Gravesend VI’s cacked their pants at hearing of our unbeaten start to the 2022 season and pulled out of this week’s fixture early doors, leaving Beef to hunt down an unassuming oppo to take on the mighty Stone CC at short notice. In stepped old foes Ash, historically of the ‘All Star’ fixture that most have played in over the last few years. In case you didn’t know, Rossington hit the tree there back in the day, but he never mentioned it once this time round. Gracie had been accosted by one of the old Ash boys on his recent trip to Barbados, who spotted him repping the Stone club shirt (as we all should be on holidays) and exclaimed rather loudly that “WE THRASHED YOU HA HA” in front of the Barmy Army. Revenge required. Overcast with occasional sunny spells was the meteorological story, I won the toss (two out of two – hurrah), and we would be fielding first in a timed affair.
No wickets for our opening pair of Walkie and Muttley this week, though the former spared himself the Shitbag award by brilliantly running out their better opener just as he was getting going with a direct hit from the fine leg region. The next wicket took a while to come, but finally Ryan trapped their Number 3 leg before, the first of two wickets for him in another of those unbroken 8-over spells he seems to be revelling in these days, and this despite a spectacular arse-over-tit moment underneath the (other) tree on the outfield. Their other opener went off ill at the same time, though he returned later on with his sickness remedied by a net session and a can of Red Bull. This triggered a monumental collapse from Ash from 69/2 to 91 all out, two wickets apiece for Chungy and Dory (who was outstanding and even had the church bells ringing for his spell) plus another three from Deadly Dicky, one of which was the biggest hit-wicket roundhouse hoik I have ever seen. Fielding standards remained excellent, despite Walkie attempting to boot one over the rope late on. Bowling them out well inside the allotted time meant we would have an extra half hour to chase down the required runs.
But first, the return of actual tea. An army marches on its stomach as someone once said, and the Ash lads provided a decent spread this week, appreciated by all. Chungy and Gracie would be opening the batting this week as I had seam marks in a rather sore hand after saving Muttley from getting creamed through cover point for 4 early on (he said I should have caught it, harsh). Gracie went LBW without troubling the scorecard, though at the other end Chungy looked well set, smashing an all-4 16 before missing the straight one. Muttley clubbed a four and also missed the straight one leaving us on a wobbly 22/3, but bringing together our dynamite batting partnership of the Good Lord and Stumpy. Another patient batting masterclass saw these two shift the score up to 90 before Stumpy was cruelly denied a not out late on, departing LBW for 28. Ryan crunched the winning runs a few minutes later with a four down the ground, with Rossington 33* at the other end, Stone taking the victory comfortably by six wickets.
Ash took the defeat in good spirit and we were very grateful to them for a) stepping in at the last minute to fulfil the fixture and b) having a few beers onsite which we happily mullered. Onto the awards, and I unilaterally declared no-one (not even Walkie) would be receiving Shitbag this week – to be honest, nobody cocked up and everyone contributed well to keep the unbeaten start and great team spirit going. Ross didn’t even hit the tree! The lucky recipient of Big Pat this week was that man Dory, who has been excellent on his return to the club and finished the day with figures of 6-5-1-2, which is frankly ridiculous.