Case Commandoes 17 September

Saturday morning 5.50am the alarm goes off.  I have no struggle getting out of bed, showering, taking Mrs H a cup of tea and bolting some breakfast before heading off down the A1 to pick up the Whitley Bay Champion.  He’s on schedule too and we whizz around the M25 to pick up Lord Fakenham, 2-Bats and No-Pads from Staines.  Still on track we stop for a coffee (my cappucino was the worst I’ve had in a long while) in Mere and get to the Uplyme ground at 11.50 – ahead of schedule!  Everyone is at the ground for a prompt start at 12.30.  How come we can only do this when the ground is 160 miles away instead of 5 miles?

At last I’ve made it to Lyme and I’m delighted to meet up with Stuart Case after a number of email exchanges.  My good fortune continues on winning the toss and electing to bat.  Jim continually offers me excellent advice before and after the toss so I reward him by making him number 11.  Nick had to pay for Lord Fakenham’s railway ticket (“I seem to have mislaid my wallet”) so I reward Doosra with an opening slot and the baronet goes to number 10.  I’ve got some nice Navy blue Gardeners T-shirts made as a surprise (£8 from Richard Higginbottom – you know the number and email) and Adam greets me saying “I’ll have one of those” which is exactly what I predicted.  This is good enough to win the other openers berth.  Paul wants a T-shirt as well so he’s number 3.  Chris has had some rotten luck so he’s number 4 because according to the law of averages with his ability he’ll score runs today.

A positive start by Adam and Nick, stealing runs sensibly and looking comfortable.  They’ve got Hannibal Lecter behind the stumps and he’s pretty good.  I fear I’ll make the biggest meal but I’m told he likes foreign food so Jeff starts to get nervous.  I’m assured the facemask is the only cannibalistic aspect of the Commandoes’ keeper.  The openers were both undone by accurate outswingers from Bell, Adam being bowled for 6 and Nick lbw for 7.  Paul set about the bowling in fine style, three fours in his quickfire 16 before being stumped off Steve Rattenbury.  Chris was playing some quality stuff, watchful to the good balls and stroking the loose deliveries away, mostly to the cover and square leg boundaries, with effortless grace.  “No one hits the ball harder with less effort” as Ray Illingworth once said of David Gower.  David H came in and the ball was biting into the middle of the better of his two bats immediately.  Looking very strong at 94 for 3 when Chris called Dave for a sharp single and Tom and Hannibal combined brilliantly to run out Dave by just a few inches.  Richard looked OK until lunch then couldn’t hit a beach ball after it and got bowled by an excellent arm ball from left arm spinner Stuart Rattenbury.  Lunch was superb, albeit marred by me being too nervous to eat anything and 2-Bats wishing to discuss at length with Chris how to call correctly.  A lesser man would have told Dave to shut it.  Chris is too much of a gentleman for this and assumed it was all a big joke.  He certainly didn’t let it put him off as he eased past his 50 and put on just under 50 with David Stead as the run rate accelarated.  Chris sadly departed innocuously to a nothing ball outside leg stump that he got a nick on.  In 9 out of 10 occasions that would have been runs, but The Man In The Plastic Mask stayed low and made a very hard catch look easy.  Chris out for an elegant 64.  Jeff was looking to club everthing (right tactic) but picked too good a ball and was skittled.  Henry was run out by Tom (that was bound to happen).  The flame haired Northerner had made it to 44 and then Tom got an excellent outswinger in the right place to get our prize wicket.  Jim and Fakenham ran and hit very well to both finish not out as we posted a good total on a slow and low wicket.

SGCC   197 for 9   off 40 overs
Adam Wood   b Bell   7
Nick Duckett   lbw Bell   6
Paul Brasted   st Pigdon b Steve Rattenbury   16
Chris Packham   c Pigdon b T Monahan   64
David Hollingsworth   run out   14
Richard Higginbottom   b Stuart Rattenbury   2
David Stead   b T Monahan   44
Jeff Round   b Bell   3
Henry Monahan   run out   5
Jim Monahan   not out   4
Lord Fakenham   not out   11
Extras   21

Case Commandoes bowling
J Blathwayt   9-0-42-0
N Bell   9-2-31-3
T Monahan   9-0-62-2
Steve Rattenbury   8-0-31-1
Stuart Rattenbury   4-1-17-1
B Rattenbury   1-0-7-0

Into the field and the opening salvoes aren’t looking favourable as classy driving from both M Pigdon and J Blathwayt showed a definite intention to take on the target from the off.  Then Lord Fakenham found the most bizarre and brilliant ball of the season – a low outswinger that curved around Blathwayt’s legs and smashed into the outside of the leg stump.  None of us could comprehend the amount of swing, especially the batsman and bowler.  Two balls later and a stunning yorker by his lordship did for Tom.  The Norfolk Nobleman looked like he’d shot one of his family (not an unusual occurence on his country estate).  Next ball and opposing skipper Stuart got a similar Jaffa and Lord Fakenham had 3 wickets in 4 balls.  Jim and I apologised to Stuart and berated the baronet for making our host’s stay at the wicket so brief.  Up to this point Jim’s length had been variable, but now the Praying Mantis was making the ball spin and bounce, a perfect length finding M Pigdon in no-mans-land resulting in a straightforward return catch.  Bell had a consistent style (i.e. he played the same pull-drive stroke to every ball) and Jim produced a ball of the best quality to rattle the timbers.  A Pigdon was looking good, trying to get right down the wicket.  Jim’s number one variation the arm ball (he claims not to know what one is) foxed the wicketkeeper batsman – also bowled.  It was now 27 for 6 and we were so far ahead of plan I was thinking of sending my thoughts for economic recovery to George Osborne and Vince Cable (both friends of Nick).  Henry and Nick replaced our splendid openers and Michael Case played some neat strokes despite being injured (Tom was running for him).  Chris suggested that 2-Bats ought to run for Mike as he needed the practice.  Nick floated a ball down the leg side that had “hit me” written all over it.  Stuart Rattenbury obeyed and clubbed it at backward square leg.  Lord Fakenham put his hand up and plucked the ball out of the air like shelling peas, surprising everyone who was there as his fielding is most commonly referred to as statuesque (i.e. not moving).  So Duckett got an excellent catch and bucolic accommodation in return for funding the baronet for the weekend.  I’ll leave it to Nick to work out if it was a fair return.  A few balls later Henry found a good ball to bowl Mike and then induced a return catch from Stuart Rattenbury.  Time for Jeff to bowl.  The Canadian is our most improved player this season, his cavalier batting reaping rich rewards and his keeping getting praise from all of the Gardeners’ bowlers who appreciate a glovesman who helps put pressure on the batsman.  His bowling though … I had to check he wasn’t wearing the gauntlets it was so wide I fielded a couple at Gully.  Paul was getting more exercise than Cover Point behind the stumps.  Joachim, playing his first game of cricket, couldn’t work out whether this was another strange version of the game deployed for new players.  Tom (batting in place of the injured B Rattenbury) on the other hand is a very fast runner and managed (a) to get himself on strike and (b) to cover ground fast enough to reach Jeff’s less errant deliveries and despatch them to the Boundary.  The merriment was ended by 2-Bats, who’d come on to replace Henry, running out Joachim despite most of us not feeling like appealing.

Case Commandoes   85 all out   off 18.2 overs
M Pigdon   c&b J Monahan   11
J Blathwayt   b Fakenham   10
T Monahan   b Fakenham   0
S Case  b Fakenham   0
N Bell   b J Monahan   2
A Pigdon   b J Monahan   0
M Case   b H Monahan   10
Stuart Rattenbury   c Fakenham b Duckett   0
Steve Rattenbury   c&b H Monahan   3
T Monahan   not out   36
J Hermann   run out   3
Extras   10

SGCC Bowling
Fakenham   5-2-8-3
J Monahan   5-1-17-3
H Monahan   3-0-18-2
Duckett   2-0-3-1
Round   2-0-29-0
Hollingsworth   1.2-0-8-0

SGCC WON BY 112 RUNS

After the match in the pavilion and Paul hit his best form of the season:  “Colonel Gaddafi should raise a huge rebel army and take over all of North Africa and then invade Europe”.  Various catcalls from his colleagues led him to explain “he was our friend until it looked like he could get turfed out and we took the first chance to help him get deposed”.  The point being as a country we shouldn’t lie to dictators without a democratic mandate about being their allies and then help plunge in the dagger later.  A bit beyond the idealistic?  Richard attempted a defence of Pol Pot “he did his bit for world over-population”.  I’m not in Paul’s class.  Later we got him onto his extra-planetary colonisation idea (a more radical approach to over-population).  Apparently we will be able to get a cable in permanent orbit and use an elevator to get out of the atmosphere and then make trips to neighbouring planets from there.  Chris tossed this idea in and Paul confirmed its feasibilty.  We’ll aim to play our first interplanetary match in 2013 (I’m getting retro rockets fitted to the Touran).  Midnight on the Cobb sounded like a crazy idea to me – so I helped form the Fab 4 (after it was suggested that 2-Bats might be the illegitimate offspring of Paul McCartney) and, led by Chris, we set off.  Incidentally, thanks to Laura for arranging the meal at Largigi – the food and company were exceptional and I can now understand why my team-mates love this weekend so much.  On the Cobb it was a beautiful starry night and 2-Bats showed us Orion’s belt (“not as good as this one I got in Budapest” said Dave S).  We debated whether the bright star to the West of the moon was the space station.  It turned out to be Jupiter.  I went down Granny’s Teeth like Grandad (must get my dodgy knee – and the rest of me – into better shape in the close season).

Back to our repective hostelries for the night, I was woken up by the rain drumming on my window.  Breakfast the Old Black Dog was very good and the Whitley Bay Champion and I played some outdoor ping pong in a fine drizzle (I was getting thrashed) until Chris joined us.  Here’s 2-Bats.  Now Adam and Heather.  Then quickly coming in it’s Jeff and Julia.  The Crazy Golf tournament was underway.  Steadley decided it needed some extra craziness as Richard was boring everyone by getting 2 on every hole except one 1 and one 3.  Therefore at different points Dave’s ball and Dave’s club left the confines of the course.  The club narrowly missed the Commandoes’ keeper who was taking an early morning constitutional with his family and wasn’t wearing his facemask.  Therefore Dave was blanked and is now persona non grata.  A friendly cat joined the fray and started to interfere with play, effectively ending Jeff’s challenge by pouncing on his ball as it approached the end of the 15th and driving it back most of the way back towards him.  Jeff’s laughing was just as loud as the rest of us, but the two Daves and I thought it sounded hollow and left me running out with the Lyme Bay 2011 championship.  Jim then called to tell me the match was off and the rest of the day was spent eating, recovering kit and trying to get 2-Bats organised so we could get home a reasonable time.

Our sincere thanks to Jim, Stuart and Michael for making this great end of season event possible.  It really is a joy and we were all delighted at Stuart inviting us down same time next year.

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