It’s already September and we can see the finish line of the 2023 season looming on the horizon, along with the gleaming table of assorted trophies and prizes on offer at the end of year awards (hint – better get that sorted out, chaps). With poor old Tonbridge Foresters barely raising a team all year, Beef was at it again with the fixture list and, lo and behold, it’s another ‘B’ team stepping into the breach in the shape of Borstal CC 3rds. A brief chat with their skipper at the toss ensured we’d have an earlier start, and 35 overs of respectful and good natured friendly cricket. So we thought… And for once, we weren’t moaning about the pitch.
Without most of our regular opening bowlers on the day, new boy Harry was thrown in at the deep end this week along with Deadly Dicky. No luck for either, as their young openers tucked into a few short ones from Harry, while Dicky kept it extraordinarily tight at the other end. With a few chances peppering Gracie out at cow (all of which eluded him by a foot), it was our debutant Kuldeep who finally broke the opening partnership, getting their Number 2 to snick behind with the score on 64. Time for the old(ish) guard to show the new boys how it’s done, with Pablo conducting the most gentlemanly LBW appeal in history to get rid of their Number 3, before Gracie finally had one come straight towards him off Ryan – a lap of the field in celebration followed. The other opening kid, who tried his best to retire on 50 but was sent back by his team, was vociferously trying to get himself out – more of him later. After a dodgy start, 100/2 quickly became 119/6 as Ryan and Pablo helped themselves to the middle order in quick fashion. For the second time in two weeks, the hat trick was on, this time for Pablo, but their skipper (who is usually in the 2nds at Borstal) swatted the next ball away [all the way to the bloody boundary too – ed.]. A few balls later Paul was agonisingly close to a maiden 5-fer, but Harry only just saw the ball coming out of the sun and shelled the chance. And then came the controversy. Late in the innings, with Vice lobbing down some non-turning guff, there was a run out chance – Rossington was ’round quickly to gather and fire the ball in to Stumpy who whipped the bails off, with the batsman three feet short of making his ground. I saw it, Dave certainly saw it, the pavilion saw it, Dan 300 yards away at Cow Corner saw it, even the blokes on the International Space Station saw it. Square leg umpire says not out [by sheer coincidence, he is the son of the batsman in question – ed.] and the oppo skipper doesn’t walk. Spirit of Cricket? Friendly game? Never seen Stumpy so angry. With the whole team fuming, Harry and I saw out the final couple of overs, with the oppo skipper 67* at the end and probably feeling good about himself. The target was 204 to win.
At the swearing break, I decided the returning Muttley would join me to open the batting this week, and a thoroughly good job he did too. The kid that hit 62 as an opener also opened the bowling, and immediately began throwing a strop. Mutts took terrific pleasure in denying him a wicket with solid forward defence and occasional top edges which dropped safely. Meanwhile, at the other end, I was tucking into some very friendly and tasty pies. Mutts eventually chipped one up to the keeper once Stroppy had been taken off to strop at midwicket (which annoyed him) and then long off (which REALLY annoyed him), just before I moved to 50. Eventually the Vice clubbed a full toss to mid on (standard) for 54, which brought Angry Dave to join the Lord in the middle. Another standard dismissal for Ross this week, as he swiped across the line at one that kept low for 29. Gracie was in next, and he pummelled his first ball – a high full toss – straight into the hands of mid off. Luckily, Mutts was awake at square leg and signalled no ball. Those ‘fucking about’ round the corner shots were brought out again by the big man for a quickfire 12, before he plipped one back to the bowler with us on 149/4 and the game firmly in the balance. Ryan was in at Number 6, with five people waiting in the tail who have barely held a bat all season… Fortunately Dave and Scrappy ticked along nicely until Dave missed a straight one with us on 187, gone for 31. Harry in next, and the new boy gloriously pulled his second ball to the boundary. Ryan pitched in with an unbeaten 20, and hit a 4 with two balls to spare to win us the game by five wickets.
Fair to say, we enjoyed that, despite the run out and relentless strop. Time to open Big Pat’s Legs once again and drink from her delicious cup of joy, and award Big Pat to Pablo Keenan for his club best performance of 4-41 with the ball.