Balsham v Exiles, 16 August 1998

This fixture came about due to our injury prone Wicket Keeper Dave Middle having been born in this pretty Cambridgeshire village. His Mother still lives there and supplies the excellent teas. The Balsham team is the usual mixture of experience and youth with not much in between, where all the twenty-somethings go for their Sunday sport is not clear. If they have ambitions to be seam bowlers they probably travel as far from this slow and low wicket as their Ford Escorts will carry them. The Exiles' own speed twins Waseem & Naem Khan also chose this weekend as a good opportunity to see the folks in Leicester, so with half the membership either on holiday or paying social visits, Seven Exiles, one former Exile (Peter Richardson) a potential future Exile (Stephen Brown) and two found players (Chris, Dave's Bother-in-law and Faizal a friend of Effie's) made up the eleven and made it to the ground in plenty of time inspite of the ongoing delays at the M11 link roadworks.
The home side won the toss and elected to bowl and, judging from the cursing that emanated from certain bowlers lips, regretted the decision as Soumitro Nagpal carried on where he left off last week and with Keith Marchbank connecting cleanly with legside full tosses the scoreboard soon got moving. Then Keith advanced down the wicket, missed a legside delivery and was stumped when the ball cannoned back off the keeper's pads to break the stumps, a freakish dismissal but one where the batsman was largely culpable. Afterwards Keith seemed unware that the keeper was still "standing-up" and this minute is probably having his wife sew rear view mirrrors into his cap. This brought Wayne Holder to the wicket who has missed a few games and was planning his comeback at the washed out Oxford game. This pair added 110 for the second wicket before Wayne fell to a brilliant catch to Mid-on running back towards deep midwicket. Soumitro's innings yielded more chances than last week's century but was played out in less favourable conditions, with longer straight boundaries and longer grass. Faizal increased the run rate with some clean hitting, unfortunately he underestimated the trajectory and the sticking power of Fenland outfield grass so that two shots he thought were fours brought only one run as he deemed not to run until too late. He also mis-judged the trajectory when he sent the ball high to long-on where the man who had showed his ability to catch with Wayne's wicket safely pouched it two feet in front of the line.Soumitro exchanged the bat he had broken last week, since repaired by its owner, for Effie's massive railway sleeper of a bat and thereafter was understandably less wristy but still ploughed on towards his seemingly inevitable century. Though he has the eye of an eagle, and wrists of whipcord, unfortunately he has the legs of Nick Coleman, so when he was on the Australian "Devil's number" (87) he fell tamely to an uncontested stumping, complaining that he had run out of energy. He was also aware that there were plenty of lesser batsmen waiting in the shade of the pavilion. Peter Richardson was back in the pavillion very shortly before his abdominal guard problems became a burning issue (N.B. Boxer shorts are not suitable replacements for jock-straps) bowled for nought by Housder the first of his four wickets. Chris (Dave Middle's Brother-in-law) managed to hold his end up whilst Phil James and then Dave Middle fell for five apiece, thus negating their side-bet on who would score most. This side-betting is a deplorable hobby, causing Exile to cheer the demise of fellow Exile. The good thing is that to date no one has profitted as Dave and Phil always do equally poorly on these occasions. Chris became the last of Housder's victims on 18 and Stephen Brown and Effie safely saw out the last few overs out for 8* and 11* leaving No.11 Paul Shorrock all padded up with nowhere to go.
As ever tea was as good as a cricket tea gets (big thanks to Mrs. Middle) and was taken in the swanky new extension to the pavillion overlooking the pristine Bowling Green, a product of a Lottery grant, good to see all our losing tickets being put to good use. If my next £100 worth of tickets go towards putting a little bit of life in the wicket I'll be a happy punter. As it transpires no ball from Paul Shorrock's opening overs got above knee height, and most were on their second bounce at least by the time they reached Dave, back in the gloves after a lay off for injury. However the batsmen had even more trouble than Dave dealing with these "daisy-cutters", and with Effie bowling downhill with the wind the breakthrough came in the second over; Hall played one to square leg and called for a quick single whereupon Faizal threw down the wicket at the batsman's end with a direct hit that had C. Nower back in the pavilion run out for nought. Hall and Childs then progressed like men in a minefield and by the change of bowling in the eleventh over had reached 23 without further loss, the starting run rate required having climbed from 5.4 to 6.7. Eleven overs of accurate but unspectacular seam bowling had put out the fire of the Balsham response, The Exiles were then able to "hose down" the embers with a variety of bowlers. Wayne bowled in tandem with Phil James who finished with respectable figures of 5 overs 1 maiden 0 wickets for 13, although he was not alone in feeling he had been "robbed" of a wicket when a chipped catch to silly mid on was deemed a "bump-ball". Wayne bowled his eight overs off the reel to finish with 2 for 38. Faizal replaced Phil and produced nip off a short run and winkled out both top-scorers, Childs (17) and Housder(38) both bowled. Keith kept his bowling arm in form with four economical overs without luck until it was time for the openers to return and have their last word. Shorrock struck twice in two balls first over back but couldn't convert the hat-trick, the fifth ball of the over was then edged short of slip for four. Effie bowled Saunders (15) and then Shorrock caused the limping Clarkson (who had batted with a runner after pulling a groin muscle) to play on. Off spin was then the order of the as Williams, the most junior member of the side, strode out to attempt to score nearly 100 off 3 overs. Effie snapped him up first ball to seal the win by 95 runs.

Next week we meet the bizarrely named "New Barbarian Weasels" for the first time. Captain/Fixtures Secreatry Tony Brook is on a beach in Sicily and has not passed on any contact numbers, so any friend of the Weasels reading this before Aug 23 please email me with a point of contact!

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