it rained hard enough to leave an inch of water on the street's gardens. It was clear at that point that Sunday's game was doomed.
Sunday also dawned grey and leaden - surprisingly it didn't rain before the afternoon and we took the field against the RCS almost on time. The pitch was green and damp (no surprise there!) and we were invited to field (surprise there!). In the absence again of the likely skips, it became Cat's turn to lead us and he set Tractor Boy loose at the College Boys. 11 Overs of bounce, seam, swings and misses later somehow T-boy was still wicketless - Young Ian (Ronseal aka Ron - according to Cap'n Hook) had taken the first wicket to go, but he too couldn't break further through. At 90-1, with Maruf and Norm(NORM!) having relieved the openers we got a bolt of luck - the two batsmen at one end and Maruf , the ball and some broken stumps at the other!
Unusually for us, despite the fact that we only has ten men and the oppo's had scored approximately 100 runs we were still employing attacking fields, mainly off-side. This meant that the batsmen were looking to work stuff to leg that really shouldn't have been. At this point their (self-proclaimed) best batsman decided on a leg-side hoick and the ball went high in the air - guess who was under it at square leg? - after last week's drop (kind to call it a drop!) there was a collective groan as it came towards me (not least from me) and somehow stuck in my hands. Wheee... first catch of the season, always a good one to get!
From the 90-1 they had been, wickets fell regularly until they were 144-7 at tea (probably worth nearer 180 on that pitch and outfield). Normally this is declaration time, but for some reason they decided to bat on after. This only served to annoy Tractor Boy, who came back on to claim a wicket, and Maruf who took the last two wickets with successive balls. The net effect of the non-declaration? Wasting four overs (and the time to change innings) to add 8 runs - perhaps they promised the number 11 a bat? Who knows!
Anyway, 153 was the target, and knowing how little the Cat has enjoyed opening recently I expected an opening berth with him filling the skipper's traditional 5, 6 or 7 slot. Given my recent predictive ability I suppose I shouldn't have been too surprised to be trotting off to the scorer's hut at number 8 in the list. What did surprise me was that less than ten runs later I was getting padded up ready. I won't embarrass Cat, Norm, Danny (kotw) (annoyed at being run out!) and Tractor Boy by telling you that they were back in the hutch already, I'd rather comment that I happily got stiff legs watching Maruf and Ali B put on over 50 (wrong pads! - Ali B borrowed mine) and that when Ali's dad Fred joined Maruf they were still milking the bowling for enough to be on course for a win!
Sadly, when the sixth wicket fell it was Maruf who went (for 73!) and that left Fred and me to chase another 51 runs in six and a bit overs. The reason why they batted on was becoming clearer - they only had one serious bowler, who had operated from one end for the whole of the innings. As I came in he was starting his 16th over, and (especially on that pitch) was fairly lethal, but perhaps a touch slower than he had been at the start of his spell. Fred was facing, and called me through for a single on the fourth ball of the over. Two to face - first left alone, second met the middle of the bat - no problems!
Fred faces out a maiden and in comes their bowler (I should digress at this point and say that this was the man who thought he was their only batsman as well!). First ball, quick but away from the stumps. Second ball, quick, swinging away, took an edge and went beautifully between 'keeper and slip for four! (Boosted the average!). Third ball finds the same spot Tractor Boy was using, lifts and swings in. I nonchalantly jerk backwards just quickly enough. Fourth, similar to the second, except that I cover more of this and inside edge it into my stomach. The last two balls found the middle of the bat, so that was survival! Fred saw out the next over, and I saw off five of the next one before pinching a single. The last over I left the ball alone until it was three wickets required and two balls to go. OK, so I'm not proud, but when someone fields at silly mid-on in a helmet and creeps ever closer I think I'm entitled to aim the last two shots at him! Shows how accurate I am - he got out of the way of both of them! So, 112 for 6 and it's a draw. Had they had the extra 20 minutes they wasted they might well have won, but that wasn't to be!
A couple of the missing players are due to return next week - we'll see if we can get that elusive first win then!
North Enfield II Home - 24/6/01
Well, this shouldn't take too long....!
Injuries and absences, thankfully, are starting to ease. This week saw the return of Uncle Fester and Q to the line-up. Cat was still deputising as skipper, lost the toss, was invited to bat and told me to get padded up! Me and the Uncle opening the innings - what joy!
Their opening bowlers were young and enthusiastic - getting the ball to lift occasionally but not overly threatening. I turned a one (uppishly) behind leg in the second over (hooray - off the mark) and a three off the same bowler next over (would have been four any other week - long boundary that side today). Meantime Uncle F enjoys taking a couple of fours. A crisp off-drive, sadly only for one, and at 15-0 we're looking fairly reasonable. At this point it all starts to unravel....
Uncle F is undone by one which doesn't bounce much. Danny (kotw) tries to hit everything, but makes contact with little before losing his off-stump, and I get one which bounces a little and takes an edge to the keeper. 17-3, becomes 17-4 after what I'm told is a comedy run-out of Q the very next ball - I can't comment as I was taking my gear off at the time!
Angry Tom and Ali B see off the openers - strangely, AB goes to the last ball of one of their spells and Angry Tom goes to the first ball of the change bowler (and swears at himself every ball the bloke bowls - Angry Tom would have loved to face him a bit longer). Fred and Cat (13* lower order - hopefully does something for his confidence) and Shakey take the score away from execrable towards pitiful before we finished at 62-9 (only ten men!) a good 50 short of pathetic!
We didn't even bother to take tea between - they came out to bat immediately and reached 47 without loss if not serenely then at least without major incident. Angry Tom then decided to take a hand, bagging himself five wickets (all bowled) before we lost by five wickets in horribly quick time! No real fielding heroes, but interesting to see Shakey fielding at absolutely stupid too close Square Leg with the helmet on - well, as Treasurer he's probably concerned that we don't get enough use out of it!!
Harrowdene Away - 1/7/01
Ah, the long hot treks of summer. It may be that most of you consider a round-trip of about 65-70 miles for a game of cricket to be the norm - happily we don't usually, but we have been playing Harrowdene on and off for the last five years so away we go again.
The return of Cap'n Hook and Smudger makes up for the fact that we take the field (WINNING the toss for the first time in weeks!) with only ten men. Young Ron takes the first wicket on 22. Angry Tom starts to chip in on 46, and keeps on chipping. At 93-8 he'd got four wickets and Cap'n Hook had taken another three.
Fielding had been remarkably good considering that the outfield wasn't so much bumpy as undulating. It was practically impossible to run three paces without the foot finding a place where the ground should have been but wasn't. This made chasing difficult, but also meant that getting behind the ball left you open to the one that "popped" at you. Because of the odd bounce I had to pull off a couple of good football (association football that is) type "traps" of the ball, but was otherwise largely unoccupied during the innings.
Sadly, the last two wickets added another 44 runs before both falling to Angry Tom. This left us chasing 138 to win - Angry Tom with 6-31, Uncle Fester (aka Cartman) with three catches and Danny (kotw - keeper of the week) with three wicky catches - practically a season's worth!
Uncle Fester took 9 off the first over - the only runs scored (and Norm(NORM!) gone for a duck) before Smudger got bored in the sixth over and hit 18 of his 20. Cap'n Hook (25), Uncle F (24) and Angry Tom (27†) took us to 120 for five, and nervousness had set in. We've collapsed from these positions too often for it to be comfortable. When Danny (kotw) went at 126 we needed 13 with three wickets in hand and my turn to bat and only another six overs to get the runs in....
I survived the last ball of the over. Q took a single off the first ball of the next and two balls later my jumping around while completely missing the ball distracted the wicky sufficiently for the ball to go for four byes. Last ball of the over I pushed a single to mid-off.
First ball of next over was wide leg-side. One of those differences of opinion - I thought I hit it pretty well, others thought I edged it - either way it went tantalisingly over the head of backward square leg for two. Another single toward him next ball put Q on strike. He'd evidently had enough and imperiously struck the ball through the covers for the winning boundary. Yep, first win of the season at last! Hoo-rah!
†Incidentally - during Angry Tom's innings the ball hit his stumps, moving the bail insufficiently for it to fall off! I was awaiting an eyewitness report on this incident but it hasn't as yet been forthcoming!!!!!
Whalers Home - 8/7/01
As a cricketing day it didn't start too well. Intermittent rain on the Sunday morning meant one of those "will we, won't we" play debates, always leaving you feeling dissatisfied until you turn up and find that the game's on after all. Except that we turned up and found that the *&£"!!? pitch hadn't been prepared - someone HAD painted some lines on a strip of grass, but I frankly would have refused to play on that. We would have complained to our landlords (we sub-let a pitch from another cricket club who no longer field a Sunday friendly team, so they don't need their second pitch) at that point, but the first team wicket had been vandalised so they were a little busy!
So, ten minutes to kick-off and we didn't have a strip, a team (eight at that point) or an opposition. As Fred and son arrived, Shakey decided to see where the opposition had got to. It was only as he dialled their contact and I heard someone's mobile go off that I began to suspect that the lot warming up next to us were actually the oppos rather than (as we had assumed) the landlord's team! Naturally we didn't tell Shakey that he was talking to someone less than five yards away from him and let him go through the embarrassment of discovering it for himself.
Eventually Cap'n Hook and their skipper settled on an old (but not too badly worn) strip for us to play on, won the toss and elected to field. The skipper took the first wicket at 6, but big stands took them to 60 (before Cap'n Hook took wicket number two) and 111 before the Cap produced a startling diving midwicket catch off Uncle Fester. Smudger took the next wicket in his first over of the season finishing with a second caught by Danny(kotw). Maroof (who had been delayed at work) took four wickets, leaving the opposition pleased that he hadn't arrived on time! The Cat took caught the last man at mid-off off Fred so (after some calculations with the scorebooks) that left them 168 all out.
Anyway, handed my now customary number eight slot I grabbed the scorebook and watched as Cat (restored to opening) launched a challenge on Danny(kotw) for this year's duck trophy. Smudger came in and tried to play a more responsible innings this time, but left for 9. Uncle Fester and Cap'n Hook took us toward respectability (both 24) before it became Maroof versus the overs remaining. Danny(kotw) made a good attempt to regain the lead in the duck trophy before, eventually, it got too far away for a serious chase. By the time I went in at 83/6 with only 8 overs left it was rely just a case of survival. I did manage a quick single off my third ball, but the rest of the next three overs was spent blocking, leaving and watching Maroof score!
Finally, getting tired of my jovial face, they brought back on their opening bowler, who I managed to keep out until the last ball of the over, a low bouncing in-swinger which I just didn't get down to!
Three overs to go - Fred and Maroof added 18 to take us to 114/7 and a drawn game. Sadly what I'll remember from a good game will be the pain of getting the game started!
Waltham Cross Rosedale Home - 15/7/01
A properly prepared pitch, an opposition we recognised, starting (almost) on time and a full team! What's wrong with this picture? Well, I wasn't going to be playing this week! Nice try Ian, but you don't get away that easily!
We (Cap'n Hook that is!) won the toss and elected to bat. I waited for my position in the list with bated breath; Cap listed down to number 8 and didn't mention my name - sigh! - still at least there's a proper scoreboard to work!
Uncle Fester and Norm(NORM!) got the honour of opening, Norm wearing blinkers (sorry - a helmet) for the first time and Uncle F wearing his comedy sun-hat, the one which falls off at the least movement of the wearer! Not a slow start (by our standards) - 20 off the first six overs, although losing Norm in the process. A couple of quiet overs follow before Cap (for it was he at number three) starts to score. Unc waits until the tenth over before opening his account - not the longest we've ever had, but a good stab at it all the same - and survives a skied catch (bowler putting his own chance down! tut...) and a run-out attempt off the same ball.
After Unc's departure, Smudger, Little Ned, Whippet (the boy chunda) and the Cat all fail to trouble the scorers (ie me) over much (or in Whippet's case, at all!) but at least they kept Cap company. Cap pushes his score on to 63 before going at 112 and Danny(kotw) plays one of his occasional golf-style innings - everything his with the 9-iron, just hard enough to miss the bunkers/fielders. Q chips in with a similar airborne cameo before I joined Danny(kotw) with only ten minutes to go before tea. Not really the place for my usual, careful, straight innings here. So of the fourteen runs Danny and I put on, I scored precisely zero - most of the balls I faced were too wide (in one case high) to hit; the one I did hit went fast and straight to a fielder, and the other one I should have hit (attempted slog - I was through the shot about a minute before the ball arrived!) didn't miss the stumps! Still, puts me back in the running for the duck trophy!
Tea was called at 158-9.
As far as we could tell the oppos plan seemed to be to knock off the 50-odd before the last hour/20 overs came in to play and then go for 5 an over after that. Sadly for them, tight bowling from Whippet and little Ned (and a wicket each) slowed them too much for that ever to look likely.
Q weighed in with 5 cheap (in terms of runs, not effort!) wickets, which included a second successive catch for the Cat (new suggestion for a nickname - venus fly trap after his catching style!) and they were always struggling. Danny(kotw) also makes a bid for a new nickname as the Lone Appealer - good to see the enthusiasm there Dan - but we were left in the situation of two overs to go, two wickets to get. Despite his best efforts little Ned couldn't take a wicket (sadly the Lone Appealer failed to hold one that over), but on the last ball they go for an easy single and Norm hits a single stump from distance to, well loud acclaim really! As the umpire said to their number 11 "Right arm over, six to survive"...
...and he did! Sadly a(nother) draw, but this time one we never looked in trouble in.
No report from me next week (there's your opportunity Stan!) as I'm off running 10K around the streets of London (cue for a song, if ever I heard one). Perhaps a week away will help my bat to learn where the ball is!
South Loughton Home - 29/7/01
Yes thank you - the blisters from running 10k round the middle of London have now gone. In sympathy with my ravaged condition the rest of the club elected not to play last week (at least that's what they told me!); sadly they forgot that I wasn't running this week and still elected not to play. Well, six of our lot elected to play, and we borrowed a couple from the landlords (thanks to Mickey and Tim) and were loaned a fielder so at least we got a game.
A lovely, hot, airless day and nine men in the field - what you want to do is win the toss and bat, which is exactly what the opposition did (curses!). It's days like this that make me glad that I'm not a quick bowler; Whippet managed to overcome the conditions sufficiently to have their opener caught by Shakey (poor lad had to stand in as wicky again!), but the next two put on about fifty. By this point Mickey had replaced little Ned (I've never seen anyone sweat as much as he did - the man was practically a river) and he took the next two wickets before taking a catch which got Cap'n Hook in on the act.
Tim (despite being a guest) kept up the fine Octopus tradition of S*** ball took wicket; we think the batsman still had tears in his eyes from laughing at the previous delivery! Another couple of wickets and we had them around 110-8 - not a bad position for the eight men - but let them off the hook and they declared at 150-8!
Fielding generally was pretty good - a lot of stuff went into gaps, but that's probably not too surprising - but I've never seen a worse performance at getting the ball back to the bowler. A quick mention too for Shakey - the man was totally whacked out after 39 overs behind the stumps. And the Cat has now become the Venus Fly Trap after his third successive mid-on catch (the name reflects his method of catching - and is a very good description!). As for me, very little came directly to me, but I seemed to be chasing the ball to the boundary (and usually overhauling it) quite regularly. Obviously the running training came in useful, but why is it that I never get to chase the ball on the cold days?
And at tea came the surprise - Cap'n Hook suggesting that he and I open the innings! The plan being that Cap scores the runs and I prop up the other end until we get close enough to launch ourselves at the target. Well that plan lasted less than an over with Cap getting his first duck for a couple of seasons! I snuck a quick single before Little Ned holed out, and another two pushed past the slip before Whippet was bowled. That's 4-3, (since we only had 8 batsmen really 4-6!) with me scoring 3 runs and the other being a wide! Venus Fly Trap and I decided that this was not the time for heroics. I picked up the occasional two (again through slips, plus a couple on the leg side after they moved square leg to slip - finding the gaps is the trick in this game, isn't it??) and a couple of singles (chipped back over the bowler - well if you DO have mid on and off both up....) before the opening bowlers departed.
Sadly for me I didn't outlast the opening bowlers by much - the new man was one of those windmill bowlers where the arms fly all over the place as the ball goes out, usually towards leg. And I didn't pick the one that didn't go quite as leg-side so it's bye-bye Ian, lbw for 11. That's 15-4, and the only runs off the bat were mine! Tim in next decided to change that a bit and made 26 from (we think) 29 balls to give the score an air of less discredit. After this, Mickey and VFT took us deep towards the end of the 20 overs before Shakey had to come in to see it out towards the end. 66-6 and a draw! Phew!
But, I have to report that we couldn't have done it without VFT. He lasted 28 overs (just over 90 minutes) for his three runs! In fact it took him about 18 overs to get off the mark (I'm told that that was over 55 minutes), but he was there throughout and got us the draw, so who's complaining!!
Hopefully a few more of the regulars will be back next week!
Mayfield Away 5/8/01
Not the match we were expecting, but the local "big" clubs are having troubles getting Sunday friendly sides out! This was one taken from the Conference (phone call on Thursday - "We're on the weak side of weak-medium" he said; hmmmph). Sadly we only took the field with nine, although a tenth turned up shortly after the start!
Lost the toss and were given the choice of fielding or bowling - a slightly damp wicket, but good drying conditions. We made reasonable use of the conditions, young Ron (opening with Ned, the unluckiest man in the world) taking a couple of quick wickets and Ned only being able to fingertip a return off his own bowling! Q and Cap'n Hook kept things well under control until the drinks break, but instead of disturbing the batsmen this seemed to galvanise them! Where in the previous hour they'd scored about 50, in the next hour they added a hundred.
Eventually Norm(NORM) came on to bowl his mix of Ooooh and "What the hell was that!", getting needful wickets in his second, fourth and fifth overs. At the other end unlucky Ned turns to watch the ball go over his head, and nearly gets brained by it on its re-entry from the Stratosphere. Next over while attempting a catch off Norm he bends his thumb back and is effectively out of the game.
Young Ron replaced the injured Ned and got a couple more wickets, but they eventually took pity on us and declared at 225-7. Still, tea and told to open the innings with Norm(NORM). Norm having taken three wickets and two catches was confidently predicted to make at least fifty....
Walking out we decided that I'd take the first ball. The bowler wasn't quick, but was accurate on a good length, and I felt ok about keeping him out for the first over. Norm took six off the other bowler; so far so good. Next over I get a grubber (kept out) followed by a lifter which I cunningly hit to the nearest fielder using the handle of the bat - this clearly imparts such spin that he is incapable of holding it! The next few overs are a struggle - I have to admit to being beaten every three or four balls, but somehow survive, even scoring a run by chipping the ball over the infield!
Eventually Norm succumbed - 9th over, 9 runs, 7 for him, one for me and one bye! Smudger came in, and left rapidly having found the fielder at short square leg who had been positioned there just that ball! Finally in the 12th over my luck runs out and I drag on a ball. 9-3!
Cap'n Hook gets a two off the next ball, and I miss the rest of the over getting de-padded. I return to take over the book just as Danny(kotw) increases his lead at the top of the duck trophy! Q comes and goes for a single, Venus Fly-Trap doesn't let Danny(kotw) get away as top of the Ducks, and Shakey and Young Ron make sure that the scorer goes relatively untroubled for the rest of the afternoon! Ned, sensibly given the state of his thumb, declines to bat!
From 9-0 to 13-8 (effectively all out!) in six overs and two balls. And we still made it back to their club house for (a very muted) drink! Triple hemlock all round.... Oh and afterward they tell us they only had two bowlers!!!!!
St Margaretsbury Away - 9/9/01
Off in a slightly different direction this week. We had 11 (12 with Fred's youngest in tow) this week, but lost Smudger somewhere along the way; lucky we had Young Simon with us then (thanks Simon, well fielded)! Cap'n Hook won the toss and elected to field on the coldest game-day of the year - all those white shirts look so fetching set off by blue arms don't you think?
Tractor Boy and Young Ron didn't manage to separate the openers, but at least kept the scoring down. Q came on, and with his traditional crappy ball managed to get the first man by inducing him to edge what would otherwise have been a wide to Danny (kotw) behind the stumps.
A couple of overs later Q wasn't too impressed with me when I (positioned between square and long legs "on the 45") went to my left to field a ball, only for it to spin right, past me for four, leaving me splay legged with all the elegance of a roller-skating donkey! Still, next (crap) ball Q got the batsman out hoiking to deep-square leg, so if I'd kept it down to a single he wouldn't have got the wicket, would he? (Does that count as an assist?)
Next over from Cap'n Hook I was left splayed again, this time trying to get a foot to a straight drive at deepish mid-on. Next ball was hit in the air towards me, bounced five yards short and I took it first bounce; the return hit the stumps with the batsman just in (other members of the team may think he was well in, but I'm afraid I can't agree!)
Three wickets to Cap'n Hook knocked them to 112-5, but the next two men pushed them on towards 180, and realistically safety in the game. Teas were lovely, but having been given the nod to open again I couldn't partake too deeply (damn - why do you think I started playing this game anyway? A sport with built-in refreshment breaks, top concept!).
Now when Venus Fly-Trap (ex-The Cat) and I open the batting fireworks can be expected, but are unlikely to appear. And the first five overs for two runs gives you the basic idea of where this game was heading! We got the score to 14 (one more than the whole team last time I played!!) before VFT went. Tractor Boy committed his first duck of the year, and I'd scrambled to 15 (fairly uneventful - a four past third slip, a couple of good pushes into space, but most of the attacking strokes went to fielders or (annoying) hit the stumps at the other end) in the 19th over before I was plumb lbw.
Danny (kotw) didn't last much longer, and Dom (second game for us, first turn to bat) stayed for a while for his duck. Cap'n Hook (using my bat and blaming it for what he thought was going to be a six turning into a single!) and Q putting on an unbeaten 50 before rain brought us to an end, about five overs early. We only had another 90 runs to get - I guess it just saved St Margaretsbury from a humiliating defeat (Hmmmm - too many drugs I'm afraid - Ed)
Next week is the last game on the fixture list. The weather forecast doesn't look too promising, but the way they've been getting it wrong recently this is probably a good thing.
Jaguar Away - 16/9/01
So just how much can go wrong before a game starts?
Well, you can be without your kit; not mine, the club's! Our ground has two cricket pitches for summer and four football pitches for winter. There are eight dressing rooms, one of which we used to store our kit. Sadly, as I went to get the kit Sunday morning I spotted that the footie posts were up, and when I got into the changing rooms all the dressing rooms were clear, waiting for the eight football teams to turn up that afternoon. There was insufficient time to sort out what had happened to the kit before I had to set off for the game (via a sports shop to get their last match cricket ball - all ours were in the kitbags!)
You can lose a player before the start of the game... ie just not turning up; I don't know if this is communication breakdown or what but I was left like a lemon at the meeting point (I let the others go on ahead with what bits of kit we'd managed to dig out plus the match ball) until someone finally answered his phone and said he was away for the weekend!
You can lose two players on he way over - the two who have much of the kit and the match ball - and you can also lose two others who were making their own way...
And you can finally take to the field, late, in the wrong mood, but at least with a full team thanks (yet again) to Fred's youngest lad. Which is when it all starts to go REALLY wrong.
371-5... off 35 overs. I think it's best to draw a veil over the bowling and fielding, except to say that even I managed to get a bowl!
And my first wicket for the club!
...and my second!
So, chasing a big total me 'n' Cap'n Hook go out to open. Yes, when we need quick runs that was a bit of a surprise to me as well, but in we went. And fortunately the skipper's eye was in as he plundered runs left and right. The two of us put on 118 before I holed out to a triple juggle catch - my contribution being 27 (a personal best for the club!) including a couple of nice fours, a streaky one from the fingertips of first slip, some ones and twos and more than two (depending on definition) dropped catches! Oh, and a reminder that it's always good to wear a box kids (I swear you could hear the clunk two counties away!)
Sadly, Cap followed me within the same over; Norm(Norm!) got a season's best, new Dom got a quick 31, VFT got a double-figures not out but we only got to 178-5. Now, normally the away team gets the choice of type of match, and had we chosen we would have gone for a timed game, so I reckon we sort-of got a draw, ish, kinda!
So that's it, end of the season 'cos I can't see us putting on a game next week; and I can barely walk today so I'm not too keen either!
Oh - and I managed to hit my personal target of top 3 innings totalling 50+, which I feel fairly cheered by!