Summer’s here! Oh god so why is it so cold? Early morning over to Luton to pick up the minibus. It’s got automatic transmission. An impromptu emergency stop as the hapless Higginbottom mistook the brake for the non-existent clutch at the first roundabout. Good job it’s still early and no-one’s about. Just about got the hang of the beast as the Bruce boys get a later train than everyone else (Rahul got an earlier train than everyone else) and the awesome 8 pile into the bus and the captain points North East. As he’s driving for once the team all have to go in the same direction. We’re met at the ground by Pete Shufflebotham (own steam), Adam Wood (motorbike) and Jason Amesbury (hitched a lift in the shooting brake of one of our hosts). Toss duly lost we went into the field and the wicket was as true as usual, some excellent bowling from Stuart Bruce and Rahul Jaiswal being met by a number of close calls (flying edges, lbw appeals) until we gave local lad Amesbury (I’m local too, but being a Brecklander I’m a Southern type) a turn at the Memorial End. Harrison helped himself to a number of thunderous boundaries, stepping across to off to place the ball over the boundary in the arc of mid-on to midwicket … impressive. One straight drive off Jason’s best delivery brought applause from most of us – especially the (too) generous Jason. At the other end Gopala had taken over from Rahul and was bowling incredibly well until Bale thumped three consecutive drives for 4s off deliveries that were really pretty good. Both openers retired after top quality half centuries had been reached allowing Joe Woolmore and Graham Bruce to try their luck – resulting in J Holden receiving our best ball of the day from Joe which rattled the timbers nicely. O Holden grew in confidence as Richard Williams played some expansive strokes until the returning Stuart got him to offer a catch to Shuffs – gladly taken. Holkham skipper Chris Crane played well with O Holden to take the score up to a challenging 234 at the end of the 40 overs.
Tea in the new pavilion! A lovely structure though the club have been left to install plumbing, etc … still, good to have such a fine building to adorn the ground. Super cakes and sandwiches.
Off to start our reply with Paul Jordan and David Hollingsworth looking solid then starting to extend their scoring strokes; curtailed having posted a half century opening stand with Paulie J being adjudged lbw. Dark mutterings of front foot, left arm around the wicket, etc … still plenty to play for. Adam looked OK until Crane, bowling a very accurate spell, had him caught at the wicket for 5. Joe was composed and with Dave took the score to exactly 100 when Dave was bowled by Harrison. Gopala was just getting himself in when he was bowled by Peel. The skipper relegated himself, promoting Stuart to add impetus to the innings … this worked though Joe perished soon after for 27. Looking to press the throttle harder, Stuart was bowled. Shuffs played steadily as Richard uncharacteristically hit his first ball for 4 then slogged over a straight one. “Why are you all panicking so much?” enquired 2-Bats; “Because you were too slow at the start” the bemused captain unfairly replied. Note to self: Shut up. Despite the valiant efforts of Graham Bruce, Rahul and Jason we were unable to get very close, getting bowled out 70 shy.
Afterwards in the Victoria we had (as always) a splendid catch-up with our hosts and we look forward to 2018’s game.
We made it down to the fish & chip shop just as it was closing. For a pound a head we took a weird selection of their leftovers – a fishcake, two pies, several tubs of mushy peas and curry sauce, some chips, a saveloy and some other battered substance that no-one was sure of (“Perhaps it’s Hummus” – honestly, these London boys – “You’re not in Shoreditch now bor, a hipster is still a pair of trousers ’round hare”). Someone reckoned we should have held onto the pies Jason was bowling. Paulie Jordan scorned the curry sauce (“one slice or two?”) and anyone who professed a liking for cheesy chips (that was everyone else). As captain, I have to respect a man who is unafraid to take an individual view. Gives me some small justification for any new theory I have devised on the hoof during the game. “What are we trying to do here?” is at this point met with “Wait and see”. And if a wicket ensues, I’m a genius. If it doesn’t, these damn fools I’m playing with are simply not reading the game properly.
At the pub: Is it the 21st Century? A round of gins were consumed at one stage. Could just be that we’re miserable. Doesn’t seem to be the case. The Youth Hostel in Wells was neat, clean and functional. 4 men sharing bunk-bedded rooms … belch, snore … other noises. I’m amazed I slept so well. The other three fellas looked terrible Sunday morning.