Courtesy of Phil Spearman and thanks to the BBC
One last hurrah was required from the Blenheim blunderbuss as we turned up at Barton Abbey for an away fixture against Steeple Aston. Early signs were good as we won the toss and elected to bowl on what looked to be a sticky wicket. Previous encounters with the opposition had mostly ended in defeat and our vice-captain summed up the situation neatly when he suggested that we must get their left handed opener early otherwise we were probably *****d. Walker took full advantage of the early conditions and opened with 2 superb wicket maidens (both bowled) to peg the Steeple-ites back at 4-2. Opening partner Talbot (G) was unlucky in having the left handed opener miscue a pull directly to the aforementioned vice-captain stationed at mid –on. As the ball went straight in and out again (a la the confectionary stand at Headingly, 1981) it felt at that moment like were indeed well on our way to being *****d. Further chances went begging as Canham saw the ball fly millimetres over the 5’ 6” mid-on and Canham himself shelved a difficult c & b chance larruped back at him. The opener continued to ride his luck as another miscued drive went fractionally over the same 5’ 6” fielder by now stationed at mid-wicket.
In another brush with dismissal the same batsman was well out of his ground backing up as his partners straight drive demolished the stumps having fractionally missed the outstretched hand of (you’ve guessed it) the 5’ 6” bowler on the way through. Eventually wickets did start to tumble however, with Walker picking up a third towards the end of his spell (for 20 off 8) and a wicket a piece for Talbot (G), Canham and a caught and bowled for Gokani. Spearman weighed in with a brace. Despite the near misses Steeple at no point took the game away from us and they finished their 40 overs on 164-8. Other highlights in the field included a stunning catch by Engel at slip and the moustache raising moment 6’ 5” Coxy had with the electric fence. We also witnessed the comedy moment of the match/season/decade. In years to come you may come across the following footage on A Question of Sport:
Sue Barker: So we move onto the What Happened Next round and Matt, you go first. Here we have a local village cricket match and as the dibbly-dobbly bowler comes in to bowl, the young batsman advances down the track to cart him out the ground. What happened next?
2 minutes of conflab later
Matt Dawson: Well Sue, we think he’s gone for a big shot, top edged it, and 3 players have run in and all collided with each other.
Sue Barker: It’s a good answer but its not right. Over to Tuffer’s team:
2 mins later:
Tuffers: Well Sue, I reckon he’s played the shot, made good contact and carted him right over cow corner and straight into a cow-pat.
(Titters all round)
Sue Barker Wrong again guys. Lets see what really happened:
The bowler’s bowled, the batsman has completely missed it and just as it’s about to hit the top of middle stump, the keeper has fumbled the ball in front of the stumps and trashed the wicket.
Tuffers (somewhat bemused): Come off it Sue, not even a Blenheim keeper would do that.
Matt Dawson (frowning): Are you pulling my chain Sue – that didn’t really happen did it?
Sue Barker: It really happened.
Yes, 24 hours after the event when we all woke up the following morning it dawned on us – it wasn’t just a bad dream – Stan had actually fumbled the ball before it had even reached the stumps. As a slight sweetener, in the chaos that followed a call of ‘no-ball’ (for that is what this wicket taking delivery had technically become) was overlooked. No one was sure whether this was due to the umpire’s inability to get back on their feet after crying with laughter or out of genuine sympathy to the bowler and the rest of the team but either way it was a nice gesture.
So, we batted.
At 39-2 after 10 we were still in the game but to be fair we were a couple of batsman light and with West and Cox back in the shed it was always going to be an uphill struggle. Further chaos was to follow however and in this time of the Rugby World Cup it was somehow appropriate that there should some shilly-shally on the boundary line as first Canham’s helmet and then his bat felt the full force of his frustration at having been run out for 25. There followed a farm yard full of ducks to add to the cows and horses in this most rural of settings and the 39 -2 had quickly become 48-8. It was left to Talbot (J) to play some impressive big shots and a more than useful last wicket stand between Walker (with two cracking pull shots) and Engel for us to retrieve at least some respectability from the jaws of humiliation. Our season had ended with us all out for 75 from 24.3 overs.
So the last words of the season are probably best described by Steeple Aston’s emotional Norwegian commentator who popped in towards the end of the game (for they know a thing or two about cricket in Norway)…
‘Blenheim, Blenheim – birthplace of giants (and 5’ 6” midgets) …
Capability Brown, The Ladds-Gibbon, The Dukes of Marlborough (numbers 1-12), Rob Samples, can you hear me Rob Samples? Sir Winston Churchill, Steve Kemish,
We have beaten them all. We have beaten them all. The Mock Mayors (past and present), Sir John Vanbrugh, Mike Henman (and your tennis playing brother) Your boys took one helluva beating today’.
And so we had.
This week’s Altruistic Addendum
… Is given over to one David Hughes who has, throughout the season, selflessly prepared wickets, organised fixtures, and managed the team. All without barely gracing the South Lawn himself. Buy that man a beer.
I would also like to personally thank:
- Andrew Shaw our chairman for being our chairman and sorting out the wicket so that our batsman could contribute a tad more to our games (not before time frankly).
- Mike Stone for preparing teas.
- All other volunteers who have helped prepare the pitch (and clear away afterwards).
- Allan Engel for tirelessly chasing money. And collecting subs and match fees.
- Anyone who volunteered to umpire …
- … and to score.
- All other team managers of the month.
- I should probably also thank Stan individually for the pure entertainment value in this last game alone. As well as for all maintenance he has undertaken.
Guys its been a hoot again this season. Looking forward to next year already.