By Richard Higginbottom
This week the Sun’s come out and we’re back at Golders Green to take on the Wrong ‘Uns. Our Visitors have a number of players who are observant of the Lord’s day and will not play cricket (so perhaps they should join another team called The Righteous Ones). Enough of this frivolity, Mark Buttle has agreed to play for them and Conor and Stuart (who plays for them on week nights sometimes) also crossed the divide – and we agreed on ten in the field at all times so Sachith took the first stint as the Wrong’Uns sub as the two Daves strode out to open the batting.
Confident start by both until Dave Stead, having hit some attractive strokes, was trapped lbw by Ames for 11. Richard followed very quickly indeed – the captain’s first golden duck for the Gardeners – edging behind to Mark off Ames. And I told them he was a handy slip catcher … dammit. George saw off the hat trick ball and Richard took Sachith’s place as sub fielder – a self-imposed penance for his first ball ignominy. Dave H and George calmly rebuilt in the face of some probing bowling by Stuart and Ames and then George started to display an impressive range of strokes, scoring boundaries all around the wicket with a mixture of delightful timing and refined savagery. Dave wasn’t being outshone either, playing more of a classical opener’s role he focused on strong driving with the occasional pull and built his score steadily. This was a terrific partnership and we haven’t had many in our history that have gathered more than 134, ended when George was lbw to Tettenborn (aka “Tetters”) for a brilliant 74. Jim – umpiring for some of the time – thought the Wrong’Uns were calling him “Fritters” and joined in occasionally with the supporting cheers of the opposition “Come on Fritters!”, “Pitch it up, Fritters”. Very amusing to your correspondent, still in the field. After the Lord Mayor’s show, as the saying goes … Jeff, Sachith and Jeremy all came in swinging the bat and found it difficult to start teeing off from the first ball. Dave kept going and finished unbeaten – great effort that – with Chris supporting as we made it – just – to 200.
Richard got a lot of praise for the tea he prepared. Would rather have scored some runs and had both teams lob inedible food at me. But mustn’t grumble.
Into the field and the ball’s pinging everywhere as George is bowling at great pace – though he’s man enough to admit he’d like a shorter spell today owing to his batting exertions. Meanwhile Dave Stead can’t quite get his off-spinners to work so starts to bowl seamers with no change in run-up. This nearly knocks Chris Spicer off his feet standing up so has to take the option to retreat together with the slip cordon. A textbook off-cutter then hits Mark’s leg stump and we’re away in the wicket column. Mark then replaces Stuart as our sub fielder and the accelerating Steadley pins Matt in front – now it’s 25-2. George is giving Conor a torrid time so Richard gives our new Titan of the East Midlands a breather and brings on Jim. Meanwhile Dave’s scenting more wickets and induces an uppercut from Conor that Mark pouched safely at Backward Point. Jim tossed up a tempting delivery for Mark Tettenborn (aka “Fritters”) to belt towards Long On but Jeff is in short “on the drive” at short Mid On and takes a stunning one-handed diving catch to give Jim his first wicket. Outstanding stuff. Richard had moved George to a “special” version of backward square leg to deal with Ames’ round-the-corner shot (he got 80 against us last year) – but left him there for Stuart who obliged by top edging Dave straight into George’s hands. Dave then got a few nicks that flew through at great speed evading the slips – Higginbottom (brain frazzled by spending all afternoon in the field) had some not-very-amusing discourse with the frustrated bowler about where the slips should be – all sorted out by the captain shifting over to Gully and putting Jeff in the hot seat (well he’s in form now!). Dave decided to ignore the field and bowled another peach of a delivery to castle Ames and grab a well-deserved 5-for. The Whitley Bay Champion continues to sparkle! Who’s going to mop up the tail? Well let’s try to winkle them out with the cunning spin of Jeremy (meanwhile Jim had ended the stout resistance of Bobby – bowled for 13). Winkle out nothing! Destroyer Gostick went through the final three wickets like a hot knife through butter, taking 3 wickets for 5 (2 bowled and a smart stumping by ‘keeper Chris) to end the game. Wrong ‘Uns will run us much tighter next time – be warned!
SALMAGUNDI GARDENERS WON BY 136 RUNS