For decades Nigel Walker has trundled away, opening the bowling for any club or representative XI (and there are many) who will give him a game. Forever bowling tight lines on a nagging length with good shape, and always economical, the soon to be septuagenarian rarely gets the justice he deserves in the wickets column. Never complaining (other than a few Fred Truman like mutterings about how things used to be back in day), year after year he sees lesser bowlers clear up after he’s made the decisive and hard gained in-roads.
Well, every dog has his day. And 5th September 2021 was Nigel Walker’s. It wasn’t so much an in-road he made as a 5 lane motorway as the top order was blown away before anyone could say ‘Get loose Stan’. Clean bowling 2, two more succumbing to snick-offs and a further catch in front of the wicket led to the veteran claiming remarkable figures of 6-4-3-5! Just the one single was scored from the bat at the Walker end as the hosts slumped to 28-8 by the time his spell had ended. And make no mistake, unlike Weedon in previous Sheepscombe encounters, at least some of Walkers victims were grown men who may well have been decent batsmen.
Elsewhere Gokani, Spearman Snr and Angol shared the scraps but this was Walkers weekend as our hosts were skittled for 34 (thirty-four) to lose by a landslide.
It was a day where it seemed no-one in a Blenheim shirt could do any wrong. In the field we witnessed catches from a diving crocodile impersonating rhino at mid wicket, a fully stretched Cox(!) taking a sharp one above his head at slip, Parker snaffling another, whilst Kerr claimed two decent chances behind (prompting the now all too familiar lap of honour).
Earlier, Blenheim’s batters feasted upon Sheepscomb’s evident inexperience with the ball. Boardman’s annus mirabilis continued (he really should see a doctor) until he was given out lbw for 32, Cox hit a few boundaries before snicking one behind off a decent young leggie who, of the 8 bowlers used, was probably the least appropriate to be named Dyer. Hazell briefly showed intent but it was Parker who glued the innings together and who remained until succumbing near the end pushing for his ton while every boundary, single, and seemingly in-take of breath was cheered by his fan club from beyond the boundary. In the penultimate over, the well travelled hitter set off for an adventure too many and was run out for Blenheim PB of 87.
The Spearman boys finished the innings together but neither was able to gain the family bragging rights as both ended 0* and protected whatever average they had. Messrs Kerr (Snr), Gokani, Angol, Spearman (Snr) and Walker did not bat in this 30 over thrash.
So many extras were accrued (51 – mostly wides) that we half expected Ricky Gervais to turn up and start filming and a total of 194 always felt like a winnable score. And so it proved thanks to Walkers crisp and accurate bowling. No need for Nobbys Nuts this week as both Parker and Walker dug deep into their pockets to refresh their team-mates, although the latter was somewhat surprised to see that the price of a pint had risen from the 2s 6d that he’d remembered from his youth.