And So The Ends Is Near
The Saturday Team beat Oldfield Park by 2 wickets (sort of, but in the spirit of the game more like -3 wickets)
The Saturday Team’s season was going swimmingly until we met bottom of the table Oldfield Park at Frenchay, they posted 108 and in an exciting finish we did not. Our season then headed, if not South, maybe South by South West. Putting a very strong XI out for the return match against a team who were now second from bottom but who could only managing to field 8 players, lightening surely could not strike twice. Oh, but dear reader as you will know by now it not only strikes twice it sometimes strikes thrice.
So it was that we arrived in an odd little cleft where the climate was warm, wet and windy (like my men). A pitch inspection revealed that it to be so soggy that no one was willing to risk their car keys. The opposition skipper with only 8 players at his disposal suggested to Uberpops that we should forgo the toss and allow them to bat first so that we could at least “make a game of it”. Prophetic words indeed.
With the wind whistling down the cleft, making controlling the bowling difficult, Garner and Budge opened up. The batsmen stood firm and tried not to do anything rash on a treacherous strip. They chugged along at a comfortable 3 an over until, after the first bowling change, their number 1 stood on his own wicket. Not that most of us had noticed, so his sudden departure without so much as an appeal caused a little confusion until Gretch pointed out what had happened.
Fighting the wind Dodger also struggled with his line and was not helped by an umpire who called a wide for anything missing middle. His first over included an impressive 5 wide deliveries which prompted him to ask Gretch if it was swing or just shit. With lots of wickets left the foe enjoyed a little thrash at the end and reached 143 for 5. Not a bad score in terrible batting conditions. Roger ended up taking 3 wickets and Rob got 2. Budge in an impressive display of controlled bowling went for 22 off his 8 overs even though he was bowling at the death while the foe made hay.
There was an eccentric mix of fielding on display. Garner fell over to produce a stunning stop on the boundary and Ev let the now obligatory one go through his legs. Rob, haring round the boundary went for a catch but ended up palming it for six before tumbling to the ground head first and almost rendering himself unconscious. Seeing a chance to get us down to 10 men the batsman tried to persuade Rob to give up and go home but our brave boy continued manfully if a little groggily.
Grove and Iggy strode to the crease to get the Cowboys’ reply under way. Grove was in a bit of a state having broken his glasses that very morning. He tried batting in rose tinted prescription glasses but with the sun behind a cloud life still seemed unbearably dull. Handing the glasses to the umpire Grove continued o-natural and persuading himself that he could see far less than he actually could he was out to a very shit shot for 2. Ben and his hangover staggered to 10 before being caught and an uncomfortable Angelo was also caught for a duck. Now bear in mind that they only had 8 players and our first three wickets had fallen to catches, it was becoming apparent that the foe’s captain knew how to set a field.
With the ball keeping low Iggy was out for a hearty 23, Gretch was looking like he was going to show us how to bat properly again but went for 9 and Uberpops , disappointed that Grove was not there to run him out, surrendered his wicket for just 1. Bugger! 56 for 6, how humiliating. Ev was hanging on with an early night and his new glasses intactus serving him well. Budge provided good support and a little hope getting 19 before getting bowled and so Garner entered the fray. He strode manfully to the crease to be told by Ev “run on everything”, Garner taking him at his word hit the ball straight to a fielder and ran, Ev having a less literal interpretation of what he had just said did not. Garner run out for 1.
With the excitement growing a demented domestic drove the spectators mad with incessant hovering, Dodger trundled to the crease and received a hearty full toss which he biffed for 6 hitting Iggy’s car, surely a good omen. Much hectic running ensued as Ev surged relentlessly towards the target. But what is this? With a East-West facing pitch the cunning captain had saved his lob bowler for the death and the setting sun. Squinting into the light Dodger and Ev nudged and nurdled the 8 fielders and themselves towards exhaustion. A firm biff by Dodger reached within a foot of the boundary and stopped, as the weary fielder ran to fetch it Ev ran 3 and then stopped and waited while Dodger eventually finished his 3 as well. It still looked tight but another 6 from Roger and a run 4 made it seem certain and we made it with 2 overs to spare. Ev finished on 46 and Dodger on 29.
Gosh! The fiendish foe gave it absolutely everything in the field and with a cunning captain using his spars resources well they made the most of another inept Cowboys’ batting performance. Rafael, the bored Brasilian, seemed far less than enamoured with his first encounter with cricket despite what he was told was an exciting finish. Two of our other supporters also got pissed off when they were told they could not lie in the sun a good 5 meters inside the boundary, you would think that the undermanned foe would have welcomed two reclining ladies.
On checking the other scores we were dismayed to find that Wrington had managed to cancel their home game thus ensuring that they finished top of the league with 54 points, a loss would have left it open for Keynsham to finish top and us to finish level with them on 52 points. Now with us on 48 and Avonside on 46 third place rests on the final match of the season… yes you guessed it, EC vrs. Avonside.
MOM – Ev and his optician
Cider moment – Dodger biffing a dent into Iggy’s roof.
See the full scorecard here.
The Sunday 1st Team beat Lansdown by 22 runs. Neil reports thus. What a lovely bunch Lansdown seemed, as we chatted about how awful it was that teams put their top-team players into matches to try and get extra wins, even if it was unsustainable because there was no core to the team being artificially strengthened. Little did I know until after the match that they were in fact playing three of their Saturday team today. Also, the ‘official neutral umpire’ (who actually did a good job) was part of their club. Still, the good spirit continued as Lansdown won the toss and put us in to bat on a still damp Frenchay wicket that was drying all the time.
The openers Justin and Bolts completed stage one of the job with a handy opening stand of 44 off the 1st 10 overs, seeing off their opening bowlers and causing Lansdown to begin sniping at each other with frustration. Bolts was out for 20 chasing yet another wide ball, this time he stretched and ensured the ball ended up in the hands of the point fielder, galling as he had been advising Justin not to do what he just had done. Justin hung around for several hours for his 21.
Meanwhile Wilki went cheaply but Just and Duncan built a partnership and the situation of having wickets in hand for a last 10 over push was on. From 110-3 off 30 the Cowboys pushed and pushed to record a very fine 181-9 off the 40 overs, everyone putting aside any of their own selfish interests in pursuit of a decent score for the team.
The Frenchay wicket was now almost as dry as my nervous throat. As usual with our matches, the game swung one way and then the other, Lansdown build a partnership-lose a couple of wickets- build another partnership – lose a couple of wickets, the Cowboys fielders looking sharp- looking ragged-pulling itself together- until we skittled their tail and they were all out for 159 in the 38th over. 3 wickets went to the Afghan trio, but, it was the old, silvery, wily head of Stratto who took 2 wickets and the mighty Brewood who, having shared a daydream he had had with Bolts of a bowling plan, put it into action and 4-22 was the evidence of its successful implementation, Dave L completes the list of those taking wickets. A special mention for Justin who, due to us having broken our other wicket keepers, stepped in to wear the gloves with quite some skill.
As the last wicket tumbled, cue the cuddling scenes. Promotion had been assured. looking at the table it appears to have been a fairly easy ride as we now put 16 points between us and 3rd place but, my goodness, it didn’t feel that way the last couple of weeks.
Man of the match was Mr Brewood who, along with his bowling haul, top-scored with the bat with a fine 38 runs.
Cider moment was for Dean’s impression of Sparky as he was run out off a wide-called delivery.
And TT reports thus:
With a chance of promotion to Division 3 at stake in their home match against Lansdown’s Sunday 2nd XI this week, it was a bit of a thrill to be embedded with the Sunday 1st XI at Frenchay.
Having eleven bowlers in the side seemed like an advantage and could perhaps have swayed the decision about what to do with a winning toss on a seaming, drying wicket. As it was, the opposition sent the Cowboys out to bat and goodness me, my dear old thing, it turned out that they had eleven batsmen too.
Justin and Bolts opened up, making steady progress with the slow bowlers of dubious action as some spectators reached for their 15° protractors and theodolites. Both made a score before succumbing to catches, Wilko hit a boundary then fell to another catch before Duncan and Hidayat steadied things and pushed on. Not that the Lansdown fielders took all their catches, but what they lacked in catching ability they made up for with good throwing arms, making the Cowboys’ running between the wickets all the more commendable, yet at times a smidgen fraught.
Stereophonic sound is a wonderful thing, often not appreciated until your world goes mono. Rather alarmingly, one of the disadvantages of batting with temporary hearing loss in one ear, seems to be that calls of YES! NO! and WAIT! all sound like ARGH! No matter, there were no mid-pitch mix-ups as the middle order progressed.
Hidayat having fallen to the fourth catch of the innings, it would have been dull to have departed in the same manner and so with plenty of batting to come, the writer in residence drove at a straight yet bendy one and was bowled, making way for first Dave L and then Sadat to join Duncan and force the score on. Duncan fell to a catch on 38, Sadat smashed a couple of colossal sixes, pushing the run rate to more than four an over before he was bowled for 21 and then the tail mustered a supporting wag.
In the confusion following a run taken from a wide, Dean lost sight of the ball and ended up the wrong side of the crease when the ball eventually arrived. When Martin strode purposefully to the wicket to face the last ball of the innings the bowler obliged by putting it in the ideal position for Stratto’s deft sweep to the leg side boundary for four. Not a duck in sight, the Cowboys had eeked out a good par score of 181 for 9.
TEA thanks to Wilko.
The aforementioned eleven bowlers gave rise to the question of who was going to keep wicket and after initial interest was shown by Duncan, the role was taken by Justin. Under clearing skies and sunshine Dave L and Sayed opened the bowling, the former being particularly tight and economical, the latter displaying customary hostility but unable to make the breakthrough.
Sadat restricted then bowled one of the openers, Duncan took a catch off Dave’s bowling to remove the other but then a stubborn young left-hander came to the crease, building a partnership to keep Lansdown in contention. Martin bustled in for his first few overs without success and at the 20 overs drinks break, the opposition were still only two wickets down and in sight of the run rate.
Soon after, despite, or because of the tartrazine possibly present in the mid-innings tipple, long-on clung on to a well-judged catch off Martin, who soon had the new batsman bowled for a duck. For a long time afterwards, Lansdown remained only four wickets down.
A catch or two went down, fielding positions became increasingly questionable, hotly debated or ignored. Later, someone would comment on the Cowboys’ “capacity for self-destructiveness during the 15-30 overs stage.” Hidayat and Duncan were the fifth and sixth bowlers used, the other few not called upon and for a nerve-jangling time, nothing happened.
At some point, monophonic hearing and an uncharacteristic reluctance by Duncan and the audibly impaired close fielder to shout for a catch, somehow failed to result in a mid-air collision, although in taking last-minute evasive action the latter narrowly missed pulling off a smart catch, the former, possibly, a simpler one. Soon after it was all smiles as Duncan hit the stumps and broke a partnership, yet still those blighters came at us. A runner came out with the injured opposition skipper and confused things. Some people expressed their anxiety and there was much shouting about things.
Without the publication of a detailed order of service with regard to the fall of wickets and with worse than usual short-term memory, it’s not possible to recall exactly how Lansdown performed from around the 30 over mark. Suffice to say, Duncan continued to bowl his spinners and snared more victims in his web of 4 for 22, Sayed returned for another spell to grab the wickets he’d been missing and the opposition started to make a meal of a meagre last ten over chase.
The much appreciated home side supporters were starting to look like nervous spot-fixers. Everyone was. Panic turned to optimism, Dean clutched a catch to his chest, Sayed bowled a couple of pearlers and Lansdown had capitulated by the 37th over, 23 runs short of their target.
Crikey! That’ll be promotion then. Back at the pub someone was overheard saying, “We’ve just got to make damned sure that the Home Office leave our Afghanis alone.”
Duncan was unanimously nominated Man of the Match for his all round contributions, Cider Moment votes were received for Dean’s run-out and other events recorded in the scorebook but not in these grey cells drizzled in olive oil.
The full scorecard is here.
TT’s report originally posted here.