For many, the arrival of June and the return of Test cricket to this green and pleasant land marks the true start of summer. Evenings stretch into a glorious golden haze, as unprotected cheeks turn a delicate shade of red, and bowlers do press-ups on the pitch as part of an unconventional, but undoubtedly intimidating warm-up routine.
After a disappointing result last week against Foxbury Exiles, all eyes were on a trip to Borden, and the chance to bounce back. And – spoiler alert – like a ball hurtling onto the pavilion roof, bounce back we did.
Smashing stuff, literally.
Spirits were high going into the game. Having reacquainted himself with the ability to breathe, the Captain was a welcome return on the team sheet, as was the opportunity to see two of last season’s award winners in Dory and King Louis – pictured below belatedly collecting the 2022 Turnbull Award. The two young men have very much been making the most of their respective gym memberships and a big push to be the centrefold of the much fabled Stone CC calendar.
The toss was negotiated, and we elected bat first. This set us up for a game in which we’d need to take all ten wickets to have any chance of winning, something we knew from previous encounters would most likely bring time into the equation.
Billy and Chungy strode out to the middle, keen to take advantage of a ground that had seen 400+ runs scored the previous Saturday, a task to which our opening pair duly obliged. The beauty of elegance and timing met the beast of brute force to great effect, as the openers roared past the 50 partnership in 6.3 overs (at eight an over) and, 8.4 overs later, the century partnership to see us pass 100 with just 15.1 overs bowled. In that time, Billy brought up his second 50 of the season, including one over that saw him send the ball to the fence from four consecutive deliveries.
Despite a fairly breezy afternoon at The Playstool, the openers had well and truly taken the wind out of the opposition’s sails, as all corners of the ground were attacked and the field set for damage limitation early on. Not to be outdone, Mike was peppering the boundary through covers on his way to 34 before being caught, bringing to an end a first wicket partnership of 145. In impressive form, Bill was on 89 at the other end…
The Captain came in at Number 3, and was clearly not in the mood to fuck about. His pre-game promises of a pint for anyone that hit a 6 off their first ball were initially laughed off, until he took to the crease and did just that. The first of four maximums from his impressive innings of 52*, which came from only 24 deliveries. With a fifty in the bag, wickets in hand, and an eye on the bowling job ahead, the Skipper took a bow and retired. This was a big decision on a personal level with the chance of a bigger score on the cards, but one that in time would prove to be inspired.
Back to the other half of the captaincy and batting powerhouse, and it was celebration time. Billy dropped a single to mid-on to tear through, bat held aloft, to indulge in the spoils of a well-earned maiden century for the club. Only the second person to hit three figures for the club since 2015, his efforts were celebrated with a hearty mix of pride and arousal by the SCC family sitting outside the pavilion.
Less so the opposition, some of whom had been less than excited to see the ball sail over the fence on more than one occasion.
These moments are big. They don’t happen every week, and should be remembered. Passed on through generations of the club.
As so poignantly put by the man himself in a Moretti-fuelled outpouring of love post-game, we all take to the field each week with our own goals. Whether that be a ton, a fifty, a wicket, a five-for. And it’s important they’re marked with the respect they des…
You what? He’s only on 99. FOR FUCK SAKE.
A combination of mis-calculation and mis-communication from the scorers’ table meant that we’d been sold down the river, and the scene was set for the mother of all fuck ups. No SBotD nomination would ever come close. Cue England vs. Australia 2005 levels of stress on the sidelines. Recall the GIFs. Stop engraving the honours board.
Never mind. He’s sent one of the following balls for another 6. And breathe…
Billy’s excellent innings came to a close on 121* as he retired, but not before he took out a tile from the roof of the pavilion for a second year in a row.
Dartsy’s modern record of 140-odd was tantalisingly close, but safe for another day. A second selfless retirement of the day as he stepped aside to let Rossington join Gracie at the crease for a final flurry before the wave-in from the Skipper.
Stone CC declared after 34.5 overs with 243 on the board, meaning there was an extra 15 minutes for Borden to negotiate before tea.
Hawkes, B., 121* (114 balls; SR 106)
Garratt, J., 52* (24 balls; SR 217)
Chung, M., 34
Brazil, D., 5
Ross-Gower, P., 2*
The not-so-new ball was thrown to Dory and Dickie, hoping to conjure up some pre-tea magic.
After a pre-season of European football adventures and Love Island auditions, it took Dory an over or two – and a few on-field press-ups – to loosen up, but before long we could see glimpses of the form that saw him scoop Young Player of the Year last time ’round. Some probing lines had the batsmen caught in no-man’s land on more than one occasion, and he was ultimately unlucky not to have anything in the wickets column after his first overs of the year. 0-17 (5) on this occasion, but the season is still young.
At the other end Rich was showing the young pretender how it’s done, continuing his fine start to the season by bowling the opener for just a single run to get the team going. It was just the start we needed, and the first of two wickets that were to fall in the brief session before tea was taken. The second was a kamikaze run out from the batsman who was there for neither a long time nor a good time. He fell for a four-ball duck trying to run after nudging one straight to the fielder. His batting counterpart refused (wise decision) and, after a little bit of juggling, Gracie completed the run out after a good throw from the Captain.
We went in for tea with Borden 7/2. Promising, but a long way to go.
After a hearty tea enjoyed by players and umpires alike, we returned to the field in pursuit of the eight wickets still required to claim victory.
Dory and Rich finished off their spells, which brought Paul and the aforementioned King Louis to the fold.
Runs – which were not particularly free flowing anyway – dried up further as the batsmen faced both ends of the Stone CC pace spectrum. And it was the guile of Mr Keenan that created the mistake for the third wicket. A single quickly snaffled up by Mike, who zoned in on the stumps to send them flying. The batsman’s protests were in vain, as it was pointed out to him that he hadn’t grounded his bat. Three down, seven to go. A tidy spell from Paul 0-12 (5) capped his week with the ball.
At the marginally livelier end of the pace spectrum, the returning King Louis was – to quote Gracie, “a different animal”. Fast and, bar a couple of gnarly no balls, on the money as we’ve come to expect. The university student glow-up on show – chain and all – as the unsung cricket benefits of £1 pints and £2.50 doubles powered him through Borden’s Numbers 5 and 6. A delight to have back in the fold, he bowled a very tidy 2-15 (7), including a wicket maiden.
Spell complete, there were five wickets remaining. But time was also ticking along, as the final 20 overs arrived and began to count down.
With the tail beginning to peek into view, the still-not-new ball was passed to Mr Purton, who in recent weeks has more than proven his ability to tear through a middle order. At the other end of the cricketing duel, Borden’s batsmen had begun to take things on with a little more intent, as they too began to find the boundary once or twice an over. The target was never really in danger, but overs were ticking by and wickets still to fall. Whilst tidy, Tom didn’t have any luck this week, finishing his five overs with 0-26.
It wasn’t until the 29th over – of a possible 40 – that the next wicket fell as Scrappy bowled batsman Number 7 for 11. Cue a big fist-pump and pirouette combination for the camera, although with hindsight that should have been saved for the second of his victims.
Many said it would never happen. That he didn’t want it enough. That even he didn’t believe it was possible. “You’re a dreamer.” “Everyone can pick it a mile away”, they said. But like the pioneers that have gone before – Einstein, Edison, da Vinci – sometimes all you need is belief. Belief that there will be someone out there. A batsman who only has eyes on the small boundary, who will swing with all their might, only to realise the ball had barely made it halfway down the track. They’re left stranded, bat nowhere to be seen, as the ball limps into the top of off stump to send them back to the pavilion.
A first slow-ball wicket in the books for Scrappy meant there were three to go with just six overs remaining.
Chungy entered the fray from the far end, in hot pursuit of his 50th recorded wicket for the club to go with his fine innings earlier on. He would only have to wait 12 balls for it, as the ball popped up into the safe hands of King Louis in the gully region. Eight down, two to go, and a personal milestone chalked off for Chungy.
However the innings was far from one way traffic, as the Borden skipper remained steady throughout, punishing any errant bowling, and more than reminding us that we were in for a proper game. It would not be given up without a fight. Tidy rotation of strike and boundaries to boot killed off another three overs, leaving us with two wickets to find in just 18 deliveries.
Sensing the need to mix things up again, Skip turned back to Dickie to work some magic. A 6 off the third ball of the over wasn’t quite the result we were looking for, as the count of remaining deliveries edged towards single figures. But cometh the hour, cometh the plan. The trap set, the delivery perfect, and having dropped one in the deep earlier on in the game, Skip calmly collects a huge wicket out in the deep at long off. A flood of excitement, with fielders darting in from all angles to recognise the moment, and to applaud the opposition captain for an excellent innings of 83.
New batsman in. The equation was simple. One wicket – 12 deliveries.
Luckily, all it took was two, as Scrappy’s slow-ball magic snared another victim, who popped it up off bat and pad into Dickie’s warm and loving embrace. Victory by 94 runs, with 10 balls to spare.
Garratt, R., 3-25 (7.2)
East, A., 2-15 (7)
Pusey, R., 2-29 (6)
Chung, M., 1-10 (3)
A great result made possible by some clever thinking, tough decisions, and selfless performances from those at the top of the tree (no more smoke being blown up arses that way, I promise.)
Billy deservedly got to take home Big Pat this week, with special acknowledgement for not only the Skipper, but also Walkie who did an excellent job umpiring the full game.
With the course corrected after last week’s blip, all that was left was a trip to the pub to round things off properly. Fun and merriment for all.
Apart from Scrappy, who smacked himself in the face with the car door and took a lovely chunk off his front tooth (already fixed though, thankfully).
On we roll. Next stop, back to the Oakfield Wok.