By Richard Higginbottom
I rolled up at 6pm having spent the day playing golf at The Grove. A high quality championship course that roasted me alive … got four pars but a lot of high scores too. I wish I scored this heavily with the bat. When I arrived it was like the aftermath at the Alamo: the Gardeners were strewn around the plastic chairs on the boundary and Davy Crockett (a.k.a. 2-Bats) was standing there with his bearskin hat sorry I mean helmet on trying to rally the troops. 68 for 8 chasing a modest 40 over total of 147 by our hosts. Why’s Dave padded up? He’s made himself number 11. With runs needed … I think he underrates himself. In the meantime The Whitley Bay Champion and Doosra Duckett were fending off some good quality bowling trying to get Salmagundi to some sort of respectability. So I’ll recount what I found out about the events of the day, and then rejoin the tale from this point later. Chrono-logical if you like.
St Albans batted first and set a slow tempo on a decent wicket offering some assistance to the bowlers. David Stead and Chris Packham opened the bowling and kept it tight, forcing Ypey to risk a run on Tom Monahan’s magic arm. Bad idea as Tom whipped the ball in to Stuart Bruce who completed the run out. First change bowlers Jim Monahan and Roger McCann also made run scoring difficult, Jim securing the second wicket lbw. The Telkman brothers batted well against good quality bowling backed up by excellent ground fielding (though apparently a few chances were dropped – pretty useful as I have a policy of not naming the guilty in match reports, and this time I wasn’t even there). The young players of St Albans haven’t seen good old-fashioned inswing a la McCann often and Ulster’s Finest removed J Telkman (caught behind by Stuart B) and took a return catch to send Parkinson back to the pavilion. Jim and Roger finished their spells and then Stuart Caughlin took the wicket of St Albans skipper Mark Telkman, Stuart B claiming another victim. Shortly after Dave Stead took over the keeper’s gloves as the two Stuarts bowled in tandem (we have more off spinners than any other team in England). Stuart C was happy with his bowling when I chatted to him so it must have been good. Apparently Conor’s running one-handed catch to dismiss Szczech (please add more vowels this is so difficult to type) was “quite brilliant” per Mr J Monahan, a fine judge of such things. Melling put together a good 30 to enable St Albans to get close to 150 before Dave caught him off Stuart B’s bowling.
Jeremy assures me that tea was very good and enjoyed by both sides. Perhaps a bit too much as we got off to a very poor start with Chris getting run out for 3 and Jeremy perishing for 2, caught off Milton who was the pick of the home bowlers. Stuart B was stumped off Milton for 1 so at this rate of progress, number 4 batsman should get a duck. Phew, not so as Roger played very well (according to Dave H) before he was our “second silly run-out” (per Jim). Tom was the second “ridiculous stumping” according to someone else (can’t remember who I was getting a bit emotional at this time as it was becoming obvious we had thrown away a winnable game). A quick aside … when Stuart B was bowling, he got written down in the St Albans scorebook as “Frubes” – which didn’t impress him overly. However, “some muppet” had compounded this error by writing him down as “Frubes” in our batting order. I suspect Doosra (and if I’m right, this was no “error”). Stuart C was going well and had got to 22 including a six over Square Leg before he was caught. He was still agonizing about it when I got there. Jim got castled for 2 a rare low score in his excellent season and Conor failed to trouble Stuart B who was now trying to fix a scorebook that “looks nothing like a scorebook”.
So now back to actual reporting rather than hearsay as the Whitley Bay Champion and Doosra Duckett were trying to get us to some sort of respectability. Richard obviously had been missing the team as he proceeded to mercilessly take the mickey out of each of them with the exception of the two Daves. At 80 for 8 the skipper-on-his-day-off said “we could win this – Dave S is quality, and 2-Bats is in great form”. With that he gave Dave H a few throw downs and found that his weekend of cycling, tennis and golf had rendered him even less able to bend than usual. How odd. Anyway that came to an end when Dave H pointed out that The Stead Family had gathered over near the scoreboard to watch the flame haired marvel. I know these fine folks pretty well so headed over to say hello. My timing was much better than it ever is on the pitch as the finale started to play out. Nick was supporting Dave well but the bowling was pretty tight and hard to get away, so the boys were compensating by running hard … and took one too many risks, Nick being run out by a very short margin. Enter 2-Bats with just under 5 overs to go. In the meantime I’d found out that Robbie and Rhona were very much looking forward to their holiday touring France and that Sarah has excellent taste in cars but had taken a wasp sting on her face earlier in the day.
S: “Do I look alright?”
R: “Oh yes you look lovely”
S: “Well you might think I always look this bad and you’re being polite”
R: “No I’m not that polite”
So the family Stead (including Dave’s twin nieces and his nephew) as well as the other spectators were now rapt as the two Daves tried to hit everything and run like mad. Robbie was very impressed with Stead Junior’s speed and fitness level as well as his batting skill (I hope he told Dave directly later on … if not, DS you have this on my authority). The last over and we need 9 to secure a famous victory. Dave and Dave swung at everything, only one ball was missed – should one leg side delivery have been given Wide (the other one was)? Can we find the boundary? No the fielding is very alert and keen and we ended just – breathlessly – short. Another superb knock by Dave S and a captain’s innings by Dave H. More than respectable … almost a win! Salmagundi!!
St Albans won by 2 runs