Saturday, August 13, 2011
Wrington C.C. 2nd XI v Easton Cowboys C.C. Saturday XI
The Saturday bunch headed out past Bristol Airport to Wrington. For those unfamiliar with this particular North Somerset parish, a quick look at a Wikipedia entry from last year, allegedly written by a Cowboy who was absent from the match this weekend, would have told you the following:
"Although a lovely village, Wrington cricket ground can be susceptible to it's own little micro climate and suffers from showers and floods and all types of weather and geological conditions, although earthquake and volcano have not occurred in the last few seasons, they are arguably the only reasons left to postpone games. These events normally happen at times of crunch matches and when promotion hopes are high. sometimes they only occur against formidable opposition. they are very localised events, cricket continues most saturdays and sundays in a lot of the surrounding area without a whiff of bad weather, flood poverty or pestilence. My advice to the visitor is to watch your cricket at another village ground if you're after a fair days cricket, if you're a travelling cricket team to have your whits and wellies about you as they'll be up to all shenanigans on and off the field. umbrellas at dawn!"
The doors to both dressing rooms were plastered with freshly printed sheets of paper detailing the nuances of acceptable and unacceptable sporting language, gesture and behaviour, adding to the tension inherited from previous encounters and Wikipedia hacking, although in reality, there were no problems for those who didn't go looking or question umpires' decisions.
After Joe lost the toss, the Cowboys found themselves batting first on a slightly damp and pockmarked wicket, under a slate grey sky. DaveB and Ev faced the new ball and worked hard at keeping out the opening attack, negotiating the variable swing and bounce and finding it difficult to hit the ball off the square. In fact, it was one of the slowest starts to an innings all season and after ten overs there were only fifteen runs on the board. More importantly, there had been no damage from the opening salvo. Oh! Dave's out, caught forcing the pace.
Kalu joined Ev in the middle and after initial caution, the runs started to flow more easily. Ev was then bowled by the first change bowler, bringing BenP to the wicket and together the unbeaten pair from last week built a steadily accelerating partnership, running well and finding the boundary with pleasing regularity. After putting on more than fifty, it all ended in tears when Ben was run out for twenty.
Iggy was caught early on, one of some thirty - or more - catching opportunities presented by both sides throughout the afternoon, much less than half of which (mostly the difficult ones) were taken. Alan came in and provided the perfect foil for Kalu, both looking in cracking form as they welded another partnership against a slightly thin bowling attack, before Kalu was bowled for thirty.
With five wickets down the run rate was now a healthy three an over, climbing rapidly as Ange took full advantage of the balls remaining, finding the middle of the bat and clouting a top score of 34 in quick time as Alan stroked stylishly from the other end. After Ange was bowled, Rog was run out cheaply trying to scamper and maintain the positive momentum against an opposition who by now were snapping at their own heels. Garner went in to hold Alan's hand for a brief while until the end and the well paced collective innings concluded after 40 overs on an above par 166-7 with Alan 26 not out.
After a good though perhaps tactically heavy tea, which wasn't as your correspondent initially suspected laced with ketamine, the Cowboys took to the field, Alan in a fetching / fineable orange 'Mani' hat. Swifts flew inches above the ground, darting about successfully catching insects, utterly unlike the fielding display soon to unfold.
Although one of the regular opposition opening pair (the leading run scorer in the division) was absent, the other, their skipper (also highly productive this season) wasn't. Budge and Garner opened the bowling and apart from rare exceptions kept things tight but couldn't make a breakthrough. That's the trouble with bowling well and making the ball swing. It wasn't until Ev replaced Budge that the young opener was out caught.
>> Note to self: Data absent
>> Insert Appendix detailing all catches taken and dropped; go easy on Rog and Iggy, praise the skipper.
>> Those who didn't stay in The Plough until closing time will be less likely to be suffering amnesia.
Replacing Garner, your correspondent forgot to let go of his first delivery then noticed that he could have run out the non-striker by yards. He didn't, more concerned with the possibility that he'd forgotten how to bowl. He was soon taught an early lesson by having a reasonably good ball clattered to cow corner, where the Friesian spectators chewed. (Other non bovine spectators included Jeff and SteveO - the latter may have some photographic plates of the occasion.)
Not long after, the pinioned new batsman messed up a drive and Budge had a second, tastier catch. He plucked a third after Rog overcame initial radar difficulties and the batsman favoured the aerial route. Kalu beguiled with flight and accidental googlies, earning respect from batsmen falling behind with their run rate and prompting the fall of the next wicket, when Garner swooped to pouch a rebound from Iggy's slippery hands, and in so doing was a worthy winner of the Cider Moment.
The opposition skipper remained, steadily accumulating, reaching his half century as his partners came and went. The Cowboys' skipper rotated the six bowlers expertly, showing a fine head for mathematics. Field positioning was crucial, as was Ange's diving behind the stumps. Alan took a great catch on the long-on boundary, where he appeared little more than an orange dot in the fading light by the hedgerow.
Wrington, bar their captain, were crumbling, despite all the dropped catches, yet they weren't out of the game. Unperturbed by the ability to swing the ball, your correspondent bowled straight and hit the stumps. Budge's fourth catch off Ev at long-off was sublime, as the batsman threatened to chase a run a ball for the last few overs, then, achieving some kind of poetic justice, Ev aptly bowled the batsman who'd previously bowled him.
In the dusk, from some distance, the scoreboard was deceptive and it was unnerving to discover that 38 overs gone was actually 36. Their captain was looking like carrying his bat and possibly capable of achieving their target as Rog sought to contain him, but in the 38th over Ben made no mistake with a fine diving catch and he was dismissed for 73. Not even unexpected localised seismic activity could save Wrington now: Game over, victory by 20 runs.
Budge's catching and captaincy won him an equal share of the Man of the Match vote with the embedded hack who acquired a small clutch of wickets.