A slightly overcast sky and an annoying crosswind greeted us at Oakfield for Game One of the new season. SO many questions ahead of the start of Stone’s 2022 campaign. Will we get a full and proper season in this year post-Covid? Will Rossington depart to fill Joe Root’s shoes after relinquishing the club captaincy? Is tea ever going to be a thing again? Will Walkie win shitbag every week? Worst news of pre-season was the unfortunate knee disaster that has befallen the new Skipper. We wish him a speedy recovery. This means that, for now, new Vice (me) gets to listen to Walkie asking for two slips at the end of every over and his relentless fielding tips. This advice would have to wait as, after a week of negotiations with the chaps from Teston, we would be opening the batting in a timed affair.
The opening partnership of myself and Gracie lasted all of two and a half overs before I was trudging off after a straight ball failed to bounce at all and castled me for four runs (my first against Teston after two years of trying – little victories). Stumpy joined Gracie and the next 40 minutes were a tough watch, bar some comedy running and an edge to first slip that almost took his head off, until Gracie finally plopped one straight back to the bowler for an hour-long 7. Rossington was in at four and, obviously recalling his tactics from last season, immediately attempted to run Stumpy out. He failed in this endeavour and these two provided the backbone of the innings until Stumpy went for a fine 32, featuring absolutely no boundaries. Muttley’s presence at the crease surely sent shivers down the spines of the Teston lads, recalling his brutal 81* at their place last summer. He fell just 70 runs short of repeating the feat this time, clipping a dolly straight to mid off. Ryan was in at six, delivering the shot of the day straight back over the bowlers head, showing his hours spent on virtual reality cricket have paid off, before falling for 14. Rossington was given LBW a short time later (he insists it was a yard outside off) for 29. Walkie did his usual job of clubbing a boundary before missing a straight one, Dicky was in and out sharpish, before great running between Dory and Paul saw the innings to a close at 138/8 in the allotted time.
After tea Walkie immediately demanded two slips (denied) and off we went to secure the victory. But not before KebabMan, who was the cause of the negotiated toss as he had to leave early to open his kebab shop, had a slogfest against our opening bowlers and smashed himself a quickfire 27. Walkie skewered him just as I was about to remove him from the attack, and followed up with the second wicket in his next over. Ryan replaced Muttley at the other end and immediately began hooping it around corners on his way to figures of 8-5-4-2 and the first Big Pat’s Pat on the Back of the year. Dino, Dicky and Dory all chipped in with wickets before Walkie and Muttley came back to polish off an excellent display in the field and secure the win by 22 runs – Teston all out for 116 with about ten balls to spare.
As mentioned, Ryan enjoys Big Pat’s company for the week for his outstanding bowling spell, but special mentions go to the returning Dory (good to have him back in the mix), Stumpy for the no-boundary 32 and the ball magnet that was Gracie – excellent in the field (despite that horrendous attempted return throw that went from third man to fine leg). No one was particularly terrible today, a tough drop for Dicky and Dino’s magnificent pirouette attempting to save a boundary were in contention for Shitbag moments but it was only ever going to that man Walkie, with a crappy drop and some ropey overthrows the main crimes (despite taking an excellent 3-24), before he fell asleep in the pub.