By Chris Packham
The weather forecast was pretty gloomy, but the Northern Line was even gloomier: closed. This meant that captain Hollingsworth had to get the bus, which wouldn’t have been too bad if he hadn’t have got off at Kentish Town thinking the bus turned left, only to see it turn right where it would eventually stop just outside the ground. Still, he only arrived five minutes after the proposed 2.pm start, Nick and Mick were still in transit when the game began. Being an environmentally unfriendly car driver I arrived far too early and was soon surrounded by the opposition. So I took myself off to the nets to try to improve my bowling which has been wicket shy this year, and was shortly joined by Stuart with bat, who concluded that I hadn’t succeeded. The toss was won by Jonny Spitfire, who decided to bat. With Toby playing his first match for a while he was a shoe-in to open the bowling, but who to join him? Dave’s choice would have been Mick but as he hadn’t arrived he asked yours truly, who duly declined the offer on the strength of the earlier net, so Dave S stepped up to the plate.
Toby’s pace down the hill was too much for the French openers: his first over a maiden, his second a wicket maiden, Stuart confidently taking the catch off a swing from Reg which caught a thick outside edge. His third saw the demise of Quinn and his fifth destroyed Rupert’s off stump. In the meantime, Tom had already had a close call off Dave after heaving one beyond Jason at deep mid-on who turned and ran to the boundary without keeping his eye on the ball; it missed his head by about a metre. Dave heavily loaded the on-side with fielders; Tom took not the slightest notice, heaved his bat in the direction of cow corner and lost his middle stump. Joe was as surprised as most of the fielders when he discovered he was lbw, Dave’s appeal definitely not in the D. K. Lillee class this week, only the umpire heard it. After 10 overs with five wickets down and not many runs the captain changed the bowling, bringing on Lord Fakenham and Jim. Batting on this pitch was obviously tricky with some balls rearing up off a length, but Keith and Jonny started to put a partnership together, Jonny hitting a massive 6 back over Jim’s head, which even the bowler praised. With the score at 67 for 5 off 19 overs Dave decided to change the attack and brought on me and then Mick. There’s nothing better than seeing the ball spring off the pitch when you’re bowling and that’s what was happening, Keith cut my second ball to Adam at point which he caught and then dropped, but my fifth cut back and took out his middle stump. Adam made good use of the practise, catching Merve at gully off of Mick, who had just bowled the biggest bouncer I’ve seen on this ground, a good two feet above the batsman’s head – he didn’t mean it and called it wide himself.
I then hit one of those golden spell’s that happen about once every three years in my case, the ball repeatedly passing just over the stumps as Jonny played and missed. When he did connect the ball spooned up high to Fakenham at mid-on, who this time kept his eye on the ball and caught it, at the second attempt. Nice fielding change from the captain. The ball to Mike gave his off stump the slightest of kisses as it removed the bail – so slight the scorer put it down as caught wicket, and two balls later the final wicket fell. With only six byes conceded on this pitch, excellent wicket keeping from Paul. This was a great wicket to bowl on, but now we had to bat.
Nick and Stuart opened the batting, with Jonny and Joe opening the bowling. Nick was determined not to fall to Spitfire and showed a solid defence against some steeping balls. Stuart was determined not to show a solid defence and was caught off Jonny in the third. It proved to be a bit much for 75 year old Bernie and Mick, who was in at No. 11 offered to replace him. The first ball I received from Joe swung like a Beckham free kick, the second I tried to cut but only gave Mick catching practice at second slip, amazingly he dropped it. The first ball I received from Jonny I played around waist height, unfortunately it was a slower ball around shin height. At 18 for 2 off 5 this was proving heavy going, but now we had the run machine that is Dave Stead at the crease. For some reason Jonny only bowled three overs, but his replacement, Tom, started well, his first over being a maiden. No batsman really got into their stride, and having had a couple of beamers from Tom, Nick then got a yorker which he wasn’t prepared for. Enter the captain. It did look like the two Daves would see us home, but no; DS got an edge to the keeper, 42 for 4 of 12. Enter the Jim, who dispatched a short pitched ball to the boundary with consummate ease, and with Dave also hitting a couple of boundaries, a bowling change was inevitable. Dave shouldn’t have pushed his luck having been dropped a couple of times, but the third lofted drive stuck and we were 56 for 5 of 15. Toby and Jim decided attrition was the order of the day: backs to the wall, man the barricades, ten runs in five overs, you get the picture. Finally Jim let fly and was caught, 66 for 6 off 20. Lord Fakenham is not one for attrition, and a rather nice on drive to the boundary won the match.
Top scorer for us was the extras and then the captain who had his first win in the long version of the game (as he put it).
SGCC won by 4 wickets
Off-Piste with Packham.
Fayette Pinkney had two, but with her mates was one of three. Paul has one and a bit, Dave S one and a half, Nick three (which seems excessive, especially as his only proper job has been emptying slot machines on Minehead sea front) and the SGCC team on Sunday a total of ten.
No… The weather recently hasn’t had enough and a circle has 360. Yes, you’ve got it. Which begs the question: with all this higher education at hand why, when Richard isn’t playing, does it fall to CSE woodwork to write the match report? Admittedly, Nick, Adam and Jim have written reports in the past (Jim in 2003 which I’m sure I’ll finish next week – he is the Lionel Messi of meandering thought), but the Daves, Paul, Stuart, Mick, not a twitter never mind a dissertation. So, if there’s any psychology graduates out there: an explanation please. Failing that, can you write the next report when we are sans Higginbottom?