Detail: 30-07-2023 - Spelthorne Sports
Result: L by 7 wkts
Spelthorne cc vs The Blues
Waking up on a sunny Sunday morning in Wiltshire, sipping my coffee, looking forward to my brekky of wild boar sausages coupled with free range eggs collected from the local chickens. Life was good. Until I checked my phone...
A 4am message from Will Buckley, 'sorry mate I'm injured, going to have to sit this one out''. Surprisingly coherent for such a late message - staying until the 'lights on' in Infernos can have that sobering effect on people. When you do make your debut, the boys would love to hear the story behind the drop-out...
After sending Eddy J a SOS, 'nah still retired' came the immediate response. I checked the forecast: 80% chance of rain in Staines from 2pm onwards. Maybe Will had the right idea...
With a very accommodating oppo keen to get a game on, we decided on 30 overs each way, bowl 15 each from one end and to start as soon as we all arrived. Well, 6 Blues arrived at the start time, so it was decided we would bat first. Facing the daunting prospect of batting first on a soggy grass deck then moving to an astro when it rained - a sure fire way of losing quickly - we agreed to play the whole game on an astor deck.
Our 6 had become 5 as Glenn had to go and pick up a stranded Jack Close whose flat tyre had curtailed his commendable tour de SW London. When Glenn came back, on being told we were playing on an astro deck, he very nearly got back in his car and buggered off to the Oval. I quickly told him Chellis would be keeping and suddenly he perked up.
Nick Ellerby, fresh from a few months on the phyio's table partnered with Chellis - the man for all seasons - to open the batting for the Blues. At the halfway mark they were 86- 0 making batting look easy. Nick, scoring heavily through the vacant deep point region and Chellis finding gaps in the field. After being consecutively asked by every member of the Blues batting line up if we were retiring at 50, the skipper finally relented and Chellis got to keep up his reputation of scoring 50* for the Blues. Both lads retired and Jenks and Mullet took to the crease.
Harry, forgetting his surname was Jenkins and not Brook, danced down the crease to try and whack their tall quick back over his head. Sadly an astro deck has a bit more bounce in it than the usual puddings we play on, the ball took the edge, travelled high to deep backward square point and was caught. Gone for 2. Richard looked assured, displaying his textbook high elbow and settled in nicely...
Until their 14 year old swinging seamer came on. Beguiling Richard (9) he bowled a beautiful ball that cleaned up all 3 to send him on his way. John Syfret joined the crease, getting the run rate up and dealing in hefty blows square of the wicket. One blow too many and John (12) holed out in the deep with a fine catch. Indeed, Spelthorne didn't drop a thing all game, with no lives given up all game.
Closey, elevated to 6 after a few run chase heroics, also met his match due to the wily 14 year old - departing for 3.
Simon Richards, club man, had changed his weekend plans to squeeze in some soggy cricket. Him and Meg did have a lovely weekend in Brighton planned for the weekend. Instead, Sunday morning Simon told Meg plans had changed and the Blues had come calling. They packed up their bucket and spade and Si drove back north, calling in at the local train station to drop off Meg. Ah, a 50 minute wait til the next train. "Sorry Meg, I would love to wait with you, but we're batting first, and I really fancy swinging the willow. See you tonight." Stepping on the gas, Si emerged in time to step out at 7 for the Blues. As we know cricket can reward good behaviour and this time it did, with Simon compiling a lovely 24* featuring 3 crisply hit 4s in a row, one uncharacteristically hit down the ground for a one bounce 4 right back over the bowler's head.
Another blues game and another Simon run out, this time with Glenn on the receiving end. Glenn on strike looking to dab a quick single was unfortunately skittled by a direct hit. Ollie Birden, on debut, came out at 9, looking languid and hungry for boundaries. Long limbs swinging Ollie epitomised 'here for a good time not a long time' and proceeded to throw the kitchen sink at all deliveries. Oli, collecting a steady 7* meant the Blues compiled 168 in 30 overs. Very defendable.
As we tucked into a very quick tea the clouds rolled in.
With a 37 year age gap between our opening bowlers Glenn and Tom Hinde started terrifically. Glenn moving it away, repeatedly missing the outside edge, and Tom sending down in-ducking thunderbolts. Tom Hinde, sprinting in from the boundary, dark skies overhead, wet hair bouncing behind him, is a sight to behold. Their batsmen agreed too and did their best to nick off. Each time it fell short of the cordon - packed despite only having 10 men. Eventually Tom got his man, taking the slips out of the equation and sending the stumps flying.
Cue 2.30pm and the heavens opened. We carried on playing but from that point on it was a very cold and very wet game. Nick Elllerby did a heroic job on the deep point boundary, patrolling the length of it athletically, sliding and diving around like a flanker looking for rucks to join. Ollie on debut bowled some lovely left arm stuff, getting good bounce from his tall frame and looking increasingly assured with ball in hand.
Jack Close, keen to wrestle momentum bowled superbly and managed to bag a wicket just before drinks. 86-2 15 overs down. Neck and neck.
However, with the ball disintegrating, not even Simon's magic rubbing could get the ball talking, the Blues carried on plugging away. Closey picked up another wicket with a great catch at square leg from Glenn, diving forward, mud everywhere.
The next 2 batters batted slowly and suddenly the Blues had hope. The required run rate was clocking up and the runs stopped flowing.
At this stage, all the local Dads who were at the club for a 2 year old birthday party, had clearly had their fill of screaming kids. With no cricket being played at the Oval, the Dads congregated under the clubhouse awning, clutching cheap lagers and settled in to watch Spelthorne go about their chase.
Sadly, it was the skipper and Mullett's turn to bowl with a wet sponge of a ball. Spelthorne seeing the win slip from their grasp decided to retire one of their bats, IPL style. 11 from 26 balls clearly does not cut the mustard in Staines and a new lad was promoted. Sadly he could bat and started smacking some huge 6s to get the scoreboard ticking over again and making up for lost time. Jenks managed to get him to play a false shot and a chance was given for a catch, only for the bar of soap that was the ball to slip from the fielder's grasp.
More treatment from their gun bat, on debut apparently, and Spelthorne got closer to the finish line. 5 runs to win and 3 overs left, their bat hit a 1 handed 6, Pant style, to get them over the line and all of us rushing inside to dry off, change and head to the bar. Heroic fielding by all, no byes from Chellis. Good team spirit throughout.
Definitely the wettest game of cricket I've played. However, the silver lining was that we managed 60 overs in under 4 hours and we were in the pub by 4. The members prices of GBP3.70 Guinness in the bar afterwards did a lot to raise our spirits. A friendly oppo, a game played in good spirits and certainly one to re-visit next time - especially if you're not driving!
[updated 09 08 2023]