By Richard Higginbottom
Following the annis horribilis in cricketing weather terms of 2012 we could scarcely believe our eyes as the forecast for Sunday was cool (boo) but dry and cloudy with sunny spells (hurrah). So the Touran was loaded up with kit, pointed towards Crews Hill station and there loaded up with Gardeners. Chris of course was already at the ground. Stuart had a “big Saturday night” though sent some sort of dodgy excuse for missing the train. Paul of course was late.
Leafy surrounds, ground on the side of a hill, proper pavilion, showers. Looks like a proper club. Richard spun the coin, North Enfield skipper David Malleson called correctly and said “we’ll bat” very quickly. Ominous as we’re without either Campbell or the Whitley Bay champion today. And Stuart’s running late. And Paul just sent a text saying he’s getting near but not near enough.
So into the field with 9 players. Chris and Lord Fakenham opened for us and bowled very well against openers who were very obviously high quality. The captain was caught half way between thinking “game on” and “could be a lot of leather chasing”. Paul at last turned up in his gimp outfit (sorry I mean black bike leathers) and got himself onto the field with what looked like a Burka on his head, it being a combination of motorcycle headscarf and SGCC cap. Chris was pleased to see him anyhow, asking the skipper to deploy the Somerset Seamer without delay as he needed a break. Paul bowled a couple of useful overs before the high class Del Sanders and the increasingly confident and composed Danny Vanniasingham started to launch a number of extravagant strokes. Jim replaced his lordship at the East End and found a decent length and line … but the batsmen were now set and starting to accelerate further. Stuart took over from Paul at the pavilion end, his long journey having got him to the right ground, and some speedy spin gave the batsmen something to think about for a while. A few miscues occasionally but no proper chances … then big Del decided it was hammer time and hit Stuart 6-4-6-4 … none of them really bad balls either, just a quality batsman in fine form on a good track letting fly. Dan the Van had accumulated a tidy half century and retired (phew, thanks) and was replaced with Aziz who played some effortless strokes that travelled a mile. Oh crikey … at least we weren’t chasing leather, just retrieving it from beyond the boundary. Who can stem the flow? Lord Fakenham! Aziz a bit too ambitious trying to pull a straight one over the shortest boundary and via bat and pad, out bowled.
Del belted two more sixes, reached a magnificent century, and also retired. I was expecting his older brother to come in and show us how deficient Del is … fortunately not, the remaining batsmen were more subdued, Philips compiling a tidy 31 before Jeremy – after bowling a fine set of overs – had him lbw. Chris also returned to the fray and took a wicket, Malleson and McKenna nudging around to end the 40 overs on 259.
Tea was very good – and good to sit down in such a pleasant pavilion. Could we mount a serious challenge? We’re short of a few of our traditional champions, so Chris and Paul started sensibly and accumulated well, Chris particularly striking each loose delivery for four from openers Mahmood and Coningsby – though unfortunately there wasn’t that much available to slam to the boundary. Paul had calmly got to 10 then missed a straight one that stayed a bit low. The skipper came in and the home side brought on centurion Del’s dad, Richard (aka “Colonel”) Sanders. Now he was serving up some fine fare and Richard hit him for a single and three twos before slightly mishitting a lofted drive – but safe enough over the infield … “2 there” shouted the skipper, running the first one hard then turning and easing up. A super alert Enfieldian (Enfielder?) spotted the dawdling skipper and hurled it a titanic distance to the “non-danger” end and the dumbstruck East Anglian was marooned by one yard. So having vowed not to get run out this season, he does it at the first opportunity. Vice Captain Hollingsworth is far too pleasant … when he dropped a catch at the end of the Enfield innings Richard cried “you w*nker!”. The charming Mancunian was simply sympathetic. Paul was far more robust “you might have lost the weight, but you still need to work on your speed!”. Fair point.
Stuart decided he’d be circumspect. But the Colonel served him up a “family bucket” ball outside off first up so he crashed it over Extra Cover for four. Then a two. If Stuart stays in for … ah blow it Chris misjudged a call and Stuart perished. The Kentish All Rounder apologised. Stuart considered testing how good the protection Chris’ helmet offers with his bat, then left the scene. 2-Bats goes in. Looks pretty confident. Very few false strokes. Then Chris got bowled … on 49. Oh dear, still a good personal start to the season for Chris. Jeff came in and hammered a superb four through (oh come on guess) Wide Mid On. Then wanted the sightscreen moved the next ball. Too heavy for Nick and Paul to shift. “Oh leave it!”. Bowled next ball (with a very neat off cutter I hasten to add). Sadly predictable.
Jim couldn’t get a pair of pads to fit him (a combination of slender legs and pads made for tall men with fat legs … who actually aren’t that common). Strap shortening homework for the kit man (already done to one pair, in progress with the other). It made the Architect as depressed as his brother-in-trade in Ibsen’s play of the same name leading to his demise. Way too many runs to get now … but the skipper shouted “fours and sixes only!” at Doosra Duckett as he made his way in. A sublime late cut off his first ball … should have been four but found some long grass and only three taken. A few shots later Nick played a super straight drive for 2 and kept Dave H company as 2-Bats compiled a pleasing unbeaten 47. A bit outclassed today I suppose, but good to get the team together and the post-match banter was good as we recalled Chris about to stride to the middle having forgotten just one item … his bat.
North Enfield won by 105 runs