By Richard Higginbottom
Summer came and went away, only seemed to last a day, but it’s over …. wait a minute, not so fast. The Jurassic Coast beckons for Salmagundi’s final foray of the season. Smooth pick up at Staines Station to ensure Richard, Doosra and Lord Fakenham get there on time. Jim, Tom and Conor are brought in by our hosts from Axminster station. The Kentish All-Rounder, Chesham Luvvie and Barking Brasted came down on Friday night. A gentleman in whites says to me at the gate “is this the Uplyme ground”; I surprise him by answering “hello Patrick, I’m Richard”. This is Mandy’s brother who has come along to literally Bolster our ranks (no more rubbish puns on this subject, for this is Patrick’s surname). So that’s ten of us. Stuart and Michael have managed to get 9 (we’ll lend a fielder) for the Commandoes and the painful (but predictable) news is related that this will be the final edition of Case’s Commandoes vs Salmagundi Gardeners. The last SGCC tour to Lyme? … I invite you read on. For this final chapter in the Commandoes archive it is entirely appropriate that Jim should be captain, so he promptly does the archetypal duty and loses the toss, Michael and Stuart inserting us. “Richard I have lost the toss, please advise the batting order”. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing we establish that Jim would like to bat at number 6 and I devised the rest of the order around him. It turns out that Brian is captaining “behind the scenes” also so there are two back-seat captains in “charge”.
Nick and Paul opened the batting; I advised John (groundsman and scorer) that Nick will be number 1 (Paul hasn’t opened until now this season). Aha though, there’s some more delegation as Nick tells Paul “you’re number 1”, walking bravely away from the danger end. Both openers looked pretty comfortable on a very slow wicket (a damp atmosphere following overnight rain and lingering mist) until Paul got into a tangle as the ball stuck in the wicket and substitute Packham took the catch comfortably. Tom also struggled with the slow pitch and holed out to Steve Rattenbury off Michael (Case 1 Monahan 0). Conor was dibbling away a bit and Richard decided to run a coaching clinic as he was now the substitute fielder. “Keep the bat angled down when blocking. When you think it’s there to hit, belt it.” The Tipperary Stallion proceeded to slam five fours and four singles until a big leg spinner from Mike Pigden skittled him. Nick had been playing like Boycott (except a bit less self-possessed) until the Cases combined to send the Lancastrian Limpet back to the pavilion. Patrick hardly ever plays but opened up with a pull for 4 off his first ball and continued to play handsome strokes all around the wicket as Jim came and went – caught off Stuart so it’s now Case 2 Monahan 0. Chris and Patrick then took the game to the Commandoes but a mix up led to Chris being run out and the advantage returned to the home side, reinforced when Patrick also perished in the same fashion. 7 down, we’re only 10 players … Lord Fakenham and Adam proceeded to play magnificent attacking cricket, taking the score from 80 to 140 before Adam was caught off Stuart Rattenbury for an entertaining 20. Richard got confused and thought it was the penultimate over so played a defensive shot to what turned out to be the penultimate ball … then scrambled a single off the last ball to leave us with a respectable total of 150.
In the midst of this maelstrom a superb lunch had been provided by Laura (top quality baguettes, pasties and pies) – thanks again.
Richard headed off to the Uplyme campsite to check in so was a bit late returning. Jim had brought on Tom to open from the Lyme end causing Richard to exclaim “what sort of nepotism is this?” as he got back midway through the second over. On regaining the field, Richard hastily rearranged the positions “because that’s what I do”. Though on reflection Jim’s field settings were fine. Tom actually proved to be an excellent choice to partner Chris with the new ball, finding a good rhythm and getting Stuart out in his second over, caught by Conor (Case 2 Monahan 1). Mike Pigden played some classy shots but we did drop him a few times until Lord Fakenham (replacing Chris at the Pavilion End) trapped him lbw. Norman at number 3 had also played well but the baronet induced a false shot for Patrick to claim the catch. Michael played some good shots until he top edged a big swipe off the Norfolk nobleman to provide Richard with a catch at Gully. I realised that I was a bit annoyed at our fielding effort as I barked out “MINE!!” in a tone so aggressive it even surprised me. Tony Pigden was timing the ball and had also benefited from some of our sloppiness until Jim took a smart catch at Slip off (yet again) Fakenham. Now Russell started to plunder mercilessly particularly square either side of the wicket and the calm efficiency of Brian at the other end saw the Commandoes home to a pretty comfortable win (last over from Richard speeding the demise rather too effectively). So that’s Case 3 Monahan 1.
Case’s Commandoes won by 5 wickets
Immediately after the game Jim and Stuart gave excellent speeches thanking one another for 20 years of friendly rivalry and handing commemorative mugs to all the players. Thanks Chris for getting this organised.
It’s Saturday night … Richard took Lord and Lady Fakenham to their friends in Whitford with instructions to procure another player (more later). He then returned to the Hook Farm campsite to park the Touran and took the most bizarre series of wrong turnings to give him a 30 minutes hike into Lyme Regis (should have only been 20 minutes). All downhill, so a daunting prospect for the beer-laden return trip. Into the Pilot Boat and I’m just in time for the start of the skittles (tonight, life is all beer and skittles). Nick and Mandy have secured my food order, Conor bought me a pint as soon as I arrived, so all’s well with the world. Sarah (a.k.a. Crystal) was the best skittler in our group but we were pretty much taken apart by the home side (again). Case 4 Monahan 1. Patrick got into earnest debate on politics, environmental policy, defence spending etc with (yes you guessed it) Paul. At one stage he amazed us by agreeing with the Somerset Shaman. “You’re not allowed to agree with Paul” someone with a Norfolk accent advised. Food and beer came and went and we found ourselves being ushered out by the very friendly staff … just Chris, Adam, Heather and me by this time with Brian and Steve Rattenbury. This turned into the best moment of the weekend as Brian offered to get a Lyme Regis Veterans XI together for the Saturday match in 2014. Long Live the Lyme Regis weekend! Thanks Brian, Richard will be firming up details in the very near future. We shook hands and said goodnight, the remaining SGCC contingent taking in the Cobb (Heather took the safe route, the boys risking the upper section and descending via Grandmothers Teeth). “Enjoy sleeping in your car!” chortled Chris as I headed up to the campsite. Two more wrong turns and 35 minutes later (usefully the moon had struggled through the mist by now) I arrived exhausted at the Touran and the VW station wagon cossetted me well until I turned over and banged my head on something … I was just thinking “this was a stupid idea …” and the next thing I knew it was daylight. Good washroom facilities and I was down in Lyme Regis reading the Sunday Times and eating breakfast in preparation for the Crazy Golf tournament – relatively uneventful, Chris beating me by one stroke in an epic tussle but then Doosra Duckett upstaging Chris by another two strokes in the group following us.
Up to the cricket ground and meet up with the Uplyme team. Skipper Jerry introduces me to his Dad Tim who umpires the match – a fine pair of gents who proceed to mercilessly banter one another all afternoon. “How’s that Dad?” “Not if you were my only child” was one choice exchange. We agreed a rule that no Gardener had played before – first ball free hit for each batsman (you can only be run out). Normally I don’t like these “fun” local rules but this struck me as appropriate for the style of the match. Cricket tour etiquette determined that Jerry asked me what I’d like to do and I invited the hosts to bat. I appreciate my grounding in these niceties (thanks to Horry Panks, past captain and the president of Old Buckenham Cricket Club).
So Chris charges down the hill as the openers try to smash him for six … and don’t succeed. It’s swinging in a lot and Chris is bowling well but it’s difficult to exert enough control on the ball and the opposition are quality batsmen. After an early assault, Wellman misjudged one from Paul who had opened from the Lyme Regis end and Conor took the catch. Chris toiled against some superb batting, keeping the scoring in check well and threatening to take wickets. Paul gradually found some rhythm (he’s been injured and hadn’t bowled regularly for a lot of weeks), but first-team skipper Batey was playing some great shots, mainly over midwicket. Jim replaced Paul and had three dropped catches off him. So who’s going to break the deadlock? Lord Fakenham of course … Conor caught Batey from a skied drive and then Jerry tried to hammer one too many and was castled. Perennial dangerman Brimacombe was bowled with a jaffa first ball … aah that first ball rule was then hastily remembered by the celebrating captain and bowler, Brim saying “I was wondering if the rule didn’t apply to me”. Price played some lovely drives before Jason knocked back his off stump and now it was time for Olly, the 11 year old son of Jason’s friends Tiggy and Tim, to try his arm. Some early understandable nerves and then a very close lbw shout … the mighty Brim also showed respect to a perfect line and length (after a ball had been sent onto the tennis courts). Then Olly produced a ball of great accuracy and the umpire awarded an lbw to get our young hero into the wickets column on his Salmagundi debut. Brimacombe continued to crash the ball all around the ground as Jason and Jim cleaned up the rest of the batting, the home side being a couple short (one more reinforcement arrived at tea), closing on 194.
Umpire Tim had made a pizza – that was very nice. This was complemented by a range of cheeses, port, sloe vodka, quiche, mini pasties, scotch eggs and other delights. A most unusual and enjoyable tea in the company of our entertaining hosts.
Chris and Adam opened up … Chris’ free hit was a nurdled scampered single and Adam’s was similar. Both found it slightly bemusing. However, they settled quickly but then Adam shovelled up a catch to Sims off Newson and shortly after Chris followed the Chesham Luvvie to the pavilion. 23-2 but now some dashing strokes from Tom and Jason sped the run rate until Newson and Jones applied the brakes and created some pressure to end the promising innings of both batsmen. Jim and Richard applied themselves to the task of rebuilding the innings with considerable success, inspiring one another to trade boundaries as the Gardeners forged ahead in the game. Jim’s shot of the day was a glorious straight drive whilst Richard’s champagne moment was a Square Cut that he likes to think looks like Mark Waugh … but probably is more akin to Evelyn Waugh. Jim was nearing a half century when he was bowled by Price (the stand had realised 90 runs). Richard hit another boundary then having played a few dot balls attempted to break the shackles and lofted a catch to Brimacombe at deep midwicket. 28 runs adrift … can Conor make a dent with Duckett? Conor’s not at the races today (his description) and just made a couple. Crazy Paul … took responsibility like a man and clubbed some boundaries whilst Duckett ran like the devil – but the balls were running out. A desperate attempt by Nick to get Paul on strike resulted in Nick being run out. Olly struck the penultimate ball cleanly, Paul attempted the single but the fielders made no mistake and we finished just four runs short of the target. What a superb match.
Uplyme & Lyme Regis won by 4 runs.
So, we lost both games. But not by much. And we cemented our friendships and secured the Lyme weekend for another few years. All in all that’s the most important result of all. Therefore, I declare the Case’s Commandoes vs Salmagundi Gardeners series the most honourable of draws. See you all again in 2014.