By Chris Packham
The Long Vacation match marks the first of the return fixtures for this year; so it seems like a good time to take stock of the season so far. Of the thirteen Weekend matches played, there have been seven wins and six defeats. With four wins out of the last five games it would seem we’re on a bit of a roll; but this could easily turn into a bap with the absence of our skipper. So, with the Higgs-Bottom particle soon to be discovered in Edinburgh, and the vice-captain off to his Caribbean island, Dave Stead was named third-in-line on the Salmagundi easel of accession.
After the overnight thunderstorms the weather had calmed down, but the air was still leggy despite a cooling breeze. This was to be a timed match. JLV won the toss and elected to bat. The opening bowlers were to be Mick Campbell and Lord Fakenham, but as Mick had only just arrived Dave decided to make him first change and threw the ball to me. Paul Brasted took the gloves for his first match since the ball-head-seven stiches incident, and was kept busy as my aim had only marginally improved from last week. Fakenham was more accurate, but this meant the left handed R. Wilkinson could hit him, which he did, with two fours in his first over. N. Rutter continued in this vane in his lordship’s second, but then hit one straight back and the baronet held on. I seemed to bowl better to the left-hander and when he finally hit out it went straight to Mick at
mid-wicket, who dropped it. This would prove expensive as he was on about 20 at the time. Jason bowled B. Shepherd off his pads, which bought Sybil to the crease. She put up a stout defence and saw-off the opening bowlers – Mick replacing me, and Steve Bulman, Jason. But after facing 30 balls the cry from her team was “hit out”, the hit didn’t happen but the out did as Steve’s ball removed middle stump. Mick’s extra pace proved too much for J. Hindson; 45 for 4 off 17. With the run rate at less than 3 an over things were looking good for us. In the earlier match this season we’d removed Dave Wilson for just 1 run and it looked like we might repeat it when he hit the ball to me at fly slip and took off, but I threw at the empty wicket whilst on the ground instead of taking my time and missed by a country mile; this would also prove expensive. These two batsmen started to get into their stride with boundaries coming thick and fast. After a welcome drinks break the ball was struck to an empty square leg position, causing the captain to comment “that’s where Jim’s fielding”, as Jim emerged from the convenience of the pavilion. “We should rename ourselves The Old Incontinents”, quipped a fielder not a million miles from this keyboard. Dave and Jim came on to bowl and Jim nearly had the opener but Fakenham dropped him at point. Eventually Dave bowled Dave for 45 (5 fours, 1 six); 118 for 5 off 31. This only brought a partial halt to the run fest as, after a cautious start, Andrew Caines – who has scored a century against us in the past – started to strike the ball very nicely; hitting Jim for 3 sixes in a row. Jim took his revenge out on R.Wilkinson, having him lbw two balls later for a well-played 70 (9 fours, 1 six) and 2 hours 22minutes at the crease. D. Gallagher edged Dave and was well caught by Fakenham at slip. Mick came on to bowl an over of off-spin, which completely ruined his figures as it cost 16 runs. JLV declared on 187, with Andrew on 47 (5 fours, 3 sixes) not out – don’t know if he had words with his skipper, but I think I might have.
The tea was excellent as usual. Julie Sessions had kindly turned-up to present the Big Hit award. Due to an unusual cock-up in Salmagundi administration, this first went to Jim Campbell for 2011, accepted on his behalf by his brother Mick who immediately handed it back to Julie for her to give to the 2012 winner, Lord Fakenham. Excellent master-of-ceremony duties by the skipper.
Paul Jordan and Adam Wood opened the batting with D. Bates and A. Caines the bowling. Adam faced 5 balls before having a flash at Bates and getting caught. Paul hit a couple of fours and then was given lbw, again to Bates. Jim has been batting well this season and looked like he was going to have a decent partnership with Dave, until he was also caught off of Bates; 34 for 3 off 12. A bit of consolidation was called for and it seemed that Dave and I were doing just that. The bowling of Caines started strongly but now he was pitching it short and so was replaced by the ever consistent D. Wilson. Dave does like a quick single or three, so when he hit the ball straight to Sybil and called for a run I was prepared and got home in time. I anticipated him doing this to another fielder only to be sent back and really should have been run out, but somehow the wicket remained unbroken. A big appeal for caught behind down leg side from Dave W saw Dave S stand his ground and the umpires finger stay in his pocket. I thought it hit the pad not the bat but the Jesus lads looked aghast. With JLV having bowled 16 overs the clock reached 6:30 which meant we had 20 overs to score 129 runs at about 6.5 per over. Dave thought this eminently gettable, but I was worried we were not scoring enough boundaries. With the score on 95, Dave hit a lofted cover drive and was caught by the diving N. Rutter just off the ground for 36 (3 fours). The run-rate was now up to 7.5 so I suggested to Lord Fakenham that a big over would be useful and he was the man for the job. He duly obliged with 3 fours in 5 balls and who knows what might have happened, but I was in Dave Stead run mode and called for one-for-the-throw to a ball fielded on the boundary, only to watch in horror as Jason waddled down the wicket adjusting his groin in a bizarre mash-up of Michael Jackson and Charlie Chaplin. Apparently he’d forgotten to bring a box support: for the want of a nail…
The Jesus College pitch has only one drawback: the setting sun is right behind the bowlers arm, and when N. Rutter lofted one up all I could see was a ball of fire and all I could hear were the bails falling off (27-3 fours); 113 for 6, seven overs remaining. 10.5 per over was asking a bit much, so playing out the overs and not losing wickets for an honourable draw was now the order of the day and this Mick and Steve managed comfortably. I’m afraid I was under the shower at this point, so I can’t report on the denouement. A big thank you to the Jesus College scorers for keeping a book that even Stuart (the Bruce) would be pleased with.