The Gardeners took to the road again and wound up about 100 miles North of London in the bucolic splendour of Tilton in Leicestershire – the home club of Tim Clamp (who we are also delighted to claim as one of our own). However, this time the home club had issues as the Bank Holiday weekend had claimed a lot of their own, meaning that Tim and I had a lot of emails, texts and social media work to get a quorate number of players to the ground. Just about made it and we agreed an 8-a-side contest. Which was stymied for a while as the green machine of David Stead arrived half an hour late (with Matt Incledon on board). David is actually never lost for long as he’ll gladly ask anyone the way to anywhere – unfortunately the ground is so well tucked away that no-one he asked had a scooby until he at last alighted upon someone in the know.
In the meantime Joe Woolmore and Rahul Jaiswal opened the bowling for us, captain Richard Higginbottom having inserted the home team on winning the toss: “We’ve got more players here at the moment” was his reasoning. Quite a stiff breeze and a bit of a slope meant there was a lot of movement early on and Rahul cashed in, removing Gill to a neat catch by Sachith at slip and then bowling Collington. It’s 24-2 in no time and I don’t want the match to end too early, so let’s give our openers a break and hand over to Adam Wood (twirly spinners) and Graham Bruce (mystery spinner/seamer). Adam bowled out the splendidly named Rob Abba soon after but had to be gently reprimanded for pointing to the pavilion and saying “that’s your Waterloo”. Graham bowled a mercurial selection that longer-in-the-tooth Gardeners might refer to as “Brasted-esque”. However, our young hockey convert got J Farnsworth to locate the safe hands of Joe in the deep and Tilton were teetering on their hill at 45-4. Tim had come in so high we thought he might have a nose bleed, but played with an admirably straight bat for a solid dozen until he missed a straight one from Graham. 66-5 and Phil James helped home skipper Rob Welsh to add some respectability to the score despite pulling his hamstring within a few balls and needing a runner until he was bowled by Sachith Dassanayake for 11 with Tilton having got into 3 figures. David Stead came on to accompany Sachith and what ensued was a stand of utter brilliance by the home team; Welsh had been accumulating carefully, gradually extending his range of strokes. Ben Farnsworth simply came in and played astonishing strokes all around the ground, a pulled six and a lofted drive will stay long in the memory. Rahul came back and Ben was equally savage as Rob’s tempo increased to match. Now we’re into serious leather chasing (or more accurately watching flying leather as with only 9 of us, there’s not many legs to chase after the ball). Sachith returned from the pavilion end which gave him more scope for catches into the leg side and Farnsworth duly hit towards Joe who made ground superbly well to take a skilful catch. A supercharged 45. Welsh had by now gone well beyond 50 and was looking impregnable until he surprised us by swinging over a slower ball by Joe for an elegant 76. Rob Abba and Sam Collington came back in for a second go and did pretty well, adding 14 between them when the 35 overs came to an end.
Dave and Matt thought they might be last men in for their tardiness but the skipper is not so uncompromising and put them in 1 and 2. “So we get rewarded!” quipped the Whitley Bay Champion. Harumph. They made an enterprising stand of 36 in 6 overs until Matt chased a wide one from Abba – a-ha-aaa – and was out for 15. Richard took careful note of this and duly forgot it as the very next ball came down, wafting an edge to the keeper who deflected the ball off his torso into the hands of his son at slip. Karma is a bitch … before the match I had been talking to Adam about a huge ‘keeper at Brisley in Norfolk when I was a kid who stood up to all paces of bowling. Our skipper the wonderful Horry Panks said “tha’ feller wid even stand up to Dennis Lillee!” [This was some years ago; the great fast bowler was still playing test cricket]. But there was method in the titan’s madness – the rebounds claimed a surprising amount catches and deflect-stumpings. Miserable doesn’t cover 10% of my feeling at this point. Where are my golf clubs? I’d rather be at work. I should have gone swimming. Why am I doing this? Anyway 10 minutes later I’d rationalised and that had given us time to lose Keshan (slogging across a straight one – I told him not to do that) and Dave who had improbably shouted “YES” having cracked a cover drive straight to Rob Welsh. Then Sachith perished (slogging across a straight one – I told him not to do that). “It’s one of those days where we’re all making stupid mistakes” mused Dave as we chatted whilst I was sub fielding and he was umpiring. However we agreed the place is fantastic and we’d like to come back – probably not on a bank holiday weekend so it’s a proper 11 vs 11. Joe and Graham now combined effectively to get us to the outskirts of a reasonable score, adding 69 until Graham got a good ball from Welsh. Adam supported Joe who played an attractive and sensible innings of 41 until he was also bowled by Welsh. Adam then played some neat shots as the returning Richard (two lowest scores bat again) swished and mishit until he gave a return catch to Gill for 17. Sachith came back in and I said to Dave “if you picked any one of our squad for this time, here he is”. Sure enough he took his annoyance out at his low first score by banging sixes and fours all around the ground but we had a bit too much ground to make up and ended 21 runs short. Pictures and scorecard below. Man of the match: Joe Woolmore. Quote of the day: Dave (umpiring) to Richard as Tim was about to bowl: “You know the action”; Richard: “Yes: One step back and a few forwards”.