Belvedere CC 2nd XI v Stone CC, 26th August 2023 

A long-term unfilled gap in the calendar gave Beef the opportunity to schedule in another fixture against a team beginning with the letter ‘B’. Step forward Belvedere 2nd XI, and a ground which Deadly Dicky knew well. The majority of the rest of us hadn’t frequented their place, and with its hefty slope, pitch two foot higher than the rest of the ground and a strip which last saw a roller in 1972, it would turn out to be an interesting afternoon. The weather was ominous, and we pretty much knew it would be all over by about 5pm.

King Louie made another comeback this week before he disappears up north for the winter, and bowled pretty tidily in his two spells without reward. He did manage to smack their younger opener straight on the chin with one that reared up from a foot outside the crease – more of this would come later on. Dicky made the breakthrough early on with their opener top edging into the hands of either Tom P or Easty’s mate Qasim (making his debut) – both put their names on it, both got a hand on it, but the book says Qas took the catch. Tom’s first spell was brief and luckless, and One Ball Paul went joyless at both ends in his short spell too. The skipper wrestled the ball (eventually) from Pablo’s hands and dragged us back into contention, as he broke a partnership of 91 in combination with that man Keenan, who held on to an excellent catch running backwards at mid off. A short while later the captain was on a hat trick after first getting through their Number 4, followed by an LBW next ball. Anticipation was high, but the oppo bat fended off the hat trick ball, causing Skip to label him a “bastard”. He ended his spell with 3-16, and 99/1 had become 115/4. Debut boy number two Harry came into the attack next and was unfortunate not to get one in the book, as edges and chances fell into gaps, before Tom came back and nicked a couple to end a short sequence of games without wickets. Dicky lobbed up a bomb late on to get rid of their Number 8, before a late flurry of boundaries (including a 6 off the last ball) pushed Belvedere onto 200/7 in their 35 overs.

The “let’s check the weather apps” break, or “tea” as it’s usually known, came and went, and with eyes on the skies Qasim and I stepped onto the two-foot high wicket to commence the reply. First ball, leg side, full toss, four runs. Third ball, booming drive, first slip, out. Qas let one through the gate for a golden duck a couple of balls later, bringing Gracie in to join Stumpy. The big man was gone a short time later as the skies darkened, volleying one onto the stumps off both pads for 2, and at 19/3 the rain dances were becoming slightly more vigorous. Skip was in next, and on his first ball the spicy spot that King Louie found earlier was hit again, with the same result. Skip down, rain in the air, let’s just fuck off home, shall we? Not before he tonked a massive six, while Stumpy stormed merrily along (strike rate of 82!!!) to 19 before he was bowled by one that he could barely see. Finally, the rain that had threatened all day arrived, and despite the attempts of the oppo captain to persevere with us on 44/4, one crack of thunder sent us straight into our cars and off home. 

Not our greatest day this season, and we were probably saved by the rain, but fuck it, the unbeaten away run is intact. Shitbag – in an unusual move – went to their pitch, which was probably illegal, despite our Captain’s vain attempts to award it to Paul in the pub following their tête-à-tête over what end Pablo should bowl from. Skip took home Big Pat, despite him knocking a full pint over me late in the evening.

– Bill