Bredgar CC v Stone CC, 29th July 2023

After a very damp club day shindig last week, we trekked down to Bredgar for a high summer showdown against a team that tends to get the better of us, indeed by 8 wickets a month previously. Clearly the quicker bowlers of the club had remembered this fact and all of them bar Slates did a disappearing act this week, and even he had negotiated an early release for the day. Leadership fell to Vice this week as the Skipper had wangled three days at The Oval. After a spot of negotiation I managed to convince the oppo skipper to let us bowl first as we were a ten man team and “we’re a bit light on bowlers”.

As we all know, slow loopy straight stuff is a complete nightmare for village cricketers, and we had plenty of that in the arsenal. But first, Slates had to earn his early dinner, and he stepped up with a very tidy opening spell of 2-11, with me holding on to a catch at mid off before he castled their dangerous Number 3. At the other end, Dicky was offering up the occasional Fray Bentos but with a tasty side salad of wickets, with Slates and Stumpy both holding on to a couple of top edges as he finished his day’s business with 2-21. Bredgar were wobbling at 30 for 4. Next into the bowling attack were young debutant Harrison and Pablo Keenan. H got through the defences of their Number 5 and then trapped their skipper in front for an excellent debut spell of 2-19. One Ball Paul did it again this week as their Number 7 snicked Pablo’s first ball into Stumpy’s gloves, before he took his first ever LBW a short time later, drawing their ‘keeper across his stumps. Bredgar were now 57/8 and I was fully (and very happily) eating my gloomy predictions of us getting a tonking. I replaced H and took my first official wicket for the club, bowling their top-scoring Number 6 on 28, with Tom Seeds getting his first bowling action up the other end. “One Ball Tom” doesn’t have quite the same ring as “One Ball Paul”, and clearly Rossington agreed, as he dropped an utter dolly at short cover to deny Seedy a first-ball maiden wicket. Tom’s second ball was launched a mere foot over John’s outstretched hand at deep square, but he wouldn’t have to wait much longer as he took the final wicket, bowling their Number 11 for 8. Bredgar were back in the shed all out for 91 inside 23 overs.

With confidence high, I had to remind the chaps of the final game of 2021 where we turfed Bredgar out for 110, only to completely cock up the run chase and get stuffed by 55 runs. A quick turnaround was thwarted by a short rain delay, before Dave and I got us off to a fast start, belting the first over for 10. We sailed serenely on between light rain showers for a bit before I started top edging things again. Luckily I found huge gaps and poor oppo catching this week. Stumpy made 20 before he was trapped LBW with the score on 60, bringing H in at Number 3. I attempted to run myself out a couple of times and H was dropped off a return catch before I got to 50* and decided to retire to let Gracie do something and knock off the final 12 or so runs. He didn’t get much chance as H hit two 4s in quick succession and tapped a few singles, and that was that – victory by eight wickets. Thoroughly unexpected, and I was delighted to proven completely and utterly fuckin’ wrong. An excellent performance.

Big Pat went to Slates, and he quickly scarpered for his dinner date, but not before we awarded The Lord with Shitbag for that appalling dropped catch (“you’re all c*nts” was the official reply). Our terrific undefeated away run continues. Can we stop our appalling home run next week….?

– Bill