Surfs Up for the Sunday BoysThe game this week continued the emerging tradition of an early groundsman / Sunday side bickering session, though this week's offering was a distinct improvement on last week. In truth a few people thought last week's flare up a little one sided – essentially a man who got out of bed the wrong side confronted with a set of chaps full of the joys and ready for a Sunday afternoon in the sunshine, this week was a more balanced affair.
There are a number of people who do not share the passion of the majority for football, and our groundsman is a definitely one of them. It was therefore easy to see why, when faced with three or four young lads kicking a football around the place, he should leave the ground huffing and at pace. His exit left the side with a host of machinery to play with for 20 minutes and the opportunity to slap some paint around the square, so it all worked out fine in the end. As in any drama there are two sides and whilst the Sun would no doubt report something like 'Groundsman in football blow up' the Mirror would have probably gone with 'Hooligans hurl ball at groundsman'. As this particular 'journalist' had left the field at the critical moment I can't provide the real scoop, as if it mattered anyway.
So with machines put away, paint back in pots and Smithy finishing a great job of cleaning the brushes the lads watched Old Wimbledon 1sts arrive. It was obvious to even the casual observer that this lot were going to match up to their first team billing. There were no (much less then 50% anyway) bellies on the players, lots of wrap around sunglasses and the odd Antipodean accent – all in all it looked much like a surf school had got lost on the way to Newquay - a sure fire indication that proper cricketers were in attendance. Our glorious leader stepped up to the plate at this point, and lost the toss – leaving the home side to bowl in the warm afternoon sunshine.
The opening pair of Forty and Mandar started ok but were punished severely when straying down the leg side, or indeed even onto the pads, with both opening bats picking up good early runs from this area. As left handers, both players were extending another theme from last week and both players looked comfortable from the start, with W&H unable to mount the early pressure that is their usual trademark. Mandar struggled a little early with his line to the left handers but improved and beat the bat with some great deliveries, although ending his short early spell with 0 for 27 off 4. Paul (22 for 2 off 6) took the first wicket, a well taken catch from the vice captain Cockroach who, with his usual eye for the crowd, ended with another unnecessary rolling, diving flourish.
Scott (0 for 28 off 8) replaced Mandar and bowled a tight spell to the now established left hand opener; he moved the ball and caught the edge which, unfortunately for Scottie, flew to the bucket like hand of Fortesque. As it happens the ball rolled around in the bucket and then popped out again – an error that was to prove costly as the left handed opener went on to an untroubled 94. Next up saw the hamster, Asbo's younger brother, bowl some text book long hops in his 2 over spell – bowling even a brother could not love. Smithy replaced Scott at the other end and bowled well with good spin although the quick feet of the well established opener made a lot of pitched up stuff into full tosses (that is what Peter told me anyway) and the run rate continued to mount with a variety of shots from both ends. Smithy (whose figures are not to hand but will make it to the website in due course) took the next two wickets with stumpings as looked to force the pace. The lively Peter Allan making the first look easy and, no doubt for the benefit of the umpire, the second look like it was one of those new slow, slow motion things. Matt Allan (0 for 17 off 4) appeared to replace Paul and bowled tightly and quickly, allowing Smithy to keep looking for the loft. Asbo then replaced Matt with himself, looking for the breakthrough, and started well, although his second over was costly (0 for 28 off 2). He was then replaced by the vice who bowled one excellent ball and 11 truly shocking balls in a less then glorious spell (0 for 28 off 2). At this stage Cockroach breathed a sigh of relief as the opposition, no doubt spotting that tea was being laid out declared on 244 for 4, ish.
After tea the home side started well as the old and the young combined in the opening Allan show - Matt lofting things in his pinch-hitting role and Peter playing like the seasoned pro that he is. With such a target though both players kept the run rate up and things looked ok for W&H on a strip that had seen a 280 score the day before. Matt fell on 12 though to a great catch at gully taken off the fielder's toes. The Aussie beefcake then strode out determined to enjoy himself, and that he did. Scott and Peter are not fans of the cheeky single and the spell saw both players hit out, Scott with some particularly good pulls and drives. At this point, with the run rate still high things continued to look ok, if the Aussie could stay around. He survived but Peter (12) perished, bowled by a quicker one.
This brought the skipper out, with a point to prove after a few teatime debates about field placings and bowling changes. A time for 'cometh the hour cometh the man' one may think. Unfortunately our very own little Asbo lost his cool after a tight spell and lost his wicket for 2 runs to an easy catch. So the opportunity for best supporting actor fell to Albert Hall who, with his long experience as a fine concert venue, should have been up to the job.
The world will never know as Albert perished on 2. The flatter ball from the leg spinner appeared to hit the Albert zone – an area of the pitch that our groundsman prepares for Albert, and bounced only marginally before rolling into the bottom of off stump. I understand that Albert is now looking into taking up groundsman duties himself as well as considering his options regarding the perfect cricket groundsman murder – cutting the brake cable on the sit on tractor? putting a landmine in front of the roller? or an exploding football are the early favourites I believe.
After all this our long lost student and part time member of the Kings of Leon arrived and contributed a duck to the innings. Fortesque and Cockroach then joined the party as Scott perished next ball for a fine and lusty 54. The need now was for the boys to hang around and Cockroach particularly, a man not known for his cool and measured approach to batting, found communicating this approach from his head to his waving cross batted arms a tough job. After a few air shots and a typically cross batted lofty hoike he settled for a while, resisting the inappropriate sweep most, but not all, of the time. By contrast, at the other end this was Paul's idea of heaven – dogmatic, elephantine batting with a stride and a dangling bat. Both chaps did stay around and saw off 6-7 overs before Cockroach (12) was bowled by the first quicker delivery that the leg spinner got on target. Mandar now strode out for the blocking job, and stayed for a while before falling too many overs before the close. Shortly after this Forty perished lbw and Smithy and the Hamster were required to bat out around 4 overs. This proved too much for the two of them and the boys slumped to their second successive defeat.
Summing up the game the ever thoughtful Forty-Fortesque hit the nail on the head – “we played a pretty good side and made that mush harder for them than it could have been”. So that leaves the Sunday side looking focussed for next week and concentrating on achieving the first win of the season. Roll on Sunday.