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Bathford Vs Venturers, Wednesday May 9th

Bathford 72-10 (sic), Venturers 76-7

The most useless of the many useless shops on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh sell soft cuddly haggises. The conceit is that the haggis is a small furry animal, distinguished by two of its legs being longer than the other two. This enables it to run around on steep Scottish hillsides, following the contours and at right angles to the flow lines, as prescribed by another soft cuddly Edinburgh invention, Maxwell’s equations. If this is true, and if there is anything in metempsychosis, then Josh must have been a haggis in a previous existence, to judge by the enthusiastic way in which he ran along the contour at the bottom of the steeply sloping Bathford ground. He saved at least half a dozen runs in the field, and that proved critical. Simon’s direct hit run out and casual one-handed catch were also vital, although he could have used both hands if he had wanted to.

Scoring is usually low at Bathford, and it was always likely to be low this time because both sides, rather extraordinarily, had arrived with twelve players “in case they’ve only got ten”. To involve all twelve players in a 20-over game, Bathford gave almost everybody two overs and we put everybody who hadn’t bowled at the top of the batting order, which ended all pretence of competitiveness.

Still, Ian and Imran are a very competitive pair of opening bowlers. Ian quickly removed one of the openers, to the audible surprise of the square-leg umpire, and gave away very little. The pitch is at a slight angle to the contours, and helped both Ian’s inswing and Imran’s outswing. Abdul’s toolkit is not needed. The trouble with outswing is that you don’t bowl people with it. Instead you get an edge, which goes to first slip, who either drops it or isn’t there at all because he would only drop it anyway. This happened at least twice - Ian G, keeping, may just have got a fingertip to one of them - and another, thicker, edge went through about fourth slip, well to Bruce’s left though at catchable height. That was off Tom, who aimed straighter than Imran and did hit the stumps. When he didn’t do that he often beat the bat altogether, and ended up with 3 for 6, another major factor in the result. Only two batsmen got a start and both fell at this point, one to Tom and one to Simon’s run-out. Gregory’s picked up two wickets, one with a full toss somehow miscued to precisely where James had just been placed for a completely different reason. James, finishing off from the inswing end, couldn’t quite control the inswing and the result was a small flurry of leg byes, but not much off the bat. Bruce again proved effective as a death bowler, using the contours to good effect. One batsman followed him towards off and tried to fetch the ball to the leg side: Bruce simply bowled him with a plain straight ball. Another, trying the same thing, gave Simon his catch.

Our chase of 73 was started off by Farooq, who bats like Steven Smith in that he walks right across to the off side, and Josh, who bats like a reincarnated haggis. They put on 20, to which Farooq contributed a dozen or so and extras the rest. Two of those extras were high full tosses from one of the opening bowlers, who was unhappy both with the pink ball he had been given and the end he was at. Farooq soon lost the pink ball for him in the hedge, and agreed to bat on in a helmet and not insist on the strict application of the Laws, according to which the bowler should have been taken off. Josh missed one, having completed his task, which was to see off the rather good opening bowler at the other end. Rob did a similar job, scoring one himself, but then both he and Farooq got out. Duncan, who at one point tried to adjudge himself LBW to a ball going comfortably over, Ian G and later Tom slowly rebuilt against the recovered pink ball. Only Ian G made more than a handful, but several handfuls would do. A little acceleration was needed, though, so this was a bad time for us to find out that Steve Dent’s bowling has improved. He bowled Ian and had Tom stumped, the crease just clear enough in the gathering dark for it to be obvious that Tom was the wrong side of it. That left the rest to Simon and Ian C. They got close, but then Ian stepped in the way of a straight one. Imran remained calm, and we had a few balls to spare at the end.

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