Saturday, August 20, 2011

Don't watch the birdie

Easton Cowboys C.C. Saturday XI v Churchways C.C. 1st XI

With Angelo reportedly by the side of a motorway somewhere having lost his car in a plume of smoke and Kalu inexplicably AWOL, there were a few last minute tweaks to the Saturday XI to play Churchways at Frenchay: Hats off to Wilko and Justin for stepping in and maintaining the fine pedigree of a side still daring to dream of promotion.

Rain arrived around the same time as the opposition who, having won the toss, took a further half an hour to make their minds up while the drizzle fell, eventually deciding, rather peculiarly, to bat.

Budge hared down the hill, theoretician Garner up it, initially strangling the left and right handed batsmen as they tried to get to grips with the swing and vagaries of the pitch. A couple of boundaries raced away across the customarily fast outfield before Ev snapped up a catch in the gully off Garner to make the breakthrough.

It was DaveB whose ornithological interests were first aroused when he noticed an additional fielder on the square, snacking on grass seed. Unaware of the heavy penalties for twitching, the small white and red streaked bird (Crested Zebra Finch?) was soon surrounded by several large white and red streaked humans and sensibly rediscovered its power of flight when Rog 'Birdman of Frenchay' tried to pick it up. Fines for all involved.

Ev replaced the skipper from the top end and commenced bowling one of his most miserly spells to date (eventually going for only nine runs from his eight overs) removing the second opener thanks to Wilko at slip, who later pouched another chance off Garner to have the opposition three wickets down around the time of the drinks interval.

A freak occurrence won several Cider Moment nominations when a ball from Ev passed through the batsman and clipped the top of the bails but left them intact. No glue was found to be present.

RobT ensured that he hit the stumps more directly to bowl Churchways' captain cheaply, then took a catch off the bowling of your correspondent who'd been allowed to skip in down the hill. When Rog trapped the highest scorer to date LBW with a fuller ball, it looked like the opposition might be restricted to not much more than a hundred.

Disconcertingly, the lower order batsmen had other plans and the run rate that had been at below three an over rose significantly as the boundary was found regularly and chances and half chances went to ground. Alan took a catch to ensure that the tail didn't wag too violently, Roger bowled the No.7 and after 40 overs, the opposition No.8 remained unbeaten on 45, from an innings total of 154-8. It was still a modest total for Frenchay, by a side whose strengths purportedly lay in batting

Tea was served by butlers under Garners direction, hand-delivered from Fortnum & Mason's and comprising only the most intelligent deceased animals, a fine wedge of stilton and grapes. Possibly shocked by the absence of cakes and muffins (as many understandably were) DaveB didn't open the batting but walked about looking confused as Wilko and Ev went out to face the music just before six o'clock.

The innings started slowly but all was well until Wilko, having reached double figures, wafted at a wide one and looped the ball up to deep point. BenP joined Ev and by the 17th over the score was a healthily poised 55-1, both batsmen looking in fine and stylish form, glancing, cutting, driving and pulling an array of shots out of the bag. At the halfway stage it had moved on to 68-1 but soon after, Ben pivoted, played back and was adjudged LBW by the presiding Garner for a very useful 33. Alan, sporting a fetching pink hat this week, walked out to bat as the evening drew in.

Having bowled out their overs, the fairly economical opening pair was replaced by an oddly rotated assortment with which the batsmen had few problems. The partnership accumulated runs until a shout of 'great shot' was a little premature as Ev cracked a full toss, allegedly a trap, to the mid-wicket boundary fielder and was out for 28. The same bowler soon got one through DaveB, whose earlier ornithological interests now extended to duck territory.

Justin, now rested from valiant keeper tumbling duties, was a confident late entrant at No.6, intent on seeing it through, joining Alan who appeared composed and capable, whatever lurked beneath. The hundred came up with a wide around the 30th over, the required run rate now up to five after a couple of maidens.

A couple of boundaries in quick succession soon put a dent in the target, but it was getting increasingly dark and there was rain in the air. With seven overs remaining, 27 runs were required. Two runs came off the next over and the rain became heavier. Churchways had little fight left but Alan, on cue, had plenty, lofting a six over long-on for a Cider Moment and bringing victory closer. A total of twelve came from the over, leaving just thirteen needed from five overs: A piece of cake - missing from earlier. The rain eased, a rainbow glowed through a murky sky.

Four overthrows won the match for the Cowboys on the first ball of the 38th over, the batting partnership undefeated in a six wicket victory, Justin not out 20. Alan was voted Man of the Match for his innings of 44 not out, Ev's bowling, batting and catching had been commendable too.


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