Chesterton vs. Deddington 1’s, 24th July 2021
After a week of hot, sweaty and unrelenting sunshine we were due a welcome respite of inclement weather; and many expected Saturday to be a damp squib with the odd rumble of thunder. With a couple of bleary-eyed players arriving fashionably late (more on that later) and several South African and Lions fans clearly looking forward to the opening test kicking off at 1700 sharp, hopes of our match being abandoned, or indeed finishing early, faded as the dark clouds above Chesterton never looked like bursting.
Having inspected the relatively soft wicket in forensic style, thoughts turned to winning the toss and putting the hosts in. We felt confident our bowlers could skittle the opposition out cheaply, for us all to knock the runs off quickly and dash over to Wayne D’s house to watch the Lions match – priorities. That said, Chesterton won the toss and bizarrely elected to bat only because two of their players hadn’t shown up yet, and on a large pitch where holes in the field can leave a team of 9 vulnerable to leaking more runs than they’d like.
Happy with the outcome, Tom S and Rob P opened the bowling, and their pace and accuracy were proving problematic with some uneven bounce thrown in for good measure. It didn’t take long for Rob P to get his first scalp of the day. A tempting yet deadly delivery drew the batsmen in to drive and edge one at a speedy downward trajectory only for a diving Paul S to snaffle the opportunity. This was both the beginning of Rob P’s wicket haul and Paul’s ‘walk and talk through’ of his ‘Jedi-moment’ catch.
Tom S continued to support very well from the pavilion end and was unfortunate not to pick up a wicket or two as the other opening batsmen always looked a little vulnerable. Chesterton’s number 3 batsmen took to the crease with confidence, and he looked set to dispatch any ball in the ‘slot’. Having sent one delivery for a six – close to where our cars were parked, we knew we had to get him out quickly, otherwise ‘Act of God’ insurance claims were going to be made and a scoreboard to frenetically tick over like a day out at an IPL match.
It was time to bring on our talisman bowler Rob B to extract him. Rob B seemed quieter than usual and his bleary eyes were actually the result of a family celebration the night before down in ‘that’ London rather than from the effects of hay fever, which I naively gave him credit for. With a couple of “looseners”, one of which nearly sailed over the batsmen’s and Matt C’s (aka “Shipwreck” keeping wicket) heads, a tempting ball on a good line and length was offered to Steve Lewis and he couldn’t resist. The number 3 batsmen sent one skyward, but without the legs to get close to the boundary. An alert Mikey N traversed good ground, never taking his eye off the ball, to make a tricky catch look quite effortless. It was another ‘Jedi’ moment contender.
Meanwhile as we celebrated the removal of Chesterton’s danger man, Paul S was seen chatting to the square leg umpire clearly talking him through his earlier slip catch with graphic hand gesturing.
Rob P continued to bowl tight over after over and he was proving too good. It was of course only a matter of time before he struck again. His next scalp was Chesterton’s number 4 batsmen who snicked one to the capable Matt C (aka ‘Shipwreck’) keeping wicket – our 5th keeper this season who looked like he keeps wicket more often than he lets on. Chesterton were starting to look wobbly and were still two players short. Rob P claimed another scalp with a Tomahawk of a delivery, this time trapping Chesterton’s number 5 LBW. At the other end, Chesterton’s opening batsman, Peter Talbot was somewhat obstinate to our cause. He hit some well-timed cuts, but once we reinforced the off-side and snuffed out any runs behind and in front of point, his patience ran out and he chipped one up off a good ball from Rob B and Mikey N picked up a brace of catches for the day.
Thoughts turned to the looming Lions game and catching the start of the test was beginning to look possible, as Chesterton were now 60-odd for 5 and with 2 players still unaccounted for. Couple this with Wayne D’s presence and a possible nearby venue to watch the game, we now prayed for the dark heavy clouds to hold out for a couple more hours as a low target to chase down looked viable.
With Rob P continuing to bowl from the ‘Dibsdall’ end, another change was made from the pavilion end. One bleary-eyed bowler made way for another. Rammy was brought on to replace the slightly giggly Rob B and to snap the tail of Chesterton’s depleted batting order. Like Rob B, Rammy was also a little giddy having confessed to a “late Friday night”.
Meanwhile, having perfected his tale of heroics a few times, Paul S was heard iterating his earlier slip catch to other teammates and even some spectators between the overs as he knew ‘airtime’ for his efforts were diminishing as fast Chesterton’s batsmen.
The drama continued like a ’Dirty Den and Ange’ Eastender’s Christmas special. Rob P bowled another tomahawk delivery this time trapping Chesterton’s number 6 batsman LBW. The umpire’s finger went up faster than Rob P’s appeal to which he – the umpire, was subjected to an angry outburst of “it didn’t hit me on the pads, ref…ump…ire!” The umpire remained resolute, and the batsman eventually took his marching orders. The next batsman lasted as long as one of our openers typically do, with his stumps disturbed by a pacey heat-seeking missile of a delivery from Rob P. The following bat had in-close fielding as Rob P was on a rare hattrick ball and annoyingly for us all, the batsman didn’t succumb and survived the remainder of the over.
It only took ‘Whisky-mist’ Rammy his second ball in his second over to remove the last (presently available) batsman and once consulted by the umpires we, and Chesterton, had two minutes to wait just in case a car was to career around the corner of the ground with an already padded up batsman to hurl himself out of the moving vehicle onto the pitch within the time allowed. Alas, this was not meant to be. Rob P’s bowling masterclass was at a premature end and his destructive figures for the day were 5 for 17 off 14 overs.
Tea was a mix of Lion’s and weather talk, awkwardly steering clear of the triggered LBW victim who was still brooding about the umpire’s decision and of course Paul Smith, who had now set up an autograph table offering signed doctored pictures of his face on Andrew Strauss’ diving body of that great slip catch in the 2005 Ashes series. Our captain Victor D ruminated about what the batting order should be and felt the father and son combo – Tom and Paul S was a safe starting bet. No pressure, Tom!
A target of 75 was required, however, the time in which to do it seemed more pertinent. A steady start was needed though, and the Smiths looked solid against a fairly sharp Jimmy Appleton, who bowled a tight nippy line off only a few paces. Opportunities to score runs against the spinner seemed the likelier/safer option.
With a hasty single run, Paul S wanted to be on strike against the seamer and having found the boundary with a sweetly timed shot through square leg he was beaten for pace by the next straighter delivery. Bowled for 5, but still eager to mention his slip catch to any opposition fielders as he zig-zagged his way back to the hutch.
Nervous “Well, I should probably pad up” jokes by those batting further down the order were made and thoughts of whether this game was another Chadlington one, were soon dismissed as an in-form Howard L confidently took to the crease.
Patience is a virtue and the virtue Howard L likes to cash in on, as he simply picked out the bad ball and dealt with it appropriately while showing the rest of us how to defend with a straight blade. Howard L and Tom S timed some gorgeous cover drives, cuts and flicks off the legs as a classy 2nd wicket partnership was blossoming. Chesterton’s main opening bowler got one to bounce and struck Tom S in the abdomen area, but the unassuming Smith junior walked away, took a few deep breaths and calmy returned to his guard as the ball was recycled. The next delivery was dismissed with an emphatic strike straight back over the bowler’s head. Revenge can take many forms, but this was somewhat poetic.
Bowling changes were made at the pavilion end but as new bowlers appeared, they were quickly replaced as our batsmen were cherry picking and timing shots in a predatory manner and the runs were coming like the ‘Kardashians’ – thick and fast. Tom S and Howard L chased down the runs with minimal fuss and Deddington decisively won by 9 wickets and maximum points to the good.
Two back-to-back victories for Deddington with only 1 wicket being conceded. Have we finally found our batting groove?!
MoM – Rob Preston
Jedi – Paul Smith
Oh, did you hear about Paul Smith’s slip catch? 😉
By Sam Smith