Channel 4 11 Aug

By Chris Packham

Sunday 11th August versus Channel 4

After last week’s report cranked up the standard a good two notches on the literary high jump bar – Shakespearean quotes for God’s sake! – it would appear a thankless task trying to find someone willing to ‘follow that’. But when the someone looking is the legendary ‘Sockless James Tait’, who’s ability to leave his socks and himself in various grounds during his career in a Salmagundi tee shirt has been much recorded in these columns, it becomes mere bagatelle.

Having been cajoled by the statesmanlike Tait into writing the report, my first thought was to follow the John Smith’s approach, whereby I take the ball from the twinkle toed Mark Gilkes and kick the mother out of the ground. But then where would the Salmagundi Gardeners be without a bit of nonsense?

Anyone fancy a takeaway?

The news that Salmagundi Gardeners Cricket Club will not be moving to Milton Keynes provoked a mass demonstration at Barn Elms by AFC Gundians, the name of the group behind the NOGIMBY campaign (No Gardeners in my back yard), who are sponsored by the Pret a Manger food chain. (Apologies; how you produce accents on this machine is beyond me) The size and organisation of the event (marquees, barbecue stalls, five-a-side football, coach loads of participants and peculiar mime artists) made it look more like a corporate junket than a vitriolic outburst by disgruntled former fans. However, no one can dispute the effectiveness of the action as not only were there no supporters for the match, only nine SGCC players managed to make it through the AFC Gundians ring of steel.

Channel 4 turned up with an equal number of players and without a film crew or Richie Benaud, so if it hadn’t have been for the 306 seagulls, 22 crows and 57 Canadian geese (these numbers were gleaned using the Wimbledon FC accounting method and are therefore accurate to plus or minus a goose turd), who managed to miss the Wetlands Centre by half a mile and take up residence on our wicket (perhaps they were AFC Gundian mime artists?), there would have been no one to witness the invention of a new game, Pret a Cricket! English translation; Let’s get down the Pub by six o’clock.

(Phew, I’m no Shakespeare, sorry, slip of the keyboard, I’m no Gilkes, but that was one hell of a sentence. As my spellchecker pointed out ‘long sentence, no suggestions’, a spellchecker with writers block. In passing, my spellchecker doesn’t recognise turd, just in passing?)

Yes, through osmosis, or shear incompetence, the idea of ‘get it over with as quickly as possible’ filtered down to the cricket pitch (but not to this report you’ll have noticed) and Channel 4, batting first, were all out plus one for 49 runs. Prior to the start of the game one of the Channel 4 team suggested that we play without boundary markers “You know run 6 or 7 runs”. This was met with opened mouth incomprehension by, well, me, which was taken as no, and boundary markers were put out. During the Channel 4 innings only two boundaries were scored. Hoist by his own petard.

Although the wicket was not the usual ‘ploughed lane’ we’ve come to expect from Barn Elms, it was certainly a delight for the bowlers, the ball coming off the pitch with little pace but gripping and turning, causing nearly all the batsmen problems.

The bowling figures were; definitely:

  • Seorais Graham 4-1-13-2
  • Chris Packham 3-1-1-3
  • Dan Curtis 4-0-9-0
  • And possibly:
  • Tom Monahan 5-0-22-3
  • Mike Stewart 1-0-1-1

Dan was particularly unlucky not to get a wicket with his slow left arm around, which has no doubt got him a slap in the face on other occasions.

As we left the pitch Seorais claimed he’d shoot himself if we lost this one, so cock that pistol and lets have tea.

A quick word on the Channel 4 tea. A most toothsome affair with store bought sandwiches in plastic containers, and a particularly nice chocolate cake. As nice as they were, I do think that buying the sandwiches and not getting up at the crack of dawn to make them, maybe getting Dawn to help out, is taking this Pret a business a bit far, so, Salmagundi Gardeners NO. Sorry it’s the treasurer in me.

So did we win? Is Seorais dead?

Seorais and myself opened the batting and, having taken three wickets in three overs, I lasted three balls. My opening partner wasn’t looking too worried, not yet. Rob Pimlott was next in and, two runs later, next out, resurrecting a shot he first played seventeen years ago, with as much success. Fortunately Dan coming to the crease installed some sanity for a while, until Seorais hit one high, high, high, caught, for 16. Whilst fielding Adam had literally taken it on the chin, the ball bloodying the Wood visage. Now he took it metaphorically as the ball scattered his stumps after facing three balls.

Still not to worry, we had Phil who would surely see us through. Well not quite. After a smart boundary and two further runs the bowler did something that in Phil’s opinion is just not cricket. He bowled around the wicket.

Five down, for not many runs, needing not many to win.

Myself and Adam were now discussing who was worse out of the two of us and would therefore get to bat again, Seorais was filling in his AFC Gundian membership form and James was looking stately as he strode out to see his team through. Which is exactly what he did, with an exemplarily 0 not out. Dan’s innings of 22 under the circumstances was almost as good.

The crowd had by now flown to the Wetlands Centre and we made our way to the pub, via the barbecue stall for a free takeaway.

So there you have it. No literary quotes this week but a famously spoken one on television by Kenneth Tynan, long before Channel 4 was a twinkle in Jeremy Issac’s eye, was probably quoted by many a batsman during this short but enjoyable game.

Mark Gilkes is underground

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