Run Feast At Thames Ditton

Date: 17/08/2019
Opposition: Thames Ditton
Venue: Old Pauline CC
Man of the match: Jivraj
Prat of the match: Ed Charlton

This match report is based on a true story but aliases have been used to protect the  identities of the players – for example I have used the alias ‘Mandeep’ instead of his real name, and the alias ‘Duncan Higgins’ instead of his real name .

HWRCC 4th xi – 119 for 8 dec Thames Ditton 4th xi – 120 for 9

The less generous reader may well raise an eyebrow at the description of this match as a run feast. But if those mean spirited eyebrow raisers were to take a moment and consider that the Wick 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams posted totals of 113, 102 and 90 respectively, they would realise that ‘feast’ is indeed le mot juste.

Furthermore, this was a whole day of feasting and luxuriating for the highly talented, yet fatefully flawed, Wick fourth eleven.

The changing room was a case in point. Having been forced, every other week, to change in what has been variously described as ‘Shrek’s toilet’, ‘Clarence’s kennel’ and ‘Blanchard’s flat’, this particular changing room was a welcome luxury. The changing room, whilst not perhaps big enough to accommodate the giant egos of our first team’s middle order, proved more than adequate for the humble souls of the Wick 4’s. But it was the presence of a hairdryer that prompted a collective dropping of the jaw and an audible intake of breath.

The hairdryer, sitting in its specially designed wooden holster thrilled the entire team; well all except Duncan Higgins for some reason.

But it was the sight of two, yes two, giant mirrors that really set the pulses racing.  For most of the season, changing in the Kingsfield Kennel only afforded the dispiriting view of Dunmore’s arse in the dusty gloom, whereas now, we could genuinely appreciate the classical beauty of our team mates (Dunmore’s arse having been temporarily transplanted to New York).
The only dissenter to the presence of the two giant mirrors was, once again, Duncan Higgins who tetchily announced that thanks to these two mirrors, he could see a bald patch starting to develop on his crown. This announcement was met with sympathetic murmurings.

The giant mirrors were also responsible for the match being delayed by 5 minutes.
During the energetic warm up session, it was noticed that Mandeep had disappeared and we were ‘Mandown’ (no, stop it). This disappearance was strange because he was one of the first to arrive at the ground. The mystery was solved when the skipper ran back to the changing room and was met with the sight of Mandeep gazing into the mirror, transfixed by his own beauty. The skipper dragged him out before he became rooted, Narcissus like, to the spot.

So to the match.

Having been inserted, Houghton, Depeche Mode and the rest of the Wick top order voiced their intent to savage anything slightly off line or length and we proceeded to race to 54 off the first 25 overs.

While the scorer was thumbing through his dictionary to check on the definition of ‘savage’, a flurry of wickets inevitably put a brake on the run rate for a while until Rob Ritchie was winched onto the crease. The bowler thought that Christmas had come early – not because he thought he would get a cheap wicket, but because he thought that Father Christmas himself  had arrived albeit a younger, black haired version. This was an unfair comment and deemed highly offensive by all the millenials present. The bowler was suitably chastised by his well-woke captain.

A couple more wickets fell like presents down a chimney and it was left to numbers 9 and 10 with a combined height of 12½ feet and combined age of 73 (ratio not available) to face the last 5 balls. The plucky tail enders brutally flayed the bowling to all parts of the square with a partnership of 6 to add a cherry to what was an already lavishly iced cake. 119 – Boom.

Mention must be made of Jivraj Singh’s batting – he displayed style, technique and bravery as he held the Wick innings together. Your correspondent predicts that Singh minor will be opening the batting for the Wick 1st xi within four years; mind you, he also predicted that Clemmo would win the prize for best match report of the season and that’s not gonna happen.

Back to the match.

After a military medium tea, Houghton led his team back to the pitch, deviating only to drag Mandeep once more from the generously mirrored changing room.

In the proceeding huddle, the skipper spouted that 119 was plenty. The aged President agreed with that view, as long as the opposition batting order consisted of 6 Harry Copelands and 5 Ian Colliers.

In order to avoid the prospect of Thames Ditton surpassing the Wick total in under 6 overs, the skipper wrestled the new ball from the President’s liver-spotted hand before he had a chance to bowl the first delivery. Instead, he handed the ball to Povah with the instruction to bowl like the wind.

Jacob didn’t disappoint and his first two overs were bowled at express pace. Not only was he quick, but he also bowled a consistent line – six inches outside a left hander’s off stump. Unfortunately for Jacob, the opener was right handed. And a gun bat.

As a consequence, the score rattled up at a rate even higher than the Wick had previously managed, leaving your scribe kicking himself that he paid for the full 7 hours in the car park when 4 was clearly going to be enough.

But then it happened. The Povah express dispensed with leg theory and for the next few overs, he started to hurl them down at a rate that was just too quick for anyone except the gun. Anything outside off was played at and missed whilst every single ball that was straight, crashed into the stumps – so Jacob took two wickets.

Jacob is seriously quick – he is the quickest bowler in the club. Once he develops a higher action and bowls slightly moreover his front leg rather than round it, he will be joining Jivraj in the first team. The job of a genuine quick is not to save runs and bowl line and length, it is to scare the opposition. Jacob scares the opposition – fact.

Meanwhile, at the other end, our nearly tame Scotsman manfully wheeled away uphill and into the breeze. Ross is a simple soul, each time he bowls he has just one tune in his head -Kaiser Chiefs on this occasion, and just one bowling thought in his head – wrist position, on this occasion.

It soon became apparent that Ross must have been spent the previous night over practising his wrist position because he began to send the ball down the leg side with alarming regularity. As luck would have it, the oppo could not take advantage and missed every leg side offering, something that a club coach will undoubtedly correct as long as he is not too busy disparaging his previous club on social media (# just saying).

However, Ross soon recalibrated and clean bowled two of the opposition (leg stump, I must add).

So with four down, the skipper’s briefing that 119 would be enough seemed less like management waffle, which he does well, and more like shrewd thinking, which is not normally part of his repertoire.

However, the gun bat was still there and his continuing presence began to scrape away the confidence of our brave boys.
The only man seemingly unaffected by the general confidence sapping was the magnificent Higgins who prowled like a hairless panther in the covers diving at everything that came his way – inspirational.

The skipper was assailed by another bout of shrewd thinking and handed the ball to Smith who matched his skipper’s shrewdness by spotting a weakness in the gun bat’s technique, at exactly the same time, it turned out, that Joffra Archer was exploiting a weakness in the technique of Steve Smith.

In the Aussie captain’s case, the weakness was against a 96.4 mph bouncer homing in on his strangely shaped head.

In the Thames Ditton gun bat’s case, the weakness was against a slow half tracker a foot outside leg stump. And the president proved beyond doubt that he was the man to bowl this killer delivery.

The slow half tracker spat off the pitch, leaving the gun bat no option but to spoon the ball in the air.
The skipper, with his oversize keeping gloves flapping in front of him, set off in pursuit of the ball like an overfed sealion lolloping along after a fish lobbed to it by its trainer.

The shrewd trap had worked, and the oppo were now up against it.

As its often the case when chasing a daunting total, panic set in. Sensing this panic, the skipper deduced that slow half trackers were no longer the way forward and so he swapped Smith and the Scotsman for Zak Collier and Singh minor and watched as a further 2 wickets fell – both to hostile Collier deliveries.

But with 10 runs to win, 3 wickets in hand and plenty of over left, the oppo were back in control until yet another thought bomb exploded on Houghton. He decided that Mandeep was the man for the occasion and promptly dispatched Father Christmas to drag him for a final time from the multi mirrored changing room.

With the hairdryer still in his hand, Mandeep was clearly lost in his dreams, but our hero quickly pulled himself together, swapped hairdryer for ball and bowled the over of his life, castling two in succession.

With the scores level, and one wicket left, the Thames Ditton batsmen were cruising but their diffidence turned to dread when Houghton summoned Smith for a second spell. As is well known amongst the 3s and 4s, Smith loves nothing more than a second spell in the evening chill. Cleverly deciding that the oppo bat would probably expect another slow half tracker a foot outside leg, Smith opted for variation and wafted down a slow half tracker a foot outside off. Falling for this carefully laid and well executed trap, the batsman smashed the ball straight at a Wick fielder ankle height.

A relatively straightforward catch to tie an exciting match, I hear you cry.  Yes, but the fielder in question was also the bowler who has not been able to reach down to his ankles since 1989.

Chance spilled, the Wick eleven slowly headed for the changing room. There, we soothingly dried each other with the electric hairdryer and stood together to share a moment of reflection in the palace of mirrors before stepping outside to allow the late evening breeze to summon the siren song of the Kingsfield to guide us home.
Bollocks, we lost again.