Bank of England Vs WHCC – Sunday 18th August 2002.
Courtesy of two previous cancellations this was to be the Sunday teams first away game of the season and at a ground I had personally never played on. I had heard all the tales of a flat wicket that is a dream to bat on, a big total would be needed, bowling would need to be tight and the opposition being hard to beat but on arrival at WHCC we were informed the opposition only had 8 players and of what quality?
By the time we arrived at the ground we had 12 players and it was decided that we would draw lots to see who played for the opposition but somehow we all knew it was going to be Smithy who was joined by Hasan although Helen was squarely in support of the WHCC boys and not Judas Smith. The pre-match team talk concentrated on the need for focus and concentration, not on the batting itself but the need to ensure no one lost their wicket to Smith (jug fine to anyone who did). Fingers won the ‘toss’ again and we choose to bat on a dry flat pitch with Nick Day making a welcome return to the team and opening the batting with Chris Murphy. The steel band played in the background but unfortunately the tune wasn’t quite the old BBC test coverage theme or Chris’ request of ‘Smack my bitch up’. The electronic score hut was primed for action and we got off to a promising start with Chris and Nick playing themselves in well and gradually accelerating the run rate before Nick pulled his thigh muscle and had to leave the field for treatment. Personally I think it was just an excuse to drop his trousers in front of Helen and ask for a massage (declined) but a quick trip to the bar for a money bag full of ice (was there any cash in it before?) seemed to do the trick instead. Dave Gianotti had been waxing lyrical about the fabled track and how everyone could fill their boots with runs on the day and with Dave being the teams form batsman we looked forward to another handy total. Dave returned five minutes later disappointed at giving his wicket away on such a quality batting track and was now relying on the quality of the tea to cheer him up. Albert went out and blazed away as he has done on many occasions this year and he and Chris seemed to be particularly interested in finding Smithy and making him work hard for his tea. A sizeable partnership was developing but was cut short by a poor umpiring decision (neutral umpire) as Albert was dismissed lbw by Hasan !! During this time Chris was showing his lack of fitness but had amassed a career best score (previously 35) and soon passed the fifty mark without puking. Nick went back in but his intention was always going to be to try and hit the ball out of the park before Smith came on to bowl, sadly Nick only added a couple to his total before being bowled. On the boundary we enjoyed heckling Smithy’s fielding and bowling exploits and had all enjoyed tasting Helen’s melons but no-one seemed tempted by Peter’s plums. Chris was wilting fast and having played a disciplined innings he was now hell bent on having some fun and seeing how many runs he could score before getting out. A few big hits ensued and a few cheeky reverse sweeps made, including one off Smith which didn’t impress him much until Chris was finally dismissed on a Sunday 2002 top score of 79. Chris Guest and Ben Storey finished off the innings as we declared on 191 for 5 from 41 overs.
The tea was greatly enjoyed (except by Charlie who tried his best to upset the tea ladies) although it was apparently not as good as it was years ago. Nick’s injury had left us without a wicket keeper and so I was called upon to take on the role (praying Ben Storey wouldn’t be needed to bowl). Nick Challen opened the bowling and we were all shocked not to hear him bitch about it but the captain’s intention was to bowl him 12 or 15 overs or until he puked, whichever came first. John Green was on at the other end to offer some contrast and to invite the batsmen to ‘have a go’. Despite the flat wicket Nick was having one of his good days and moving the ball around much to my enjoyment and he regularly claimed wickets including one handy batsman who had hit him for 10 in four balls before being caught by Ben. Ben had earlier dropped a high one off John’s bowling and thrown his Teddy’s out of the pram almost as hard as he threw the ball at Nick Day’s ankles. John Green’s lack of matches this year began to show but despite being a bit expensive he did give me my first catch for the club at keeper and managed to find the edge again which was expertly caught by Nick Day’s mighty wrists and forearms. Nick Challen finished his spell bowling against Smithy (and failing to get him out) with figures of 14 Overs, 5 maidens, 5 wickets for 31 runs. Smith came in for some quality sledging as the field was bought in to deliver as many cutting remarks as possible with the tired but still imaginative Murphy winning the prize for ‘hoping you poke at Helen with more force than that one’. Chris Guest came onto replace John at the end and despite bowling only 8 balls managed a seasons best two wicket haul, one a second catch of the day for Fowles behind the stumps and the other an lbw to win the match as we dismissed the opposition for 88 all out. Sadly Smith had not been dismissed but no runs, no wickets and no catches meant plenty ammunition for the rest of us although he got his revenge in the bar with a quality moan about only getting a short bowl and batting down the order.
With the presidents day coming up over the bank holiday we will all have to remember that Nick Challen managed to avoid his five wicket jug and barrack him accordingly on his return.