This game was canceled by the groundsman due to a waterlogged pitch after four days of heavy rain.
"Ne'er cast a clout till May is out!" wise old colloquials
used to advise (Meaning "don't go out without a coat until June"
to our young cosmopolitan readers). Many Exiles were tempted to "Clout"
Keith Marchbank today when for the second week running he
managed to leave the team kit bag locked in the boot of his car which was
having its 2,000,000 mile service, at a far flung garage that was closed
for Sunday. The kit bag contained such useful items as the stumps and bails,
scorebook, the wicket keepers gloves, the pads and bats and the boundary
markers. To forget it once could (almost) be forgiven, but twice smacks
of brain death. The inconvenience was heightened by the fact that MGN are
a scratch side raised specifically for this fixture and as such do not have
any kit of their own to speak of! Frantic phonecalls went out to track down
the essentials. To cut short on the expletives we eventually managed to
find five stumps. I supplied the sixth by taping together the two halves
of the broken stump I have held as a trophy since 1990 when I splintered
it to take the wicket of the BCC's "Mad" Barry Wright! Still no
wicket keepers gloves and phonecalls to the Oval to see if the Stac shop
was open were met by a sophisticated but useless answering service. We decided
to trust in providence and hope that Keith could manage to schmooze a pair
from any other team that might be stupid enough to entrust him with an expensive
and essential piece of kit. Some improvised boundary markers made from chopsticks
and postcards (I kid you not) were strung out "too far" in the
long grass and the toss was won and out we went to field in a force nine
gale, the theory being it would be over more quickly that way.
I was given the honour of opening proceedings with the wind behind me and would have had two early wickets if a) the umpire was less economical with the truth and b) Kieth had managed to hold onto a straightforward chance in his borrowed gloves (Big Thanks to Unnamed Doner Team!) He had three bites at the cherry before falling flat on his face and spilling it. As it was, all I got for my opening burst was very wet and cold and VERY ANGRY! Keith was now off the bottom of the chart in terms of popularity and I haven't even mentioned the byes. To add to the ambience assorted Footballers and their families kept trooping accross the outfield until about 4.00pm when every last one of them made a beeline for the changing rooms which meant a crowd of about fifty in a line from long on to backwards point.
What had been penned as a friendly social game was fast deteriorating into an outward bound survival course as the elements redoubled their efforts, Hockey goals were blown over. The productive Canada Geese that colonised the outfield were thinking about heading South again and we were continually buzzed by two sinister Blackhawk Helicopters, interspersed with low-flying airliners on the approach to Heathrow. This was about as far from the ideal game we dreamt about in February as it is possible to imagine. The cricket became an obstacle to clear before we could all get indoors somewhere warm and dry. When Phil James finally got himself on the field he replaced the wicketless Waseem who had had two catches dropped off his bowling. Continuing in his productive vein he got four wickets for eight runs in his seven overs. The rest is a blur of driving rain, shoddy fielding, some very poor bowling from Chris Cheshire to open his '96 campaign, a wacky cameo from Peter "Racky" Richardson, until it is the final six overs and it is my turn into the wind. I managed to get a couple of wickets including one of those elusive L.B.W.'s. Waseem went empty handed on the wicket front. The scorching days of '95 when all he had to do was bowl to get a "Bag'o'five" seemed long gone though he is bowling just as well. This year it is Phil's turn with the "Magic Arm", if he continues at this rate he will jeopardize Waseem's record of 52 wickets in the season. Has he got the stamina? Do bears use toilet paper!!
The highpoint of the day was undoubtably the "Tea" with gourmet sandwiches, a mini Bar-B-Q-cum-Brazier and a surplus of cakes! Well done Guy Sneesby and the other chap.
Tea break over, time to go out and get the 92 runs needed for victory. I don't think any Exile doubted we could get them. The only uncertainty was "will it snow?". Maybe "Can Nick Coleman get the 16+ runs needed for a 100+ average?" was nearer the front of those minds not entering cryogenesis. When Guy was bowled off his pads after seeing off most of the one quality bowler the stage was set. Nick lasted two balls before playing back and around a straight one that hit middle stump half way up. He paused to peer incredulously at his rearranged castle as if it had spoken to him. Regular readers with a grasp of mathematics will know already that that leaves him top of the averages on 84. Andy Brook then got matters moving with some mighty and effective hitting against some "Buffet-bowling" from the MGN captain and others who didn't possess cricket jumpers and probably now have no desire to. Sean O'Connor came out of his shell and found the distant boundary several times before spooning a tame catch to cover point. Then Andy played a wild pull shot at a long-hop that arrived in the second post way after the stroke and fell spent onto his stumps, top scoring with 35. "Racky" Richardson departed in embarassing fashion to the next ball chasing a very wide one that had pitched in the bowlers half and rolled most of the way to the edge of the strip, only managing to get an inside edge with such precision that it cannoned into middle stump! All day in the cold and rain for a "Golden Duck", what a way to spend a Sunday. This was perhaps the lowest point in terms of technique for the Exiles batsmen, but by then it was all over and Wayne came to help nurse Keith to another not out innings. And the players all ran for the sanctuary of the changing rooms, glad it was all over and having enjoyed it not at all. I don't expect a massive wave of enthusiasm to repeat this fixture next year. Barn Elms Sports ground didn't win too many admirers either, maybe it will be better with a little sunshine and no bloody footballers. Keith got away as quickly as possible before a lynching posse could be mustered. Tune in next week to see RETURN OF THE KITBAG!
Yesterday saw the Exiles begin their '96 campaign in earnest (well Eltham actually) with an away win by eight wickets against Nuxley CC. A cold and windy day saw the Exiles lose the toss and be asked to bowl on a flat wicket set in a field still scarred by the recent Rugby season. Inspite of some rusty fielding in parts Nuxley were restricted to slow progress especially against the bowling of your host Paul Shorrock who bowled three maiden overs off the reel and was eventualy got away for a single in his fourth over. Making good use of the new ball and a little early life in the wicket he passed the bat many times and was unlucky not to find the edge. The new captain Waseem opened at the other end and took a little longer to settle into his rhythm, Nuxley's Martin Jones being particularly harsh on anything short or overpitched. The Exiles were reliant on their second string bowlers to keep control and Phillip James was the pick; bowling eight overs of tight slow medium for figures of 1 for 14. Keith Marchbank and Steve Parsons also advanced their claim as alrounders picking up three wickets between them as Nuxley tried to force the pace. It could have been more when Guy Sneesby dropped a catch at point that couldn't have been any easier if his Mother had tossed it to him! He later redeemed himself by running out Jones with a direct hit to the non-strikers end in a fashion that shows he may one day be a star in the Crown Green Bowling circuit! It was a vital breakthrough as Jones was well settled and looking to go on to big things. Nuxley always seemed to be a little behind the clock and didn't make good use of the wickets in hand, their running between the wickets was casual enough for the Exiles to sit deep in the field and not concede too many singles.
When Paul and Waseem returned for the last eight overs the score was around 110 for 5 and Nuxley were set for the charge. It never really materialised inspite of Kieth Duncan's (?) repeated hits through the offside. Both bowlers hit the stumps once and Nuxley scrambled to 149 for 7 at the half way mark.
After tea the light deteriorated and the wind seemed much colder than when we were in the field. Guy and Sean O'Connor our New Zealand debutant opened the innings at first the going was slow and Nuxley must have been confident when Sneesby fell; pulling at a short ball that didn't bounce as high as he hoped and bowled him for 5 with the score at 12 in the sixth over. Their optimism was shortlived however as Nick Coleman and Sean then shared a century partnership. Coleman reached his Fifty first and soon O'Connor was on 49. He struck out at a good length ball on the rise as if he wanted his fifty to come up in Caribbean style but lofted it and was well taken at extra cover. He was surprised to learn that he was so close to the landmark but took it in the good humour of a man who knows he will pass this way again soon. Coleman was joined by Andy Brook, looking out of place in his Goan suntan, and seemingly out of touch with his first few nervous swipes. The field was brought in for him, the first time I can remember that happening as he it is his usual intention to hit any ball out of the ground that he can reach! Gradually he started to find the ball in the gloom as Coleman's rate and enthusiasm declined with the light. The Exiles felt their way home in the dusk without further loss and with nine balls to spare. Nick Coleman finishing with 71* and Andy Brook on 17*. Inspite of the margin of victory this was in no way a mismatch and I'm sure Nuxley will come back hard when we meet them at Barnes in June as they did last year in Wimbledon when they beat us.
This match was remarkable also for the fact that Exiles for once were keen to take on Umpiring duties as that meant a chance to put on an extra layer of clothing! As we returned west the sun revealed itself, an orange orb against a purple horizon, the sky painted in Exiles colours! "Bloody pollution" remarked Andy Brook as his twenty year old Triumph Herald spluttered along the South Circular.
In typical fashion the Monday following has been glorious warm sunshine, but the Exiles have proved that they are not merely fair-weather cricketers. I'm sure that warmer coats will be in evidence for next weeks fixture against Watermill, the Pub team from Burgess Hill whom we usually play in an August heatwave. Be sure to log-on next week when Tony Brook will be back from the West Indies to try to pass his Top score for this fixture which currently stands at 1 run! And see if I can get throuh the game without being hit onto the pavillion for a straight six as has happened the last two times! Maybe I will bowl from the other end, that will make it much harder!
Until then Sports Fans!
Monday 29 April 1996
Yesterday the Exiles tried out their new home pitch, at Barn Elms, for size. A single wicket competition was held. Thirteen members took part, the winner was Steve Parsons, a childrens' TV presenter/director, the oldest man on the field. He beat Irfan "Effie" Usman in the final. Just because Keith Marchbank let through four byes in the last over has nothing to do with the fact that he stood to gain £26 in the sweepstake if Steve won! Keith had already shocked everyone present by actually holding onto a catch earlier in the day. It remains to be seen if he has turned the corner in his fielding or if he was just getting his one catch for the season out of the way as soon as possible.
Watch this space!
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