Cudham Wyse CC 3rd XI v Stone CC, 9th September 2023 

Deep into September now and it is fucking ROASTING. What the bally hell is happening? It should be 17 degrees and drizzle, we got 33 and belting sun all day. Beef was busy all week attempting fill another hole in the calendar and finally found some oppo in Cudham Wyse. Some consternation in the ranks followed as they were undoubtedly a strong test for our merry men, but some behind the scenes shenanigans ensured it would be a decent game. With another debutant lining up for Stone in the shape of an additional Paul, plus a return for Walkie’s mate Mowla, we set off into the ULEZ absolutely sweating.

With the Skipper somewhere near the top of Kilimanjaro, I was in charge for the day and won the toss. Despite some suggestions from the oppo captain Mo, on a belting-looking deck, we batted first. Stumpy failed to make use of the best pitch we’ve seen all year as he top edged to gully for a five-ball duck, apologising as he trudged off. In came Rossington to join me early on, eventually revealing a strange red bandana as the heat hammered us relentlessly. We put on 69 before he did the same as Dave and went for 23. Gracie in next, hungry for runs, and that hunger was firmly sated as he and I smashed 102 from the next ten overs, with me moving past 50 again. A thumping innings of 42 off 34 balls, featuring eight 4s, ended when Dan played around a straight one. 172/2 quickly became 172/4 as Cudham finally brought on their gun bowler, who bowled me with a peach on 83. Quaker Oaten followed one ball later as he clipped one in the air for a golden, followed by Walkie to a slower ball and Mowla to a ripping yorker. New Paul clipped a delightful shot out to midwicket for his first runs for the club before he fell for just two, joined shortly afterwards by Ryan, who had been helplessly watching the massacre unfold at the other end. Dicky saw off his first (and only) ball since May, and as we all know nothing gets through Paul the Wall, these two seeing the final over out together. A massive collapse from 172/2 to 185/9 at the end – their gun bowler taking five wickets for NONE. Ridiculous.

A quick turnaround while desperately searching for shade was in order, before we began the defence of what looked a decent total. Walkie Talkie bowled his best spell of the season and made the early breakthrough, taking a return catch with the score on 10. Dicky was doing a steady job at the other end and got rid of their skipper as he attempted to belt him over the pavilion – usual result as the bails flicked off. Pablo put down a dipping chance at deep-dish square leg before he replaced Dicky and bowled a tidy spell in tandem with Ryan. These two combined to remove the Number 4, as Pablo held on to a storming catch at mid on to make it 70-3. Paul II then came on for his first spell for the club and should have had a debut wicket early on, but Rossington completely misjudged a skyer and took it on the half volley. However, this was clearly a practice run, as a few balls later the exact same chance was pouched by the Lord at cow corner. Oaten bowled a decent spell, with Mowla finally getting something to do late in the day, and he nabbed the wicket of their gun bowler as he holed out to me at long off. Alas, they were just a bit better than us, and knocked off the winning runs with 20 balls to spare.

This was a good showing in stupidly hot weather. Full credit to oppo captain Mo for understanding the pre-game brief and making a proper game of it. Awards presented by the seven or eight that made it back to the Foresters, and I slipped off with Big Pat for my 83, just pipping Gracie who had his best day with the bat this season. Rossington picked up Shitbag for the dropped catch, ropey headwear, moaning about the traffic AND nearly killing the oppo umpire with a direct hit on his ticker while returning the ball to the bowler. I also smashed him in the kidneys doing the same thing.

Next week – it’s tour time…

– Bill