Players 27 May

What is a “timed game”? It’s a Test Match in one day … where the side batting first aim to establish a good foundation and accelerate their run rate (given wickets in hand) in order to declare with a challenging total.  The side fielding first need to get wickets – all 10 wickets – to have a realistic chance of winning.  Therefore it puts onus on the skippers to bat to a plan or try to get wickets rather than contain the run rate in the field.  When I was a boy out in the Sticks, all our Sunday fixtures followed this routine.  Lots of draws at the batting oasis that was Old Buckenham in the 1980s, but mainly wins or losses on the varying wickets of our Norfolk neighbours.

So, on a blistering hot day appropriate for this third meeting since the inauguration of The Ashes, Roger called correctly and took the only sensible option, putting the Gardeners into the field.

Jim opened proceedings finding a probing line and length almost immediately and getting  the edges the skipper had put the slips in place for.  The ball was fizzing through and a couple of chances went to ground; one very difficult, the other just tough.  Mick was also bowling well from the Tennis Courts end, fuelled by his beer garden marathon of the previous day.  Jim produced a beautiful delivery that pitched on leg, flicked MacKonochie’s back pad before clipping the off bail.  Can we have two wickets as it looked like LBW and Bowled … oh well.  Fielding came in and missed a couple. Then played a super straight drive back past Jim.  Mick restored the family honour by bowling Fielding in his next over.  20-2 and an excellent start for The Gardeners.

Last season we had a few early season games where we took two quick wickets and struggled for the next breakthrough.  Today followed that pattern as Wylie came in and looked in ominous form from the off, settling down the initially edgy T Langridge (he’d given us some slip catching practice that we’d declined).  Lord Fakenham came on to replace Mick and looked like he’d been keeping up with Mick in the Bull and Gate on Saturday.  But these days he’s alcohol free so really has no excuse other than he’s been working very hard.  Yes you are reading a Gardeners match report.  No I have NOT made this bit up.  Anyway, three dodgy overs of constantly groaning that he wanted to come off was eventually rewarded by Richard calling time on an uncharacteristically lacklustre spell.  At the Athletics Track end Paul had replaced Jim and was bowling his usual mercurial magic.  An inswinger induced T Langridge to at last miscue a lofted drive and Jim took the catch at Mid Off with customary ease.

In the meantime Wylie was compiling an innings of utter class; Cover Drives, late cuts, pulls, on drives, lofted shots, along the ground … if I hadn’t been the opposing captain I’d have been enjoying this.  MacKay (a.k.a. Jabba) came in and batted “just like Imzamam” (thanks for that Mick) as minor flicks of the wrist powered the ball all around Parliament Hill.  Eventually Jabba lofted one off Dave who’d replaced the knackered nobleman at the Tennis Courts end and Mick took the catch tidily as always.  Players on over 150 and here comes Roger.  Stuart “The” Bruce (on his debut) had some success with keeping the Players in check – two loose balls punished for maximums by Wylie being the only exceptions.  In the meantime more catching practice declined by the Gardeners as Cooper kept chipping away at Dave’s bowling.  Eventually the Whitley Bay Champion located the stumps to get his second wicket.  Did Roger nick a hard chance (spurned) to the keeper off Stuart?  Actually he did but only Stuart and Richard had minor inklings other than Roger who admitted to it later.  It’s Chris’ turn to bowl now … which is just as well as he’s one of the few that have got Roger out a more than once.  And the man of Kent pulled one out of the bag again … slightly short of a length on leg stump, Roger trying to accelerate the run rate pulled over the top of the ball as it stayed slightly low and Jabba put up his finger to condemn himself to batting in the bottom 3 for the next couple of games.  Great work Chris.  In comes J Langridge and on comes Doosra Duckett.  Could have had 3 wickets in his first over with two lofted shots falling just short of outfielders and then the skipper spilling one he should really have clung on to at Mid Off.  Jeremy came on to replace Chris and after some inviting deliveries foxed Wylie with a skidder that scuttled under his bat on the second bounce, the Seal Clubber completing the stumping.  J Langridge and Gornall took the long handle to the returning Campbell brothers (the ball now looked like it had been recovered from the Somme).  Roger took pity on us just after 4pm as the Players declared on 287 for 8.

Players 287-8 declared
T J Langridge   c J Campbell b Brasted   26
J D Mackonochie   b J Campbell   7
N J Fielding b M Campbell   4
J S G Wylie   st Round b Gostick   121
R J MacKay   c M Campbell b Stead   23
W D B Cooper b Stead   18
R E McCann   lbw Packham   7
J D Langridge   lbw J Campbell   30
J M J Petrie   not out   22
A R H Gornall   not out 1
M L L  Callaghan  did not bat
Extras   26

J Campbell   8 – 1 – 33 – 2
M Campbell   9 – 0 -65 – 1
Fakenham   3 – 0 – 13 – 0
Brasted   4 – 0 – 34 – 1
Stead   7 – 2 – 52 – 2
Bruce   4 – 0 – 22 – 0
Packham   3 – 0 – 17 – 1
Duckett   2 – 0 -20 – 0
Gostick   2 – 0 – 14 -1

Tea … flipping heck despite the Victoria Sponge being undercooked (I hang my head in shame) it still disappeared quickly.  Fruit cake and Nutella-topped chocolate buns made up for it.  Thanks to Nick and Dave for the butties; Mick and Jim for the savouries and fruit.

So a mountain to climb.  Fortunately we had three openers as W. Ides was outscoring both D. Stead and C. Packham to get us underway with an opening stand of 36 until Chris was run out by a fantastic piece of Cover fielding by our nemesis Wylie.  Richard came in and completed his second cretinous run-out of the week and disappeared to the “Captain’s Contemplation Corner” to berate himself.  Thank heavens for the batting of Jim Campbell.  The man used his bat like a landscape artist, decorating the scene with elegant and powerful strokes to all parts.  Dave played an uncharacteristic supporting role to the Tasman Diamond so that when Jim missed a straight one on 39 (3 singles, everything else a boundary), the partnership had realised 45.

Now … last year the early season form of Lord Fakenham was woeful; not so this year as Dave and the baronet kept up the tempo set by Jim whilst struggling to get close to the astronomical required rate until THE BIG OVER.  Roger was trying every option to break the burgeoning partnership and brought seldom-used Fielding to the fray.  His Lordship helped himself to six boundaries – rather neatly 3 of each variety – after being caught on the boundary off a no-ball to the first delivery.

For the first time in the match it was Advantage Salmagundi.  As Murray Walker once said, you could cut the tension with a cricket stump.  Wylie disposed of the honourable member, predictably caught trying yet another big hit.  Dave was now cutting loose, some flowing textbook cover drives interspersed with a beautiful straight six and some well judged pulls and sweeps.  Jeff was keeping up the tempo and then the returning Roger found Dave about 10 feet down the wicket and for the first time in two minds, the heroic North Easterner having his furniture rearranged for the agonising score of 96.

Mick’s Saturday Marathon now took its toll.  Uncharacteristically missing nearly everything (no I hadn’t been coaching him), Roger also dislodged his bails.  Jeff then received a jaffa from Gornall who’d come back on at the Tennis Courts end, leaving Doosra and Jeremy a bit too much to do in the last two overs; a brave rearguard action securing the draw.  An aggregate of 552 runs in the day and both teams had chances for victory.  Surely the best form of cricket?  My poor aching legs two days later may beg to differ.  Blast, these boys still hold the Urn.  Until August, Mes Braves!

Salmagundi Gardeners 265-7
David Stead   b McCann   96
Chris Packham   run out   6
Richard Higginbottom   run out   0
Jim Campbell   lbw Petrie   39
Lord Fakenham   c MacKay b Wylie   63
Jeff Round   b Gornall   16
Mick Campbell   b McCann   1
Jeremy Gostick   not out   2
Nick Duckett   not out   1
Stuart Bruce and Paul Brasted did not bat
Extras 44

J Langridge


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