By Richard Higginbottom
July already and it’s time for a celebration match against Jim’s close, not-so-close, and you-must-be-kidding-me-they-can’t-be relations. But there’s lots of Monahans playing and spectating and the scene on arrival at the ground is joyous with a huge family gathering, Parliament Hill’s new-fangled scoreboard in place and Jim properly making a day of it by having lunch before the game. Jim got 12 players … so the Gardeners got 12 players. Then Adam came along as well in his whites (I thought he was dropping in on his way to work) so he made us 13 for a while. A number of folks were happy to take a turn off the pitch so having lost the toss the Gardeners were put in to the field, Stuart taking first over.
Toby and Seorais … on another day they could have been opening the bowling for the Gardeners but today they’re opening the batting for The Monahans and – despite a tight opening spell from Stuart Bruce and Chris Packham – are batting very well. Toby then cuts loose and lofts a six off Chris and the scoreboard starts to rattle along as we’re chasing leather, Seorais belting the ball to the fence at Square Leg and Mid On whilst Toby favours Long Off. Jason and Jeremy take over and the scoring rate abates a little though it’s still hard to contain the batsmen until Jason bowls a wobbly leg side delivery to Toby on 43 who somehow nicks it into Chris Spicer’s gloves. Henry continued where Toby left off, adventurous drives upping the rate again as Seorais reached his half century and then gave another catch to Chris off Graham’s bowling who had come on in place of Jason at the Athletics Track end. Louis’ batting was every bit as exciting as Henry’s giving Graham and Jeremy a hard task to keep contained. The captain turned to Stuart to try to break through and he obliged, Jeremy taking an excellent running catch at Long Off to remove Louis. Tom Nicholson has come in and he’s also playing good shots so this time we brought back Jason to finish his spell and he managed to take a return catch from Henry – out for 34. Around 200 on the board now and we’re looking at 250 plus when debutant Conor Scanlan took the ball and proceeded to bowl a superb spell from the track end including the key wicket of Tom N (well caught by Stuart for 37) whilst Stuart and Chris bowled out their remaining overs from the Tennis Courts end after Jason had got Tom Monahan out lbw for 8. Jim was playing some good strokes until he popped one back at Stuart who had a lot of ground to make and took a fine tumbling return catch to remove our Founder for 7. Jerome and Kenny had some fun against very good bowling at the end and we managed to rein in The Monahans for 236 after 40 overs.
Tea – what a spread! Richard brought along sandwiches and cakes, Kenny supplied excellent samosas and Jim brought boiled eggs and many other goodies. We should do this match every year!
So as Toby would be opening the bowling the skipper had to go in number 1 as he doesn’t like to be considered a coward. Dave H braced himself for the assault and opened alongside. Jim of course is never predictable so the opening bowlers were Seorais and Michael (up for the weekend from Lyme Regis). Dave must have been watching me bat as he flapped a loose-ish ball from Seorais into Louis’ hands at midwicket at we were one down. Jason belted a boundary off Seorais then somehow looped up a catch to Toby who made no mistake. Toby then came on – Richard’s relieved as it doesn’t look like he’s got out to avoid facing the big man – and bowled immaculately, nipping the ball in, cutting some away, all on an excellent length. When Stuart and I weren’t groping and missing – or just playing solid defensive shots – we each edged through the slips. Stuart had played some good shots and had got himself in when he got under a leg side ball from Henry that the returning (and very well regarded) James Tait ran around to take. Jeff’s in and belting everything loose – wow some of those hits were impressive – but then misjudged the angle of descent on a Tom Monahan lob, the ball landing on the base of the stumps. Will looked pretty calm until he missed another one from Tom. And now it’s a tall order as Richard tries to up his run rate (apart from three fours it’s been pedestrian), resulting in him (a) finding out why Jim often gets lots of wickets but then (b) miscuing a cover drive into Tom Nicholson’s hands – again off Tom M. Shortly after Chris S drove into Louis’ hands at Cover off Jim and then Paul was caught by Henry off Louis. We’re now on just over 100 and Jeremy then drove the ball back at Kenny so just one wicket left. However, some very good shots from Chris Packham and a number of powerful strikes from Graham Bruce (getting just past Stuart’s score which I’m confident hasn’t been missed by either brother) got us beyond 150, the innings ending as Graham got under one from Tom N and Toby took a straightforward catch.
So before, during and after Jerome (Jim’s brother) was very busy with the camera and below are the fruits of his endeavours with captions also by Jerome.