Once again hopelessly optimistic estimates of how long it will take to
get eleven Exiles from A to B meant that only the vanguard had arrived at
anything like the allotted time. Excuses about delays on the A3 were a bit
weak when all of the Occasionals had made it on time. We had no option but
to bat first so Kieth Marchbank and James Booth padded up as more Exiles
pulled into the car park. If there is one thing you need to know about Dunsfold
is that if you win the toss you bowl first. The wicket has moisture retaining
qualities that could revolutionise disposable nappie technology, but always
seems to settle down after the sun and wind have played their part. We have
seen it before, we should have known. Unfortunately we were denied the chance
of a toss. A radical solution may have been to toss anyway and field with
four men until reinforcements arrived had we won!
If I tell you that the first runs came off the bat in the seventh over from the number five batsman it will give you some idea whilst allowing me to draw a veil over the fate of the occupants of the first car to arrive! With the aid of some thick-skinned umpiring Sean O'Connor managed to survive until scoring his first run in the eleventh over (big ironic cheers from Occasionals!) and with Steve Parsons began to drag us out of the mire. Once again Steve looked a class above any of his teammates with the bat, being able to apply a batsman's brain to the problem of low bounce and movement through the air and off the seam. He restricted his shots and played straight down the line. Sean finally fell lbw to a straight one from Nick Fennwiggan that he failed to get forward to, which was understandable as it was well short of a length and kept low. John Morgan fell to a similar delivery in the same over although he was aiming to swipe it over midwicket for six to open his account. Phil James took the square route for four off his first ball, missed the second and was bowled third, "Bish-bash-bosh!" as he often says about everything. The rest of the tail did little to support Steve although Waseem stuck around gamely before Steve holed out to as he wisely tried to take any chances that came along. Steve scored 44 out of 92 with extras the next best.
It was unlikely to be enough on this small ground made smaller by a marquee pitched on the square boundary to accomodate the crowds who would turn out on Sunday to watch a team of former England players including Derek Underwood, John Snow, Pat Pocock and other familiar names. We could have done with their experience as we set about bowling out the Occasionals.
Attack was the only option open for the Exiles so Richard Strange's edges past slip brought him early runs and a dropped chance by John Morgan in the Keeper's gloves for a change, but Gary Heaton soon had him clean bowled before he could profit further. This brought Will Buckland to the crease, the hardest hitter I have ever seen, in his last game of Cricket before leaving for the USA for a year (although he does have a fixture in Brooklyn lined up next week!). Normally he bats down the order in a very carefree manner but as a treat he was allowed the coveted No.3 slot and batted appropriately. Having witnessed his monumental straight driving both Gary and Paul Shorrock maintained a tight line and length. When the other opener was bowled by Gary the Occcasionals were actually a little behind the rate but hardly in any position to panic. Buckland was kept fairly quiet for him and the Australian No.4 was prepared just to keep his end up. Both were beaten outside off stump as the bowl continued to swing and seam so the openers completed their quota in the hope of further breakthroughs, but none came. Waseem and Steve Parsons were the change bowlers and Buckland accelerated towards his fifty then soon after drilled Parsons to long-off, where Gary made neat work of the catch. Phil was gifted an lbw decision in a piece of "ironic" umpiring by Strange after a better shout was refused and a catch had been dropped in the same over.
Shorrock allowed a hard catch through his hands at deepish mid-on off Waseem. By then it was almost all over. Andy Brook made to leave the field when the scores were level, but the next ball went straight back past the bowler for four, Occasionals win by six wickets.
A brief beer match was proposed and a majority were in favour but the result was no better for the Exiles. Everyone bowling an over each, spinners bowling "pace" and vice versa. The most notable event being Tony Brook being bowled first ball by Wicket Keeper Steve Sorba in his first return to the crease since his back injury. He will be under the Surgeon's knife later this week!
Only Victor Trumper left on our fixture list now. A loss against them would mean three in a row to finish the season so we will be doing our best not to allow that!
After last weeks travel problems it was good to see everyone arrive safely
at the University College ground in plenty of time, in spite of Bank Holiday
weekend traffic. Typical Bank Holiday weather arrived just before us and
a damp pitch awaited. Waseem now has the hang of winning the toss and elected
to bowl hoping that the drying pitch would aid the Exiles seam-dominated
line-up. To begin with it did, Shorrock striking early with a yorker in
a controlled spell of 4 overs 3 runs for 1. Gary Heaton speared the ball
in at leg stump without breaking through. Waseem brought himself on and
immediately regretted it as the rain came again and he struggled to gain
control of the slippy ball, being no-balled for a beamer, hit for three
boundaries but getting a consolation wicket all in the first over! Shortly
after the players left the field for twenty minutes until the shower passed.
Keith Marchbank bowled from the pavillion end without success, having a
catch dropped off a full toss.
More control came with the introduction of Wayne Holder's inswingers, but he was punished when he dropped short on what had become a very slow pitch. Waseem struggled on and was rewarded with a couple more wickets including a catch by Shorrock at deepish Mid-on to remove their top scorer for 38 just as looked to take the game out of reach with his fluent cover drives. Thereafter the batting was more ordinary and the return of Steve Howard, a founder-member back in the team to make up the numbers, bowling his loopy leg-breaks soon had the lower order in disarray, just like the good old days! Two bowled, a catch and a caught and bowled pegged the Players back. Wayne Holder applied the coup de grace with an l.b.w. decision that failed to take into account the large amount of bat involved! Oxford University Players all out for 125 with another ten overs unused.
The Exiles were quietly confident at tea, which may have been slightly dented with the news of two former County Colts (Yorkshire & Essex!) amongst the line-up. Sean O'Connor and Guy Sneesby saw off the first spell by the aforementioned Colts with a mixture of sound defence and good luck as the ball repeatedly beat the edge. Unfortunately the Australian who replaced the Yorkshireman at the Pavillion end was in better luck and soon ripped through Sneesby. O'Connor punished the fourth bowlers short delivery with a brutal hit to long-on but attempting a repeat was bowled to one that kept low as you might expect on a rain affected pitch. Holder promoted to number 3 after recent good form failed to settle in on this wicket and was the next victim to the Australian. James Booth the author of this fixture with his alma mater came in with his old school cap and seemed at home but went rather softly cutting the ball gently to gully for 6. Dave Middle came next and looked okay until hit twice on the same foot, after then he just hit out, sucessfully beating the onside field until the gap was plugged and he holed out, and rushed to the pavillion to apply some "magic spray". The Exiles were now looking very wobbly and the chance of failing to pass our lowest total (42) was looking like a possibility. Keith Marchbank continued in his poor recent form although he often does well on slow wickets, his only run was a dodgy single called by Shorrock who also only managed one before becoming the Australian's fourth victim. Gary Heaton didn't last long either and the game was definately in the bag for the Players at 55 for 9. Some spirited last wicket batting between Waseem and Steve Howard saw the Exiles to the 66 before Waseem was bowled.
A stern examination of the Exiles batting by Oxford University Players had revealed some deep flaws. In their defence the pitch was never going to be easy to bat on and perhaps too many runs were given away in the field with wayward bowling. The bulk of the Players' bowling was a class above what we are used to and we failed to raise our game with the bat. Hopefully the Occasionals bowling will seem easier in comparison.
Another scorcher just when you thought summer was finished! Our reduced
band of Exiles, depleted by the first day of the football season ( yes this
means YOU Dave "Vice Captain" Middle!) struggled through chaotic
traffic to the Gas Board ground at Acton, all arriving simoultaneously in
spite of the variety of routes tried. Unfortunately we were half an hour
late for the start apart from Gary Heaton and John Morgan who made their
own way. Red Star were suitably annoyed but felt that poetic justice was
done when early wickets fell in a mixture of rash shots and dubious umpiring
decisions (SORRY GUY!) and the Exiles were a little car sick at 40 for 4.
Fortunately Steve Parsons was a good traveller and settled a few nerves
with a glorious cover drive for four to open his account. The sort of shot
that makes a bowlers bowels loosen! If anything his strokeplay improved
thereafter. It was the sort of batting you would happily pay to see. Our
younger readers wouldn't recognise the Children's TV presenter without his
greasepaint. Tune into "Play Days" on a Wednesday afternoon to
see him in his day job! He soon overtook Wayne who was content to subsist
on a diet of easy singles whilst Parsons plundered the top table. The Panda's
bowling was relient on guile rather than brawn, rarely getting above slow
medium and was made to look decidedly poor for the remainder. Parsons raced
to fifty, then a century partnership, and Wayne was soon on 49 and the bench
got themselves primed to clap when he charged the slow left armer and was
stumped. He took it in good humour and, as the last few over charge was
on, he was forgiven for letting the "All Rounders" have a go.
Steve felt lost without his soulmate and fell on 88. Waseem Khan hit a clean
six over square leg (his first for the Exiles) Gary Heaton was slow in setting
off for a single he should have anticipated (being clairvoyant) and was
run out, leaving about nine balls for Waseem and Paul Shorrock to make the
extra ten runs needed to break the 200 for the first time this season. Shorrock's
back foot drive/cut/slog to the extra cover boundary off the last ball was
stopped on the line but the three runs took the total to a mighty 201 for
7 from 35 overs.
The Panda's started briskly, employing the modish "pinch hitter" strategy, and he sucessfully edged past slip and over gully before Shorrock removed his off bail as he backed away. Shorrock also bowled the legitimate opener in his fourth over, and when Gary Heaton got number three edging onto leg stump the wind went from their sails. Phil James bowled a full toss which evaded a greedy swing to hit off stump and shortly after missed a return catch on account of being asleep at his post. Waseem got stuck in right away with a first ball wicket, and soon added another three, the last of which was a good catch by Parsons at cover to round off his day nicely. Phil then strangled the number ten with a ball that seemed to wedge itself between the batsman's thighs before dropping and rolling back onto his leg stump with just sufficient force to remove a bail. Phil's "Cork-like" celebration was more to do with the fact that he thought had won a side bet with yours truly regarding better strike rates. He overlooked the wide he bowled that gave him a rate of 15.5 to my 15 dead! He had to buy me a beer!
With the last pair at the wicket and 140 needed for victory Waseem felt relaxed enough to offer the ball to part-timer Guy Sneesby who did nothing to excite any passing England Selectors, but Andy "I once bowled a maiden over" Brook (brother of the injured Tony) struck first ball to finish with figures of 0.1 overs 0 runs 1 wicket and call an end to proceedings. Exiles win by 130 runs, our second largest margin of the season.
Ten late Exiles beat eleven angry Panda's!
Irfhan "Effie" Usman was the man of the moment blasting 29*
from 10 deliveries to grab victory with three balls to spare from The Tilamanstone
Ravens, in this annual goodwill fixture organised by Douglas Smith of Westminster
Advisers Ltd. our sponsors. The Ravens were set for the charge at 102 for
2 with about forty five minutes to tea, but thanks to a dogged spell from
David "Desperate Dan" Dare formerly of SussexCCC 2ndXI of 6 for
17 the rug was pulled from under their feet, vital contributions from George
at the other end saw the last wicket fall in the over before tea. The Ravens
fought back hard and progress was slow, the over rate being above six when
the last 20 overs started and still creeping upwards as some excellent fielding
kept the Hoppers pinned down. When Effie got to the crease at seven wickets
down it was all or nothing time with 33 needed and three overs left, this
is ideal for him."Effie plays his shots" he often says about himself
in the third person a la Viv Richards. He almost gave Captain John a heart
attack making him scramble twos with a bad ankle but he managed to farm
the strike and hit five boundaries including a six past the eight boundary
fielders, the last over went 4,4,3 . A glorious triumph for the scratch
team with three balls to spare. The Exiles hopefully doing enough to secure
Doug's valuable support for another year!
Captain Waseem Khan started the day well by winning the toss (for only
the second time this season) and electing to bat. Sean Connor and James
Booth (36) opened the innings, accompanied by the rhythmic strains of the
Moscow State Circus floating across from a nearby field. The pair initially
struggled on a slow, popping pitch, but did manage to stick around for the
first 15 overs and create a solid platform. The opposition bowled accurately,
but with little penetration; when wickets did fall, it was either down to
over-ambitious hitting or untimely lapses into Russian folk-dance. Coming
in at number six Wayne Holder blasted a very swift 43, and facilitated the
healthy total of 179 in 40 overs.
Gary Eaton and Waseem opened Exiles attack. They bowled with pace and penetration, but without luck; catches lobbed into open space and the ball regularly raced past the edge. After the first wicket fell, Wayne and Phil James were brought on, and they soon ripped through a mediocre batting line-up. Overall, Exiles fielded quite well; special mention must go to Keith ; his human-shield at silly mid on nearly brought about an interesting deflected catch. Behind the stumps, Tom had an very acrobatic day and no byes were conceded. The end of play was, appropriately, brought about by the Man of the Match , Wayne, who took a catch at square leg off Steve's bowling.
In summary, a very solid performance and a convincing win. Perhaps we should approach the Russian Embassy to see if the circus could serenade us every week?
On a perfect summers day our happy band of exiles turned up to play cricket.
The sum of our ambition, a good game. Sadly our oppositions horizons were
a deal lower, not losing being their only objective. Bearing in mind it
takes two to tango, we looked mildly ridiculous dancing around on our own,
whilst the College looked sullenly on, always the bridesmaid. So let's ignore
the killjoys and concentrate on a really interesting subject - us.
What other team turns up with an Alfa Romeo (Nick), an Austin Healey (Phil), a photographer, a bad luck charm (Jane) and a good luck charm (Chantal). We were great. We had our pictures taken with and without the Alfa, we batted well, fielded well and bowled well. But most importantly, we were very funny.
On the batting front, on a notoriously tempramental pitch, an excellent and spritely opening partnership was formed between James and Peter H. James in the form of his life with his lucky charm watching was bound to do well. The skill, common sense and style shown by Peter H was not necessarily expected in his first match of the season. He can be very pleased with his performance. Other surprises came in the tenacious and later expansive form of Tom 'running behind schedule' Mc Laughlin and Gary 'I know what's going to happen' Heaton. Tom started off in Boycottian watchfullness and gradually flourished into Gowerian effusiveness. Gary however started out scratchier than a dog with an itch. Guy 'skipper for the day' Sneesby decided it was time for a word in his shell like. Whatever he said did the trick, abley supported by Keith who ran his heart out, Gary went turbo charged. His 50 got a standing ovation. What should have been a
single off the next to last ball turned into a two by a David Westover fumble. What could be sweeter.
Enough of the surprises, the foregone conclusions were that Nick with an Alfa, Jane and a photographer, would get a small score. That's just about as much luck as a guy gets in a 24hour period. Guy, as skip, and desperate to do well against the auld enemy was also bound to be disappointed although he had the pleasure of watching his team totally outplay the oppo. Andy was bound to whack a huge six among other lusty blows (Andy practically owns that phrase) before departing.
The bowlers had some fun before the shutters were put up. Waseem bounded in full of zest. Chris trundled in to good effect, Phil kind of trundled sort of walked in Phil Defreitas as spinner mode.
After the game James and Peter sportingly imbibed with the College. Meanwhile the rest of us snubbed the miserable buggers and played killer in the other pub. Guy won. How we laughed. 189 for 6 v 102 for 5. Mohammed Ali v Richard Dunne
P.S. FREE THE PETER HOLLOWAY ONE!
I am glad to report that not only did the Exiles manage to field a full
eleven this Sunday, and as well balanced a team as possible, but the Ground
staff managed to produce a wicket worthy of the name. On a day of high humidity
the strip looked greener than a very green thing, but it also looked as
though it may hold together and so for the first time this season Waseem
won the toss and elected to bat, much to the surprise of Ealing Park. Their
enthusiasm did not infect the wicket keeper who eventually made the field
in the third over, and took five further minutes to get his gloves on. At
the end of that over he took another five minutes to roll his sleeves up
and replace the gloves. All this gave the Exiles openers Guy Sneesby and
Sean Connor time to settle in and get used to the pitch which was turning
out to be a sheep in wolf's clothing. Darryl, the young left arm seamer
charged in from the far end cursing his luck whenever the batsman didn't
play a shot, or played it from the middle of the bat, of caressed it through
extra cover for four. He at least seemed to believe he was always on the
brink of a wicket. His fellow opener Brenton also mixed enthusiasm with
profanely expressed disappointment and did on occasion beat the bat when,
against his nature, he pitched the ball up. The Ealing Park team took in
good humour some poor fielding, and their verbosity was never ill-tempered.
Many teams not a million miles from this page could do well to follow their
All in all, with an opening partnership building, the Exiles were beginning to feel comfortable in their new home for the first time. They even managed to pass their lowest total for the season before the first wicket fell when Sneesby felt compelled to strike out violently at a straight one and was bowled "through the gate". After advising the incoming bat James Booth to hold it steady Sean Connor immediately mistimed a pull shot, the top edge giving the delighted bowler a gentle return catch.
The young openers were both rested after seven apiece, and Keith after a few clunky strokes,( the best a forcing shot off the back foot to the cover boundary) gifted his wicket when stumped down the legside. It seemed that the wicket keeper had finally woken up! This brought Nick Coleman to the wicket, a man known for his phobia of the colour green, but who soon began to put down roots himself as the crucial partnership of the game began to flourish. The anachronistic Booth in flapping pads, wool flannels and hooped cap, did his best to uphold the virtues of the "old school" as he sent young men in shorts and sunglasses to chase his correctly struck offerings. Coleman preferred to glance and edge his way unless offered a juicy full toss. They were aided by some very strange fielding positions, even when the Captain himself was bowling his spell of nine overs (the maximum was eight!). He may have regretted his overtime when Booth struck him over the cover boundary for the only six of the game. This took Booth to the brink of his first Fifty this season, in the presence of his wife (the chocolate guru Chantal Coady). We should encourage more Wives and Girlfriends, they often seems to inspire a crucial performance. Maybe the struggles Keith has experienced recently are due to the absence of the formerly ubiquitous Julie, now his fiancé?
Booth reached his milestone and was out in the same over. Soon after Coleman fell giving himself room to cut a straight one and missing it, perhaps it was symptomatic of how comfortable he felt on this wicket for once. By now The Exiles were well on the way to a commanding total, and the push was on. The Ealing Park fielders spread themselves evenly around the boundary, only two men saving the single, so John Morgan and Wayne Holder had to apply a lot of long handle for a succession of singles. Seldom can an Exile have struck the ball so hard, so often for as little reward as Wayne did. When he was stumped it was left to Phil James to add his Ha'penneth as he strolled through the last over, turning twos into singles until the total reached a dizzy 186. The highest so far this year, and the first past 100 on this pitch.
Over tea Ealing Park were making optimistic noises of how it was a reasonable total and were quietly confident of the ability of their batsmanship on what they saw as a very good pitch. Waseem decided to adopt an attacking field as is his wont. So I opened the attack with two Slips, Gully, Silly mid on and off, no Third man and only Gary Heaton on the long leg boundary. Brenton was the opener with the bat as well, hoping to do better, having finished wicketless with the ball. My fourth ball was of full length, Brenton pinned back his ears and gave it the full-treatment towards extra cover, I whipped my head round just in time to see a grinning Wayne Holder take it at arms length, one handed, you beaut! I was glad I asked him to go a little wider at the start of the over. Brenton sloped off using up all the epithets he had used earlier but now with real venom, he threw his bat without a hint of irony when he got back in the shade. Ealing Park 0 for 1. Gary Heaton struck in his first over too, clean bowling Darryl. Then in the next over I had the remaining opener l.b.w. to a swinging full-toss that he tried to avoid but didn't play at, bang in front. Gary's soon snapped up two wickets in two balls, both bowled. Ealing Park all but out at 8 for 5. The Captain came to the crease hoping to steady the ship but in Gary's sixth over he had the wicket keeper bowled round his legs to give him his fifth wicket, all bowled. Normally that would have meant a jug of beer at Gary's expense, but as he is a struggling astrologer and doesn't know where his next pay packet is coming from (!) we let him off. His final figures were an impressive 6 Overs 5 Wickets for 12 Runs.
By now Ealing Park were getting towards the end of the recognised batsmen, and when one managed to get the ball away to the boundary it was enough to bring whistles and cheers from their team-mates and supporters, fit for a century. The ship was sinking and the band played Carnival music. Phil James replaced Gary and Waseem took over from myself. Phil struck first, an easy catch lobbed up to mid-on. Then Waseem clean bowled their Captain, Trevor. Waseem was below par and took several overs to dislodge the last man who repeatedly swung and missed at balls outside off stump when a straight one would have done it, but finally he managed it and the catch went on the loop to Booth at Gully.
Ealing Park all out for 49, a crushing win for the Exiles by 137runs. This result should make it easier to get a team out in the coming weeks. The Exiles' "feel good factor" is on a high!
This game was too similar to our tragic defeat at the hands of Nuxley
a fortnight ago for comfort. The Strongroom had done a good job of gathering
a team on the day when England were playing Spain at Football. They managed
nine men to our ten members. Their lineup included a wicketkeeper called
Leroy who is a soap star from "East Enders" apparently and a left
hand bat/ right hand bowler called Ally(?) who turned out to be a star in
his own right.
Waseem lost the toss again and we were sent out to field again.Things started well enough with a third ball wicket for yours truly and the other opener, Leroy, well yorked in my fourth over. I also bowled a fast off-break ( leg break to the left hander) that trapped Ally's finger and may have been caught if Phil James had been at all interested at short midwicket. In any event it made him fetch his helmet which should have told us that this man was a little more serious than the average Strongroom player. Gary Heaton was playing his first game of the season and took some time to get used to his new surroundings. He has just got back from Russia so it is entirely possible that he is a bit short of vitamins at the moment. He remained wicketless, as did Wayne Holder who replaced me at the sprinkler end and bowled seven luckless overs for 32. Captain Waseem Khan however began to run into some form. You could see him get better as each of his four wickets came, including the helmeted Ally, bowled leg stump after Nick Coleman pointed out that he was weak off his legs. He had scored over half of Strongroom's runs at that point. Waseem's figures of 4 for 17 from eight overs show a return to his old form and double his haul of wickets so far this year. Phil James was finally wheeled into the attack to clean up the tail. Waseem had held him back for trying to drop out on the morning of the game and being all round miserable and moaning. His mood was lifted slightly when he picked up both tailenders cheaply to finish with figures of 2 for 2 without breaking sweat. Strongroom all out for 92, a sporting total on this pitch with added random factor.
Throughout the afternoon we could see the groundsman busying himself on nearby pitches with sprinklers and mowers and a very solid looking motorised roller was parked nearby. It is difficult to comprehend how with all this equipment and time he manages to produce such terrible wickets. No innings has reached three figures here this season and no team has lasted forty overs. Bounce is as variable as it is possible to be, it is perhaps fortunate that the pace is deadly slow otherwise many more injuries would have occurred by now. It is probably a sensible precaution for the Groundsman to keep his "Pit Bull Type" dog nearby! It is certain in my mind that we will not be playing here again next season. We still have five more games here to endure.
Lunch was taken huddled around a transistor radio as England v Spain ran into extra time. When play resumed the Exiles were fully aware that caution would be a priority and no repeat of the "cavalry charge over the cliff" against Nuxley should occur. In fact it turned out to be more of an infantry advance into a minefield! Before the real demons got up to bite the Exiles Guy Sneesby was given out lbw by Gary "Trigger" Heaton, hit on the full on the foot a good four feet in front of the crease. Gary's umpiring is like Russian roulette with an automatic! He was replaced at the earliest opportunity before he could do any more damage. At least Guy could then listen to the penalty shoot out that we in the middle only followed by the cheers, he didn't see it quite like that and had there been a pavillion door available it would have been slammed.
Then the pitch got in on the action and long hops became deadly off breaks, half volleys bounced extravagantly and short length balls shot along the floor. Wickets fell as bails flew, maybe the Exiles were not always as far forward as they should have been, but Ally was bowling with real pace and Mick with real variation. Only Keith and Nick reached double figures with 10 and 37 respectively. Seven of the nine wickets were bowled, one caught at the wicket and the "lbw" already mentioned. Only three ducks this week so a slight improvement there. The score was 68 for seven when I joined Nick Coleman and although it was looking shaky, 13 runs from the next over brought the total much nearer and I felt much more confident after swinging a full toss away to the fine leg boundary for my first runs of the season that actually count (Leaving aside the "Beer Match" against Watermill). That was the end of the over and Nick was bowled first ball of the next one from Ally, playing a rather loose back foot shot. This brought Waseem to the crease, time to play a Captains' innings. Unfortunately Waseem is not that sort of Captain and went bowled first ball still unable to trouble the scorers. Ally the hero! Exiles all out for 81, still 12 runs short of a victory that should have been a formality. In spite of starting a little late it was all over by 6pm. This is the first time that Strongroom/BCC have beaten the Exiles for about four seasons a pity for them that there weren't more of the old timers around to savour the moment.
Next week sees us at home again (Hurrah!...not) against Red Star Pandemonium for an early start so as to finish in time to watch the Euro '96 Final if the groundsman wil let us start early. He may be busy rubbing itching powder into the wickets!
Another glorious "glad to be alive" summers day for today's
fixture against the idiosyncratic "Trumpers", some of who also
turn out for The Brown Bears and The Paper Tigers. They have in the past
had a reputation for grumpiness amongst themselves based on the fractured
loyalties and chain-of-command that result from their multiple personae.
However today they were all happy as clams.
The Pitch was firm and straw coloured if not a little ridged and still bore some extra white lines from a recent Hockey tournament. It is a strange fact that although we often see the markings and goalposts of Hockey pitches I have never seen a game in progress, not even from a speeding train. Football on the other hand is omnipresent at the moment and the Exiles pre-match warm up consisted entirely of kicking a football around for a bit. Some of the "Trumpers" preferred to drink red wine from the bottle to loosen-up, chacun a son gout! I just marked out a run up from the downhill side, not wanting to struggle uphill in the heat! Waseem had lost the toss yet again and predictably we were asked to field.
The Trumper's star player is the red-bearded Miles, a hard hitting batsman who likes to dominate, their opening bowler and one of the few who can hold a catch! The other opener went for a duck, chipping Phil James' third ball to Keith at short midwicket who fell to his knees to take it in front of his chest like a monk at prayer, the easiest of catches. This brought their hard drinking number three to the wicket.
Miles went down on one knee to pull my first ball for four through square leg, then I got a couple past his outside edge and one he had to fend off his chest before he lent back to cut my last delivery for four through point where it narrowly missed Steve Parsons who can count himself lucky not to have been in the way. You know you are in a game of cricket when you are bowling at Miles! In spite of some confident shouts for l.b.w. from Phil James and with the connivance of some less than sparkling fielding Miles thrashed his way to fifty. Wayne Holder did a good job of containment with his inswingers denying Miles the width he thrives on. Even so after 20 overs the Trumpers were well poised on 102 for 2. Steve Parsons made the crucial breakthrough when Miles skied one to long off where the reborn Keith ran in to hold a marvellous catch. The remaining Trumper batsmen were of a more ordinary quality and the Exile's fielding seemed to be rejuvenated. Almost immediately Tom McLaughlin took a low catch at cover again off Parsons and there were some nervously scrambled singles whilst "Lee Marvin" was at the crease before Parsons bowled him lunging forward at a well pitched delivery. I then replaced Wayne who had finished his spell of none for 28 off eight. In my first over back I knocked back the middle stump of an unknown Trumper in a floppy hat as he attempted a cross-batted swipe to midwicket. Suddenly the runs had dried up completely, only the occasional short pitched delivery from Parsons being worked to leg and my misdirected slower ball swung away fine to leg for four. Then another yorker got through in my seventh over to uproot leg stump, another wicket maiden and my figures were beginning to look respectable again after the early mauling. Parsons picked up a fourth wicket in his final over when Dave Middle pulled off a stumping as the batsman held the pose of his failed forward defensive a good six inches out of his ground, even after the appeal, which was loud and confident. Dave doesn't get many stumpings, the Exiles long reliant on a seam up attack, but he enjoys them when they come.
Captain Waseem Khan replaced Steve and his loosener was crashed away for four through the covers. It seems to happen a lot to him recently, observers note that he is bowling a yard shorter than last season when the wickets tumbled for him. Then he was pulled behind square for another boundary. Eventually he got his revenge as a mistimed hit to leg ballooned up to Wayne running round from mid-on who leapt for joy. The Victor Trumpers had collapsed to 135 all out.
Much liquid was taken on at tea, the water melon being especially popular. Peter Richardson reapplied his sun-block so as to maintain his deathly pallor. Guy Sneesby and Keith Marchbank were the sensible choice as openers after last weeks cavalry charge over the cliffs. They went about their dour business in a crafstmanlike way always maintaining that air that they are in control and know exactly what they are doing. Miles opened down the hill and bowled competent medium pace whilst "Lee Marvin" grumbled and shuffled his way through two overs before complaining of a sore shoulder after Guy hit him crisply to the cover boundary. He was replaced by Prendergast who had Keith First ball with a leg break that actually turned and bowled him around his defensive prod. Never mind, Keith had already contributed much to this game. Then Peter Richardson came out, slick with factor 8, to grimace his way to 14 before inside-edging a ball from Miles onto leg stump that would have hit off if he had missed it. Tom McLaughlin was obviously a bag of nerves when he faced his first ball, and called for a suicidal single to short fine leg, Guy sensibly sent him back. I suppose a bag of nerves is better than asleep! Then Guy fell to Miles, bowled off gloves and box from one that bounced a bit and jagged back. This brought Wayne to the crease, also fresh from a duck last week He started nervously with a couple of l.b.w. shouts against him but soon blossomed into the clean hitter of old. He soon built a commanding partnership with Tom as they kept out the good balls and hit the bad ones away to the boundary. The Outfield was quick and some of the older Trumpers were a little slow in chasing. Tom tried to keep them interested with a bit of catching practise but the score was in three figures before one of them managed to hold a catch to end his innings on a useful 29. Andy swung lustily as he does and was caught in the deep as he often is, for 7. Then came our favourite thespian; Steve Parsons, who had obviously had a mix-up with "wardrobe" and was dressed for the beach! At least his shorts were in team colours. He sparkled brightly for a few overs, showing the benefits of having a County Cricketing father (ABD Parsons, Surrey CCC 1958-63), with some cultured drives, then departed dramatically on 11 by hitting a catch to the ubiquitous Miles. This set up a small drama for Dave Middle, watched for the first time by his new girlfriend Jacqueline, to try to get off the mark for the first time this season at the third attempt. After poking about nervously he unleashed a Caribbean drive on the up which flew through the hands of the cover fielder to trickle over the boundary just by where his paramour was sunning herself. You would have thought he had scored a century rather than the winning runs! Nice one Dave I hope that is not it now for the season! Wayne was undefeated on 36 at the other end.
Next week sees our twice annual grudge match against "The Strongroom CC", formerly the Bank Cricket Club. The main object of this grudge , Phil, doesn't want to play this match which is odd because he was the main man in keeping this often unpleasant fixture going. Most of the bearer's of said grudge have grown old, had kids and given up the game. But we still find a bit of needle in this particular haystack. Stay tuned for next weeks exciting episode!
On a glorious early summer's day after a night of heavy rain Nuxley fought their way through South London traffic and then overcame even greater obstacles to beat The Exiles by 45 runs after electing to bat and being shot out for 90 on a joke wicket. They must have regretted their decision almost immediately as every ball behaved badly, losing all pace off the wicket, changing height and direction and swinging wildly in the humid air for good measure. It was inevitable that wickets would fall, but some nice off drives from Jones and some fortuitous edged fours over slips kept the scoreboard moving until he was opened up by one that angled in at leg stump and straightened from Shorrock, taking a leading edge as he played towards midwicket and flying straight at the chest of Nick Coleman at first slip who made no mistake. Waseem Khan had the other opener caught by James Booth at second slip off bat, chest and head. Then soon after Tom McLaughlin, who would rather have been at home painting his windows, made a simple catch at mid-off look rather difficult to give Shorrock his second wicket from an off-break that virtualy stopped dead on pitching.
Wayne Holder was first change bowler and swung his inswingers prodigiously to a well set field and dug out a further three Nuxley wickets in eight overs off the reel, whilst Keith Marchbank (almost unrecognisable after a haircut and shave) turned his left arm over and around from the other end to produce an assortment that would have had plenty of variation even without the corrugated plasticine pitch. His best balls were very good and his awful ones mainly avoided punishment by being so slow to arrive after pitching halfway down the track that the batsmen had too long to select a shot.
If Keith's arrived slowly, Iestyn George's were almost glacial as they descended in a wide parabola from the stratosphere to land eventualy on the dead earth. His first wicket came in his first over from a ball that ran up the bat after the shot was completed hit a shoulder and lollipopped to short fine leg where in the same tempo Dave Middle strolled from behind the stumps and dived in slow motion to take it full lenghth, perhaps four seconds after it had left the bowler's hand! Nuxley continued to impale themselves on this treacle at four frames a second and Iestyn was very pleased with his three wickets and the run out he precipitated as the lower order succumbed to his hypnotic deliveries.
Before Waseem could get himself back into the action and improve his strike rate it was all over, 90 all out and Exiles went off for a fine healthy tea of various salads prepared by Kieth and his intended Julie and about half a loaf's worth of "Egg Butties" by that generous gourmand Tom McLaughlin.
The Exiles batting order was long and "good on paper", but as we know too well (adopts Boycott accent) "Cricket isn't played on paper..."
Peter Richardson and James Booth went out to begin the innings as the remaining Exiles finished off the last of the cakes and settled down in the shade to watch procedings. As is his wont Richardson was quick out the blocks. The term "pinch hitter" has recently come into vogue, borrowed from Baseball, Richardson too has borrowed some swings from the American relation. His lusty hitting woke the Exiles up apart from Tom McLaughlin, who did not even wake up when it was his turn to bat, after Richardsons head-up swing at a straight one from Jones saw his off stump knocked back. His slumber was not interrupted for long as he was plumb l.b.w first ball. Nick Coleman got off the mark then shouldered arms to one that cut back and bowled him, a prime contender for the "Rob Whitton Leave Award". By now the Nuxley bowlers had their dander up, and charged in like lancers and I am ashamed to say the Exiles broke ranks and scattered in disarray. Booth went, bowled , Steve Parsons ditto, Wayne l.b.w. for 0, and shortly Dave Middle bowled 0.
Keith Marchbank, a natural opener denied his true position by being able to bowl a bit, dug in and saw us past our worst ever total of 42, then Iestyn George picked up another duck, bowled. Shorrock who had once held out with Waseem against the same Nuxley bowlers for over an hour to save a game fell to Jones after only three balls to give him his fifth wicket, and a fifth Exile duck. Only Waseem the captain now to somehow survive a couple of overs until the Nuxley openers ran out of overs, but it wasn't to be and Steve Parsons raised his finger to signal a third l.b.w and a sixth duck as Kieth was left high and dry at the non strikers end in the sixteenth over. All out for 45, our second lowest total ever!
Afterwards the machiavellian Nick Coleman was heard whispering in the captains ear that maybe Marchbank should be higher up the order. Experienced court obsevers read a subtext that perhaps Coleman was worrying about his own rapidly falling average. The Captain may have been punishing Marchbank for his forgetfulness with the kit-bag (see Exiles v MGN 19 May) but Coleman has more subtle tortures in mind! Tom McLaughlin's lack of enthusiam may have given the Captain a new target for his ire. Tom regularly plays his most vital cricket at the AGM arguing passionately on some minor point of procedure and worrying it like a terrier, but his recent form on grass puts him in second place to Phil James as the most reluctant Exile. Enthusing his troops after this bloodbath in the sunshine may be Waseem's sternest test, especially with distractions like Euro'96 (a Football competition apparently) making it hard to get the best sides out. Tune in next week to see how we get on against the "Victor Trumper XI " at Avery Hill in Eltham on Sunday.
I was on holiday on the Costa Brava when this game was played, but apparently I was missed, if only to make up the numbers! Nine Exiles took on the mighty Occasionals, a team we have yet to beat, and in a low scoring game in which Phil James top scored with 21, we lost by three wickets defending a meagre 87. It sounded like a bad tempered game on a bad tempered pitch and I am glad I was in Sant Feliu de Guixols catching Sea Bass! Peter Richardson was second change bowler and got some stick (0 for 30 off 4) inspite of turning the ocasional ball at right angles. Our first loss of the year.