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Poplars Wingfield Vs Venturers, Wednesday July 5th

Poplars Wingfield 149-7, Venturers 125-7


There is a cricket pitch in the pub garden. Pub gardens being the size they are, this means short boundaries, and one of the boundaries is the pub. Also, there is a substantial tree within the playing area. We were collected together and had the local rules explained to us, the most significant being a six and out rule. This led Jamie to wonder whether one could do the IPL trick of pushing a catch up, going outside the playing area and coming back in, only in reverse.

Jack captained, because Simon has injured his back. As a result of this he now stands absolutely motionless at a slight angle to the universe, like the Greek poet C.P. Covfefe. Clearly this is no good on a cricket field. Jack, however, is a capable and innovative captain.

Todays’s innovation was to hand a new ball to Gregory, who didn’t really know what to do with it. Off his third ball the batsman pushed a difficult catch to cover, who dropped it. His fourth was swept, neatly but not especially hard, into the nearby hedge, and vanished. A few minutes were expended trying to find it. Gregory’s sixth ball, using a replacement, was flicked also not particularly hard into an even nearer part of the hedge, with the same result.

So Jamie took the third new ball (not new exactly) in the second over, bowled a couple of wides, got hit for four and then settled down. Gregory also bowled a better line thereafter, but the opening batsmen were competent. Slightly too competent for their own good. When Sunny came on, one of them hit him for a straight four and then a huge six over the long boundary. He took his pads off and trotted off in search of the ball, and we continued with a fourth one. We did get that one back soon. Gregory removed the other opener, a running catch from Jack at cover. Given the short boundaries we were not unhappy with 55 off eight overs. It got better. Chris bowled a full toss and the batsman hit it head high to Kapil’s left at square leg. He reached both arms out and caught it comfortably: it would probably not have gone for a fatal six. Now the batsman were the left-hander who had come in at three and a young boy: both very competent batsmen but neither destructive. They kept the score moving, but not particularly rapidly.

Then Abdul had a bowl, and the boy hit his fourth ball firmly to the left of Kapil at short midwicket. There was nothing wrong with the shot except that he lifted it fractionally: enough for Kapil to anticipate, dive and catch it with his left hand, knuckles on the turf. Even half-stopping the shot would have been impressive. The batsman stared at Kapil’s hand, turned, and walked off. If he didn’t feel hard done by, he should have done.

In Abdul’s next over there was a top edge that plopped over the wicketkeeper (Ian G): there was a wide slip, too wide to do anything, but Ian somehow reached up, fell backwards, got a glove on the ball and came down with a crash but still with the ball resting in, or on, the glove.

We picked up two more wickets. Sunny, turning the ball extravagantly sometimes, got one through and hit off stump, and Bruce’s first ball landed in a kind of dugout, a wooden structure a bit like a bus stop only with tables and people with drinks and dogs with drinks. One of the people yelped as the ball shot past her, carromed around the building and came to rest neatly on a table. Her dog, either innately calmer or having seen Bruce bowl before and knowing what to expect, simply looked round and went back to its water.

Bruce was having one of his less economical days and Jack had a bowl, keeping things fairly tight, but Jamie, returning at the other end, got hit around a bit by the tail-enders (who could clearly bat). We hadn’t done badly, but the ground takes some getting used to. Bowling so as not to be hit to the short boundary is a specific skill, and so is knowing which bits of the outfield are reliable. Most of it is, but some of it slopes unexpectedly and you can either find the ball bouncing over you or, as happened to Bruce, simply fall over.

Being more skilled at using the ground and, probably, at cricket, our opponents made things difficult for us. Matt accumulated as he does. Sunny has a liking for the aerial route, which he remembered to restrain, and helped by a few wides they kept the score moving. There was some chuntering about the wides, notably a mutter from extra cover about a ball that had landed on the return crease. This, to be fair, earned the fieldsman concerned a stare from the bowler. In fact after eight overs we were 56 for none, one run and two wickets better than they had been. Soon after that Matt hit across the line and started a slow slide, but it was quite a long while before we were really losing.

A couple of overs later the fine leg fieldsman suddenly became very animated. He seized a branch and started beating the hedge with it, like Basil Fawlty assaulting his car. With a triumphant cry he dived into the newly-made gap in the hedge and pulled out the 0.4-overs-old ball that we had started with. This prize was brought to the bowler, who smiled, polished it vigorously, and bowled a comprehensive wide with it.

In the middle of the next over, Sunny hit it, one bounce, back into the hedge again.

Somewhere around this time, a rumour of a retire-at-50 rule, of which we had not previously heard, started to circulate, but Sunny clipped to mid-on before it could be applied, if indeed it existed. Now the main concern of Poplars was that if we each hit a six we would win. We explained how unlikely it was that Gregory or Bruce would do that. Then Jack did do that. After Jay was run out after he and Jamie got slightly too ambitious we reached the point where a six each wouldn’t do either. Kapil walked across his stumps and was leg before, Jamie drove to long-on. Abdul and Chris each contributed a few runs as the overs ran out.

Then everybody headed to the extremely convenient bar and the very wecome and well-intentioned but slightly less convenient sausages - Gregory is a vegetarian, Abdul is a muslim and Kapil is on a strange diet. We aren’t the easiest side to cater for.

The opposition were left in awe of our fielding. This does not usually happen.

Cricket bat and ball