By Richard Higginbottom
Hurrah! The captain was asked by the opposition to get our boys there for the 1.30pm start. Splendid effort by the Gardeners who were to a man there for 1.30pm (maybe Stuart was a bit late … but he’d spent the night at a pool party with Michael Barrymore so understandably didn’t get any sleep). However our oppo weren’t ready to play until 2pm so the team thought Richard had been spinning yarns to cure them of their tardy habits. Jim and Fakenham enquired loudly which option the captain might take should he win the toss. We’ll never find out what would have been done as Actors chef de partie Richard Hayles advised us that Actors were 9 at the moment and skipper Jamie Harper would not be nearing Parliament Hill until 3pm so we agreed it made sense for our visitors to take willow first.
“You alright Stuart?” asked Richard. The Prodigy answered in the positive (man has the constitution of an ox) so whilst Lord Fakenham took the first over from the Tennis Courts end, the South Coast Slammer commenced proceedings from the Athletics Track end. Good opening salvos from the pair of them kept the run rate in check despite openers Dorman and Da Costa manfully trying to break the shackles. In his third over the baronet put in a splendid yorker to knock over Da Costa’s wicket and we were underway. Baron and Dorman batted well together, forcing our attacking field to be spread somewhat as our openers took a breather to bring on spinners Jeremy and (making his debut) Tim Clamp. Jeremy bowled a huge wide first ball, brilliantly lulling the opposing batsmen into a false sense of security as he hardly bowled a stray ball thereafter, causing Baron to hole out to the Norfolk Nobleman at Cover. Immediately Tim got into the wickets column, his unerring accuracy and rip on the ball rattling into Hurst’s stumps for a duck. Now both ends were getting tied down thanks to our bowlers finding some great accuracy. In order to accelerate the scoring Forsyth hammered a slightly shorter ball from Jeremy straight at Richard at Silly Mid On … bit fast for the captain to get his hands around it but he stopped a four and was fortunate not to break his right hand with the stop. This clearly nonplussed the batsman for whom Jeremy bowled a beauty the next delivery, clipping the outside edge and then the off stump (only one wicket for that). Tim applied pressure so well it forced Dorman into a risky second run on Henry’s arm … not a good idea as Henry whipped in a splendid return and Chris made an excellent off-load onto the stumps to remove the batsman for a well played 31. Tim completed his spell and Fakenham came back to again bowl some quality deliveries … but not that one, a wayward drifting ball down leg that Huds smashes away to … the waiting hands of Jim Monahan who takes a flawless catch from a well struck shot. Great cricket. Fakenham is buoyed further by this and his lordship then bowls a proper delivery (an extravagant outswinger) to bamboozle Andrade as the ball started outside leg stump and swung right across him to hit the off stump. Brilliant. Richard Hayles comes out to bat and tells us that Jamie still hasn’t arrived so we informed him that the Actors can keep going by recycling batsmen until the overs are up or we have gained 10 wickets. Richard and Keane played well until an inadvisable run (to Henry again) was attempted and the younger Monahan was calmness itself, easing the ball back to Jim to complete the run-out. Happy Fathers Day! Opener Dorman reappeared and again looked pretty good until Stuart at last got the wicket his excellent bowling so richly deserved, Henry this time taking a catch at fly slip, the tendency to cut upwardly being shrewdly observed by The Bruce. Opener Da Costa then rejoined the fray, but Jim now got his name in the wicket column (also bowled very well), bowling the returner with a great ball. Great effort by the Salmagundi bowling unit.
Jim and Richard combined to provide tea (the liquid sort) to augment our splendid spread (thanks to Jim, Jeremy, Jeff, Lord Fakenham who provided fruit from his cousin’s estate in Barbados and Richard).
So, a low target. Jamie’s still not here – and he’s an expert bowler. Therefore, does the captain tinker with the batting order? No, he did that against the Players and we lost a winnable game. So the Norfolk Accumulator took number one slot himself accompanied by Matt Incleden. Good probing bowling from Huds but there were lots of byes and leg-byes being scored so we were rolling along at 4 an over despite hardly scoring off the bat. Matt hit a few handsome strokes and picked up some runs. The captain hit some pretty off side shots, but always straight to fielders. Matt hit a neat off drive and set off for a run on a semi-fumble … Andrade recovered brilliantly and threw down the stumps leaving Matt just out of his ground. 12 for 1. Stay calm Salmagundi, don’t want to collapse ignobly. Huds continued with his excellent examination of our batting technique as Jamie arrived and got straight into the action, taking over from Hurst from the Athletics Track end. A tight first over but then a looser second enabling the two men of Norfolk (Fakenham having come in at number 3) to get their innings’ going. Just as Harper started to test us, Huds relaxed a bit and Fakenham then Higginbottom started to find gaps in the field, ably assisted by the Extras column going into hyper-drive. Higginbottom used stout defence with opportunistic shot making whilst Fakenham played cavalier cricket with the occasional moment of calm. It was an excellent combination as the spells of Huds and Harper were brought to fruitless closes. At the drinks break neither batsman mentioned what both later admitted to thinking – we could get the target ourselves – turns out we have the same “don’t say it you’ll jinx it” superstition. After the resumption there were only three overs bowled as the remaining 20 runs were calmly garnered by measured strokeplay and the continuing stream of Extras to have us record the victory with plenty of wickets and overs to spare.
SALMAGUNDI GARDENERS WON BY 9 WICKETS
Last week Jim had us in confused mirth as he proclaimed “We wouldn’t have won the war without those films with Kenneth Williams in them”. “I think you mean Kenneth Moore”, countered Nick. Someone cried out “OOOh nooooo! Another raid, get under the bed matron [snort]” as we visualised the King of Camp playing his role in defending the realm. This week Jim asked Lord Fakenham “Was she your uncle?” to similar amusement. The Big Man continues to enhance our world enormously.