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The 2XI's trip to Brook started well. Brook is a very pleasant ground to look at, until you see the hill. Unphased at the sight of the boundary half way up Mt Kilimanjaro, W&H warmed up in style. 5aside with goals - with nets and everything. The skills were there for all to see – enough said. Matt Lock missed an open goal, which, in reflection, seems appropriate for what was to follow.

W&H 2s regular skipper Roger ‘buss pass’ White was away on marital duties. With 7 potential bowlers in the side (that doesn’t include you Thommo) and Brook’s form suggesting a weakness in the batting ranks, stand-in skipper Williams won the toss and chose to bowl. A decision fully vindicated when Brook’s ‘weak’ batting line up were blown away for a measly 299-8 off 51 overs. 

Umair ‘Spartan’ Shabbar & Callum ‘Chizzy-Rascal’ Chisholm started well. However, edges reached the boundary, prods into the off-side reached the boundary and some real rubbish reached the boundary too. One of Brook’s openers turned out to be a batting specialist akin to an American Football kicker. He turned up, batted, and then went home (sound good to any batters out there?). It was probably, therefore, a good job Chizzy managed to bounce him out early on so he could get home to watch the test match. The other opener struggled. Oli offered him a piano to play instead – he didn’t find this as funny as Oli… in fact nobody did. ‘Havoc’ Guy, however, had the last laugh, putting him out of his misery 20-odd poor runs later. This brought to the crease a new, scarier challenge. A man with a frizzy, ginger afro squashed under his helmet. John Hargan looked angry at the sight of this rival barnet and promptly removed the other batsmen’s stumps from the earth. The battle was on. 

Afro-man 1 won the first round, enjoying some leg-stump full tosses served up by our own Sideshow Bob. Then John fought back, finding the outside edge of Afro-man 1’s bat. However, Matt ‘Teflon’ Habermann (who had earlier pouched some outrageous leg-side wides) couldn’t hang on. Somebody clever told John to do it again, so the next ball he did. Unfortunately, so did Matt. Afro-man cashed in and rarely played another false shot on his way to a good hundred. Oli stared at him a lot. We couldn’t tell whether it was in hatred or wonderment until Afro-man called for some sort of eye-wash. Oli asked if it was because he was too quick for afro-man – the response was short. Wickets fell for a period but overs continued to be costly. The stand-out bowler of the day was Dave ‘Showboat’ Gibney; a strong display returning figures of 3-38 from 11 overs. It is also worth noting for the record that no catches were dropped off Oli Guy’s bowling nor were there any unfair umpiring decisions or untimely scratching of noses. The stand in skipper, missing Roger’s trademark tedious accuracy, turned to Matt Lock for medium pace dribble. A decision as astute as the choice to field first on a glorious sunny day on a good pitch. 31 off 3 overs; statistics don’t lie. Though Matt’s (potentially only) bowling stint was not as costly as Extras which contributed an important half-century to the Brook total.    

The defining moment in the match came during the tea interval. Thommo, in an attempt to rally the troops towards an epic chase to victory, asked the group if they wanted to be losers or did we want to be unbeaten? At this point, someone helpfully reminded Thommo that we’d already lost this season. Thommo’s Fergie-esque hairdryer treatment, however factually flawed it may have been, did hit home with a few of the boys – just not the top order. 

Brook opened up with the old ball and two spinners. Thommo seemed confused at first, but that confusion quickly turned to bitterness. Matt Lock was, however, just confused. He missed a straight one and walked off quacking. Stand-in skipper then proceeded to hit a pie down mid-on’s throat to leave the team 13-2. Thommo quickly followed after creaking down onto one knee to hit a full-blooded sweep into the outstretched hand of a diving fielder. Thommo’s anger was palpable, but to conceal this bubbling rage, Thommo shook the bowlers hand before departing the field. This, all agreed, was village. Nick Tune found some touch and looked good for 24 before joining the rest of the top four on the sidelines. This brought John Hargan to the crease to commence the “Battle of the Ginger Afros: Part Deux”. 

Matt ‘the liver’ Habbermann ran himself out off a misfield and Wolfy departed for the roundest number of them all, bringing Gibbers to the crease. John “fortune cookie” Hargan was looking solid but there was a long way to go. Undaunted, the pair set about the task of saving the game; seeming at ease from ball one. Hargy was timing the ball as sweetly as has been seen anywhere this season and Showboat Gibney rolled back the years, balancing staunch defence with some elegant strokes to the boundary. John went on to score a near-immaculate maiden century (113 no) and Gibney passed 50 before the end. Hargan finished the day with a huge six over the side-screen to leave W&H just 30 runs short of the Brook total and 23 short of the total required for the winning draw. A simply brilliant performance from both to secure W&H a solitary point and deny Brook the win they needed to kick-start their season. 

Lessons will be learned. Most crucially, many were left reflecting on the day that two blokes with frizzy ginger afros made the rest of us look daft. Now we know how they feel.

Fines were had. 

MOM: John Hargan

TANGO MOMENT: Thommo literally challenging the team to achieve the impossible

- Stand in Skipper - James Williams

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