A firm, green-tinged strip greeted the two teams at Mansfield Road today, a departure from the dusty, brown subcontinental offerings to which we have grown accustomed over the past few weeks at our home ground. Eyes were lighting up all round, not least Deb?s, who, with some recent solid net practice and burgeoning confidence, was clearly champing at the bit with the prospect of some decent pace and bounce. Sam was, of course, his usual, understated, noncommittal self, knowing full well that pies are pies no matter where you bowl them, and that they?ll take wickets anywhere in this league.
Quentin duly did his duty in losing the toss again, but this time somehow managed to get us put into the field on a warm afternoon. Martin and the Debster took the new pill. Martin extracted his usual copious inswing, but (and he will deny this) dug in too many short ones to make full use of the generous swing and be a genuine threat in his opening spell. Deb bowled with excellent pace and much better control than in previous outings, using an attacking line and a nagging length. He clearly had the young opening batsman ill at ease, and I thought it my duty to assist the young man?s demise with some carefully chosen psychologically jarring words from point and short mid-wicket, along the lines of, ?He?s running for square leg, Deb!? and ?He?s counting how many left, Deb!?. Welcome to a little piece of Australia, son. Have a nice day ? back in the pavilion. His off stump was duly uprooted a couple of balls later.
Sam and Pete then took over the bowling duties and kept the pressure on by keeping the scoring down and taking the odd wicket. Sam removed the middle order in typical style in his first spell. One is accustomed to use the expression ?ripped out the middle order? in such instances, but such violent and calamitous phraseology really belies the gentle, cream-puff nature of Sam?s deliveries. Still, as they say, ?Look in the papers tomorrow?. Credit must go where credit?s due though, and it has to be said that, once again, Sam kept an impeccable line and length, and troubled all batsmen. He deservedly finished with 5/35. Pete also bowled with excellent control, and deserved better than his 1/16.
Brief experiments with Tom and myself at the Northern end went awry, in the first case because of Quentin?s cruel and unusual decision to bowl the poor offie at the end with unimaginably short straight and leg side boundaries, and in the second case because of a combination of Mandur-style brain explosion and recurrent groin injury. And yes, hitting the kid with the bean ball was an ?accident?.
Sanity prevailed with Martin and Sam returning at the Northern end. Martin bowled a much better line and length in his second spell, and was unlucky to have me put down a sitter at first slip, and then again to hit the stumps without dislodging the bails (it surprises me that this fate doesn?t befall Sam more often at his pace). Isaac shored up the leaking dyke at the Southern end with a much improved performance, snaring two good wickets, and Deb returned behind him to claim another.
Special mention should be made of the OUCCC fielding today, possibly with the exception of the author?s. On a lightning fast outfield with short boundaries, the lads did extremely well to keep the scoring under 5 per over, and apart from my own shabby effort, no simple catches went to ground. Mike and Deb almost pulled off absolute screamers, but were unlucky to end up with fines (which were still my pleasure to dole out nonetheless).
Afternoon tea was taken, during which my best contribution for the day was made: Alex?s brownies.
The run chase commenced with a new-look opening pair of Mike and Quentin. Now, we all know that we achieved the target with no wickets down, and that both batsmen scored unbeaten half centuries, but let?s be serious for a minute here: has anyone ever witnessed such a succession of pie-chucking outside of a circus?? In this match report, I am officially putting forward the motion that all batting statistics for this match be discounted on the grounds that the opposition bowling was of a standard not befitting an Under 13Cs school team. Do I have anyone to second the motion?
Suffice it to say that the boys scored at a touch over 7 runs per over and clinched victory with 12 overs to spare. Quentin finished on 91 not out, and Mike on 81 not out. I particularly want to express my admiration for Mike?s ruthless streak, something this team has notably lacked this season. When it was made plain that Quentin needed to score 10 of the 11 runs required to get his century, with Mike on strike, I could only watch in awe and admiration as Mike planted the foot and took and almighty swipe in the direction of the cover boundary at the next delivery. Red ink, and plenty of it ? good man, Mikey!
At the Kings Arms post mortem session, there was plenty of unrest in the ranks. Talk of ousting Quentin as skipper next year, dumping me as finemaster and retaining me as a batsman only were all issues on the floor. In a season where we have lost two games, and the skipper has scored over 500 runs at an average of over 100, the only legitimate criticisms of Quentin?s captaincy as I see it are the following: (1) He loses the toss all the time (2) He listens to Watto and (3) No-one else gets a bat (I?m ignoring his questionable personal hygiene for the purposes of this discussion). As far as my role as finemaster goes, I think I have proved to be my own harshest critic, and I think the record will show that I have barely gone a week unscathed. If there is a worthy alternative finemaster, let him speak now or forever hold his peace. I think I?ll fine all you bastards £1 each just for attempted mutiny. As to my relinquishing bowling duties in the face of injury and poor form, I have this to say: I am Australian. I am no pussy like that pretender Gough. I?ll work the injury out in the off season and be back and firing with the new ball in 2004. And to those who were making lewd assertions regarding the relation of injury recurrence to my sex life I say this: at least I have a sex life boys! Don?t sprain your wrists now?
Fines for this week:
Bowling: Wenderoth Bean balls x2 £1 Kelly Mid-spell toilet break £0.50
Fielding Wenderoth Dropped catch £0.50 Deb Dropped catch £0.50 Price Dropped catch £0.50
Batting Price Lowest score £0.50
Umpiring Deb 5-ball overs x3 £0.50
See you all at nets on Tuesday lads.