Our first home game vs The Boars Head. Despite the hard-to-reach location of Ham (38 miles in 2 hours for your correspondent) we had a 12th man. Good job he turned up (thanks Nick) as after Richard had woken up and realised our visitors had only ten players Nick got to make his debut for the gentlemen of Ardington – having first umpired for a dozen overs. Confusion over the start time – some fool had put 1pm on the website and another dolt had told the home players it was a 2pm start – and informed some others it was 1.30pm. Apologies all round.
Peter called correctly for the Boars Head and elected to field. “Not again” thought Richard as the pattern so far for our games has been SG bat first – get good total – look to be in the box seat – Dave Richards finds a pal to stick around with him and makes it look easy. Jeff’s hard upbringing clubbing baby seals to death was in evidence more than ever before as he pounded the Boars Head opening bowling, 2-Bats getting to watch from the other end as the Canadian Slugger farmed the bowling. I’d been bowling a few down to Tom and Stewart and came back to Chris who was scoring: “41 after 6” said Chris. “Dave’s got 1”. Crash bang wallop Jeff continued until the King of Spin – Nigel Baring – appeared – and bowled a terrible full toss at Jeff unworthy of his usual tight control. Magic ball! Jeff top edged and got out for 75 scored at about 2 per ball. Tom joined Dave as 2-Bats sought to accelerate … but alas “The Hollingsworth” (a shuffle across the stumps to produce an angular leg glance) failed to work for once and Dave Richards had the Walthamstow Watchman plumb lbw for 13. An elegant and largely unruffled partnership between Tom and Stewart then materialised – strokes all around the wicket from both of them as the scoring rate eased in the wake of Hurricane Jeff and some good quality bowling from the Shufflebothams – Peter’s seamers and Mike’s left arm spin. A conference between overs – on with the motley! Tom and Stewart expanded their strokes and several boundaries ensued until Tom forced one too many – Bruce taking a neat return catch – and was disappointed to miss out on his half century. Enter Lord Fakenham. Earlier in the season his lordship had been on the crest of a slump at Ardington and was part of a hat-trick. No such problem this time as he hurled his bat at everything within reach and plundered the leg side boundary. This worked remarkably well in tandem with Stewart who is good on leg and off but particularly proficient in the arc between Cover Point and Mid Off. So the scoring rate returned to Canadian proportions. Stewart and Fakenham returned to the pavilion with unbeaten half centuries. Chris reported that he couldn’t recall a higher SGCC batting total.
SGCC 278 for 3 off 35 overs
Jeff Round c Holt b Baring 75
David Hollingsworth lbw Richards 13
Tom Monahan c & b Buchan 45
Stewart Caughlin not out 74
Lord Fakenham not out 52
Richard Higginbottom, Mick Campbell, Jeremy Gostick,
Chris Packham, Paul Brasted and Jim Monahan did not bat
Boars Head bowling
J Buchan 6-1-71-0
P Shufflebotham 4-0-24-0
M Shufflebotham 4-1-9-0
B Buchan 2-0-14-1
Tea … another magnificent team effort from the Gardeners – Jim’s smoked Salmon and Paul’s ham and cheese sandwiches, lots of savouries from Jeff, Jeremy’s fruit and Richard’s cakes plus ten pints of tea from two welcome debutants – the SGCC Stainless Steel Teapots. Thanks to everyone for the fetching, carrying and washing up.
Out into the field … belch! shouldn’t have eaten that extra scone … Mick Campbell slotted into a good line and length immediately … classical smooth run-up and high point of delivery is a delight to watch. I was standing at Mid On for a change so got a better view than usual. Mick was rewarded with a sharp catch off his own bowling to remove opener Parry in the first over to get us off to a flying start. Enter Boar’s Head skipper Peter – who always looks like he’s going to demolish our bowling but for some reason we have managed to restrict the damage. Peter looked solid in defence and then played some delightful straight drives to demonstrate some class and resilience. At the other end … it was the match-up many cricket connoisseurs had been dreaming of for years – Crazy Paul Brasted vs Nick No-Pads Duckett. The canny Lancastrian looked calm and comfortable against The Bruiser – who interestingly had brought a spare pair of underpants with him onto the field and parked them behind the stumps at the bowlers end. “Why is he called Crazy Paul?” someone said … Nick kept hitting good shots at fielders until he played a neat leg glance off the face of the bat for a single. “How’s That!?” shouted Crazy Paul/Bruiser Brasted/Percy Pants (take your pick). An exercise in confusing the umpire? We’ll never know as Paul couldn’t explain why. Peter’s stout defence with the occasional sparkling drive continued. Nick then popped one around the corner off Paul that Jeremy took skilfully, moving forward. “Bump ball” claimed Nick. “Yeah bumped off your bat into Jeremy’s hands” countered Paul. The umpire agreed with the spare-shreddies-Somerset-seamer and No-Pads headed back to the boundary. Mick doesn’t like the ball being driven back past him and was making Peter work hard for his runs – the shackles being released a couple more times until an excellent off cutter hit the top of Peter’s off stump. Our traditional nemesis Dave Richards then looked on as Paul completed his spell by bowling Holt for 0 and then Chris – replacing Mick – delivered a perfect yorker to account for Mike Shufflebotham. “I hate coloured clothing” said Chris as the blue pads departed for the boundary. Dave and Yearo then put together some fine attacking strokes together with solid defence against Chris and Jim (who’d come on for Paul). Jim beat the bat countless times and I’ve had to stare at the scorebook several times to believe he took no wickets. Dave and Yearo upped the strike rate as Jeremy came on for a couple of overs. Richard then took the momentous decision to bring himself on to both well-set batsmen. Is he mad? Does he think he’s Graham Swann? Simple answer is that I’ve watched twice as our bowlers got slaughtered by Dave so I figured with a lot more runs on the board it was my turn to suffer for a couple of overs. Dave wasted no time in despatching my first ball to long on – where Chris took the catch superbly about a foot inside the boundary. As W.G. Grace said “there’s no such thing as a good captain, only a lucky one”. Yearo shortly after gave Richard the charge, missed and Jeff completed the stumping. In Richard’s next over Woodhill was bamboozled by a doosra (remember who’s writing this) and spooned the ball up for Stewart to take the catch at mid-off. Stewart came on and bowled some proper spin and Tom, nursing a split finger (ouch) took a catch to enter Stewart into the wickets column. Fakenham came on and induced a top edge from Bruce, Jeremy taking his second catch of the innings to end the match.
Boars Head 115 all out off 29.2 overs
Parry c&b M Campbell 0
Duckett c Gostick b Brasted 1
P Shufflebotham b Campbell 17
Richards c Packham b Higginbottom 33
Holt b Brasted 0
M Shufflebotham b Packham 0
Yearling st Round b Higginbottom 36
Woodhill ct Caughlin b Higginbottom 1
B Buchan c T Monahan b Caughlin 6
J Buchan c Gostick b Fakenham 4
Baring not out 10
M Campbell 4-1-16-2
J Monahan 7-0-23-0
So a quick drink at a depressingly rubbish pub after (sorry about that Peter and co) and the Gardeners have shown that we’re like India – good at home but don’t travel well.
SGCC WON BY 163 RUNS