More fixture shenanigans this week saw the original oppo Offham melt it and pull out, to be replaced by our old foes from Ash for a second time this season (all praise to Beef for organising from the comfort of his sunbed). Another bleedin’ scorcher in this long hot summer greeted us at a rather brown-looking Oakfield, where we lost the toss and were put into bat in a timed game. With only nine men showing up for the mighty Stone, Mick ‘Colonel Lobster’ Garratt was drafted in at very late notice (five minutes before the start) for his first game in yonks to make us a ten.
Dicky and I began well against some very friendly bowling and smashed a few boundaries in a partnership of 28, before I moved out of the way of a very slow leg-side dobber and was bowled for 22. Dicky then departed with the score on 41, bringing our vintage partnership of the Lord and Stumpy to the crease. Neither lasted very long, as Stumpy departed for 11 with a cry of “AAAAAARRGH!” as he watched the ball sail gently to cover, and Rossington gloved one onto his shoulder to give the keeper an easy catch for 12. 63/4 soon became 70/5 as Muttley started his day by edging behind for just two. All was not lost however, because when the Sashman gets in, he stays in. With Scrappy joining him at the other end, the fun began. Boundaries and some comedy yes-no running ensued in a partnership of 62, featuring highlights of Ryan’s first ever glorious 6 followed by audible cries from the pavilion that he would be out next ball – he was (bowled), but Umpire Stumpy decided he deserved a stay of execution and gave a no-ball. Scrappy was eventually stumped for 43, bringing the Walkie Talkie in to continue the fun, as he crunched 37* off just 25 balls. Sashi biffed a couple of 6s himself on his way to another great knock of 37, falling to a straight one late on. In next was the hero of the hour, Colonel Lobster, who got off the mark to rapturous cheers from the pavilion and hit two 4s to finish with 9*, before Walkie finished the innings with three 4s in a row. Having posted 191/7 in the available time – the biggest Stone total I’ve been involved in so far – surely we had won the game already? Surely. SURELY.
The first home tea for three years was summarily chomped (thanks to Chef Paul for stepping up) before we headed out to dismiss Ash for 80 and get in the pub by 6pm. Well, let us just say this plan failed spectacularly in its execution, as their openers connected delightfully with every juicy half volley and full toss our boys threw at them as they raced to 100/0 in about 6 minutes. Poor old Mutts uncharacteristically shelled a chance to get rid of one of them early doors, and from there anything aerial dropped between fielders, just short, went speedily to the fence, or in one case was smacked into the pavilion balcony where one of theirs caught it one handed, the flash git. To be fair this was just about the only thing they caught all day. 100/0 became 100/2 as both openers departed for 34 and 64 respectively with the damage largely done, as I held on to one off Ryan, and Paul snaffled one off Dicky. Ash put on another 50 runs before their Number 3 fell, with Mutts finishing his day of horror with some slight redemption by holding on to a catch off Paul’s bowling. Their Number 4 (averaging 55 this year) and skipper – who found the whole run chase an extraordinary surprise – knocked off the winning runs without incident, and we had somehow fallen to defeat with seven overs to spare.
Probably another game we should have won but contrived to throw away this year. At least there is always the consolation of the pub, where awards were briefly argued over – Big Pat went to Ryan for his batting and bowling despite me demanding Mick got it and a promotion to Field Marshal Lobster for his 9* and an excellent job in the field.
Ash did mention the score was 1-1 this year and the prospect of a decider…