Stone CC vs. Ash Village CC, 29 April 2023

Blimey, that went quick didn’t it? The winter is already a distant memory and we’re back out there at Oakfield Park (or as it was re-christened this week, the Wok). An injured Stumpy turns up with the keys to the pavilion and a terrible tale involving a DeWalt toolbox, his shins and a lot of weeping yellow pus. He’ll be fine and leading the batting table in a few weeks, mark my words. The Real Skip is fully recovered from his own knee disaster of last year and ready to take the helm for the new season, even getting us (and Big Pat) a shout-out on the Tailenders podcast. I’m sure it even made Jimmy Anderson chuckle, which would be a player of the season shout before we’ve even started. With 12 players to choose from, we can only assume the winter recruitment drive went well. Skip starts his season on a superb note by losing the toss, and we are asked to bat first in a timed game.

It fell to the author and Dino to face up to the expected onslaught from today’s opponents and old foes, Ash. I say onslaught – a barrage of gentleness on a pitch made from mashed potato is more accurate. The bowling was good enough to get rid of an unlucky Dino as one ricocheted off his pads into the stumps for a five-ball duck, and he was joined in the shed a short time later by Chungy who lofted one to mid on for bugger all as well. Stone 7/2 and back to normal immediately. Skipper comes in at Number 4, and time to settle down, despite a few air shots, as he and I put on 36 for the third wicket featuring most of the day’s boundaries, before I top edged one to midwicket for 16. Debutant number one was in next in the form of Tom P, and he achieved goal number one by getting off the mark in pretty quick fashion. He fell shortly after for 2 to leave us 56/4, bringing in this week’s wicketkeeper, Gracie. Some quick running pushed the score up to 96 before the big man was gone pushing for a second run, out for 11. The skipper followed shortly after as he plopped one up to mid on for a fine 57. This brought to the crease new boy number two, who was in and out before you could say faint edge, as Reece nicked behind first ball – 96/4 very quickly becoming 96/7. Ryan came in and played his customary innings of crunching shots down the ground before a ripper got through him for 19. Dicky then gently floated one to cover for 1, before Walkie and Paul saw the innings out, dragging Stone up to 136/9 in our allotted time, all 44 overs of it.

Tea mullered, the club took time to pay tribute to the much missed Roger Dine in the form of a memorial plaque positioned at the pavilion end. We ventured into the field with Walkie and Dicky P leading the charge. No luck for either, but changes brought the good stuff as first Ryan and then Paul made breakthroughs in consecutive overs, followed by Dino getting in on the act with the third ball of his spell. Chungy and Reece combined to get rid of their Number 4, and not long after the Chungster dispatched their skipper through the gate to leave Ash wobbling at 78/5. The new boys tried their luck with the ball without success, followed by some comedy as their next batsman fell flat on his face attempting a single (turns out he is my work manager’s father-in-law, small world innit?) before he edged behind off the skipper’s bowling. Next ball saw their new man bring out a HUGE swipe which resulted in the ball eventually rolling on to the stumps, but no bail-off action. The very next ball saw the same batting action but a completely different result as the bails were summarily dislodged and matey was on his way for a two-ball duck. That was that as far as the action went, and the game eventually petered out into a draw, with Ash finishing up on 103/7, featuring a solitary boundary. 

Good to be back, good weather and a good performance in the field to boot, especially from new boy Reece Lightning. The skipper did, of course, take home Big Pat for his half century plus 2-12 with the ball, while the rest of us made do with delicious Moretti and the odd Rubicon. A fine start to 2023. Match highlights on Stone Cricket TV – the all new hot cricket action YouTube channel! Let’s see how long that lasts…