Players 17 August

By Richard Higginbottom

It’s the second Ashes test … the weather was a bit changeable so the start was moved back a few minutes to allow the wicket to dry out a bit and some straggling players of both sides to get to the ground.  Players’ captain Roger called correctly and took the option to field (the Gardeners skipper was also planning to take this course of action given the wet start).

As he expected the ball to do a bit and the Players are usually a bit handy in the field, Richard decided to front up and open with Paul Jordan, the King Of The Night Time World.  Roger and Jez Langridge opened the bowling and there were relatively limited alarms as we built a steady foundation, sharp singles being interspersed with some boundaries (lovely Extra Cover strike by Paul standing out).  First change bowler Ghost mesmerised Paul into coming down the track and he was unable to recover in time, stumped by Tim Langridge for 17; 41-1.  Dave H has now arrived in the middle and Roger rings the changes, bringing on James Campbell for a bit of left-arm variation.  James unfortunately suffered from a bit too much variety, some deliveries that even the loose limbed and speedy 2-Bats can’t locate by combining extravagant foot movement with swinging the bat.  This may have done the trick in unsettling Dave (Richard was spending the over discussing a number of interesting subjects with Tim who was umpiring at the non striker’s end), who soon after succumbed to Billy Cooper, scooping a big leg spinner to Campbell at midwicket for 12.  Jez is bowling some good stuff now and Richard surprised everyone by taking two fours off one over, a square cut and a pull (oh alright, a fend-off round the corner).  Stuart is looking very calm and composed, announcing his intentions with a checked drive off Ghost for 4.  Good calling and running as well, giving his captain a good bollocking for daring to call his run (can’t complain).  Ghost was bowling an incredibly economical spell with little luck so Billy took over for a long spell with Gordon at the opposite end.  Both bowled pretty tidily, but every time a looser ball was bowled to Stuart he put it away for 4 – some superb hits to midwicket and pleasant drives.  And every time a looser ball went to Richard he patted it away for 1.  So Stuart reached his half century and shortly after Gordon got the wicket he deserved, trapping Stuart in front.  Great knock.  A stand of 89 and we’re 157-3.  Can Richard reach the promised land?  YES.  Yet another single (off Billy) and the skipper at last has his maiden half century for the Gardeners.  Been 24 years since the last one (note: I didn’t play at all for 16 of those).  Perhaps I’ll get another three to match that season’s exploits?  Yeah, dream on.  Toby’s due a big score but sadly has to wait another week or two as Gordon bowled an almost identical delivery to the one that got Stuart to send The Director back to the boundary for 3.  Roger comes back on so Richard tries to hit him for 6, putting it up high for MacKay to catch at Long On.  Jeremy played a couple of handsome shots to make an unbeaten 12, Adam got a jaffa from Roger to be bowled for 2 and Dave S was there on 4 when we declared after 45 overs.

Salmagundi Gardeners   183 for 6 declared off 45 overs
Higginbottom  c MacKay       b McCann     53
Jordan        st T Langridge b Callaghan  17
Hollingsworth c Campbell     b Cooper     12
Caughlin      lbw            b Neill      53
Frow          lbw            b Neill       3
Gostick       not out                     12
Wood                         b McCann      2 
Stead         not out                      4
J Monahan            did not bat
Amesbury             did not bat
Clamp                did not bat
Extras                                    27

Players       O   M    R   W
J Langridge   6   1   21   0
McCann        6   1   16   2
Callaghan    10   4   26   1
Campbell      2   0   19   0
Cooper       12   0   56   1
Neill         9   0   39   2

Tea was splendid (of course) thanks to the Players, with Jim providing liquid tea and Louise (Tim’s girlfriend) bringing in Brownies (cakes not uniformed small children).

So to the reply.  Quietly confident with the target posted as we believed that today’s bowling attack had no passengers.  Toby has been excellent with the ball this season and got us off to a flying start, bowling MacKay for a duck.  In the meanwhile Dave has found a pretty good rhythm and is bowling precisely to his field, keeping the runs in check despite Tim Langridge playing some good strokes.  Toby bowled a super back-of-a-length delivery to cause the ball to spiral off the shoulder of Wylie’s bat to Paul, expertly positioned at short gully, to take the catch.  Earlier in the season we had the Players in trouble and Keith Slade hammered a magnificent half century to give them an outside chance of victory (which of course they took).  Dave bowled a rank full toss that Keith slammed towards the midwicket boundary … will it be four or six … wait a moment, Stuart is in the vicinity … no he’ll never get it, going like a rocket and too much ground to make up.  However, nothing is impossible for this man – he shot out his right hand as he tumbled over, completing the most stunning catch of the season and perhaps of many seasons.  Stuart – a man of the highest standards and great humility – was mighty impressed himself.  Could The Ashes at last be coming our way?  Richard resolves to keep pushing.  James got another ball of questionable quality from The Whitley Bay Champion, hitting it towards shortish midwicket where three players were converging.  David shouted “Dave Stead’s!” before rather balletically taking the ball one handed almost out of Toby’s hands.  That could have been embarrassing.  Now the Langridge brothers combined well as Jason and Tim took over the bowling.  His Lordship’s not quite at his imperious best so far, so Richard took him off thinking that the breeze was against him and would assist from the other end.  He had to wait though as Tim proceeded to bowl a very fine spell, Jim having taken over from the baronet.  Sure enough the deadlock was broken by the usual route, Jim getting Tim L out with a perfect off spinner, lbw.  Roger came in and played well with Jez until the latter went after a wider ball from Tim, didn’t control it and Dave S took a very good catch at Point.  Tim’s got his mojo working now and bowled a perfect off spinner of his own to go through Billy’s gate.  Ghost and Roger decided we’d have to work for the victory, deploying excellent defence.  Jim nagged me to take him off and bring on Toby.  He’s often right, so I did, replacing Jim with Stuart and Toby taking over from Tim.  Stuart nailed down his end, unlucky not to get a wicket as he conceded 3 runs in four overs.  Meanwhile Toby didn’t disappoint, a lovely off cutter bowling Ghost and shortly after Roger edging one to Dave S (his third catch) to complete our victory.  The Ashes at last!

The Players   77 all out off 35.1 overs
T Langridge lbw        b J Monahan   29
MacKay                 b Frow         0
Wylie       c Jordan   b Frow         0
Slade       c Caughlin b Stead        1
Campbell    c &        b Stead        3
J Langridge c Stead    b Clamp       18
McCann      c Stead    b Frow         8
Cooper                 b Clamp        0
Callaghan              b Frow         1
Neill       not out                   0
Extras                               17

Salmagundi Gardeners   O   M    R   W
Frow                 9.1   4   10   4
Stead                  7   2   29   2
Amesbury               3   0   15   0
Clamp                  8   2   15   2
J Monahan              4   2    4   1
Caughlin               4   1    3   0


Afterwards at The Vine …. the two Daves manage to pull The Beauty and The Beast.  The Beast lost interest in them and moved on to Billy.  Billy advised her of his commitment to his girlfriend as Louise attempted to pretend she was with Billy to ward off the unwanted attention.  Billy being a few beers down couldn’t work out what was going on.  Neither could Tim.  Then a competition for who could do the “Clampo Tango” the best (i.e. impersonating Tim’s run-up).  Keith clearly won this, all his dance training evidently not going to waste.  And your reporter (the only one not drinking) enjoyed it all immensely.  Thanks to the Players, we know you’ll be back at us harder than ever in the Ashes #1 2015.


Jimmy performs a teapot solo. His proud father attempts to hide behind Roger. Richard’s got the urn so is smiling for once. That’s not the Witchfinder General at the back, it’s Jeremy.

We received an alternative, and some might say more accurate, match report of our last game against The Players from a foreign correspondent. Here it is.

“Last Sunday (August 17) my companion  proposed me to come and spend the afternoon watching his team (and trying to understand) playing a cricket match… Why not, it’s a British tradition and I want to stay and spend the afternoon with my companion, I’m leaving soon (going back to Paris).

After some some kind of explanations as regard the rules, here is what I saw !

You spend 6 hours playing roughly 10 minutes (depends of the player). J didn’t play for the first half (his team was batting). You express yourself wildly. You don’t really train (for example run or stretch or exercise while you’re waiting). When you have to run you don’t really run you keep looking at the ball to see if you can make it, which prevents you of running more (and win more). You can suddenly run back in the middle of the pitch or once you’ve overpassed the middle… You don’t move a lot.

Once in a while everything stops and somebody is being congratulated.

When you want to gain time you keep fetching the ball from the bushes that surround the field (this can take 5 or 10 minutes but you can’t accept another ball).
There’s 2 ways of deciding when you’re going to stop the first half of the game (and have tea):
– either after 35 overs (you see I learnt something)
– or after a certain amount of time. But the amount of time isn’t decided when you start, in fact it depends of the number of runs and the captain decision (184 in this instance).

Tea is a good break; you can thank the wives and girlfriends who contributed…

The bowler: or he begins very far away or not too far from the pitch, it’s the difference between a quick bowler and a slow bowler. Some run really fast up to the wicket, some don’t. After the run they throw the ball. Spectators like me don’t get it when it’s a good ball but they do.

When you bat you’re supposed to try to make runs and when you bowl to eliminate the guy who is batting.

There’s a terrible magic word “LBW” that all the players express in a very earnest way. It means Leg Before Wicket. I’m too overjoyed to copy the information given on the Internet (they say it’s simple to understand!):

Leg Before Wicket (LBW) – If the ball is bowled and it hits the batsman first without the bat hitting it then an LBW decision is possible. However for the umpire to give this out he must first look at some of the factors stated in the cricket rules. The first thing the umpire need to decide is would the ball have hit the wickets if the batsman was not there. If his answer to this is yes and the ball was not pitched on the leg side of the wicket he can safely give the batsman out. However if the ball hits the batsman outside the line of off stump while he was attempting to play a stroke then he is not out.

After 6 hours they suddenly stop, it’s the end of the game and my team won!

Of course I’m very proud!!!! My companion asks me if I saw how he bowled. I’m in a panic… What are the right words to say when you’ve spent 6 hours looking at a game you hardly understand, as all there is to see is Little Men in White that move sometimes!!!!!

But I do love my companion.”

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