By Richard Higginbottom
September already but the Gardeners stood up to be counted for this match, 13 turning up, 2 of whom (Mark and Conor) graciously agreed to play for the French House. Paulie J is also one of our own of course, but he’s been playing for the French House longer so captains Spitfire and Higginbottom agreed on the King Of The Night-Time World being a Frenchman for the day. Jonny won the toss and opted to bat. Brave man given that the Gardeners had a plethora of bowling talent today. The talent in question proceeded to bowl with so much movement (Stuart and Dave) that the bat, the stumps and the fielders were getting beaten by the seam and swing (hence the large number of extras conceded). Joe and Paul were resolute in defence for the French House until Dave castled Joe with a Yorker to get the wickets column moving. 8 good overs into the match and Gopala took over from Stuart and very quickly accounted for Nathan with a return catch. Mark now determined that he needed to stick around to keep Paul company and some extremely tight cricket ensued until Jason ended Paul’s resistance – lbw. Jonny tried his usual cavalier approach but Gopala is a handful on any wicket and the Spitfire was shot down – bowled. Keith followed shortly after to another lbw by Jason and our first change bowlers were stood down having taken 4 wickets for 14 runs in their combined 10 overs. Sachith came on and Richard had positioned himself for some exercise, running around like a lumbering hippo at backward square leg as Sachith searched for the best length to bowl. Graham’s the least experienced of our bowlers (this is his first season) and as a result had more shots played off him than our other bowlers – and had a couple of chances put down whilst Sachith pinned Merv in front for 5. Graham induced a much easier chance from Matt which Cover fielder Higginbottom pouched to get GB into the wickets column. Adam hasn’t ridden his Triumph all this way for nothing so he got a bowl and took a wicket, Jeff stumping the wandering Quintin. Then George continued with his crazy strike rate of late (2 wickets in 1 over last time, 2 wickets in 2 overs this time) to wrap up the innings.
Tea was great. I’m deliberately saying this as it’s what I spent most time doing on the match day. Standing around in various fielding positions, making vague fielding instructions and inviting folks to have a go at bowling as well as doing the batting order made up the rest of my day. Jeff campaigned successfully to get up the order as this would be his last regular game for the Gardeners – he’s taking a new job in Bristol. We’ll miss you Jeff, you’ve been a star for us and your humour and insight will leave quite a gap. But good news, the Seal Clubber will be starring in occasional games for us in the coming seasons subject to availability.
So in went The Whitley Bay Champion with George to open the innings. You can ask George what he thinks about Dave’s calling and my bet is he doesn’t reckon that part of Dave’s game is “champion” at all, a just-too-sharp hit straight to Joe at MidWicket resulting in George coming back to boundary edge as Paulie J (keeping) completed the run-out. George’s loss was taken full advantage of by Jeff, who hit some fine shots all around the ground, five 4s featuring in his unbeaten 35. Dave got out for 29 – lbw to Keith – and Henry assisted Jeff with some elegant and powerful strokes to get us over the finish line with 8 wickets in hand.