London Saints

Heavy defeat for cricketers

Report by Dave Nanton.

Darth Vader, The Stig, General Maximus Decimus Meridius, Bob the Builder, Kaiser Wilhelm, Peter Cech… famous helmets, all. And on Sunday in Edlesborough, with a man-of-the-match performance, a lowly cricket helmet was elevated to these hallowed ranks.

The Helmet (no, not another team nickname – an ACTUAL helmet) led the extras’ top score of 19 in our failed attempt to chase down Roadrunner’s score of 147 on a day when our batting failed to match what had been quite a good performance in the field. In the process, four more players (Griffiths, Wath, Mayhew and Thomas) also became contenders for this year’s duck trophy with Gary Burrell taking an early lead in the race with his second of the season. The excitement when a single bye became six runs after the ball struck The Helmet said it all – this was one of the most significant contributions in our innings. The other was Tony’s wall-like contribution, batting for over half the innings as wickets fell around him, for a batsman’s top score of… 15.

Having agreed on a 40-over game, won the toss and put the home team in, our opening bowlers Keenan and van Marle kept things tight on a fairly lifeless pitch with only 19 runs being scored in the first seven overs.  Keenan struck first, Andy Jones taking an easy catch to dispatch Mashi for 6. That brought Lee Jackson to the wicket and he would eventually top the scoring with an excellent half-century, before getting stumped by stand-in wicketkeeper Andy Mayhew off Pearce for 56. Mayhew seemed so surprised at holding the ball, he had to be shouted at to take the bails off! Later in the game, he was being shouted at again – this time with an obviously confused DT telling the bemused wicketkeeper to throw the ball to the batsman’s end!

With Thomas only managing a couple overs before retiring crocked again, he turned to Nanton and Burrell for the second spell. By then, the pitch was showing some signs of life with Flatliner, in particular, getting some movement off it, and four wickets tumbled for 25 runs to leave Roadrunners on 69-5 at the halfway stage. Even with Jackson holding up his end well, the Saints were firmly in control, despite Gav putting down two catches and a few other chances going a-begging. Our local man, Paul Pearce and Grimes took over after a 32-run partnership between Jackson and Rich Catlin, and Paul proceeded to mesmerise his neighbours with his flight and turn, taking three quick wickets including Rich and his brother Vic along with the prize wicket of Jackson. We wrapped it up five overs later with Burrell throwing his body at the stumps, ball in hand, to run out Peart (the ball would have easily reached Tony waiting behind the stumps, but Gary wasn’t taking any chances!) and then taking a catch off Keenan to send Alex Knubley back to the pavilion.


At this point, it is worth recalling an anecdote from international cricket:

During England’s 1959/60 tour of the West Indies, one particular umpire gave nothing to the visiting team. Every LBW appeal got the same answer: Too high. Then Brian Statham hit a batsman very low on the pad and straight in front, but the umpire again ruled not out. At the end of the over, Geoff Pullar, with a straight face, asked him, “I suppose that was going under the stumps?” He was told, “Yes!”

Now imagine that scenario, with the umpire a teammate and his decision-making the complete reverse of the above…

With only four runs per over needed, it looked like we were set to repeat our victory from last year. But Johhny G falling for a duck in the second over, with no runs on the board, turned that idea on its head in more ways than one. Having returned to the wicket as umpire a few overs later, he quickly sent his opening partner Andy Jones on his way out LBW for 10. Jones claimed John’s trigger finger had flown into the air before the sound of the fielders’ appeal had even reached the batsman’s ears! This then prompted a collapse that saw three more wickets fall for three runs, leaving us reeling on 30 for 5 after just 16 overs. Those wickets came in one devastating over by Peart who took one with every other ball. It had become something of a bowler’s wicket at this point, with the ball doing any and everything, but mainly holding up and tempting our batsmen into poorly-timed shots.

Grimes was eventually caught out at the halfway stage, but it was testament to his rugged performance that the youngest member of the opposition saw it fit to attempt sledging our elder statesman, telling him he needed to move his feet more. Unruffled, Tony responded verbally (“I’ve heard it all before – like 50 years go!”) and then with his bat, smacking the ball into the youngster’s shin before pointing out, for good measure, that he hadn’t actually “middled it”. He was soon followed by Pearce before cameos from van Marle (12) and Nanton (7), the latter hoping to emulate Tino Best but only managing to follow up his six over long off with a top edge that gave an easy catch to the bowler. Keenan was eventually left not out on 5, but trigger-finger Griffiths, still umpiring, had the last word. Poor Burrell, batting outside his crease, was still in the follow-through motions of his missed shot when the dreaded finger shot up so it was a few moments more before he noticed he’d been given out for his second duck in as many games.

Extras, led by The Helmet, pushed the score up a little, but 73 all out in just 29 over was hardly a creditable batting performance. With the Nelson Cup tournament looming and the Skipper issuing Darth Vader-like threats of dropping players, one might almost expect to see a turnout of helmeted Star Wars Stormtroopers next week. When those boys get going it will take a real Jedi master to stop them.

Man of the Match: The Helmet! A rare and unusual intervention at a time when runs were sorely needed!

Champagne moment: Tony’s response to sledging was classic, but the winner has to be his comment on arrival at Leighton Buzzard for the game. A few of us found ourselves on the wrong side of the railings going down the stairs to exit the station. This meant we would either have to go all the way to the bottom and come back up the other end, or climb over the railing. We opted for the latter, with Tony commenting as he did so, “It’s about time I got my leg over,” much to the chagrin of the passing lady!

Click here to view Roadrunners’ report on the game.

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