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Bledlow Ridge 1s v Twyford 2s (Away)

 

Saturday 19th May 2018


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Ridge Victorious in Twyford Wide-Fest


Umpire McTaggart Swallows Rule Book


BenDog Contemplates Marital Good Fortune

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BRCC:      288-6 (50 overs)

Twyford  171 ao (33 overs)

 

Won by 117 runs

 

 

“No Scott and no Birdy -what a relief” said RolfeDog on the journey to the ground.

 

After the – as yet unreported - chaos of last week’s abandoned match v Oxford I suppose it was good to have Taggart back.

 

Last week without him no one knew where the balls were (in the cupboard) or where the scorebook was (well erm, in Taggart’s house) or where my trackie bottoms were (in his kitbag). This week we hit the jackpot: he was there but umpiring not playing. It’s like true love: can’t live with him, can’t live without him.

 

And when your umpire is on the League Management Committee, is the only person on the ground who knows the Playing Rules and his name is McTaggart, well you’re going to hear about it. Made us wish Scott and Birdy were playing.

 

The Inaugural ‘See Who Can Arrive Later Than Saeed’ competition, was won by Captain Birdseye who went to Wolverton who are not in our Division, thus giving RolfeDog ammunition for the rest of the afternoon.

 

SamDog won the toss and decided to sit in the sun while the rest of us batted and watch the Inaugural Most Wides Bowled In An Over competition which enabled us to reach 45 off the first five overs for the loss of Brooksie, caught one-hand-one-bounce.

 

They had a few young hurtlers one of whom pinned RolfeDog on the belly-button with a full pitch and caused the first of a number of interventions by Twyford captain Mohammed Shafaqat who had an interesting day.

 

His comment that this should not have been called no-ball as he claimed RolfeDog had been hit on the leg elicited an invitation from ’RolfeDog to inspect the bruise and a subsequent …. erm ‘discussion’ with a fielder all of which came to a halt when from 90 yards away, SamDog, that most lippy of wicketkeepers, yelled out “just get on with the game”. This was rather like being told by John Bercow to respect women, so in a state of shock we did so and played on.

 

Umpire McTaggart (shoulder injury caused by bowling too much left-arm-slow-crap) was by now in his element. It was just unfortunate for Twyford that they came across him in top form having swallowed the 50/50 Cherwell Rule Book whole.

 

He next took delight in refusing a number of leg byes when our batsmen had pretended to try and hit the ball, by calling “I’m Not Having THAT” in an authoritative manner before undergoing Aashort cross-legged dance routine.

 

No Balls of any description are now followed by a free hit and in this match were also followed by enquiries from Mr Shafaqat such as “What Rules are we playing today then?” to which Umpire McTaggart always had a ready answer.

 

BenDog, fresh from 98 v Challow was by now batting like a million dollars which you might expect for someone who works for an American investment bank even if it is just loose change.

 

Eventually BenDog was rather well caught, for a fine 64 of a partnership of 136 at 146 for 2. SamDog arrived and hit one blistering cover drive before smearing a long hop only to see one of the young opening hurtlers dive full length and catch him. Captain Birdseye arrived, smashed the leather off a half volley only to see Hurtler No 3 grab a caught and bowled with both hands.

 

So having watched the seam bowlers spray it around, three fine catches had been taken and we were a bit shakey (or ShakEy) at 160-odd for 4.

 

Lloydy came in to bat wearing a Gerrards Cross shirt with “The Ceramic Tile Co” emblazoned on the front which was proof that he has not paid a sub for about nine years or obtained any of the goodies that go with it. He may however have had his bathroom fitted for free.

 

He was cautious to start with as if sampling a new wine. He also developed a new batting technique which involved using the bat more than the pad.

 

RolfeDog – who had by now been batting so long and so slowly that everyone on the boundary was asleep – agreed with Lloydy that they would play out the overs of accurate non-spinning off-spin form Shafaqat and another decent bowler whose identity remains unclear at the time of writing. It might have been Majid Aslam however he has only been credited with bowling four overs on the Cherwell League report card.

 

No doubting who Umpire McTaggart was however and the innings continued well until he signalled a wide off a delivery that hit Lloydy’s ample figure, almost dislodging a few ceramic tiles in the process, at which point both RolfeDog and Lloydy did the decent thing and told Umpire McTaggart to pull himself together and withdraw the wide call.

 

Lloydy had wandered slowly down the wicket to make himself understood and Twyford took the opportunity to return the ball and take the bails off in a kind of Gentlemanly-Act-Meets-Ungentlemanly-Act. Mr Shafaqat again got in a bit of a kerfuffle. I do understand that it is not always clear from Lloydy’s running speed whether he is attempting a run or not but this was not in the Spirit of Cricket so McTaggart intervened with “I’m Not Having THAT, I’ve Called Dead Ball” and so we resumed.

 

Lloyds bashed it about. RolfeDog’s innings expired for 92. HairBear had a quick thrash, all in his own kit. We finished at 288-6, with Lloydy  a fine 51 not out, a score from which we had lost at Twyford three years earlier. The bowling figures ranged from 3 overs 0-36 to  9 overs 0-20.

 

The WhatsApp gang excitedly WhatsApped everyone they know and got a photo from Birdy in reply. This being the Royal Wedding Day (Megan and Harry for those of you reading this in 2065) it rather looked as though Birdy was getting married to Larty, somewhere sunny.

 

The tea ladies were thanked for their tea so many times that they fainted with embarrassment and Dakes and Gilet set to, bowling eight of their ten allotted overs in succession with Dakes getting four and Gilet … zero.

 

Dakes’ wickets included an LBW drawn from Umpire McTaggart in the painful fashion that befits a bowler-umpire trying for better season’s figures than the bowler.

 

In order to do this the umpires had changed ends at half time much to RolfeDog’s delight as he was then able to state that this contradicts the Laws of Cricket, the Customs Union and the Laws of Nature. Quick-thinking Umpire McTaggart countered that the Laws have changed (of Cricket presumably) and MCC Member Brooksie sniffily replied that his club were the guardians of the laws and he hadn’t heard anything.

 

Dakes put Henry Wilkinson to the sword (geddit?) before making changes and we revived the Wide-Bowling competition as BenDog got very confused about which were right-handers and which left-handers. David Saint was using BenDog’s radar too but Freddie Wilkinson tried to hit a straight one to Kingdom Come and SamDog, with a lot of yelping while the ball was orbiting the sun, finally located the orb and caught it. Surprisingly, not in his mouth.

 

Chesh celebrated his day of not batting and not bowling by tearing about and confused us all when a batsman hit one to him and took a single, by calling out “There are no singles to me in the field”.  He later explained this Fake News by explaining it was not a description of what had just happened, but a prediction, which proved correct as thereafter, confused, Twyford, did not run any more singles to him.

 

This brought Mr Shafaqat to the crease and after a while he was able to just reach a wide delivery from BenDog and nick it behind but not so clearly as to make him feel like walking ,so he stayed there and we noted that for once he had no complaints about the umpiring. Neither did we either for the record and BenDog put things right shortly afterwards with a catch by Lloydy.

 

Strangely although six wickets down, Twyford remained with a chance for as long as Joss Goff (22 at scrabble) batted aggressively and we had difficulty completing our overs due to a glut of wides.

 

McTaggart was almost beside himself with the news that we would be deducted 6 runs, yes runs, for every over not completed by 7pm and we faced the prospect of losing the game at 7pm with Twyford something like 200-9, 88 runs behind.  At least this day quashed the myth that McTaggart and RolfeDog’s captaincy has been responsible for slow over rates, a burden they have had to bear for a few years.

 

Fortunately Saeed’s radar was set properly and he took two wickets, one a slow motion return catch, before Captain Birdseye decided enough was enough and returned to claim his fifth wicket. Gilet came back and dismissed the dangerous Goff to complete an equally fine spell and one which did not require him to buy a jug of beer in the pub afterwards.

 

So another win, a beautiful evening at Twyford’s local pub where BenDog wondered out loud why on earth Hermione had married him. We tried very hard to think of a reason but failed completely although someone did suggest it was because of his smooth hair and dark-rimmed glasses.

 

The next day McTaggart expressed disappointment that Dakes had awarded his umpiring as only 16/20. This was explained as deductions for: knowing too many Cherwell Rules, too much loudness, changing ends at tea, being Scottish, not waiting for a run to be completed before exclaiming “I’m not having THAT, you never played a shot”, acting Scottish and setting off back to The Ridge in the wrong direction.

 

For the rest of us, the prospect of listening to Birdy again next week was partly alleviated by the good news that Aston Villa will be in the championship play-offs on Saturday so we will all be spared Scott’s burgeoning Brummie accent. Sometimes listening to Taggart can be a joy in comparison.

Bledlow Ridge 1s v Challow and Childrey 2s (Away)

 

Saturday 5th May 2018 

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Ridge end fallow run at Challow


RIDGEBEARS BANK ON A BANKER FOR RUNS


Birdseye and Gilet in WhatsApp Wars




C&CCC: 226-6 (50 overs)

BRCC:    230-7 (45.2 overs)

 

Won by 3 wickets

 

“That’s a Lockheed Lightning Rolfey…” exclaimed Brooksie as he spotted a WWII war plane suspended above the road on the Wantage By-Pass. 

That was our fourth by-pass having already by-passed Wallingford, Wallington and Didcot as part of Brooksie’s master plan to avoid any unknown delays in the City of Oxford area. 

“…Though it might be a Lockheed Martin, or perhaps it’s a Vought Corsair or even a Brewster Buffalo – don’t you know your warplanes Rolfey?”. I had passed his parakeet test at Stoke Green the week before but now I stood accused of warplane ignorance and, faced with four choices, remained silent. 

Ben Keeping called half an hour into our journey to announce he was just setting off having had to take a child, or a wife, or a nanny or even a horse or a horse’s nanny to the doctor. He weighed up the odds, took the Oxford route after all and arrived just after we did. 

As beautiful grounds go, Challow’s is up there with Long Marston and Aston Rowant. We lost the toss and fielded in extreme heat, reflecting – as it were – on the President’s prediction in April that the first round of the league season would be put back to 8th September on account of waterlogged pitches. 

After Dakes and Ben Hillarious had opened with a side-splitting spell conceding just 22 runs off 10 overs, Dakes replaced himself with The World’s Greatest Banker (WGB) who brushed back time and his hair and bowled his first competitive overs for five years since his Fake Shoulder Injury. An over later and Dakes tried some Left Arm Slow Taggart and was surprised how slowly it was possible for a human to bowl. 

WGB attempted a tight fiscal policy to begin with but did offer the batsmen some cheap credit under the strict interpretation of wides within the 50/50 format we were playing. Unfortunately for him he got one of the openers out and No3 and Captain Alex Lynch began to take advantage of some loose quantitative easing so WGB was replaced by Allan who showed what left arm bowling is all about. 

Allan bowled one, then once again showed his trust in Hollywood who caught his third catch off Allan in three matches. 

C&CCC (I rather like that abbreviation or “abbrv”) began to build up a good score with a partnership of over 100 between Lynch and C Robson whose main contribution was to provide a lot of other Robsons to the C&CCC team. 

Allan bowled in partnership with Fats (aka Simon Martin) who went through his range of vintage steam engine noises, occasionally letting off steam by telling the batsmen both how lucky they were and how well they were playing, at the same time. 

The batsmen did test HairBear with a couple of up-and-unders and we learnt that more research is necessary, then Mr Lynch offered a humorous chance to Ben Hillarious who dropped a giggler as they say. 

Allan took 2-33 off his 10 in a fine spell. Fats eventually dismissed both batsmen in qujck succession: a kind of domino effect (Fats Domino?) and Lynch was particularly unlucky to be caught Dakin bowled Fats. “What are the chances of that?” 

Captain Birdseye is taking to this captaincy stuff very well and showed great experience in bringing himself back on once the dangermen had disappeared. He and Hillarious, now on for Fats whose boiler had finally run out of water, pegged C&CCC to 226-6 off their allotted 50 overs with Dakes 1-24 off 10 and Ben 0-40. Taggart bowled 0-23 off a mean, stingy 8 overs as you’d expect. 

Taggart who seemed to be enjoying himself in as much as that is possible, remarked how much friendlier opposing teams seem to be now that he is no longer captain. He also mentioned that he had never been able to decide which came first: the chicken or the egg. 

We were quickly 12-3. A traditional start saw RolfeDog, HairBear and Hollywood back in the pavilion. Dakes with 20 began to restore order to the markets then The Rapier Keeping (WGB) was joined by the Cudgel Brooks, like Robin joining Batman to save the world. 

Ben started with some phishing outside the off stump but soon settled into some fine smoothing both straight, through mid-off and mid-wicket as boundaries became mere commodities. 

Brooksie was a little more agricultural as suits a country boy and certainly showed austerity early on but progressed and extended his account by clearing (clearing – geddit?) the boundary with two big sixes.   

As the target came closer Brooksie then made a bid for a single without factoring in the speed of the fielder and this call was shorted by The World’s Greatest Banker at the other end so that Brooksie’s innings was foreclosed for 43. 

One of the features of 50/50 cricket is that a minimum of five bowlers is required and C&CCC gave lengthy spells to their youngsters including a left-arm seamer with a huge engine and two leg-spinners. The WGB had reached 98, only two short of an annuity, and was facing a leggie whereupon Fats on the boundary exclaimed “OMG if you were on 98 this is the sort of bowler you’d want to be facing”. The WGB gave it the ‘charge’ (geddit) but extended his overdraft with the result that the leggie comfortably cleared the batsman’s debts.  “LOL” is all I can say to that. 

We were six down with Birdy and Fats at the crease - bags of experience for this situation though Birdy, to our surprise was beaten in flight (unusual for a Bird), which allowed Fats and Hillarious to tickle us home much as Pooh and Piglet might have done if this was a children’s story. 

We learnt that someone from Cheshire had batted rather well for 56no for the 2s and there were rumours of PlonkerGate in which Captain Birdseye and Gilet the Filet each called the other a Plonker via WhatsApp: Birdseye for reminding Gilet the Filet a draw was not possible in 50/50, and Gilet the Filet for telling BIrdseye they weren’t playing 50/50 so the 2s could draw if they wanted to, thank you very much.  Something fishy was going on. 

And so to the prospect of a boring trip back with Brooksie. I suggested going through Wantage town centre this time so we could see the statue of King Alfred the Great. “What the one who got an arrow in his eye?” Brooksie replied. 

OMG! Gawd help us. 

I lost the will and so we drove past that warplane on the Wantage by-pass once again and I realised this could have been a Messerschmitt for all Brooksie knew

 

RolfeDog.

 

Angela Merkel is not available for comment

 

Stoke Green CC v Bledlow Ridge CC

 

Village Knockout

Sunday 29th April 2018 

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Ridge Routed in Stoke Green (not Routs Green)

 

Was Taggart missed at all? Captain Dakes makes defining comment

 

HairBear in remake of ‘The Wrong Trousers”

 

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BRCC: 124-8 (45 overs)

SGCC: 127-3 (15.1 overs) 

Lost by 7 wickets 

 

Report

 

For those of you with a poor attention span (Birdy), illiterate (Brooksie) or time-poor (Marcus) who have asked for shorter match reports, here it is:

 

We lost.

 

For the rest of you: 

The match started the previous evening with a fifteen-message WhatsApp sequence concerning the whereabouts of HairBear’s black kitbag at the club in which I finally ascertained that ‘on the right inside the clubhouse’ did not mean ‘in the ladies’ loo’ but meant ‘on the right inside the home dressing room’. 

So it was that on Sunday morning I collected from this position, a black bag which was surprisingly large for a Bear who rarely has his own trousers, has lost his bat and usually cannot find the rest of his kit. 

I lugged it to Stoke Green CC which was the only interesting feature of travelling with Brooksie, to discover that I had collected a large black Kookaburra bag whereas HairBear owns (presumably more predictably) a small black Slazenger bag. 

At Kimble two years ago, HairBear wore Dave Bird’s cricket whites in the first remake of The Wrong Trousers. This was something of an indictment of HairBear’s eating habits. Two years later and he can fit into my spares which either reflects well on HairBear or badly on me. 

A kind of Kit Jumble Sale ensued  in the World’s Small and Most Chaotic Dressing Room and Our Favourite Bear ended up with a medley of clothes which almost fitted perfectly. 

On a very cold afternoon, the captains tossed up, we elected to bat and watched Birdy drive into the ground for a 2pm start. At 1pm RolfeDog and Hairbear walked out to bat. 

Had we been playing a Zoo we’d have been well prepared, boasting in our top seven: Dog, Bear, SamDog, The Sloth and Birdy. Sadly we were not. 

We played two matches. 

In the first, the ball hooped all over the place, moved in the air and off the wicket; the batting team had to contend with tight bowling, difficult conditions and a slow outfield. 

In the second match which was played after tea, the ball seemed to do nothing at all, batting was mostly a breeze, the outfield seemed a lot faster and the boundaries a lot shorter. 

That we reached 124-8 off our 45 overs was largely due to SamDog and Birdy who work together like Tom and Jerry. RolfeDog had succumbed for nothing, HairBear for just 3, and Hollywood also for zero before The Sloth at least managed a six to the short boundary in his innings of 8 (third highest of the innings). Brooksie then managed 2 before being caught at slip off the 7th ball of an over. 

How we all laughed. 

SamDog was watching much of this with bemusement at the other end, wondering if it would be possible to better partnerships of 3, 4, 1, 20 & 4 all in the first sixteen overs. 

Well he and Birdy managed 55 in the next 17 after Birdy was dropped first ball and despite Zulfi Butt opening his spell with four maidens.  SamDog went for a complete half hour scoring just one run before hitting one into the road which bounced into a well-fortified garden. This was guarded by a small Pekingese big enough to frighten off Brooksie, so they found another ball. 

SamDog’s six narrowly missed a bus going to Heathrow and thereby the opportunity to hit the biggest six ever, landing – or perhaps disembarking – somewhere like Bahrain. 

Birdy was both watchful and aggressive and was only troubled when after a close runout, the part of Sam’s brain that does running and calling, packed up for a while, resulting in a few midwicket encounters with his partner, somehow none of which ended up in a dismissal. 

Birdy was LBW for 28, a number he clearly has a problem with (see last week’s report) then there followed a brief but valuable contribution from Cheshire (well from Haw Lane actually), then a briefer one from Allan and 1 not out from Hudson while SamDog opened his mighty shoulders at the other with another six, ending 57 not out. Raja Khan took 3-22 off his 8 overs and Saud Ahmed 1-16 off his 8 which was both mean and uncalled for. 

We enjoyed a very fine tea, of which the best moment was when Captain Sloth said “Isn’t it nice without Taggart”- and we all agreed that it was. 

I subsequently learned that Dakes’ remark was made at almost exactly the moment that a 17-year-old rugby player in another part of Bucks, was telling Referee McTaggart to F*** Off you [extreme expletive deleted}”. Well they can’t all be wrong can they? 

We then played the second match and this report should be a lot shorter. About a third of the first half in fact as they won in 15.1 overs, the ‘point one’ belonging to HairBear of which more later. 

We went out with high hopes but Stoke Green had obviously changed the wicket at half time and Dan Simpson greeted Dakes by peppering the boundary and road with fours and sixes. As the last six of this first over was being retrieved and the over had cost 20 already, I dared to suggest to Dakes that he bowl round the wicket. “I can’t bowl round the wicket” he replied. I have never been keen on receiving a firm biff on the nose, nevertheless I am extremely proud of the self-restraint showed in not making the blatantly obvious reply. 

Gilet fared slightly better and only went for one six and it was a relief at the end of the fourth over – one in which Gilet beat the bat a couple of times, to realise this was the first over of their innings in which they had not hit a six. We had managed three in 45 overs. 

In fact, after four overs they had reached over 60. In the fifth, Dakes induced Simpson to drag-on to his stumps, for 40 at an estimated strike rate of 250. At least we had managed as many drag-ons as you usually see in an episode of Game of Thrones. 

Then, shock horror, new Batsman Singh, clearly out of Tungh, hit his second ball from Gilet hard to HairBear at cover who quickly took his hands out of RolfeDog’s pockets and held the catch. 

Kashif Abassi and Palmar, whose first name I cannot find so I’ll call him Arnold, were clearly in a hurry and the score continued to rocket until a good over from Allan, at the end of which he remembered the trick he played on a batsman the previous week and bowled a high full toss with the same end result that Hollywood took a good running catch. 

Dakes decided it was time for Brooksie to have a bowl and for us to have a laugh which we did. There was less laughter however from Hudson-Drama-Queen who had spent an hour at home taping up a knee-scrape from five-a-side footy only to remove the whole lot with one diving stop. He left the field temporarily for a good cry (See Simon Lloyd at Horspath, 2016). 

It can only be out of sympathy that Dakes deferred the over he had promised HairBear and brought Hudson on with 9 runs wanted, 9-per-over being the going rate. (Chesh has blown his chances last week by taking a wicket). Would James get on to bowl or not? Hudson managed to concede just seven in an over in which Dakes felt this was not the right time for Hudson to take his first ever wicket and shelled a catch. 

Hairbear did not let us down, his only delivery being hit to the 90 yard boundary for four and we all trouped off. 

Except for Gilet, who is fast becoming the club’s Statto and almost ran to the scorebook to confirm he had only gone for 31 off four overs, 7.75 being slightly below the going rate. 

With new covers, new sightscreens a scoreboard under construction and also electronic scoring, Stoke Green are a friendly group clearly on the up and the Caribbean disco afterwards got Birdy’s feet itching. 

The day ended up back at our clubhouse where a tiny black Slazenger kitbag was found hiding out of sight at the back under a bench in the home dressing room. It contained Hairbear’s kit and Dickers’ trousers.

 

RolfeDog 

William Rees-Mogg is away but will return next week after holidaying in the 18th Century 

 

A Bledlow Ridge X1 v an Aston Rowant X1


Home – Saturday 21st April 2018

 

Ridge Squeeze Home in Fluid First Outing

 

Taggart Rules the Waves

 

Robbie Carter in Irony Shock

 

Aston Rowant X1:    165-7 (40 overs)

BRCC X1                : 169-8 (39.2 overs)

 

BRCC won by 2 wickets

 

Within only 10 days of the announcement that all cricket at Bledlow Ridge would be cancelled until 2023 due to heavy rain, The Ridge sneaked home in the last over of a 40 over match in which at least fifteen players were treated for sunstroke. 

Fortunately Ian “King Canute” McTaggart had bid the rain cease earlier in the week and by dint of private communication with Rowant via underwater megaphone had kept the fixture afloat, so to speak. 

RolfeDog had drowned in a storm of emails about the sodden pitch which had come in waves but just when we thought the fixture would be sunk, Groundman Jamma was joined by the Head of Rolling, Mr Steve BIrdDog for a tidal wave of hard work and preparation. 

Captain “Birdseye” Dakin, formerly known as “The Sloth” could not be bothered to walk to the wicket to toss up and told Rowant they could bat if they wanted to, which they did. 

Dakes put Chesh where we could not hear him and from there he ran out a batsman who assumed Chesh was not only incapable of fielding, but incapable of throwing. Appearances can be deceptive. 

Although not captain, McTaggart took himself off as soon as Rowant’s new overseas-professional-with-a British-passport got going, leaving the lucky Alan Loxton the pleasure of bowling to him and testing our fielders’ ability to identify lost balls in “Keeping’s field”.

Alan fooled the other batsman into giving Matt “Hollywood” Brightwell a fine running catch off a steepler and was later rewarded by being replaced with Chesh, probably the low point of his career so far. 

Ben Hilarious had opened up well at the top end before being replaced by Captain Birdseye who, now captain, was more animated than ever previously known. When not bowling Dakes found himself fielding at Extra Cover without knowing who had put him there. His parents never showed up to watch, a smart move as Dakes would have been lured to the boundary like Jason and the Argonauts to the Sirens, and certain oblivion. 

Now that I’ve completely lost both Birdie and Brooksie and anyone else ending in “ie” with that sentence … back to the cricket. Chesh not only bowled but took a wicket, the return catch thudding satisfyingly into his chest where he grappled with it before sending it into orbit from where is almost landed on Taggart’s head, but didn’t. 

Luckily the British-Overseas-Pro had had to retire at 50 and when he did so the game had returned to normal and normal also meant three wickets for Ben Hilarious in a fine second spell, all the more so as he had mentioned at one point that he could not run. One of these wickets was a catch-behind by Brooksie who hurled the ball even higher than Chesh had done, again in Taggart’s direction, but with equal bad luck. Another wicket was a catch by BirdDog and the third a catch by the opposition’s substitute fielder James, who reminded us that he had spent much of his week in the employ of Simon Tremlin cutting our outfield so that BirdDog could roll it. 

In between time, David Saint had a good bowl and we had the Curious Incident of Rain Stopping Play During a Heatwave. 

Forgetting temporarily the flood of discussion, emails and emotion that had gone into getting the game played despite April’s mostly monsoon-like weather, Taggart ran us off the pitch at the first drop of rain, as he did not want the possibility of any damage to a pitch which would be used for another friendly next week – a game which would only be played if we could raise a team and if it wasn’t called off for more rain. 

As soon as the rain (what rain?) stopped and we realised that McTaggart is neither captain or groundman, we resumed. Luckily we only lost 17.5 minutes which is the equivalent of five cigarettes or seventy-three vapes and after a brief conference it was decided that under Duckworth-Lewis no overs would be lost and no runs added or deducted, only that Cricket Can Damage Your Health. 

Chesh did not get another wicket thereby proving that lighning does not strike twice but Ben had his aforementioned  fine spell and Alan got another go when the prospect of Chesh taking a second wicket proved too much for all of us. 

Rowant ended with 165-7 off 40 overs, and we wondered if Dakes had ever been described as a ‘cat’ before – a word used at one point to describe his fielding by a player desperate to remain in the team. 

We were treated to a fine tea by The Real Saint with the appropriate volume of biscuits and cakes so that not even Birdy complained. 

With brilliant timing Robbie Carter showed up at tea with Charlie and complained there was no cricket. Many of the world’s ills were put right during the next fifteen minutes during which Charlie considered saying something but thought better of it. Robbie commented that his daughter Molly could be really grumpy (takes after his mum) and this is the first known instance of irony by a Carter since Vera told Tex his bowling was useless. 

RolfeDog opened up with Chesh who was proving hard to shake off in this game and did so to a chorus of jokes about being back-in-a-minute and other gems he had never heard before in a fifty-five year career. 

In a sort of “up yours” approach to batting RolfeDog almost hit the first ball of the season for four but didn’t and after Chesh had hit a few powerful shots into the offside field (adding to the suspicion that he now bats on steroids) RolfeDog hit the first six of the season well into the Stud Farm, so that back in the pavilion BirdDog had to be treated for shock. 

Chesh eventually nicked one behind and proved his Australiasation by ‘waiting for a decision’. His replacement Matt Hollywood started smashing the ball around but, clearly unnerved by RolfeDog’s big hitting, played on for 14, trying to emulate his partner. This brought in Brooksie whereupon RolfeDog lost the will to live being LBW for 23. 

Dakes succeeded in hitting a bigger six than RolfeDog just to prove that he can and belted the ball around for 25 until he tried to hit one out of South Bucks but only got the ball as far as the wicketkeeper. Brooksie (13) and Hilarious (unknown) followed soon after and we were in a bit of Schtuck. 

The run rate had slipped as we tried to rebuild the score, that is until Alan started hitting out only emphasising how slowly BirdDog was batting at the other end. Alan’s innings of 27 turned out to be match winning but not before he and The Real Saint had made way for Taggart who gave us a few scares in the traditional manner before BirdDog was shocked into action and hit over the top for four just so that he could creep into pole position with 28 not out. We won by the slimmest of margins with four balls to spare. 

This was a welcome victory in a friendly warm-up match which gave Brooksie his first winning game for two years. Does that tell you something Brooksie? 

Reflecting on our victory over the weather we stayed and soaked up the atmosphere and hoped that our win would have a ripple effect and turn into a deluge rather than prove to be a drop in the ocean. Our thoughts then turned to next week’s weather, use of the same pitch for next week and whether we should put the covers on. 

It was decided not to, on the basis that a drop of overnight rain would be good for the pitch the following week. I woke up a few hours later in the middle of the night not to the sound of a light drizzle but to thunder, lightning and the heaviest rain of the year so far, all of which was somehow the most satisfying moment of the whole week.

 

RolfeDog 

No plains were flooded in the writing of this report

 

Bledlow Ridge v Hetairoi


Sunday 30th July 2017 

----------------

Defeat to Hetairoi pronounced a “Load of Balls”

 

Shaun is the New Henry 

Cam outbowles Doug in battle of the Mcindoes

------------------

Timed match:

 

BRCC                           174 - 6 dec (49 overs)

Hetairoi                        177-4           (45.2 overs)

 

Result: Lost by 6 wickets 

----------------------------- 

Yes The Ridge were outdone by a Load of Balls. 

Brian Slade of Hetairoi, as usual promised to supply a ball. In a dastardly covert manoeuvre he supplied four. How could we compete with a Four-Ball? 

Had we known, we could have retaliated with an entire HaleStorm but in the event Nat, Jolly and Andy stayed at home while Henry Hale took time off body-building to grace the field of his youth. 

Henry opened the batting with Brooksie and the first five wickets fell to one Ball or Other or to five Balls depending on how you look at it. 

Henry, 14 and Brooksie 16, (runs not ages) survived being slayed by Richard Slade and then both fell to Henry Ball. Shaun Dryden arrived and on looking up to see the athletic figure of RolfeDog at cover substituting for a latecomer (which remarkably was not Shaun himself) promptly commented that he knew “what to aim for”. 

After making 24 he did achieve greatness by being the only one of the first five batsmen to fall to Will Ball (which I though was a new game from Nintendo) as Doug succumbed to Henry Ball for 7 as did Sam Gilbert, who was bowled a Curve Ball, for a round figure. 

Talking of round figures RolfeDog was later to fall to an old adversary but in the meantime he and Dales consolidated which always means blocking the **** out of it and boring everyone to death as the score creeps up. 

Eventually RolfeDog was bowled a head-height delivery. Brooksie, now umpiring decided that today of all days, with so many on or around the field it was impossible to call “No Ball” there being so many of them and so he didn’t and RolfeDog was nearly caught. 

Extraordinarily Henry and Will were replaced by two bowlers not called Ball and after a while RolfeDog decided to plumb a new low in a very average season. 

A few years ago I was dismissed by two very old (as it were) adversaries at Bledlow Village and trudged off Caught Floyd -  Bowler Spooner, two Scoundrels if ever I met one. Or Two.  This was a painful low point in a career full of low points. 

Today, Stephen Matthews offered up an enormous pie and I was Caught Slade -Bowled Matthews, two Absolute Bounders if ever I met one (Or Two)  both of whom I have played with or against for 25 years or more. In doing so I knocked the memory of Floyd and Spooner into a deflated Ball. 

This was a timely dismissal however as Allan Loxton marched out, wondered what all the fuss was about, startled the patient Dales, who had been in for an hour and a half. Allan mullered 34 not out including a big six, in about 15 minutes while Dales reached the same not out total in a slightly longer time. We declared on 174-6 and took tea. 

This being a good old-fashioned, proper-cricket Timed Match we aimed for a twenty minute tea and would have achieved this had it not been for one of Roz’ magnificent spreads which made it hard to stop eating. 

News had reached her overnight of the exceptional tea offered up to Long Marston the day before by the modest author of this piece and she raised her game yet a few more notches. 

Out we went and Shaun and Gillett opened up with a New Ball. As if we needed another one. They bowled to Stuart Banham and, wait for it, John Ball. 

There were more Good Balls than Bad Balls and of course no No Balls. The best incident of note to this point was the discussion between Gillett and Umpire Matthews on the subject of whether Gillett had been running on the wicket or not. 

Never in his life had Gillett been accused of running on a wicket on a Sunday in July playing The Hetairoi. 

 The scoring rate was kept in check but no wicket fell until Lauren Head and Allan Loxton were bowling and Allan got both openers with two Excellent Balls. 

Doughty Doug replaced Lauren and immediately Lauren took a fine running catch to dismiss Neal Thathapudi off his bowling, an event which would have been most unlikely the other way round. 

Unfortunately this heralded the arrival of Will Ball to the wicket and he plonked one of his first balls to the boundary and set about the task of upping the scoring rate. 

By this time Shaun had begun to resemble the Henry HaleStorm of old. Memories of Henry speeding around the boundary like RoadRunner came flooding back as Shaun tore around making twos and fours into ones -  here at least we had one player On the Ball. 

We had bowled 26 overs in 1hr 20 minutes after tea and before 6:30pm, when Cam Mcindoe came on to bowl five good overs at Ball W and Andrew Wilson. This helped put Hetairoi back behind the rate but Cam made the mistake of getting the latter out with his penultimate Ball and thereby brought the Ultimate Ball in the form of Henry, to the wicket. 

This was clearly a mistake on our part as this Pair of Balls set about our bowling with increasing enthusiasm despite a good spell from Henry HaleStorm. 

Doug and Allan returned and kept it tight, or so we thought until Henry Ball hit one of Doug’s balls so hard and so far that it hit a tree. Or that’s how Doug said it felt. 

The onslaught of Balls proved irresistible.  We even lost a Ball but that did not help. The Hetairoi just had a Ball and made it home with over an over to spare for the loss of four wickets. The Ridge  players were left to ruminate that the batsmen who did not have to bat were Three Slades, One Matthews and One Abel and even though the latter in particular is quite Able, we might have been victorious had we been able to separate The Pair of Balls. 

Afterwards we retired to to the bar where we learned that we had been knocked around the park by a Philosopher and a Professional Oboist. 

We really hadn’t stood a chance.

 

 

 

Bledlow Ridge 1s v Long Marston 2s

 

Saturday 29th July 2017

 

----------------

Dickers & Hollywood save The Ridge


Dickers replaces diesel fuel with pies


Outstanding Tea makes up for rained off match

------------------

 

BRCC                           184 all out (45.3 overs)

Long Marston              DNB

 

Result: Match Abandoned (Tea -  too filling)

 

 

What is it with technology? You email the whole team requesting they arrive by 12 noon latest to finish getting the ground ready on a wet day and some server diverts the email to the opposition. The entire team was there by 12 noon but on close inspection it turned out to be their team not ours.

 

At least Long Marston did not put us through the humiliation of conducting pre-match fielding drills as our team arrived in dribs (slightly) and drabs (mostly).

 

We were spared the joyful experience of playing with both our Happy Scotsman as Captain McTaggart was overseas.

 

But there’s always Dakes to cheer you up. “We’ll never play, let’s go home” said our demon bowler who had lost most of his beard in an industrial accident.  “The forecast is for rain” said Doleful Doug.

 

We put the covers back on as it started to drizzle, discussed with Drab Doug the benefits of running the water hoses uphill, lost 6 overs to the weather and started at 1.21pm precisely, in bright sunshine.

 

Having lost Brooksie early and with the score at 34-1 SamDog and RolfeDog briefly celebrated one of the best starts in living memory and this prompted a collapse to 66-7.

 

The collapse involved a few drives smacked in the air and caught (SamDog 14, Drib Doug 0 and Malik 18) a few bowled (RolfeDog 8, Hamsah big-fat 0) and a nick to slip (Dakes 6).

 

There was nothing particularly comical about any of this except perhaps for Hamsah’s traditional response to advice given about playing himself in, selecting his shots and using up time, which was to try and hit his first and only ball out of Buckinghamshire.

 

The ample and very comforting figure of Dickers made its way out to join Matt Brightwell who ShakEy  has named “Hollywood” as he sometimes mistakes him for a film star. This is a mistake not often made about Dickers unless there’s a blockbuster I haven’t heard of called “Who Ate All The Pies?”.

 

The two of them tried a novel approach to batting at The Ridge, namely staying in and waiting for the bad ball. Matt decided to lighten an otherwise rather disappointing performance up to that point by calling Dickers for a number of sharp singles and then stretched a point from time to time by running some twos and heaven forbid, the odd three.

 

I remember as a child watching the old steam trains, and the firemen who would gradually raise the temperature of the boiler until you thought it might explode.

 

These images came back to me as Dickers batted, none more so than when he actually ran nine whole runs in one over. I thought for a moment of The Flying Scotsman but remembered he had made himself unavailable due to work commitments and so, since the game ended, I have googled “steam engines” to find one that resembles Dickers. With some gratification I came across a very early model called Steam Elephant and one called Big Boy, though I prefer to settle on the one named Fairy Queen, even though it is not really a true reflection of the image created by Dickers’ performance at the crease.

 

He presented a very straight bat.  The one I bought from the Goat Centre a few years ago in fact, when I only dropped in to buy a shirt. Batsmen are suckers for sports retailers who have excess bat stock and not for the first time, the chap running a cricket shop knew a sucker when he saw me walk in.  Anyway I gave it to Samuel as I didn’t need it. Somehow it ended up in Dickers’ large hands in this match.  And if you need to know what I was doing buying cricket kit from a Goat Centre, just ask sometime.  After all you do get keys cut at a shoe shop and I’ve never understood the sense in that either.

 

Matt had a decent bat as well and while he found it amusing making Dickers run Dickers’ own runs, he decided to plaster the Stud Farm with boundaries rather than run his own.

 

Having worked through some tight bowling Dickers deserved to receive a few pies which he gratefully swallowed whole and the score began to advance rapidly.

 

It put us in a strong position getting us up to 161, before Matt “Clooney” Brightwell was eventually stimped – or even stumped – for a fine 54.

 

The partnership had saved the innings and as it transpired, the match. Allan Loxton added 10 useful not out runs before Dickers’ boiler exploded and he was bowled. David Saint decided to see if Umpire Knappy was watching first ball which he was and so we had tea.

 

And what a Great Tea.

 

It is exactly a year since the last RolfeDog tea and the start of twelve months of  psychological therapy following complaints by BirdDog  (Steve) on that day that there had been insufficient filling in the sandwiches. This, despite that fact that every sandwich had been gratefully consumed.

 

I consider it one of my great culinary triumphs that twelve months later, not only were the fillings so thick you could have plastered your house with them but that I produced so many that not even a team with Dickers in it, could eat them all.

 

What I could not provide was the level of glamour that you get when Roz is serving cups of tea, but I think she would have been proud of this effort. Brooksie even asked if he could come and live with me but I hear he is a bit untidy around the house, so declined.  And he tells bad jokes.

 

David Saint reflected on his afternoon’s cricket which involved waiting two and a half hours for one ball and was overheard asking Hamsah how Hamsah had worked his way up to No 8 in the batting order so he only has to wait one and a half hours for the same result.

 

Anyway they both agreed that the Great Tea had made the whole day worthwhile.

 

Rain started and we put the covers on and ran the hoses uphill.

 

The game was called off at 5.30 and because they are a decent lot, Long Marston stayed behind for a drink. And because we are what we are, we stayed behind for several drinks and talked about Geoff Tombs, while I tried to think up another explanation for arriving home after 8pm for a game that ended at 5.30.

 

Dickers had a pint or two of course, the second being served at about the tine rigor mortis set in.

 

The seconds returned with the good news that they had bowled Abingdon 3s out for 80-odd but with the bad news that in reply we had succumbed for about 66. It was delivered by an Australian Paramedic with a very pronounced accent. This proves you can be a paramedic even if you have a pronounced accent however his grasp of geography - in terms of where he had been to play the match -  left us reflecting that no matter how good a paramedic you are, it is of no consequence if you go to the wrong place.

 

We said “ gooday mate” which seems to mean both  “hello” and “goodbye”, as Mattie left.

 

In a rare moment when conversation veered away from Mr Tombs, Shaun fessed up to not having known he was in the team for the game the next day v Hetairoi until his mum saw the team sheet on an email sent from the club account in the week. But, I pointed out, Shaun had texted me he was available and I had immediately replied he was playing. ...so what had he made of that? 

 

He had thought it was his football coach.

 

What did I make of that? Only that Shaun had made himself available for cricket  and received confirmation by text for a football match that didn’t exist. We never discovered what ground he was going to turn up at or what time he thought kick off was.

 

Lawd help us.

 

Dismal Doug ever the pessimissist, managed to find a website that predicted the match the following day would be cancelled owing to the pending arrival of a monsoon or something worse called Hurricane Taggart.  Everyone else found sites predicting sin  - or more likely but less happily, sun - and only the odd shower.

 

It has come to something when our two Scotsmen are fighting to lose the title of Happiest Scotsman of the Year. 

 

Jacob Rees-Mogg is currently away, holidaying in the 16th Century.

 

 

 

BLEDLOW RIDGE 1s v KINGSTON BAGPUIZE 1s

Saturday 3rd June 2017 – Home

 

Ridge field too many Drama Queens against Baggers

 

Brooksie rewrites victory as Roz nearly burns the cakes

 

 

BRCC 135ao  (38.5 overs)

Baggers 137-5 (33 overs)

 

Result Lost by 5 wickets

 

 

Short report. Short game!  - and Brooksie has a short attention span.

 

At least we turned up, well sort of, well most of us.

 

There were a number of changes from last week’s winning team at Long Marston. Shaun for example was revising somewhere, Jack was protecting the country somewhere (gawd help us) and Sniff was planning mighty deeds for the 2s.

 

Therefore we brought the big guns back – and got beaten.

 

The Dog Brothers, BenDog and RolfeDog batted for 14 overs. RolfeDog managed to get out on the last ball of the last over of the opening pair. To make it worse, caught by someone called Arthur.

 

“No wonder he burnt the cakes” said Brooksie who thinks Ramadan is Ramadam and has a slightly sketchy grasp of history.

 

BenDog was in fine form and played the best shot RolfeDog had ever him play which led to a brief Ceremony of Congratulations mid-wicket to the admiring applause of the opposition who had never seen anything like it either. He kept going despite RolfeDog’s attempts, in a pique of jealousy, to run him out.

 

Lloydy was caught at slip. In Division 5! How unlucky can you get? Dakes made an aggressive 22 which included an aerial shot (aren’t they all?) which their umpire described as The Shot of The Day much to BenDog’s irritation.

 

Dakes got a half tracker and was caught. SamDog arrived and after a short while Ben ‘Drama Queen’ Keeping decided he was not getting enough attention and pulled a hammy. He needed a runner which brought with it the usual chaos.

 

There were three ‘out’ batsmen who could ‘run’. Of RolfeDog, Lloydy and Dakes, Captain MacTaggart chose Dakes. I mean, really! The choice was between a Sloth, a Barrel and a Gazelle and he chose the Sloth. I continue to be amazed how, at the age of 62 with about 900 years of cricket behind me, I can continue to hit new low points in my career.

 

Cue some more fine shots from Ben Drama Queen Keeping but eventually the game stopped for a performance of General Post involving our three men at the wicket which so did SamDog’s head in, that he was out caught next ball, at slip. In Division 5! How unlucky can you get?

 

80-4, but we’d be OK as here comes Brooksie, back after a four week layoff with a foot operation. Unfortunately he tested it out by hitting the ball on to his foot and it lobbed into the air back to the bowler. A neat trick 

Baggers have a left-arm slow crap bowler (no offence meant) who is as effective as our left-arm slow crap bowler  (none taken). It seems to me that in Division 5

all you have to do when you want to bowl a team out is bring on a slow-left arm crap bowler (no offence meant) and thus it was that Stuart Bullen produced enough pies (where was Lloydy when we needed him?) to finish us off despite 1) a few brief pyrotechnics from Hamsah, 2) Captain MacTaggart’s determination to see the overs out with an innings of One Ball Resistance, 3) Russ-I-Thought-I’d-Retired-Moran’s  personal Presentation of Arms Ceremony and 4) Some frantic hitting, running and being Sent Back You Fool-ness from Scott.

 

Our innings finished so early the second innings started straight away and we did manage to remove Toby Ricks with the unlikely combination of caught Sloth bowled Hamzah at long leg. We had to wake the Sloth up as the ball was in mid air with shouts of “Cakes, Dakes”, and he swallowed it whole.

 

At tea we briefly thought Scott had some friends, indeed not one, but two. It turned out they had showed up not to see Scott and not to watch the cricket, but simply because they’d heard that Roz was doing the teas. They are deaf anyway which explains why they sat with Scott as he chuntered away about his magnificent Chinese cut for four. Roz excelled herself and RolfeDog told Brooksie he doesn’t know how lucky he is.

 

Marco Cecchini has been in fine form recently, mostly running an upmarket Bistro in Kensington, but also with the bat. Therefore it was necessary to bring some slow left-arm crap on early to subdue him and eventually he was caught on the boundary by Scott – a minor miracle in itself – for just 11, another minor miracle in view of Marco’s fine form (or did I mention it already?).

 

Thus we had taken two catches on the boundary but sadly RolfeDog was unable to take a chance at slip off James Boon – well it is Division 5 after all – and although SamDog almost ran him out, Boon proved a boon to Baggers as usual. In fact he so likes playing against us, he arranges his family holidays around availability to play against The Ridge.  A few years ago he even moved from Abingdon to Baggers to ensure regular first team cricket and fixtures against The Ridge bowling. Especially Slow Left Arm Crap.

 

I should mention at this point that Ben Drama Queen Keeping did not come out to field. He had had his bat after all (59) and really did not feel it necessary to encumber us with his fielding. He usually has a servant at hand to perform such tasks (they used to be called ‘slaves’) but there were none around bad enough to perform this role so we fielded with ten until... we realized there were three fine, registered Ridge cricketers on the boundary. Of these, Charlie Farlie Carter (the best cricketer in the Carter family apart from Molly and Tina) looked as if he had been sent to sit on a bench on his own as a punishment for something (probably for being the best cricketer in the Carter family apart fro Molly and Tina). We also had Robbie Carter and Shaun-I’m-Revising’-Dryden.

 

Of course given a choice we’d had gone for Robbie owing to his athleticism in the field, but he said he was going shopping which was about as unlikely as Shaun doing any revision. That left Shaun who was consuming something liquid and was quite content with life until Scott said he should field (the only sensible thing Scott has said in over five years at the club) and RolfeDog insisted.

 

After a minor tizzy-fit Shaun joined us, sporting a fetching brown shirt under a Ridge sweater and tore around the boundary like someone who had forgotten he too had a bit of a hammy problem. It did seem fair though to replace one Hamstring Drama Queen with another Hamstring Drama Queen and the good news for Shaun is that Ben has taken him onto his permanent staff.

 

I had the misfortune to stand between Scott and SamDog both of whom were talking rubbish. SamDog’s target was mainly James Boon who took it all rather genially until he could take it no more. When SamDog decided to stand up to the Dakes’ bowling there was no escape for the batsman who let kindly Dakes bowl him so he could flee to the silence of the dressing room

 

But, Baggers were getting nearer, in fact with only three wickets down, almost Home and Dry, well Away and Dry.  Right at the end, Hamsah got Arthur in a moment of rhyming slang and Dakes had Will Woodley caught in SamDog’s mouth.

 

Not a good day, but bizarre results elsewhere have left us right up there with the leading pack. In Division 8, the 2s made 100 with 22 from The Mighty Sniff and 20 from Allan Loxton who also took three wickets.

 

With slow left-arm crap of course.

 

Boris Johnson is permanently on vacation

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bledlow Ridge 1s v Long Marston 2s (Away)

 

Saturday 27th May 2017 – Match Report

 

 

Long Marston: 199-9 (53 overs)

Bledlow Ridge: 203-4 (36.1 overs)

Result: Won by 6 wickets 

 

The good news that Jack Brooks would be one of the replacements for the missing Lloydy and Birdy (a 70s middle-of-the-road singing duo) was offset by the appearance of Scott when we met at the club, as one of the others.

 

“Who’s umpiring today” I asked of Taggart as I looked forward to playing on one of the few grounds where I have a good batting record, “You are” replied MacTaggart. It had its consolations: I would not have to watch Scott swinging his John Thomas around like a yo-yo in the dressing room.

 

I was despatched to pick up Lord Bledlow of Henton at his new hard-to-find multi-million pound megamansion hideway.

 

What a mess. What an absolute mess. Don’t be fooled by the manicured lawns at the end of the mile-long driveway – the clue is in the pram outside the door.  On stepping inside you learn how many toys Ben has thrown out of his pram over the years - so many that Hermione makes him park it outside.  I stumbled into the living room to find his children giving him much needed fielding practice with a Velcro ball. “Two hands daddy: imagine someone’s throwing you a twenty pence piece”.

 

Got to Long Marston, shook hands with a few Long Marston regulars who could hardly hide their relief that I would not be smashing their bowling around all afternoon and started behaving like an umpire. By squinting.

 

One other benefit of umpiring not playing was not having to endure Captain MacTaggart’s Motivational Team Talk No 4.

 

The Ridge took to the field. Behind the wicket as Dakes marked out his run up, the lean SamDog and the svelte Saeed (wicket-keeper and first slip) went through a range of stretching pyrotechnics while prone on the ground. Standing at second, Fats tried to touch his toes.

 

First ball: pace, bounce, thick edge and, just as the Dish ran away with the Spoon, Fats  dived, rolled and clasped a wonderful slip catch. All without the need to stretch.

 

Hamsah had told me on the way over, that “I won’t be bowling for a few weeks now during Ramadan” (known to Brooksie as Ramadam) so as I approached the wickets to stand for my first ever over umpiring a league match, it was no surprise to see Hamsah marking out his long run up.

 

This over like the first was a maiden. Indeed something extraordinary was happening. Dakes, the man who once started a season with four consecutive wides,  was not bowling wides. Long Marston did not get off the mark until the 29th delivery just as The Mouse Ran Up the Clock.

 

In the eighth over SamDog caught Paul Marsh off Hamsah by rolling around and catching the ball in his ‘ample’belly – it was all kicking off: somewhere Mary Was Having a Little Lamb and you can’t say fairer than that.

 

Mike Lyons and Simon Robinson rebuilt the innings until with the score at 61, Fats said “I’ll show what an ample belly really looks like” and performed a perfect 10 as Robinson edged Dakes so that he took the catch belly-up between his legs, while juggling a beach ball on his nose. Just as The Cow Jumped Over the Moon, while plucking a banjo with its tail.

 

As if this wasn’t all extraordinary enough, Scott took a catch. MacTaggart had  by now exercised Captain’s Prerogative by replacing Dakes who was running away with the end of season bowling awards, with …. Himself.

 

The catch was an important one as Mike Lyons was on 58 and with Captain, Wicketkeeper and Former Musical Heartthrob Paul Young, at the other end, he was building up the score.

 

Scott for his part, had undertaken various attention-seeking manoeuvres already during the innings and so I have to say there was a small part of me that willed him to drop the catch. Unfortunately he didn’t. 122-4 off 31.

 

It was at this stage that BenDog started claiming credit for all wickets taken on account of tactical misfields in the overs concerned. He certainly made easy pieces of fielding look hard and Long Marston’s batters could be forgiven for being lulled into a sense of false security.

 

Paul Young reeled out a string of Top Ten hits before he, like many other batsmen, could not believe what crap the Ridge Skipper was serving up and lobbed one up to Fats. Caught Fats, bowled MacTaggart as Lord Lucan rode by on Shergar.

 

At this point Dakes slipped the captain a fiver and returned to bowl. We kept on picking up wickets (one to Saeed) and BenDog claimed credit for each of these due to the excellent way he was throwing the ball back to mid-on or because of deliberate misfields, and I thought Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush again.

 

There was a brief exchange of words at one point when Chris Fletcher decided Simon Martin needed more catching practice and to everyone’s surprise the ball rebounded off our teammate’s ample stomach and back to the bowler. It is fair to suppose that Mr Fletcher may have helped himself to Simon’s left-over meals from time to time and when the word ”Fats” was bandied about, mostly by the attention-seeking Scott, a little temporary misunderstanding may have occurred over who he was referring to. NO offence meant… unless in the direction of Fats Martin.

 

We took nine wickets including the wonderfully named Yogesh Mistry who was caught behind off, you’ve guessed it,  Dakes’ Mistry ball.

 

They ended 199-9, M Dakes, as he is now officially named in Stu’s scorebook, 5-50; SamDog four catches and Fats three, both of which defy explanation.

 

Long Marston treated us to their usual magnificent tea.

 

I am not going to write much more because you are already bored and no one reads this rubbish anyway.

 

Fats was LBW early on, hit on the toe, one of few body parts he had not used already during the match. BenDog was stumped down the legside. He posed for a few moments hands on hips and went off singing “I’m a Little Teapot Short and Stout, Here is my Handle, Here is My Spout”.

 

SamDog could not hit a banjo with a barn door to start with and was unable to get going with quick singles as Dakes The Sloth was at the other end. Dakes finds all this running around malarkey unnecessary and showed as much by hitting a humongrous six.

 

SamDog eventiually found his wheels to such an extent that when he had about 50 bowler Matthew Wareham asked if this was the same player who had been unable to bat only an hour earlier.  Long Marston rang the changes and our batsmen worked hard to keep the Measley Beasley out, as he has a habit of running through sides.

 

When Dakes was also out stumped down leg for 43, and then next ball Saeed  was LBW following “I am comeeng with “I am goeeeng”,  in came Jack Sprat. He clearly eats no fat. “Jack Be Nimble Jack Be Quick” urged SamDog which Jack was, until he remembered he has had major knee reconstruction and decided to do Dakes’ impressions by smacking the ball to the boundary and not running.

 

And so, with no Lloydy, RofeDog, Brooksie Snr, or Birdy, we won with almost 11 overs to spare, by six wickets. SamDog 81 not out and Jack Sprat 29 not out.

 

My impressions of umpiring a league match for the first time: not having to share a  dressing room with Scott; not having to endure MacTaggart’s team talk;  the especially good manners of the LM bowlers when asking me to look after their cap or thanking me on returning it at the end of each over; having to keep widing Shaun to ensure he recorded even more wides (four) than Taggart (three).

 

Which brings me to another point. This was probably the most disciplined performance in the field I have ever seen by a Ridge X1. True, Scott ‘s diving for the ball occasionally brought Gary Sprake to mind, but while the fielding was generally tidy, the catching was excellent and the bowling remarkable. Seven wides only, in 53 overs? And none from Dakes? How did that happen? That’s league-winning stuff.

 

And Captain MacTaggart made good bowling changes.

 

One day they may refer to this Ridge team as “The House That Jock Built”…. and to the Lord of Bledlow: the “Old Lady Who Lives in a Shoe”.


MATCH REPORT


Bledlow Ridge 1s vs Abingdon Vale 2s (Home)


Saturday 13th May 2017



BRCC 265-9 dec (42 overs)            19 pts

AVCC  231-8   (58 overs)                  9 pts

Match drawn


There's never a dull moment when the Ridge meet the Vale. This was our 5th meeting in 3 seasons and as dramatic as the first one was, so the sequels have become ever more outlandish in terms of plot and the production values have soared to unimaginable heights. Like every good single story exploitation franchise, the heroes become more heroic, the villains more villainous, the plot twists more .... well ..... twisted. In a desperate attempt to spice up the format, the producers introduced some new elements to the 5th incarnation of the The not that Fast and the mildly Irritated, including magically appearing princesses, dashing young bucks and horribly out of tune singing. But to our story ....

Taggart's pre-match monologue began about 11.15, and it was much to the relief of the majority that it was eventually running out of steam at 12.15 when most of them arrived. The essence of it was that despite all the shenanigans of last year, we should just get on with it; oh and if it's all the same to the batsmen, could we try to avoid being 60 odd for 8 (like last week). Clearly there has been a change in the writer responsible for Taggart's character which had not been known to Captain Luke Pointsgrabber who on having very definitely felt the force when his hand of friendship was offered and slapped back in his face at the last meeting of the sides, had become a bit more Blackadder than Jedi and put his underpants on his head, two pencils up his nose and refused to travel to BR on the basis that "they don't like me over there." 

With the loss of the two other perennial nuisances (in a playing sense only), Paul Butcher and Dan Hartley, Cackling Chris declared the side very weak. Taggart won the toss, and having done so last week as well, that presumably will be that for the rest of the season, and opted to bat. With Rolfedog away again (that's twice now in 3 years) Keeps was hoisted up to open with Fats. Now Fats opened with Rolfedog last week, so he should have known the script well enough. 5 runs is quite enough from the first 6 overs before one or both you make way. It was no surprise then that anyone coming out of the pavilion after the first three overs would have just assumed that Tom was having trouble with the controls on the new scoreboard and that was why it was showing 27-0. But no! With Fats swatting full tosses off his nose for 6, and the wavy locks and dashing elan of the Lord at the other end (in my memory he was wearing a cape, but that may just be me), the score was rattling along. 

Abingdon were very definitely missing their three bowlers ... at one end at least. From the top end, Matthew Darley was occasionally going for a few, but when Prince Charming got a bit too expansive, he was gone, following Fats back to the hutch, Sam got a great nut a couple of balls later, and debutant Andre (sorry, can't find the acute for the e on this keyboard) was adjudged caught behind by the usually implacable Mr Knapp. Andre reckoned the bat had hit the pad, but not the ball and Steve's rather penitent look a few minutes later suggested that with hindsight he may have agreed. Birdie was a bit surprised to be given out at the other end, but just as the finger was going up, the ball did indeed hit his pad, so we assumed that was LBW. Dakes had spent the early part of his innings searching for a sausage roll he was sure he had left in his beard the night before and so had been a bit preoccupied while all this was going on, scratching his way up to 9 or so. At this point, Doug, often cited as the inspiration for Marvin the Paranoid Android, shuffled his way to the wicket, murmuring his usual self motivating mantras of "I bet I won't get any today" and "be just my luck to get the only good ball of the day" etc etc. no surprise then (to Doug at least) when he nicked off early. Off he turned to walk back, only to have his satisfaction at being right quashed when Chris Butcher declared it not carried. "Are you sure?" said Doug, "cos I'm not staying where I'm not wanted". Definitely didn't carry and back he went. This incident was later cited to me as an excellent example of the spirit of cricket, "Your man walked, our man called him back, excellent spirit" Mmm ... we'll come back to that.

When Doug finally became the first player to be dismissed by someone other than Matt Darley, we were 108-6 from 22. It wasn't dull for sure, and it was better than 60-8, but it felt a bit precarious. Dakes had meantime given up on the sausage roll and was now befriending a family of jackdaws he had found nesting a little further into the beard. This oneness with nature had calmed him somewhat and he was batting a little more fluidly and was up to 29. He was joined at the wicket by Hearbear. There was a genuine concern that if they crossed within 2m of each other each other while taking a run that Hairbear's hair could easily become entangled with Dakes' beard and neither might be seen again for a long time. 

At this point, Birdy declared that 180 would be a decent score.      

The running fear turned out to be baseless. They had no intention of running for anything. They were dealing strictly in boundaries. In around 12 overs, they put on 88 for the 7th. When Hairbear (32 off 34 balls) finally failed to get one over the boundary and it fell into a fielder's hands, Dakes was on 73. By the time Hamzah's pedestrian 34 off 20 deliveries was over, Dakes had passed 100 for his maiden 1st team ton. When he fell immediately after Hamzah, we were 261-9 off 40. Having faced one ball from Darley (6-70), and watched Shaun swing and miss at 6 from the other end, (a couple went for wides), Taggart decided that his chances of lasting 6 more balls against the opener were slim, and in a fit of self preservation, declared.

In the pre-match pre-amble, it had been noted by the more food aware that no-one had brought a tea. Shaun, Dakes and Hairbear skirted around the issue, perhaps wondering if they had missed a memo or were supposed to have done it themselves, before the prospect of no half time food overcame them and the question was raised, "Who's doing teas?" "Roz of course" answered the skipper. Well that is the answer normally in at least half the 1s home games, even the ones, like this one where Brooksie's not playing, and so after yet another splendid repast, we headed into the field with Birdy still telling us that 180 would have been a good score.

The watchful Cardy fell early to Dakes and Hawthorne, who was determined to hit everything through the covers, even the balls pitching outside leg, stepped away from one too many and fell to the same bowler for a spirited 38. With Hamzah having picked up one at the other end and we had them 40 or so for 3. this brought together Tom Allen and Chris Butcher, and after we dropped a couple of very sharp chances, they began to settle in. With plenty of runs on the board however, Taggart decided that some left arm filth might be the order of the day. And then some more. And even more. Allen in particular took a shine to this and was hitting some very good shots, and some less good ones. He hit it in the air and all around the ground, except where we had fielders. Taggart was all for coming off after 6, but somehow Birdy convinced him to keep bowling with the absolute promise that it would get us a wicket. It was turning out to be one of Birdy's less astute days on the prediction front. Both players played well and they put on an excellent partnership of 143, before Tom Allen hit one too many aerial off Andre and Doug snaffled the catch. 

Whilst this partnership had ensured they weren't out of it, we had managed to keep the required rate just high enough that they had to keep taking risks. At this point it looked like the next batsman would be their last chance and he started well hitting Dakes for a flat six over mid off. He followed this with another straight drive and took off for his run, only to get within a couple of yards of safety and find his partner well and truly planted in the crease. As he turned and sprinted back, Shaun picked up the ball, threw a perfect trajectory to Sam who duly whipped off the bails. Much cheering and merriment from the Ridge was rudely interrupted by a booming call from square leg of "THAT WAS NOT OUT!!!". To be fair, it had to be loud because the batsman, who had given up the run half way down the wicket, had carried on and was now halfway to the pavilion. There were some expressions of bemusement, not least from the batsman, but we mostly got on with it, apart from Birdy who suggested to the umpire that he may have been mistaken ..... several times      in several ways ..... before being politely requested by his captain to cease and desist.

Shaun, who had bowled a decent spell earlier, came back and removed the same batsman shortly after, so in the end no real harm was done.With Dakes having removed the belligerent Chris Butcher for 63, that was pretty much that in terms of their chance of winning. We squeezed in the field for the last few overs but their tail stood firm and the game ended as draw.

This was great game of cricket, played on a really good track that flattened out a lot towards the end. With 12 overs to go, all results were still possible, and with one to go, there was still a chance of a win and some draw points to be fought for. The points split was 19-9 and that would probably be a pretty accurate assessment of the relative strengths of the 2 sides. If it had been win lose, it would have been dead well before that.

A number of the Abingdon players stayed for a drink and a chat and hopefully one of them will have told their non playing captain that he can give the pencils back to the scorer.

looking forward to the sixth installment.


    

MATCH REPORT

 

Bledlow Ridge CC 1s v Cropedy 2s  (Away)

 

Saturday 6th May 2017

 

 

RIDGEBEARS DEFY DASTARDLY CHOCOLATE CAKE TRICK TO OVERCOME CROPEDY

 

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Ridge Literally Likely to be Div 5 Heavyweights in 2017

 

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NOBODY CALLED BEN PLAYS FOR THE 1ST TEAM

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BRCC: 159ao        (43.3 overs)

Cropedy: 103ao  (30.4 overs)

 

Result: Won by 56 runs 


Cropedy learnt two important lessons: firstly never trust a Bledlow Ridge batting order and secondly, it takes more than scones with double cream plus thick chocolate gateaux to weigh down a team of already amply-proportioned Ridgebears.

We looked around the dressing-room and decided that among the heavyweights The Future of the Club was represented by Hamsah and Luke Williams (no, Williams is not Hamsah’s last name, Hamsah is just Hamsah).

With Taggart’s observation that he’d prefer we were 100-2 at drinks rather than 160-4, ringing their ears, Fats and Rolfey were welcomed on to the pitch by fielder Charlie Wise’s call of “c’mon lads, let’s stop the quick singles” before he collapsed into hysterics.


This analysis of our team was not altogether fair. Dave Wells had already announced his return with an inspection in the mirror after which he declared himself free of any hair-loss, and we did after all have Luke Williams who later proved it is possible to run two singles before Birdy has time to set off.

For now though, Fats and Rolfey were tasked with setting the season up strongly which they did with scores of 4 and 0 respectively, Rolfey being particularly proud he faced 21 balls.

Wellsy was about to exceed this total of balls faced when he fell prey to a mystery full toss having just watched Lloydy decide to leave one alone which was adjudged to have been straight and true.


Dakesy who had set his watch incorrectly and arrived 45 minutes early, made 11, yes 11, in rapid time and went on to make at least 14 before Bizarre Dismissal Number One.  His back leg was hit by a ball going down the leg side which came to rest alongside both it and the stumps, whereupon he lifted his leg in pain, said “ouch” and was stumped.  When Matt Brightwelly was out after one fine blow we were 43-6 and I was reflecting on Taggart(y)’s drinks batting target.

The situation was both desperate and extremely miserable, in other words tailor-made for Dour Doug - or ‘Dougy’ - who was joined at the crease by Bright Birdy who probably asked Dougy to avoid any quick singles. As Birdy with a bad back can hardly run and Doug is hard of hearing, the stage was set for a repeat of the historic partnership between Long John Silver and Ludwig van Beethoven which ended in disappointment when LJS came for a single but failed to get back after Beethoven had failed to hear the call.

Doug revels in a crisis. When things are so miserable and forlorn, he is never happier: at one with life, like a pig in sh*t one might say. Thus encouraged he and Birdy put on 25 without running each other out until Doug remembered what Jude had told him to do earlier that morning and swept.


This sweeping did not involve a broom but unfortunately it did not involve a bat either and he became the second of many LBW victims of the day. 74-7 and still no drinks. Cropedy were entitled to think they were on top and they gave the impression they thought they were.


Luckily our team included a combination of heart specialist, newly qualified doctor, future heart surgeon and possibly heart-throb (step aside George): Luke(y) Williams. 


Luke is quite quick, like Birdy used to be, but isn’t any more. When Luke hit one up in the air, Birdy judged it would land next to the wicket where he was standing and one way or another any attempt at a run could only end in tragedy in the unlikely event the bowler dropped it.

Luke for his part had calculated that if the bowler became aware that he was advancing towards him at pace, he would be likely to drop the ball.


Both Birdy and Luke were entirely correct in their thinking.

You see Luke arrived at the bowler’s end as the bowler dropped the catch. Had Birdy been running in the other direction he would barely have reached the half way point and was hardly likely to set off now. Luke therefore set off on the return journey having originally only purchased a one-way ticket (and not planned a round trip) to discover he was in a race, first with the bowler and then with the ball, a race which he narrowly lost amidst a lengthy sprawl and a pile of dust.  He thus completed Bizarre Dismissal Number Two.


Luke was the eighth player to make the Walk of Death and the Cropedy team started salivating at the thought of the traditional wonderful Cropedy tea.

Out strode a Time Delay in the form of Hamsah his new curly hair bunched up inside his batting helmet. I can’t bring myself to call him Hamsahy, but he might be The Future of The Club.


Not for the first time, Hamsah failed to read a wicket correctly. This was of course slow, it being May and of variable bounce it being, well May. Seven distinguished batsmen before him had demonstrated how hard it all was. He started by demonstrating the late dab for four, an impossible shot on a wicket of this (lack of) pace and chose to embarrass the rest of us by playing it three times.


When the opposition made a comment to the effect that he was not striking the ball properly he hit the next ball back over the bowler’s head against the sightscreen.

Here, at last was a batsman sensitive to Birdy’s preference for not running and it was not until Hamsah had made 38, at least three minutes after he went out to bat, that he had scored runs which were not boundaries.


Birdy played cat and mouse with the off-spinner Jamie Jennings, ensuring he stayed in so he could watch Hamsah bat. Hamsah made 64 off just 31 balls including two more sixes, the best innings of its kind for the Ridge since Brezza made over 60 off 26 balls at Bledlow Village around 2013.


The tea lady was in quite a state. She had boiled the kettle and poured the tea some time ago but Hamsah had confounded her plans. She relaxed however on seeing Taggart walk out to bat, made some remark about a “walking wicket”, made another pot of tea and was able to welcome us in three balls later.


159 all out, Birdy 28 not out.

The Future Heart Surgeon eyed Fats and Doug as they ate cream scones and chocolate cake, rather like a tiger lining up its prey.  Birdy was preoccupied with Hamsah’s new image and referred to him being rather like a Woolly Sheep (what other kinds are there?) while Fats objected that he had not so far been referred to as a Woolly Mammoth. 

Taggart produced Utterly Boring League Team Talk Number One of the Season and out we went with the thought that you only know what a wicket is really like when you see the second team bat on it.  Well that’s what RolfeDog was saying to the annoyance of his teammates, but each batsman was welcomed with this observation and the only batsman who proved he could really play on it was the one RolfeDog dropped later on, much to the amusement of The Greatest Mid-Off in the World  Dapper Doug.

Dakes obliged with an opening wide or two. Thus confused the batsman was bowled by a straight one and the other batsman was caught and bowled by Hamsah who got to the far end to take the catch with Luke-like speed.

There started a gentle procession of batsman with the exception of Thomas Bunting, to the point when Lucky Taggart worked out that all the other best batsmen had gone and brought himself on to replace Hamsah (2-25).

We call this bowling ‘slow crap’.  Cropedy skipper Chris Plumbe, pulled out his Thumbe and obligingly hit the ball in the air to Lloydy. I was able to see sheer terror on the face of our winetrader as he waited for a spinning catch to come down but fortunately he gripped it tightly … in his teeth.

A while later, Taggart decided he could only get Blocker Coggins out by bowling a full toss and put RolfeDog back for this purpose. Tim Coggins had not bought into this plan however so kindly hit it in the air to Lloydy instead and Lloydy clung on thinking it was a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.


Taggart was so desperate to get ahead of Dakes in the season’s bowling analyses that he made sure all the fielders went back when the dangerous Bunting was facing his bowling and came back in for the blockers. Somehow he got four wickets (how does he do it?). 


Fats and Birdy swapped fielding positions at slip and at mid-wicket a few times depending on who was the latest to have hurt himself bending to field the ball. Luckily there came a time when they swapped positions only for Bunting to hit a catch straight to Fats who had gone to stand in a totally different mid-wicket to the spot Birdy had been occupying.   There must be a gag about ‘Putting out the Bunting’ in there somewhere but I cannot think of it.

With Cropedy nine down this prompted one last effort from Dakes who induced a catch to RolfeDog who somehow clung on. With 4-18 against Dakes’ 4-54 it’s ‘game on’ for Lucky Taggart this season.


Thus we won by 56 runs and ate some more cake so that Charlie Wise could take the empty cake box back to his mum. We departed Cropedy with the news that the 2s had won, largely thanks to Ben Keeping’s 66 and Ben Hilarious’ 5-4 in 2.4 overs. If we had had anyone at all called Ben in the 1s, we could have won by an even bigger margin.


Back at the club we learned that Lisa Kelly-Tonge had kept wicket efficiently. She has broken a record in becoming the first Ridge lady to play – let alone keep wicket  - in a league match. Plenty of girls have already done so - Brooksie being the first among them of course, but today he was lying in a bed with part of his foot cut out and the rest of it suspended from the ceiling – but no ladies.

It looked for a moment that another lady had been playing for the 2s but it turned out to be BenDog dressed up as a character from a Jilly Cooper novel, without the horsewhip.


James HairBear boasted about his large number of GCSEs before regaling us with various stories from when he was fifteen: “That was two years ago” he said. “How old are you now” asked Birdy, “Nineteen” said HairBear.

He,  Girls, Ladies and Gentlemen,  is The Future of the Club.