Saturday, April 30, 2011

Easton Cowboys v Shepton Mallet

The Easton Cowboys Saturday XI were eagerly anticipating the commencement of their campaign in Division Three, up bright and early and waiting at Frenchay for the opposition. And waiting. Leaving aside comments about whether our new friends in the south had enough agricultural diesel to drive their tractors to the big city, there was mention of the regulations pertaining to late arrival and the forfeiture of the right to toss.

Naturally, new skipper Joe wasn't so churlish as to deny the Shepton Mallet captain the opportunity when they eventually arrived, by which time the Cowboys were nicely warmed up and ready to bowl. The opposition duly won the toss and put the Cowboys into bat.

Angelo and debutant Dave B navigated through the opening overs, cautious of the variable bounce and pace of the hard oatmeal wicket. When Angelo departed after hitting three boundaries, Ben continued the Cowboys' circumspect approach as the total crawled along. Having done a lot of hard work before he was eventually caught out, he was replaced by Evan who joined an increasingly solid looking Dave. Together they forged a steady partnership, then both cut loose to launch sixes and distribute the ball to all corners of the fast outfield.

When Ev was stumped attacking the ball, Kahlu did well to continue and build upon the momentum, hitting six boundaries in his 32 not out and unfortunate to miss out on more, thanks to some very competent fielding by the opposition. Meanwhile, at the other end, Dave had cruised well past fifty and as the innings approached its conclusion the big question was whether he'd get enough of the strike to make it to a century. This he answered emphatically in the final over, with one of the flattest sixes possible, punched powerfully over point: It was a remarkable performance and having carried his bat, he remained not out on 104, from a respectable and defendable innings total of 198 for 3.

Joe did well to shoulder tea responsibilities in addition to captaincy and somehow just managed to make it feed the multitude. Buoyed by this and the welcome vocal home support and scorer, the Cowboys took to the field.

Disconcertingly, the runs came easily to the opposition batsmen who used the pace of the ball and outfield to their advantage, seeing off Joe and Rich's opening attack. When the breakthrough finally came with Gretch taking a catch behind the stumps, bowler Ev barely noticed and had already started back to his mark. Fortunately, other fielders and the sporting batsmen were more aware, the former joining in muted celebration as the latter left the field.

As the flow of runs continued unabated, it was becoming clear that the Cowboys were not alone in having a solid, aggressive opening batsman who was also capable of finding the aerial route to the boundary. There was little in the pitch for the bowlers who found themselves buffeted by a strong crosswind which didn't help their cause and after a spirited but fruitless spell by Rob, your correspondent was called upon to replace him at the top end while Kahlu tried from the other.

A rare false shot facilitated a caught and bowled while Kahlu was eventually rewarded with the scalp of the opening bat, who departed for 91, thanks to Ben's excellently judged catch in the deep. Unfortunately the runs kept coming, the more so from the seventh and eighth bowlers to be called upon as the batsmen found the boundary with increasing regularity and in the 31st over the opposition overhauled the total for the loss of three wickets.

Any euphoria from the earlier Cider Moment of Dave's ton-reaching six had all but evaporated, as had Dave, clearly alarmed by the demands on his wallet made by the other jug-expecting Cowboys, who'd also voted him Man of the Match. Nevermind, there were lots of positives, our new friends in the south were sound, Rich got the barbecue out and did things to bits of pig, there was beer and dubstep on the way back to the Plough and your correspondent hadn't yet realised that despite a bag of ice his ankle was the size of a melon.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New greens for old

As the kale and sprouting broccoli comes to an end in yellow flowers, the first of the spinach is ready and makes a change from the rather tasteless but reliable chard.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Verbascum phoeniceum

Also known as the purple mullein, this verbascum comes back year after year, no matter how cold the winter, but never quite this early.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Angelica archangelica

Used for all kinds of culinary, medicinal and recreational purposes, the angelica plants have flowered several weeks earlier than usual this year.

Wikipedia: Angelica

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ribes Grossularia

With rhubarb being first past the post in the season's fruit crops, gooseberries look like coming second, although strawberries may yet get the majority.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

12 Monkeys

The ground at Frenchay was bathed in warm spring sunshine and beneath the winter cobwebs the pitch appeared to be bone dry. The toss was dispensed with; presumably in these cash-strapped times nobody had a spare coin, besides, skipper Ev had amicably negotiated the terms of engagement with the opposition and everyone seemed happy for the Cowboys to take to the field.

Earlier, there had been murmurs that the Cowboys only had ten men and yet the field looked well populated and the ball always seemed to find a fielder. Remarkably shrewd captaincy, perhaps? Winter net sessions appeared to have paid off as the bowlers all settled in to a tidy line and length, restricting Frenchay to less than three an over, even if the batsmen initially proved difficult to dislodge. A brilliant spell of bowling by Wayne should have been rewarded earlier when the batsman was duped into offering a tame lob over the bowler's head, only for mid-on to trot around and spill a dolly like a greased piglet. His blushes were spared when Rob dislodged the batsman a few balls later, on his way to a three wicket haul that earned him a joint man of the match award.

Otherwise, the fielding was sharp; Ev clutching a smart caught and bowled, Wayne holding a screamer in the slips and Joe hurdling the boundary fence with more aplomb than most Aintree nags, even if the ball had already beaten him to it. New blood Alex acquitted himself well, picking up a wicket in his first match and Angelo tumbled nimbly behind the stumps after a speedy recovery from his broken ankle.

For most of the innings it didn't look like Frenchay would muster more than 150, but unbeknown to most, the skip had decided to donate a few runs to the opposition in the final few overs 'to give the Cowboys some batting practice' and consequently Frenchay ended up on 163 for 9.

After tea, which comprised surely some of the whitest bread to ever leave an oven, the skip sat down to define the batting order, only to discover that there wasn't enough room on the scorecard. Somehow, the Cowboys had gone from thinking that they were one player short to having one extra and the once shrewd captain now appeared to be lacking some key skills. James valiantly extricated himself from the batting line up as Ev furtively rebooted his abacus, wondering if the opposition had noticed.

The Frenchay opening attack was lively and direct. Much too soon Angelo and Ben were removing their pads with few runs on the board and once Grant had departed too, the Cowboys were in dire need of the steadying presence of Steve. The score trickled along until Ev missed a straight yorker, your correspondent only narrowly avoiding the same fate before the pace was replaced by spin and he eventually heaved when he shouldn't oughta. Joe joined Steve for a while, whose batting earned him the other man of the match joint, but a respectable total was still a long way off.

Rich wagged the tail a little with a six over mid-off, but his failed attempt at a repeat two balls later saw the onset of mange. Rob, Wayne and Alex did all they could before the innings was humanely put to sleep, a little less than a hundred runs short of the target. At the end of the match, when Ev sheepishly informed the opposition captain that we'd accidentally fielded with twelve and the reply was, "Oh yeah, we knew," the winner of the Cider Moment was hardly in doubt.

Saturday, April 09, 2011