This Saturday had been provisionally reserved for the much-delayed club day, which had been kiboshed by the dread Covid restrictions in the previous two seasons. Rather than risk further disappointment with extensive/elaborate plans, the club decided to keep it fairly straightforward: a regular home fixture followed by a BBQ, at which friends and family were welcome. The opposition was provided by local neighbours/rivals (and technically landlords) Dartford CC, whose 5th XI (playing league cricket for the first time this season) had no fixture that weekend. Added spice (were it needed) came in the form of James J, who was to play for the oppo, while his younger sibling Will turned out for us. Remarkably, given some previous weeks, we had a surfeit of players available (13!), so hat-tips to Blainy and Richard for volunteering to stand down, but turning up to support the team all day. As a result, we were able to welcome back King Louie and Tom Rogers for their first games of the season.
Dartford 5ths were without their regular skipper (who netted with us last winter) and fielded a youthful line-up. Billy negotiated the toss with their stand-in captain and they agreed to bat first. The bowling was spearheaded by Walkie and the King, who only conceded 21 runs off their ten overs, with Walkie taking his three wickets in consecutive overs. The pressure did not let up, as the returning Tom took a wicket with his first ball to remove their Number 3 (who had hit a decent 17 with two boundaries and good running) and then Stumpy affected a cracking run-out to leave them 5 wickets down for under 30 runs. Tom then pinned their captain LBW with a ball that hit him on the back heel (given out by their player umpiring) and Dory took a good caught & bowled to remove their Number 7, who had also hit some solid shots to the boundary. Their total had now reached 52 but the loss of wickets was taking its toll. Muttley and Dino tightened up things further, with four successive maidens, and the pressure then told with some loose shots to create chances in the field. Will Jessup was the outfield catching star of the day with two confident takes (at square leg, iirc) off Muttley’s bowling. This brought his brother to the crease and, based on what we’d seen in nets over previous weeks, he was keen to hit back and hit big. He hit a few boundaries off Muttley but Will came on to bowl very tidily at the other end. Muttley then brought things to a close by clean-bowling James for 14. Their total was 77 off 29 overs. Three wickets each for Walkie and Muttley, two for Tom, and one for Dory – great performance behind the stumps by Dave B (two catches and the run-out) and in the field by Will (two catches).
It was decided that we would turnaround with only a short break (10 mins), rather than taking tea, since there was the BBQ to follow the game. The oppo spent this break in the field. Our reply was opened by skipper Billy and Walkie, who had to leave early for work. Billy anchored the innings and only presented one (very difficult) chance in the third over, hitting five boundaries for an unbeaten 27*. Walkie hits a couple of decent boundaries, but is bowled by their skipper for 10. Muttley then comes to the wicket and is seeing it like the proverbial beachball, blasting 36* off only 42 balls, with seven 4s. We chase down the required 78 in 16.4 overs (75 minutes), leaving us plenty of time for the BBQ. It is fair to say that the oppo skipper was not best pleased by the turn of events and, unfortunately (as they were very welcome to do so), most of their team did not stay for the post-match food. It is also fair, diplomatically, to say that it was a negotiated toss, we generally prefer to bowl first in most games, and, if it’s important that your bowlers get a decent bowl, then things could have been managed better.
Anyway, we move onto happier things, namely a really good BBQ, presided over by Blainy as grill-master. It was great to have this kind of event attended by former and current players (Jordan, Matt B, Richard, Gracie, Nigel, Dartsy, Gav), friends and family (Roger, Rachel, Corrine, Mick, Alex J, Melanie, Andrea and Archie, Gill and Walkie’s grandad), who joined us throughout the day. A particular thank you to Gill (and Walkie’s uncle Mark) for the BBQ equipment, and to Gav for providing transport for it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do this again later in the season. Finally, there was the question of awards: Walkie nets the golden poo for his early departure (which seemed to take him about 90 minutes after his dismissal); while Muttley gets to host Big Pat for his bowling and batting performances.