Allow me to start this week’s match report at around 12.30am on Saturday morning. Having demolished a magnificent lamb karahi in the Bengal Lancer, Chislehurst, and going into my 13th hours of drinking, worrying about the team Stone CC would field on Saturday was the furthest thing from my mind. I had my visor and wrap-around shades on and was about to take a bunch of NCT fellas that I vaguely knew to the cleaners over a ‘friendly’ game of Texas hold-em. We had a great team, a 12th man, a scorer – never before had Stone CC been so prepared going into a game.
Fast forward nine hours and sitting there with the mother of all hangovers, a seriously light wallet, and with 2 kids that don’t understand just how serious a situation that is in itself and a wife short on sympathy, I receive the first mayday… MAN DOWN. Easy, I say! Jordan you’re in! All sorted, I can go back to preparing myself for a rock-and-roll morning of blind shopping.
Fast forward a further hour and I am at this point making decisions between 100 different shades of cream – it was like looking into the late great Richie Benaud’s wardrobe – I receive the second mayday… MAN DOWN. Easy again, I say! Social media will solve this little problem. A quick shout out and I will be inundated with requests to play. But what’s this? People have made other plans, ON A SATURDAY! By this time I was obviously running well late and heading towards my first tardiness fine of the season, so resigned to fielding ten men for the big match-up against the Kent Premier League Runners-Up 2014-15 4th XI, I head to Lordswood in search of a chicken and stuffing sandwich and a bottle of Lucozade.
What I arrive to is as surprising a scene as you could wish to find… In the biggest changing room since the Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen TV Show of the late 90’s, I find a man dressed in more shades of grey than a E.L James novel, The Stig and a three-ton orca whale (more of him later). At this point we still have just the 10 men. But then over the horizon, what do we see? We see a man, scorebook under arm, limping bravely on the three-mile journey from car to pitch, and who’s this with him?! A Sri Lankan warrior swigging from a bottle of rum – a man with no name! A close buddy of Arjuna Ranatunga and Chaminda Vaas, the big man says he would love to help us out as long as he doesn’t have to bat or bowl. Team complete, I was then able to crack on with winning the toss, electing to field and firing up our opening pace / spin attack to go give those Lordswood batsmen hell!
After all this, the match itself, whilst not an anti-climax, was as routine a victory as you could possibly imagine and what I learned from this is that there is a much better story in brave defeat, or in throwing the game away than there is in winning games. Oh but what a feeling, winning a big match is, especially with contributions from everyone that played. The fielding effort was close to exemplary. In restricting Lordswood to 112-8 from 40 overs, I think everyone that bowled picked up a wicket, we had a tremendous Run Out from Krish (2 from 2), an incredible catch from the man with no name, the Stig putting his body on the line at every opportunity, and the widest wide in the history of the great game from Tom. We also lay witness to the next installment of the Free Willy story, this time set on dry land, with Kelvin Appavoo reprising the role of Willy. This new instalment from the great film series will centre on one orca whale’s love of cricket and in particular his penchant for fielding acrobatics. People are going to come from far and wide to pay good money to see this again in weeks to come.
The run chase was as nerveless as you could get from a Stone team. Having lost Krish early, playing his natural game, Dave Darts and Stumpy set about the chase with great tempo, good running (would you believe) and essentially two scoring shots. If I had the skills to draw a wagon wheel, Dave Darts’ would show 90% of his runs being scored behind square on the leg side with Stumpy’s all coming through the extra cover region. Dartsy finished with around 57 not out with Stumpy stranded on 49… Oh how we laughed… All very good for that early season average, mind, and with our top three all now with magnificent 50s to their names so far this season, it is up to the rest of us to follow their lead.
My favourite part of the day came afterwards though… Yes, it involved beer, but it also saw the vast majority of the playing squad staying back for at least 90 minute, loads of jugs on the go, and almost mixing with the opposition. It was a good old craic, that’s for sure, and I’m looking forward for much more of that and a few more Stone wins as the season progresses.
Tom Rogers – 5-0-25-1. Only two runs off the bat tells the story of this guy’s scattergun approach, with the widest wide ever witnessed sending Norris McWhirter scurrying across to Lordswood with a tape measure in hand to confirm we now have a Guinness World Record Breaker in the team.
Matthew Dine – 7-2-15-1. A Cinderella comeback story for the big spinner. Having been taken for 17 off from his single over vs East Sutton two weeks previous, our very own covert ops man enjoyed a fruitful day in the field before returning to GCHQ with the mobile phone data of the entire Lordswood XI.
Jack Rogers – 7- 2-14-1. The bowler of last year picked up where he left off, bowling a tidy spell of non-turning off breaks all whilst wearing a size 8-9 year old sweater.
Dave Rogers – 7-2-14-1. Off his extended four-yard run Dartsy was as steady as you like with his dibbly dobblies proving very difficult to get away.
Kelvin Appavoo – 4-1-12-1. Our very own Free Willy impersonator proved he is not just about the acrobatics and took time out from the newest Cirque de Soleil tour to bowl four very good overs. The only spinner to extract any real turn on the day.
Jordan Walkling – 2-1-6-1. Underbowled by the skipper and has been given a four over minimum guarantee by the skipper for his next match. Proud parents Krish and Kelv fulsome in their praise of the lumbering teen and rightly so.
Matthew Blain – 5-1-14-1. Simply terrifying.