Archive for July, 2011

The Reversible Batting Order

Monday, July 25th, 2011

A Beamers batting line-up to visit Brighton and Hove CC containing at least 9 Beamers openers past and present, a seam attack of just two, and a benign looking pitch on which 350+ had been scored the previous day, suggested a high-scoring game of few wickets was looking on the cards from the off. But of course, this is the Beamers, and rarely do things go quite to plan.

Having lost the toss and been sent out to field, Musso and Billy applied strong pressure in their lengthy opening spells, Billy providing the break-through thanks to a routine catch from a skied ball courtesy of Tonguester, manfully donning the gloves whilst we awaited Ben’s arrival.   Wickets continued to tumble at regular intervals, Billy taking a step forward in self-development with a momentous, if restrained, appeal for an LBW which was upheld, and Tonguester accounting for a hard-hitting number 4, before the bar was considerably raised on an already tight fielding and catching performance by a catch to which no words can do justice. So I won’t try.

A mid-innings partnership looked threatening for a time, but the bowling and fielding unit continued to shine. Rich III replaced Tonguester at what become known as the ‘Richard End’ of Neville Road Rec to claim a wicket thanks to a top catch from Billy, haring in from deep square leg, and Frank took a slightly more routine, and frankly dull, caught and bowled than A&E had done earlier*.

Ben, having changed the morning’s plus-fours and tweed cap for webbed gloves and abdo-guard, took a steepling catch behind the stumps before a leaping grab from the returning Salmon and a brilliant catch at ankle height from Dave Andrews on debut closed the innings on 166, though not before Tonguester, disgruntled at fielding on the boundary despite having both kept wicket AND having had a decent bowl, spilled a fairly catchable chance at deep midwicket.

So wickets for all bowlers, 7 or 8 decent catches held, and a chasable total with batting deep into the order. Simples, right?

Er, no…

Inspired having watched Prior bring up his Lord’s century during tea, Ben and Dave strode confidently out to start things off. Which, in a manner of speaking they did – starting off a tumble of wickets which left a string of batsman returning to the hutch repeating the mantra ‘it’s not doing anything out there’.  Ben missed a straight one; Dave was out LBW after surviving a slightly contentious ‘edge’ to the keeper which everyone bar he and umpire Tongue were claiming; Nick lived up to his name with a fine tickle to the keeper (a colleague and now former-friend); Sanjiv swiped across the line to a straight one and Tonguester popped a dolly catch, which at least led to a different post-innings grumble of facing one that ‘stopped on me’.

6 down for very few, respite arrived in the form of Frank and Richard III in the unfamiliar positions of 7 and 8 in the order, Richard hitting successive boundaries to become the first Beamer to double-figures before being undone on 13.  Cue Billy, desperate to improve his batting average and have some fun, both of which he achieved in style. Frank reached double-figures shortly before Billy, but was left firmly in the shadows as Billy raced to the 20s with a series of heavy-hitting 4s, taking another stride forward in his personal improvement programme having finally located the long-lost middle of his bat. And wasn’t it glorious?!

Sadly the partnership wasn’t to last.  Frank, having paid a brief visit to Maf Corner, went to another catch whilst Billy was undone by the opposition’s young bowler, which I’m told led to him proudly announcing to the entire dressing-room after the match that he’d ‘got their top-scorer out’, and went home a very happy chappy. Lovely stuff.

So, 9 down with 80 or so still needed to win, and 12 overs to bat out. Who else would a Beamer want in times like these than A&E?

Musso at the other end nicked a couple, one of which provided light entertainment to a tense finale by hitting slip 1 in the misters, before the hosts, keen to wrap the game up, brought back their tall, quick opening bowler, with 4 top-order Beamer wickets to his name already. To bowl at A&E.

Musso described the first shot as ‘a great leave’. A&E later admitted he saw it, but only as it passed him, thankfully a stump or so wide of his timbers. Concern grew, banter from the boundary involving the run-rate added to the tension, but glowering from under his visor Andrew batted the remaining 3 overs of pace exceptionally, blocking the straight ones, leaving the wide ones, and turning down all runs thanks to a knee injury picked up whilst involved in some routine piece of fielding.

So a battling draw, thanks to some great fielding, a strong bowling performance and some shambolic top-order batting. But would we want it any other way?


*Special mention to A&E, who would no doubt spare me no quarter were I to gloss over his latest attempt to make the Beamers catch of the season a one-man show. A hesitant prod by the opposing skipper/ opening bat to some loopy dob seemed destined to pass the bowler at ankle height on its way to mid-off. But our hero thought differently, swooping to claim a sensational horizontal catch inches from the floor, just squeezing his fingers under the ball at arm’s length. Magic stuff. Though it would also be remiss of me not to mention the slip chance that went begging at chest height overs before…

It’s a Man’s Game

Monday, July 18th, 2011

There was much whinging about how wet and miserable it was during The Beamers’ muddy defeat at Ditchling yesterday (report hopefully to follow). No whinging from this man though:

Future pictures will, no doubt, be provided by Nick as the colour develops…


PS – mind you, check this out for some proper bruises:

Tossed Away?

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Leading into the game, your skipper’s mind – turning over what to do in the event of winning the toss – was significantly influenced by the vocal opinions expressed by the three gentlemen of the batting persuasion he travelled to Lewes with, all of whom argued both eloquently and vociferously that the chase was the thing.  Support from these gentlemen once subsequent events unfolded was rather less vocal…  In the light of recent reports in the media concerning cover-ups, secrecy and the like, and in the spirit of honesty and openness which so beautifully characterises The Beamers, it should be placed on record that these gentlemen were named Andy, James and Rebekah (or should that be Nick, Maf and Riggers?)

Anyway.   Having won the toss, and elected to field (see above…), our attack was taken up by Renshaw from the Pavilion End, with Billy aiming to replicate last-week’s screw-turning from the other.  Variable bounce and some late swing accounted for one of the openers, and with the number three bowled by Billy and a second wicket for Renshaw courtesy of a terrific catch in the covers by Rich III of a skier they were three down by the time a double change introduced Tonguester and Gordy to the fun.   However, whilst they were three down, Lewes  were also starting to accelerate ominously, and – with their top scorer throwing the bat almost from the start – what was required was a better catching performance that at Palmers last week.  Oops.  An early drop of the Big Swinger off Rich T was to prove costly, with other – tougher – chances failing to be transformed into dismissals in the approved fashion (combining ability, luck and staying where placed in the field proved beyond us).

In spite of this typically Beameresque failing, Tonguester and Gordy had some joy, but even these brief moments of delight, together with a small flurry of late wickets from Riggers and I, failed to stop Lewes reaching a challenging total of 216-9.

The Convent Field

The chase (of which so much had been spoken so confidently on the journey to the ground) stuttered badly from the off.  Maf, after being spooked by one which took off first ball of the innings, was then foxed by the “ball of the day” later in the same over, Rich III didn’t cash in on the extra life offered to him by second slip and Dom, after flickering briefly, fished once too often outside his off stump and was gone.  3 down for not very many.

Then Nick was undone by one which stopped, Riggers square-drove to point and, with Billy still to locate last-season’s batting form, we were soon 6 down.

At this point, to say that heads were dropping would not be to exaggerate the situation.   We were still more than 150 short of the target, had nearly 20 overs to survive, and just Gordy, Renshaw and myself to come.  Much depended upon the 7th wicket pair then.  Fortunately, we were batting long, and coming in at 8 to join Tonguester in the long battle for safety was Pete: truly a sight for sore eyes.

And that was it really.  Bailey and Tonguester (Boiled Tongue?) coped with all that was thrown at them, batted calmly through the pressure exerted by increasingly desperate field placings and soon Lewes heads were dropping in their turn.  Brighter cricket it was not, but intelligent cricket was required and through it, the match was drawn with The Beamers – regretting the fact that the match was not a Timeless Test – still some distance in arrears.

Third best result of the season and undefeated in July anyone?


Strange Goings On at Hove Rec

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

It was odd really.  Considering our woeful start to the season, The Beamers’ 8 wickets victory at Palmers was strangely under-whelming.  Perhaps, after the thrashing we administered last season, it was difficult to win more crushingly; perhaps, our response – after our typical early incision was followed by a Palmers recovery in the form of an 80 run third wicket partnership – of a two over spell during which we took 4 wickets gave us much-needed confidence; perhaps, the cruising calmness of Riggers and Richard III’s opening partnership in the chase set us up in a way we had lacked in previous weeks; perhaps it was Ben’s sophisticated captaincy (probably too much use of “perhaps” so delete the last one, eh? – Ed). Whatever it was, this felt like a thoroughly capable performance.  Apart from the catching, on which more anon…

Astonishingly, more attention was paid by the hundreds of occupants of the lovely Hove Rec to some Gay Dog Show nonsense (I may have got that slightly wrong) than to the early annual flowerings of the fluffy delight which is PCC vs BBCC.  Propelled downwind by Start Me Up blaring out of the loudspeakers from the club house, Rob Nic provided some typically bouncy, seamy stuff, typically un-rewarded and typically accompanied by his own particular brand of self-disgust whenever one strayed even slightly down the leg-side.  From the other, slightly quieter end, Billy bowled his best spell of the season so far.

He may be late, and it may have been painful to watch in previous weeks, but he’s so back.  Bounce; venom; spit. And that’s just before he released the ball.  Once he’d bowled the thing, we had the pleasure of watching our South African Elephant-Trophy-holder unleash the dervish which is a screw-turning spell from The Demon.  As ever, when the ball wasn’t crashing into the stumps or flying into the air at droppable height, it was smacking Jonners painfully in the knee or shoulder.  Service – magnificently – restored.

And yet, after Billy’s early incisions (and the retirement of Jonners to gully after a particularly spicy blow to the left knee led to him fielding without gloves for the first time in 20 years), their skipper and his trusty long-levered lieutenant started to make infuriating progress.  So Rob Nic retired to the long grass with his floppy hat, replaced by The Hangman banging it in from the Club Tropicana end, and I came on to replace Billy and to bowl some utter bilge from the other.  Neither of us was successful, although their lanky lefty (he was taller than Nick – the official unit of measurement in Beamers circles) continued to entice our fielders with his tempting, nay alluring invitations to JUST CATCH THE BLOODY THING.  We’re better than that, so we didn’t.  Six times…  All this, while The Salmon’s baleful gaze was cast down upon us, juggling like clowns at the scene of his glorious leap last season.

Before I continue, a word about the pitch; it was an absolute belter.  Quite how Nigel (frequently mentioned in this parish, and deservedly so) has created such a beauty even God doesn’t know, but this was a corker.  Apparently, due to recent storm damage, it’s the worst one on the square, but all the bowlers got something out of it, and none of the batsmen (whinging bastards to a man, as we know) could complain.  Crucially for the next passage of play, it had bounce and turn, both of which our Moon River Andy used to his advantage as he moved inexorably to a bowling PB (jug – missed by Mr Jug Monitor…).  After an 80ish run 3rd wicket partnership and having been dropped twice off me in successive balls in my previous over (bitter?  Yup), Long Tall Lefty succumbed to an absolute beauty from Andy which bounced and turned to clip the off bail.  Another one in the same over left them on 95-4 and The Beamers were progressing, slightly uncertainly, from déjà vu to Voulez Vous.

Their top scorer and skipper then failed to take account of the inevitability of Death by Dob and his replacement made the mistake of assuming that getting home at 08:30 that morning meant that Riggers’ catching was as bad as the rest of ours.  Six down.  A couple more for Andy and two in an over for Riggers resulted in a target of 152, with discussions over tea about the broken tea urn and our recent sad history of failed chases.

Luckily, the aforementioned opening pair of Richards was calmness incarnate.  It wasn’t that they did anything particularly dramatic; they just kept out the good balls and hit the bad ones.  I say “just”, but, let’s face it, this has been a tactic eschewed by most Beamers this season.  Playing sensible cricket, they kept up with the asking rate of around four an over without any alarms, and, with Maf not around to scupper things by suggesting it was in the bag, the feeling grew on the boundary’s edge that this could, finally, be the one.

And so it proved.  With Richard III out for a fine 40, the skipper entertained briefly before Nick joined Riggers at the crease.  While Riggers continued to unfurl more of those lovely trademark shots through the covers off the back foot as he moved into the 60s, Nick plunged his long left leg out to the pitch of the ball and awaited his moment before – encouraged from the side lines by “6” signals from God and shouts of, “You’re better than that, Nick” when he missed a swipe – he did the necessary, smacking the latest Palmers pretender high, handsome and straight back over his head for the six to win the game.

Chigwell; Tangmere; Findon; Portslade; Preston Park.  Where did it all go wrong?