Mid August; this was to be the match where we celebrated our 40th Anniversary but the only old-ish Guard turning out were Adam ‘Silvertop’ Wood and Nick ‘Doosra’ Duckett. That means David ‘2-Bats’ Hollingsworth and the captain were the only other long-standing Gardeners. A present of a chocolate cake and a bottle of Prosecco very gratefully received from our opposition before we started the match. The Summer holidays put Higginbottom into panic mode on the recruitment front (still 7 players at 3pm Saturday) but the cricketing itch that scrapes away inside the soul of Stuart Caughlin triumphed, a dashing young fellow called George Grylls dropped in an email to see if there was a match he could play in, so we had 9 as we arrived at Golders Green. Pakistan also did us a big favour by disposing of England relatively easily at the Oval, freeing up Conor to come along at half time.
Richard lost the toss and was asked to bat. Paul ‘King of the Night-Time World’ Jordan and Silvertop produced a solid opening stand of 34 until Adam was bowled by Kevin H for 11. Paul joined him back at the boundary an over later for 23, Noel rearranging his timbers. 2-Bats has recently taken a short break so is feeling his way back in whilst George Tebbutt got his innings underway with a couple of powerful 4s. Woodstock rotated their bowling as George continued his powerful striking, most entertaining was a straight six that caused the Gardeners at the boundary to take evasive action. The only shot I can’t remember being played was a late cut, but all other parts of the batting textbook were visited by George in an exemplary display of power and technique. Dave also grew in confidence, playing some delightful strokes as they put on 100 for the third wicket, until he was bowled by Paul H for 25. The same bowler also accounted for Nick with what was Woodstock’s best ball of the day, then Stuart played like a man who had forgotten how to bat (fear not, it will return) and walked after a “fluffy half non-contact sweep” ballooned up to the keeper. Only Stuart seemed convinced it was out, so off he went. George completed his maiden century with a four (of course) and then played a magnificently ugly slog to give his wicket away so that Richard and Cameron could face a few balls (thanks) and take us to a very competitive score.
Tea was provided by Woodstock and was truly excellent (the Samosas and the Chutney starred whilst the BBQ chicken was top notch).
We headed into the field and our man from the Oval (Conor) was soon onto the pitch with us as the Nurdling Nine became the Imperfect Ten. George Grylls took the new ball and beat everyone (including a startled Cameron with the gloves) a couple of times in the first over with good pace and serious swing. This immediately made your correspondent feel less nervous as for the second time ever (both this season) and hopefully for the last time, he also opened the bowling. “They will be relieved to face me after George”. So it proved, as Woodstock allowed the East Anglian non-spinner to regularly hit the stumps, accounting for all of the top four batsmen. The skipper was planning to bowl five overs but given that he’s only ever taken three wickets at most in an innings before decided not to spurn the chance of a five-for; but it was not to be, his allocated overs running out with his lifetime best figures of 4 for 21 in the bag. George volunteered to take a break and Stuart then bowled some proper off spin, turning and kicking (so did the ball, sometimes), as he also bowled an unbroken and miserly seven over spell, taking three wickets (one ‘trigger finger’ LBW, one plumb LBW, one bowled). Doosra Duckett hasn’t had a bowl for a while and took a few balls to get his line and length – and when he did – clonk – saw off Kevin H. Other players also recently deprived bowling opportunities took their turn: 2-Bats, Paulie J and Silvertop, as Woodstock started to gather some runs. George T is now getting a bit impatient (“Haven’t you had enough cricket?” enquired the captain; “NO!” replied the impetuous youth). So I gave him the ball and after a couple of flying edges over the slips, he added even further lustre to his man-of-the-match display by bowling out Woodstock’s two highest scorers to conclude proceedings in Salmagundi’s favour. 40 years old, creaking and groaning in parts, but destined to continue in the Summer Sun for some time yet! SALMAGUNDI!