The meet time arrived and passed, the sightscreens were under repair, the away changing room door couldn’t be opened, numbers were falling off the scorebox, players were missing and the weather forecast was dodgy, yes another cricket season at W&H had well and truly arrived!!
However, within the hour things were well under way, a previously unseen (on a Saturday) fielding circle was in place and the South African equivalent to the Barmy Army were lubricating there vocal cords in the old net corner with what seemed to be there own fridge!
The cricket was a little rusty but many people played themselves into form and full tosses which were originally being patted back to fielders were soon being dispatched round the ground and the first cry of lost ball was being heard. The first wicket appropriately was a run out and although I wasn’t around to see it I am assured by Quaggy that it wasn’t his fault.
Quaggy went on to reach 50 and was retired. Gagan played well for 30 and Morlers was on fire for his 50 although his boastful claims of ‘50 off 30 balls FACT’ will remain forever unproven. The spinners kept the run scoring down below 200, but the highlight of the innings will undoubtedly go to Roger White who attempted to chest down and control the ball rather than take a simple catch. The thud of the ball into his chest was heard all the way in the pavilion!
Tea was consumed at great pace, football scores were treated with dismay and by now the number of spectators was swelling and maybe many lifetime friendships were being formed in the crèche?
198 in 40 overs was a more than competitive score for a first game, although after a circumspect start the way newcomer Jan Kreder was playing it looked a mere stroll in the park. Fortunately though the ‘retire at 50 rule’ put a stop to this and a quick flurry of wickets gave the game a nice competitive edge. All the bowlers got decent spells and in general put the balls in the right areas and there was time for one more entry for the classic catch competition from Morlers who took 3 opportunities to put down a rather straightforward slip catch. Cue stifled giggles from the very ‘experienced’ slip cordon. By now the crowd was reaching pre-season record levels, the words/songs of encouragement from the South African contingent was constant and a replacement for Trolley Man (minus Trolley it has to be said) had been found.
The total of 198 was surpassed just before the end and those who had spent less time at the crease first time round got chance for another knock and everyone left the field happy, thirsty and hungry and with the sun shining on the ground it reminded us all what a nice place to play cricket Brewery Road is.
The bbq was lit and then taken over with huge success by the South African chefs, the bar was in full flow and pints of snakey b were being consumed at a fair rate, in fact the only thing that was missing was Quaggy’s shoes!
As the night moved on Mike Walsh became more frustrated as everyone kept changing the music channel away from Metallica, the bottles of blackcurrant disappeared and a wide range of political topics were debated.
All in all a very successful start to the season!