Archive for August, 2011

An Ode to Joy at Seaford

Thursday, August 11th, 2011
That’s just gorgeous – A&E

Have you noticed how much quieter the seagulls are this week?  OK – the young fledgling birds are leaving the nest, which helps;  some desperate householders have resorted to airguns (highly improper as the Herring Gull is, astonishingly, in need of protection);  the cool weather has helped so that bedroom windows can remain firmly shut.  All this is true, but there is another reason.  The noisy Seagulls of Seaford have been stunned into silence by an astounding cricketing performance by the mighty Beamers.  As Sunday’s game reached its climax Newlands was quieter than a Quaker funeral, it was all the Seagulls could do just to stand open-mouthed or to bury their heads in their shirts.  Not even a plaintiff squawk could be heard.

The outcome was not entirely forseeable!  Your skipper did not always feel fully in control of events!  With Marlon announcing his infirmity after the toss leading to a hasty adjustment of opening attack and keeper, the signs were not good.  They were little improved by some quick runs from the Seagull opening pair (left-handed twins as it turned out) who shared a hundred-plus runs and helped themselves to some chocolate-box deliveries mixed in with some pretty decent stuff, especially from Toungster.  John (the Windmill) Mountford flapped his sails but had to go after only 3 overs for 26 and Toungster’s wicket (lovely snaffle at 4th slip Andy!)just kept him in the fray but only to go for 47 off 7.  With a general run-rate of 8-ish from the off, your skipper sought control and discipline.  Siddo and Billy started to drag things back until the skipper congratulated the former for getting us back to something like 6 an over, when the next two balls went 4, then 6!  A little word on appealing – Siddo should describe what happened, because presumably only he knows what on God’s earth he was thinking of.  In a bid for churney moment, Siddo launched a ludicrous appeal, and I am pleased to report that it was mercifully followed by as abject an apology as can ever been witnessed in the history of cricket.  Raised hand and “sorry batsman” normally does the trick, but so embarrassed was Marie Celeste, that he enjoined an extended spell of self-flagellatory self-demeaning that Judas would have been proud of.  Fantastic!

Control can also come in the redoubtable form of A&E.  The bewildered batsmen normally get out or, in a despairing attempt at self-control, prod uselessly at fresh air.  Not this time.  First over 16, three overs for 33 did not give the captain much option.  The batsmen were in their pomp by now and the widespread field could only wonder at how easy it was for the batsmen to seemingly choose which part of the boundary they favoured.  The score continued to skip along like a schoolgirl on the first day of the summer holidays with 175 coming off just 27 overs.  The Seagulls were really loving this and the noise from the boundary indicated a touch of condescension mixed with the genuine delight.  Those not yet in the middle could not wait to get out there to help themselves and their class act, Stewart (lovely to watch and easy technique) eventually acceded to peer pressure and “retired out”.

The local umpire thought 180 – 190 would be enough and at one point removed the bails considering the declaration had come.  Not so!  The middle/lower order wanted to get their noses in the proverbial trough and this is where they started to show signs of carelessness and arrogance.  The depth and variety of the Beamers attack started to pay dividends and it was a bit of an in-and-out field and a smorgasbord of tasty and sour deliveries.  The wounded keeper picked up a brace of stumpings off Richard the Third (2 for 5 at the death), Riggers got clattered, (so he could chase a decent total later?) and possibly the pick of the bowlers, in the circs, was Andy Williams who finished with the only two “bowled” for 17 off 4 overs of genuine spin.  At last thought the skipper – control… and then came the declaration.  223 for 8 in even time and an extra 15 or so minutes after tea to finish the job off, but that is hardly likely to be needed…OR IS IT?

An alfresco and grassy tea could not have tasted fantastic to the shell-shocked Beamers, but the prospects of a game response is a welcome challenge to this group of cricketing cavaliers who, increasingly, do not know when they are beaten.  Morale dropped even further when the evident speed and accuracy of the Seagull openers brought comments of “never seen quicker” and “he’s Seaford 1st’s opening bowler”.  Our openers had different ideas.  Richard the Third bewildered the oppo with a variety of incredible “leaves” and hops around the crease.  Riggers, fresh from Saturday bed at 10 pm, perked up by a gym session on Sunday morning, and given confidence by his memories of the same ground last year (73 I think) rarely looked in trouble and started what all witnesses confirmed to be his best ever knock.  The bowling was VERY GOOD, the fielding less so, but Riggers rode the bucking bronco of the Seagull attack with the coolness of John Wayne and the elegance of Lady Cholmondeley.  But he can only bat at one end.

Richard the Third laid the foundation and started sowing the first seeds of doubt deep within Seagull breasts; Sanjeev and John encouraged the Squawkers to think this was going to be an easy rifle through the dustbin of the Beamers batting line-up by convincingly getting out in 3 balls between them; but a very rapid and assured knock from Toungster (62 off 45 balls at a run-rate of 135) and some sterling work from Billy, who relishes a challenge, provided just the ideal support for Riggers, taking the pressure off him when required, helping him concentrate and sharing the increasing desperation of the fielding side.  The fast bowler Broad in particular (quick, threatening and emotional like his England namesake) was utterly done for by the Beamers skill, bravery and resilience.  Their extras also chipped in very usefully – 14 byes compared with our 2 (well done again Marlon, but don’t get your hopes up – as far as I am concerned you’re a quick bowler, right?)

But the day belonged to Riggers.  With very little to hit off his legs (a favourite shot) he cut and drove with panache and authority, rarely troubled, to get his maiden century.  103 off 103 balls are the bare statistics.  He was undoubtedly induced to see it through by seeing his old fellah with the pads on and to be fair his thoughts were on the game not the personal milestone.  The style and timing are what will remain in the mind’s eye.  Not even the arrival of three large buses full of Pakistani students could break the steely concentration.  The batsmen in general, and Riggers in particular, “gapped” with dexterity, but such was the languid timing that I thought A&E would expire in ecstasy.  I am sure at one point he offered to marry Riggers and have his babies.  The climax was excruciating and pulsating (and I’m back talking about cricket here).  After a gradual, and perfectly timed increase in the run-rate, the last few overs, when the Seagulls knew the game was up, was stunning.  Rarely can a game have been so completely turned over, rarely can a maiden century be so perfectly set in context and when Billy finally whacked the winning boundary Beamers’ joy was complete.  There was barely a dry eye in the house, proud parents dissolved in family and Beamer togetherness. The Beamers fought nobly to hold back the smirks of satisfaction as we congratulated the oppo on a fine effort, a great effort, but ultimately a vain one.

As an afterthought, consider if Jan had not been there.  For the best part of Riggers’ life, Jan has spent countless hours bowling, fielding, spectating, scoring, washing whites, sitting for hours in freezing fields, picking up the fallen warrior, sticking plasters on bruised knees and elbows, encouraging, consoling, explaining and being explained to about the finer points of the game, scouring the Xmas shops for Glory Gardens cricket books, finding lost gloves, driving to County selection games and maintaining her cool as the pre-ordained boys were picked over her own star player, protective and optimistic, productive and supportive whilst always seeking to avoid the role of embarassing parent.  She has endured moments of torment and dejection, joy and quiet satisfaction, but nothing quite as sweet as Sunday.  Good job she came.

Frank (joyfully)

Another Cracker at Crawley Down

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011
Take it easy Dom – plenty of time…
Maf Moors

What is it about Crawley Down?  For the third year in a row The Beamers’ visit was accompanied by runs galore, wickets aplenty and a tight finish, all played in good spirit in a lovely location either side of a splendid tea.

 

From The Pavilion

Having lost the toss and been inserted, The Beamers progressed along fairly steadily, with the entire top 8 – bar Riggers (nicely taken at 2nd slip early on) – getting into double figures.  Early highlights included some nice offside strokes from Rich III, a couple of high and handsome lofted straight drives from Maf and some – eventually fatal  – swiping and flirting with lbw from Dom, before, at 69-4, Frank joined Ben in the middle.

By this time, Ben’s bat was making sweet sounds and Rigby and Nephew were progressing very nicely thank you, at least until Frank became another victim of the slip cordon.  Next to join Ben in the battle to post a decent total was Billy, who, having last week demonstrated that he’d located the middle of his bat, continued in the same entertaining vein before falling lbw.  147-6 with batting to come and nicely poised for the final push in the remaining 40 minutes.

Unfortunately, while J and Ben continued along nicely, they also continued along all too briefly before Ben was well caught on the boundary one short of his fifty.  163-7 then became 164-9 in a further 7 balls as The Beamers’ traditional tactic of providing at least one collapse per innings – just to keep things interesting – was presented to the crowd for their delectation and amusement once again.

This flurry of wickets meant that your correspondent’s normal dignified saunter to the wicket was replaced by a more shambolic stumble, with no time for the usual calm visualisation, careful bat selection or a few throw-downs.  Or tying my boot-laces.  This may be the approach I adopt in future, for what followed was the highest stand of the innings – a logic-defying 49 dominated by J who had really got his eye in by now and who enjoyed the short boundary rather more than he did my running between the wickets.  Eventually, with a couple of balls of the innings left, one agricultural swipe too many inevitably resulted in me being caught at Maf Corner, leaving J undefeated on 43 and with the target set at 214.

The Last Pair

From the first ball of Crawley Down’s innings – bowled by J and returned with interest past mid-off – to the last ball – again bowled by J and this time smacking the wristband of the number 10 before looping up and into the grateful gloves of the skipper – the chase was on and the game swung back and forth.

The fiery opening combination of J and Marlon soon messed up the top-order – the highlight being Frank’s God-like ability not to be distracted by both keeper and 2nd slip moving in front of him as a catch off J flew his way – before the fourth wicket pair began moving the scoreboard along at a decent rate, with a few lbw not-outs just to keep it spicy.  After 17 overs of this, the skipper decided to change things around, with me replacing J at the pavilion end and debutant Louis on for Marlon at the other.

This double change initially had the desired effect, and soon Crawley Down were 83-5, with the rate required starting to rise.  However, apart from a smart stumping by Ben, my Dob proved ineffective, and smacking me over the aforementioned short boundary seemed a little too straightforward so I was soon relieved by Billy, turning the screw as only he can, while Louis – showing good pace – continued his recovery from a first ball duck by picking up a second wicket before crippling a teenager.

Riggers – on for Louis – then benefited from a catch by Maf*and Billy castled their top scorer – bowler of a long and productive opening spell earlier in the afternoon and whose fine fifty was ended by a tired stroke.  Yet catches continued to not quite go to hand and the score continued to mount…

So here’s the situation: Crawley Down need around 15 off 3 overs with 2 wickets in hand and Riggers has just been spanked for a couple of big ones.  But what’s that I see down at Fine Leg?  Yes indeed, it’s Marlon the Magnificent adjusting his knee support and flexing his aching elbow.  And at mid-off, J has just indicated to the skipper that he’s got another over in him if required.   This is cranking it up on a huge scale!

First over back, Marlon clings on to an absolute screamer of a c&b from the Riggers-roaster, and, with J wrapping it up in the next over, The Beamers claim victory by 13 runs with 10 balls to spare.

Ben 49, J 43*.  J 3-32, Louis 2-42, Marlon 2-45.

A Nice Pair

A top day and a top game – in which everyone contributed to a fine victory – was celebrated in appropriate fashion, with London Pride in their club house followed by Hepworth’s in the Good Companions.  Which, for this day at least, we were.

In case anyone’s interested, I’m a “Yes” for this fixture next year…

A&E

*Maf was so pleased with his catch that he was even nice to me in the pub after the game.  Once everyone else had left, obviously…