After a week off due to the withdrawal of Freeland from the division, we returned to action having slipped down to 5th in the league, albeit with matches in hand. One of the teams above us were rivals Chesterton, with whom we have had many matches over the last few years, with varying degrees of success. Good news for us was the fact that Chesterton were missing Jimmy Appleton, who was apparently travelling the world. Even better news was the revelation that Steve Lewis was attending a wedding and so would not be featuring in the game. Less promising was the weather forecast, which included big black clouds and rain, promised between 1pm and 4pm.
Our line-up was truly an embarrassment of riches, with Mabbs still featuring at 9 in the batting order, Grant at 9b, and Chaz earning a promotion in the batting order from 10b to 9c. Ian’s own embarrassment of riches rather went in the other direction, with him neglecting to bring the money tin and therefore struggling when it came to paying the umpires before the match. Luckily Colin was on hand to lend him some money. On the subject of money, Ian’s toss with the opposition stand-in captain didn’t go well, and it came up tails, meaning we were put in with some early showers promised.
These showers came pretty quickly – after 4 balls in fact. Those 4 balls allowed us to take the score to 6, with a wide, a single and a guided (or edged – depending on your point of view) four through the slips. There the action was halted for some time, though, with a rain break of well over an hour where we sat around looking glumly at the rain, bemoaning the British Summer. At one point the covers were removed, only for them to be swiftly put back on when the drizzle began again. When we finally got under way at 3pm the umpires informed us that the match was reduced to 35 overs each, and we hoped that we could keep the run rate of our first four balls going for the remainder of the innings.
As it happened, this was bettered, with Colin and NiB pushing hard for ones and twos wherever possible, scoring some big runs with some well struck boundaries, and significantly earning lots of bonus runs with an array of extras, including a number of wides from Davies, who looked to be struggling with injury. The short boundary to the adventure playground was assisting with the run rate, but in truth it was just good, positive cricket that saw the runs flowing. The first fifty came up in the eighth over, the hundred came in the nineteenth, and still the opening pair kept piling on the runs. Colin brought up his 50 off 52 balls, before Hammond provided an interlude of sorts for Chesterton. He exploited some variable bounce to bowl his first 7 overs for 16 before Nick began to pick him well for his last two overs, picking up 20 runs and scoring his fifty in the process, at the relatively leisurely rate of 77 balls.
About this point, with the score on 138-0 off 24 overs, the pair decided to push even harder for runs. It was great viewing from the sidelines, and it was with a relaxed air that the chatter covered the usual diverse topics, from Essex contriving to score 20 all out on Friday, to a highly intellectual discussion on words, to a less intellectual discussion of a woman with a relaxed attitude to displaying intimate parts of her body at the dinner table. Mike also revealed a knowledge of some more unusual words, including ‘gazivet’ which is, he told us, the name given to a person who farts in the bathtub. Timmy was also enjoying himself, ensuring that whatever happened he was unlikely to win the TFC award because of his stellar job on the scoreboard.
Back on the field, Colin pushed himself towards a well-deserved hundred. Despite a couple of minor scares when he pushed the fielders and might have been run out, he saw himself through the 90s with a six over the bowler’s head and a couple of singles into the leg side. His century-making celebrations are becoming a familiar sight now, but it was another excellent innings which by his own admission was perhaps the most enjoyable of all his recent tons. NiBbler, in an echo of the Wootton match last year, played a secondary role, which is not to play down his impact on the game, as he repeatedly pushed for twos and threes despite tiring towards the end of the lengthy innings. We were delighted to finish our innings on 232-0, Colin with 117* off 103 balls, and Nick with 79* off 105 balls. With his innings, Colin brought his Saturday average up to a round 100 – which you’d think he would be happy with.
So after a well enjoyed tea which most of the frustrated Chesterton team declined to attend, we got out on the pitch. Ian then had to run back to fetch the ball – which was a pretty essential piece of kit from a cricketing point of view. The well known Lee Price opened up for Chesterton, and he immediately got on top of Mabbs with some thwacks – one of which lost the ball into the hedge when it was just 2.1 overs old, leaving us to bowl the remaining overs with an old ball. Mabbs was really struggling bowling into the wind, with a lot of balls feeding Price’s favourite shots as his line strayed towards the leg-side. Fortunately at the other end Ryan was still on top form, as he kept tight lines around off stump and succeeded in keeping Chesterton at under 4 runs an over.
Mabbs came off after a fruitless and frustrating spell of 3 overs, and Mikey took over. In his first over Chesterton tried one too many quick singles, and Dave “Lady Diana” Spencer pounced on the ball, delivering an excellent throw to Colin who whipped off the bails for our first wicket. After 10 overs, Chesterton were 57-1 – a pretty good run rate but still not up with the astonishing rate of 6.6 an over that was required. In the twelfth over, Mikey uprooted middle stump to see of Hammond, and the over after Ryan did the same, removing Price for a breezy 35 – the key wicket that brought two new men to the crease.
This took the pressure off, as the run rate dropped, and the mistakes that had crept into our fielding – including a couple by Grant, one by Dave Spencer, and one where Timmy’s foot slipped (well he was at ‘slip’) – were forgotten about. Grant replaced Ryan and instantly settled into a great rhythm, capturing two wickets in his first two overs, including uprooting middle stump again. With Chesterton 67-5 it was going to take something special to change the result, and Grant was never going to let that happen, as he got the bit between his teeth and captured 4 wickets for 22 runs, including a nick behind for Colin to finish off his excellent day out with a catch.
At the other end Mike finished a 7 over spell with 1-17, and Ian gave the ball to Barry to see if he could eke out the final few wickets. Unfortunately a chase around the third man boundary the previous over had left him with a sore groin, and he struggled hard with his run up – his first ball being helped for 6 over backward square leg which provided amusement to a couple of team members. He requested to be brought off after that ball, but actually the rest of his over wasn’t that bad – going for only 1 more – and he could have had an LBW according to the umpire, if only he had appealed! He, like everyone else, thought that it had hit the bat.
Luckily it wasn’t important, as Ian brought himself on to see if his leggies could prise out the final few. It couldn’t have really gone much better for him, as he deceived Trevor Price and Davies with flight in consecutive overs, and bowled number 9 round his legs to finish with 3-3, and Chesterton closed their innings on 102 all out. It was with great satisfaction that we left the field, having gained revenge for our batting no-show at home to Chesterton last season, and continued our great early season form with a 130 run win – a win which took us to second place with a game in hand.
Champagne Moment went to Dave for his run out, other nominees being Colin’s 6 and Ryan uprooting danger man Lee Price’s middle stump.
Pig’s Ear went to Mikey for something that happened post-match, where he somehow knocked off his wing mirror by brushing against Barry’s van, before running it over with his own van. Also nominated were IC for forgetting the money tin, Baz for his first ball failings, Grant for an early misfield, Chaz for not bringing any white socks, and Dave for his own misfield.
TFC went to Baz, for getting padded up for 35 overs and not batting, then injuring himself just before coming on to bowl – on winning the award he declared that others would suffer next week, when he will be fines secretary for the day! Other nominees were Chaz and Tim.
Motm was Colin for his hundred, although Nick and Grant delivered performances that would be considered equally match-winning on any other day.
Quote of the Day was provided by twelfth man and scorer Dave Summersbee. On hearing Barry compare the inclement British weather to Harare where it was 24 degrees and sunny, Dave’s reply was to suggest, “why don’t you go back there then?” to hearty laughter from the team.