Sam Sargant is an old friend of the club. He’s taken 79 wickets for us but today he was looking to even up the score, leading his International Rescue team against us. Sam had been hoping that someone else that we all know well would be on his team too, but alas not. That person certainly wasn’t otherwise engaged flying Thunderbird One. Perhaps the cabin pressure was too much for him. Or perhaps he really had bumped his leg.  Can you tell who it wasn’t yet?

Having won the toss Sam opened the bowling. There’s never a doubt that he’s a quality bowler and a peach of a ball forced Dushy to play and edge to second slip at the start of the third over. He sprayed it about a bit too though, indicating that he does need more cricket to avoid the rust setting in [contact Jamo, Curly or Herro to arrange it Sam].

Herro, whose begging and pleading to open the batting had been, frankly, embarrassing, was now joined by Will for a Herringtons spectacle . Straight drives through long off and tickles to fine leg occasionally interspersed with inside edges toward fine leg and straight drives through fly slip put on eighty for the second wicket.

And then it was time for the first in a series of utterly irrelevant record breaking. Having scored eight, Brooksie then broke the Jurgo record for the most number of balls being within one shot of 1,000 Sunday runs without actually scoring any more runs. At the other end Mikey replaced Herro who had made an impressive meal for two, promptly called Brooksie through for a second run that Joe Brown would have made at a canter, and became responsible for a second run out in two days. 146-3.

The sun was still shining and a day like this deserved a procession so it was Srin, Uzair, Ashish and Jurgo who provided it. 151-8 and 165-9 in the end.

Park began very quietly in the field but were soon encouraged, possibly by a narrow miss at utterly irrelevant record breaking or possibly by a quality ball from Curly. My money is on the record attempt being the key. Inspired by a recent Park Under 9s triumph, a Park Sunday team first was almost achieved: passing the ball from keeper, through the slips and around the ring without dropping it, getting as far as extra cover before disaster struck. Curly’s wicket was quite good too though.

So now normal banter was now resumed and, next up, in an inspirational piece of captaincy, Jurgo told Kiran to get a wicket. So he did, glancing the Jurgo nose with the deflection off the stumps. 24-2  and Kiran finished with figures that other bowlers eyed enviously: 7-1-7-2.

The next bowlers were Ashish and Srini. Both bowled impressive spells. Having not played for a long time before this season, Ashish’s bowling is getting better and better despite having to navigate around an invisible lamppost in his run up. He bowled the no.5 early in his spell and did likewise to the no.4 toward the end of it. Srini bowled tightly, conceding just 16 in his five overs.

Faced with a left/right hand partnership, Dushy was unnecessarily worried that his line was off. All’s well that ends well and a ball that looked to be sailing wide of the left hander’s leg stump took the bat and provided a leg side strangle.

Ten overs to go. Sixty-nine runs required. Four wickets left. A double change introduced the Herringtons to the attack. Will found big turn and soon bowled Moore. Sam was still a threat. Successive sixes reminded Park that there was work to do. But Herro is not one to shirk a challenge and he continued to take responsibility to tie up that short boundary end.

Will continued too. Devastatingly. Three wickets for five runs as he bowled two more opponents. Not all over yet. Sam needing less than ten per over is still a concern. But in the 37th over the International Rescue no.11 found himself facing Herro. Since the dawn of time (if not longer) it’s been the same:

 “The no.11 misses. Herro hits.”

Thunderbirds are gone! It’s Park by 28 runs.

Epilogue

Spinders had come to watch the end of the game. He looked nervous when invited to join the Blue Stripe huddle and his desperation to remember which leg to limp on was transparent. Nonetheless, the Blue Stripe went to Will for being too thirsty to contest it to the dubious Blue Stripes panel.

Park did eventually achieve the utterly irrelevant record breaking feat of passing the ball all the way around the circle without dropping it (so put that in your pipes and smoke it Under 9s!). And, perhaps most remarkably, Mikey now holds the utterly irrelevant record for the most successive balls wearing the yellow cap as Park took the one and only chance that was offered.

Disclaimer: the match report author takes no responsibility for the accuracy of utterly irrelevant records. Neither the author nor any member of Welford Park Cricket club will be responsible for hurt caused to any person being denied an utterly irrelevant record or, more likely, for hurt caused to any person being incorrectly credited for an utterly irrelevant record.

 

This Sunday game had a lot of excitement around a pitch looking promising for batsmen, showcasing fantastic bowling from Ashford Hill and series of gambles from Welford Park.

Fifteen minutes before toss, Mark (our beloved skipper) delegated captaincy to Dushy, shall we call it gamble number one. Mark did note how sluggish the over-rate was last time Dushy was captain (thanks Mark for the motivational speech). We had 4 players on their debut at Park - Sagar, Uzair, Shahbaz and Bhushan.

Having lost the toss; As Skelly says, "We send out our best tosser and he lost the toss"; Park were put to bat first. Mikey stepped up for the challenge to open the innings with a slow player like Dushy and thus we changed our opening pair again. Contrary to popular belief, Dushy was not slow this time - golden duck - back in pavilion before you could blink. Mikey braved on while wickets fell on the other side, Park losing Uzair(2) and Brooksie (1). Then stepped in our hero of many games this season and last season (many previous ones) and many ones to come, Herro, steering the game on path for Park. Soon after Mikey was bowled over, bringing in Sagar, who played a brilliant 100.00 strike rate on his debut.  But Park's predicament continued, losing Shahbaz, Mark and Emily and Bhushan within a span of 5 runs. It was only Kiran who went for the last stand, while Herro went on to his 50. Unfortunately they missed the last wicket partnership record by 1 run! We could put up only 132.

After amazing teas by Kiran, Park needed disciplined bowling and superman fielding and that is exactly what the whole team went on to deliver. Kiran opened the bowling and bowled over one of the openers and he kept coming back in his following overs to get more wickets finishing at 4 wickets and only 1 extra. Opening from the other end was Sagar, and his tight bowling kept the pressure on. First change Mikey came in to claim 2 wickets and Shahbaz kept the run rate down. All these happening with brilliant support from fielders, dives by Uzair, Mark's quick reactions keeping batsmen in their crease, Brookise being a wall at midwicket and Emily kept chasing and converting 2s to 1s at gully. Bhushan claimed one important lbw. Herro bowled a brilliant spell to get one lbw. Finally Ashford Hill needed 22 of 12 overs with 2 wickets to spare and they kept getting 2s. Now the final gamble, having not bowled the whole season till now, Dushy was supported by vice captain Mark and he came on. All went well, thanks to Mikey for a brilliant catch, which was followed by a clean bowled. Park wins by 16 runs in 32.5 overs. phew!

 

Double Blue-Stripe winner, Dushy, almost had to pull out of today’s game because he dislocated his arse playing karate, yet he still managed to post his highest ever score. But would it be enough to see Park home? Well, without revealing too much too soon I think it’s safe to say that when Dushy sits down to reflect on his performance he will say “Ouch, I should not have sat down on my dislocated arse”.
 
Having lost the toss, Park took the field welcoming three friends of UP for their first game with the club: Srin, Mahesh and my favourite ever bowler, Raji. The attack commenced with Mikey, who has taken inspiration from Curly and decided he’s a batsman now, so was soon replaced by Atul. From the other end it was Curly himself who was delighted to pass the yellow cap to Herro after a failed juggle in the gully.
 
With much further yellow cap passing, the Wantage openers accelerated to 107 in the 18th over. By this time Raji had passed his Trilby to the umpire, scratched his head, and come up with a cunning plan that had Burton stumped for Jurgo’s 99th Sunday dismissal. Not long after it was Raji again for the Jurgo 100. This time caught behind.  
 
The remaining opener, Bramley, was hitting hard and looking set. But Mahesh had been bowling well and did just enough to dislodge a bail as the unfortunate Bramley played on. 152-3 and the tide had turned.  Tight bowling from Herrington, Hayes and Srin Kumar kept Wantage in check and wickets continued to fall. A superb Atul hurl executed a run-out, Srin bowled batsmen 4,6 and 8 and Em bowled the Wantage skip and now it was 191-8 in the 37th.  
 
Herro had got excited when Weekes came in. Apparently, they have been rivals since before the rule change to add the third stump. Weekes kept the score moving but Herro got the last laugh (well actually we all did), Herro declining a catch off the last ball and running him out instead.
 
The target was 219 to win. Park started sedately. The opening partnership ended in the 10th over with Jurgo (6) having marginally outscored Dushy.
 
Yet with his arse still tender and Dr Ludgate unavailable to pop it back in, Dushy braved on. The only apparent symptoms were an utter inability to call sensibly and an occasional tendency to run in the same direction as his new partner, Mahesh. The partnership prospered and the rate dramatically accelerated. 86-1 at drinks.
 IMG 0193
Dushy reached his 50 off 68 balls and then smacked the Wantage quickie straight for a superb six in making 86, finally holing out at 151-2. Mikey played a canon off his foot onto his stumps and Mahesh, who had also played beautifully, went for 56. 181-4 after 35 overs. 38 required to win off 5.
 
The 36th just yielded 2 as Brooksie played himself in. Then Herro launched. VDT was lost as Wantage kept mislaying the ball. 18 off the over. 14 to win off 3. But 12 to win off 2 and nails were being bitten. Nine runs off the 39th helped.
 IMG 0241
Now Herro’s arch rival was defending two off the last over. (Three to win).  First ball, no run. Second ball no run. Nails get shorter. Third ball: wide. Third legitimate ball, Herro scrambles a single, scores tied. Fourth ball, Brooksie defends like he has a test match to save. Herro runs two halves but two halves don’t make a whole (not in this game).  Fifth ball. Cover drive! Brooksie beats the field!
 
It’s Park by 6 wickets!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Epilogue
So everyone was very happy. Dushy enjoyed his Blue Stripe. Herro’s match winning finale left him 41*in 22 balls and with a 102 run start on Will. Jurgo bought lots of beer to celebrate the 100 dismissals, then made Dushy buy even more beer to celebrate his 86. And with all the attention on Dushy’s arse, one interesting fact was almost overlooked …
 
Sunday strike rate this season:
Herrington:         21 balls per wicket (5th place for the club)
Cale:                  111 balls per wicket (still better than Cheese)
Whispering:       16 balls per wicket (good, but not quite Em)
 
Hayes:                12 balls per wicket (leading strike bowler)
 
Not the sort of cricket match that Brooksie would approve of. Definitely more Buttler than Boycott, particularly when the opposition batted. At least Dushy played properly. His dour 13 off 57 balls formed a base from which the middle order could expand, Aseem and Herro joining forces at 59-3 and just over half the overs remaining.
 
Aseem  was quick to point out that his 32 puts him top run scorer for the season. Jurgo and Stinger followed him with brief cameos, far too entertaining for Brooksie’s liking. And, to top it all, Herro kept hitting boundaries with a brisk 57* off 63 balls, Park finishing 166-8.
 
Then the abomination. The Phoenix opener gave Park an interesting lesson in shot selection: “If it’s short … whack it”, “If it’s full … whack it”, “if it’s a Yorker … yup, still whack it”. Granted, quite a lot of the whacks were not entirely controlled but, with yellow a popular colour for headgear, it didn’t really matter. Mikey and Curly suffered the most. Judging by his choice of car Curly isn’t too fussed about economy figures, so I think he was probably still quite cheerful (couldn’t be sure though cos most of the time he had his back to me running after the ball).
 
Phoenix had 78-0 on the board at near 10 an over yet Park knew that if catches were held it was still game on. Sir Isaac obliged at mid-on from his brother’s bowling. Not the big hitter quite yet though; he was to be Jamo’s but 35 runs on.
 
Stinger still had fight. His two wickets in an over followed by Herro bowling the remaining top order bat kept Park hoping at 137-5. Ludgate threatened too but there was to be just a consolation wicket for Herro with the scores already tied and it was early to pub for the Park.
 
Tip of the day (sponsored by Tesco Blue Stripe): If you want a middle-and-leg guard when Dushy is umpiring ask for “One and a half”
A slow, early season, wicket. An outfield requiring a curling team to run in front of the ball, brooms replaced with scythes, for a shot along the deck to reach the boundary. Yes, runs were going to be hard to come by so Jurgo was not disappointed when the Theale & Tilehurst skip decided to bat in an 85 over win/lose/draw format.
 
A pre-match conference between the opening bowlers about ends resulted in Cale deciding to come up hill, an arrangement which suited Hill well. Curly, on the other hand, was understandably a bit rusty since he has been working too hard to make nets, but his failure to block a firmly struck drive with his kneecap puts him behind Jamo in the “Idiocy for The Cause” category of the “Who’s our favourite left armer” standings.
 
With the score 39-0 after eight overs Jurgo rang the changes. Debutant David The Campanologist bowled with accuracy. A catch off his own bowling did for White and, when he bowled Sharp, T&T were and 69-2 in the 17th over. Meanwhile, on the weekend of Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary, Park played The Tempest from the top. Stinger bowled with controlled venom but it wasn’t to be his day with the ball.
 
Soon after the next double change; Wigmore reached his fifty. His efforts to ensure that everyone knew about it so he could milk the applause exhausted him and, next ball, he had energy only to nick Uday behind for Jurgo’s 98th Sunday dismissal for Park. (The Jurgo jug is nigh!)
 
Two more wickets fell in quick succession, this time to Mikey (6-0-12-2) who bowled Freeman and then saw Brook hurling the ball high in celebration of his catch at mid-wicket. 88-5 off 23.3.
 
Park kept it tight. Ludgate and the de-oxidised Curly returned from the top end, each with a success and, after Uday’s quality spell had kept him out of the attack for all but four overs, Herro bagged a brace. 
 
Park’s fielding had been sound. Minor blemishes were limited to David “Campo” Wardell’s comedy dive, Aseem, lurking like a tiger in the long grass and leaping like an elephant, to claim the Yellow Cap and a Blue Stripe stumping appeal from Jurgo who was informed that the batsman needs to be out of his crease and the bail needs to fall off for it to be out so; his appeal had failed on two counts.
 
Park needed 135 to win off 41 overs. Brooksie  stayed in typical fashion for a junior share with three partners: Dushy who played across the line early on, Aseem (41) who impressively built his innings with sensible shot selection, reserving his airshot for his final ball, and Herro who inexplicably batted like he had a plane to catch. 76-4 at drinks.
 
When Uday holed out at 82-5, Jurgo and Stinger attempted to keep all options open by ticking the score along without undue risk until, with 35 required off 5 overs it was twist or bust time. Stinger busted and T&T smelt blood.
 
A Jurgotesque 8 from 47 balls brought Park to within a couple of overs of the draw. Mikey hurt himself by accidentally doing the splits whilst running, requested Deep Heat to make it better and, possibly distracted, was out next ball. Fortunately Campo and Ludgate saved Curly from having to put his pads on (which would have made him very cross) and Park finished 110-8. Match drawn.

Well as friendly games played on a day that began at -0.5 degrees, this one was a real pot-boiler! The visitors from Southampton Uni looked every inch the team on a mission as they showed up an hour before the start looking resplendent in chinos, blue blazers and club ties. Our last player actually arrived an hour into the game in pilot fancy dress so our standards cannot be said to have been quite as high. As Whispering pointed out, the rocking up in uniform really loses its shine after the 50th time Spinders. Though given the recent whatsapp stream, we all suspect he wears it at Herro’s request…

After Monica, skippering his first Sunday match, lost the toss – clearly due to a faulty coin leant to him by Jamo and his “these aren’t sight screen pushing shoes” – the Park were inserted on a very damp but drying wicket. The first ten overs were about survival, with Dushy and Monica poking and prodding at imaginary vipers to reach 12 for 0 after 10. The crowd was raucous with excitement, so much so that the first 2 of the day warranted a cheer. Monica cashed in on the change bowlers and brought up his 50 before drinks at 20 overs, with the park 77-0. Having mentioned to Dushy they should push on after drinks, the next ball precipitated Dushy’s wicket as the opposition Cheese turned one back from outside off. Aseem came in, hit three sumptuous boundaries and was lbw to the same bowler. Whispering came in as their slow left armer and Captain was turning the ball square and was done through the gate going for his trademark sweep, swiftly followed by a (unusually) grumbling Herro. Who’s be an umpire eh? Poor Jurgo.

Monica went in the 29th over as fatigue (lack of fitness) caused him to play over a yorker. He was still taking off his pads when Atul was gone too. This left Spinders and Uday to bring home the innings, with Spinders carving the final ball over cover for the first six of the season – which turned out to be somewhat important!

After tea (the actual cups of tea, as made by Jamo, being a sought a grey, warmed up water with milk affair – must be how the upper classes like it), Southampton made a confident start on a much dryer wicket, reaching 30-odd without loss of 10 oversbefore Whispering struck, Mikey C taking a fine catch at point. After both Jamo and Whispering had got 6 good overs under their respective belts, Uday and Mikey C proceeded to bowl with superior swing and, after Uday’s 11 ball first over, great control to peg the Southampton boys back, Mikey deservedly amongst the wickets. Special mention to Uday for warranting 2 slips on a slow wicket on a Sunday in April! Play swung back in the park’s favour until a good 4th wicket stand meant that with 6 wickets remaining, the boys from Wessex needed 6 an over off the last 10. Spinders and the Real Cheese bowled well without luck, Cheese again showing that the ball could be swung at the Park and Spinders showing good rhythm. There were a few dropped catches and a missed stumping as the Yellow Hat of Shame was passed around, but generally the Park fielded well, with Aseem exceptional in the outfield and Atul catching sparrows. Herro had a good day behind the stumps on a very testing surface for the stumpers.

Jamo and Whispering came back and a couple of quick wickets for Steve meant the park were back in the hunt. A fantastic game, played in an excellent spirit, came down the the last over. With 8 runs needed Monica turned to Spinders. With a wicket and a run out, it came down to the last ball, with 4 needed for a Southampton win. Holding his nerve to complete a stellar last over, Spinders was heaved towards the legside boundary, where Uday calmly threw in and the second run out of the over meant the Park were home by 2. Not bad the day after snow had fallen on the ground!

The Wessex chaps joined us for the traditional blue stripe, awarding it to the hapless chap who missed the easiest run out we’ll see this season (“go to fine leg and think about what you’ve done”). Our award went to Herro for making it halfway to the middle before realising that we had decided, in a break with tradition to use bats.

Well done and come on the Park!

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