London Saints

London Saints CC are back in gear

Skipper DT stretches out having received a (very) painful knock on the shin

The 32nd season of LSSC cricket started once again against the Gents at their ground near Fleet. Another season with familiar faces and experience by the bucket load to draw on – as with Chelsea – we too rely on experienced heads and old legs for our team, no new blood or pesky kids for us!

Last year we scored 149 to win our opening match, this year we scored 135 and lost comfortably – the difference in the 2 outcomes largely being down to one of Gent’s newer recruits who scored a quick fire 82 this time.

As usual many things remain unchanged:

·      Jonesie arrived carrying his kit, food left overs and array of equipment in a wash bag, albeit now a little smaller than the last one.

·      Jonty Nanton was unable to pay subs as he’d inadvertently come to the game without any money

·      The usual ‘race’ for the slips was even more competitive with your author ejected from his specialist position by Nanton’s gout and Dunn’s catch of the season last year.

·      I get to write the first match report and amend the previous seasons report. This time I’ve had to go back 2 years given last year’s ‘winning’ blip.

·      DT once again won the toss and once again elected to field first given this worked so well last year.

With so much rain this spring, we were pleased to at least be playing on ‘grass’ as opposed to the tired looking artificial pitch but it looked sticky and claggy to my eye and it was damn cold too.

We opened with Clive Dunn bowling up the slope and Van Boat (Player of the Year 2011) charging in with the wind behind and the slope helping. From Gavin’s end the ball repeatedly bounced barely above ankle height providing a welcome work-out for stand-in keeper and fitness fanatic Jones. At the other end Dunn was turning the ball prodigiously albeit the ball was sticking noticeably when pitching.

Gavin’s net’s practice at the Oval during the Winter revealed a new delivery he’s developed for pitches like this one – the half tracker that doesn’t bounce and this secured 2 early wickets as Gents batters left shaking their heads in disbelief at his new found magic ball.

The innings moved steadily on as DT rotated the attack to allow everyone a bowl apart from the Andy’s – Jones as keeper, Mayhew as he’s a Mayhew.

A run rate of 4 to 5 an over with the occasional wicket falling kept the game in the balance, DT copying Van Boat’s skittler to take his first wicket of the year and Quinn Snr bowling well (I suppose).

Tiger (I’ll call myself for this game) was brought on after good form in nets and proceeded to bowl 2 overs of total dross down leg-side which went for plenty but also included 2 flukey holing-outs on the square leg boundary to dismiss Sanjay and Scibbo, in both cases great catches taken by Gary Burrell.

Naturally Gary was my choice for man of the match for obvious reasons.

Jonty bowled through the pain and with a severely curtailed run-up (1 step, not 2) due to his injuries but without capturing a wicket.

The match however was getting away from us as Ravi took a liking to our bowling rotation with Johnny G taking a bit of punishment and some clear evidence of LSSC’s rustiness in the field with a few catches going down, one of which was helpfully described as a ‘total dolly’ by Wath to the distressed fielder at square leg after he’d put the chance down. I’m not sure John needed to be compared to Statto quite so loudly.

As we neared the 35th over of Gents innings with the cold, grey weather and trees surrounding the pitch, certain LSSC outfielders struggled to spot the ball as the Gents hit out – Wath twice being unsighted as two swipes came frighteningly close to landing on his head and both times him standing motionless before the ball landed at his feet.

DT grabbed the spotlight by stopping a well hit ball with his shin and then taking a diving catch to give Gavin another wicket before showing the extent of his leg injury as we trooped off.  It was a cricket ball sized lump on his leg and despite much sympathy, effeminate ‘oohing and ahhing’ from onlookers and the need for others to fetch his cuppa tea and food, some cynics were convinced this was no more than an elaborate duck avoidance strategy as the current reigning Quacker of the year.

The Tea was a good spread and the members of the Teas Committee present ensured very little was left, especially once Johnny Griffiths had returned for a second sitting after being first out in our innings!  [This is the exact wording I used in my 2011 report but is reused for 2012 as it remains 100% accurate]

We opened as I say [again] with Johnny and Jack and were shocked to see that one of Gents opening bowlers unfortunately suffers from worse bowling yips than Jack himself and had to be taken off after 1 over after a multitude of dead balls landing at the bowlers own feet.   A classic nurdle for 4 swiftly got Jack off the mark and even more impressively led him to announce to all and sundry that this was his 1,500th run for LSSC – no one clapped strangely at such self-awareness?

Talking of clap, Jonesie then asked the poor umpire (me again) to not only sort his loose laces out on his shoes but to also reach in to his trousers and pull his slinky ‘Y’-fronts up as well having scored the above!

Johnny hit some nice shots but was well bowled by another new Gents recruit and as last year, Johnny’s wicket brought together Clive Dunn and Jack, two of our seriously veteran veterans but last year’s magic eluded them on what remained a sticky and tricky pitch to time your shots with very variable bounce. The Gent’s also set their field astutely and kept boundaries to a minimum.

Tony fell next and in strode Tokyo Joe still nursing a hangover from his night before’s celebrating the daylight robbery of Spurs’ rightful Champions League spot.

An encouraging knock but timing was again tricky and Gents had a good range of bowlers to deploy with not only Horace and familiar faces H and Scibbo but also Ravi’s mate and Ravi (82 not out) both bowling decent pace and accurately. Sanjay was being held back for the end of the innings too.

Wath and Tiger were soon at the crease with DT lying prone on the floor helpfully pointing out that no one had got a duck yet – his mind games are legendary, a la Fergie sometimes I think.

Not this time though as the two Saints sluggers as I like to describe us (rather more flatteringly than some) put together a partnership of 4’s and 1’s to take LSSC past 100 albeit with no chance of reaching Gents target.

Wath fell to a skied catch and Quinn Snr came to join Tiger for another partnership comprising a blend of good shots against mostly H but various edges and leaves against Sanjay until disaster struck – for me anyway.

I was for the first time in over a decade close to my career best score of 33 and in the penultimate over facing H when having just hit a ball straight to Horace at short mid-off, I repeated the shot again straight to Horace but this time John forgot Horace was there next to him and screamed for a run and set off – in that split second my guilt at running John out for a duck a season or two ago flashed before my eyes and I meekly followed his instruction to run.

I’d moved not even three steps before the bails were off at the bowler’s end, John still not halfway down the track to meeting me. As I walked to the pavilion, the news hit me like a Drogba equaliser against the run of play – run out for 32, one short.

The rest is a blur, I know Garry B had a quick innings but avoided a duck as did Gavin POTY sent in with only 3 balls remaining and told to hit out by Fergie, sorry DT.

Man of the Match

Gavin VM took 2 wickets with his new ‘wrong un’, Gary B took 2 great catches, fielded as well as ever in contrast to most of us and bowled a nice spell too with the ‘dolly’ dropped off him whilst Jack / White Viv performed admirably as stand-in keeper and joint top-scored with 32 albeit DT was begging for him to be put out of his misery by the end of his knock! Trigger Griffiths as ever the man for such a humane act.

Embarrassingly however the award was given to the traditional first game report writer, Tiger not for taking 2 wickets as frankly it was garbage bailed out by Gary B on the boundary but for joint top scoring with 32 and for once contributing more with the bat than that given away by my bowling – albeit only just! Frankly a day when you see that is rarer than a Spurs player in the Champions League!

Champagne Moment

Our rusty fielding contributed to a host of laughable fielding moments and cock-ups.

My highlight being Wath nearly being taken out at Long Off without moving a muscle as the ball landed just in front of him (went for 4) only for Johnny G to similarly fail to move the very next ball at Long On (ball went for 4). Shoulda gone to SpecSavers!

Some people might suggest ‘that’ run out was a Champagne moment too but I like to think my gracious acceptance avoids that fate albeit in scenes reminiscent to Matt Prior at Lords last year, I nearly broke the fluorescent light in the changing rooms when wielding my bat vaguely towards a certain team member singing behind the shower curtain after the game.

For me though the Skip wins the Champagne moment for taking a great diving catch having only just been hit on the shin so hard that it produced a wound which had many thinking he was John Hurt in Alien and about to have a cricket ball sized alien burst out of his shin! He even bowled the last over with that thing on his leg too.


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