Friday, 9 September 2011

2011 - Game 17 - Sat 27/08 - KSCC 1s v Castle Cary

It seems that nearly every long season in any given sport ends up coming down to one game.  Sometimes it is the forced death or glory of a final, sometimes it is the gradual shuffling of teams into promotion and relegation positions, but once it is all said and done one key result can dictate the fate of a team in the last or next to last game.  In the first and last recorded season of the Old Testament League, the scene was set for the ages.  The league season ran for nearly 300 years and featured many famous father/son teams, not to mention the rise of many 2nd XI’s, 3rd XI’s and 24th XI’s and an incredibly patient league committee to manage the growing fixture list and managing tribunal disputes.  In the end, it all came down to the final match between the old guard teams of Seth’s Sabres v The Methuselah Maniacs.  With eternal youth being awarded to the winners and the prospect of a decent stoning the losers, only 3 psalms separated the two well trained veteran outfits on the league table.  As you would expect, it was a tightly fought battle and after 89 overs of bone jarring cricket, The Maniacs required 11 runs to win from the last over with 2 wickets in hand.  The 9th wicket fell from the first ball of the over, the batsman claiming he was temporarily blinded by a plague of locusts as the ball was delivered and being hopelessly bowled.  The last 2 struggled to scamper some singles and 2’s to put them within striking distance, requiring 6 from the very last ball of the season.  The ball was bowled and contact was made.  The ball sailed into the air and into the deep.  There was not a fielder in catching range and all watched in trepidation to see where the ball would land.  The result, unfortunately, is unclear.  The ball certainly landed very close to the boundary, with The Maniacs claiming it had gone for six and the Sabre’s arguing vociferously that it had landed inside and went for 4.  After much arguing, it was determined that God would decide and both teams patiently awaited a decision.  What is not clear, is what happened next, as the ancient scorebook recovered by archaeologists in 1912 does not record a score for the last ball.
Not surprisingly for our foreign readers, there had been overnight rain.  Surprisingly for locals, it was not forecast and the covers had been taken off, leaving the wicket a little sticky but drying slowly on a sunless breeze.  Your Brave Leader won the toss and surprised the Castle Cary skipper and some of his players by electing to bat.  The thinking was that a shower would surely come and this would be the best time to bat.  Records show that there was no rain for the rest of the day.
Once again, the KSCC openers were asked to knuckle down on a tricky wicket, which they achieved initially until Sammy G unleashed the patented pull shot for 4 and then unleashed a slightly different version that flew straight up and required him to walk off the field of play.  The Anternator came crashing back to Earth, bowled between bat and pad playing an unconvincing lunge for zero.  The Professor and Ballistic Tomlinson got their focus on, and made batting on the tricky wicket look a lot easier than it was.  Both men were patient and ensuring that they cashed in when the bowlers fed the ball into their scoring zones.  Just when KSCC looked on top, Ballistic found the leading edge trying to push one around the corner and was snaffled.  Rayzzo walked out to the middle, walked past a delivery from the spinner and then walked back to the pavilion.  This brought Livewire Benny to the crease, who immediately lit up the stage with some audacious stroke play finding the boundary with ease.   His bright innings included 2 monstrous slog sweeps for 6, one resulting in the first lost ball at the ground during a firsts game for several years and forcing a scurry for a spare nugget.  However, shortly after, he was bowled attempting a third and the skipper came and went in disturbingly familiar fashion, caught on the midwicket boundary playing a perfect line drive to left field from a full toss.  Jon Rowe’s solid innings came to end as he was bowled through the gate and suddenly KSCC were in dire straits.  Luckily for KSCC, the Fabulous Barton Brothers were brought into the fray and they played their typical game of high pressure running and aggressive scoring to put a jubilant Castle Cary on the back foot.  Freddie Barton in particular looked in good nick, finding much needed boundaries.  However, the show didn’t quite last long enough.  Tommy B drove to cover and then Freddie was bowled by a slower ball.  The Destroyer continued to bump up his average with a delightful flick over midwicket and a not out when The Strangler was trapped in front (possibly) on the first ball he faced and the last of the innings.  Thanks to the solid partnership between Ballistic and The Professor, combined with the late run by The Fabulous Barton Brothers, KSCC had posted a competitive 174.  Less than expected at the start of the innings but not a bad effort in the conditions.
Tommy B rocked Castle Cary with 2 wickets in the first over.  The first blasted through the uncomfortable opener to destroy his stumps and then he nabbed a caught and bowled from a leading edge on the very next delivery, kicking off the innings with a double wicket maiden.  The Strangler joined in not long later, cutting one back in through the gate and Castle Cary looked broken at 8/3.  However, Atkins and the captain Bontoft went into survival mode.  The both played through the conditions and saw off first Tommy B and then looked to find runs where ever they could be found from The Strangler.  The Professor came on from the top end and, in his third over, used the bat, pads and foot of the dangerous Atkins to wriggle the ball through onto the stumps.  Former local product Darren Wood came to the crease and looked in no mood to mess about.  He saw off the end of Snooky’s excellent long spell before deciding to take the long handle to the spinners.  The Destroyer bowled a fairly tight line but The Golden Boy Freddie Barton came in for some select punishment over the midwicket boundary after a promising first over maiden.  Castle Cary were well back in the chase, but Spence made an important breakthrough when the skipper went back to cut one that he shouldn’t have and was bowled when the ball turned back in.  It was then Castle Cary’s turn to have a KSCC like stumble, losing 2 wickets in the one over.  Spence had one caught at deep mid on and then The Anternator effected a run out as he dashed onto the ball from mid wicket and beat the bat to the bowlers end as they took a suicidal single.  However, with Wood still looking like he could take the game away at any point, El Capitan effected a double change and brought on the closers, himself and Tommy B.  The game looked won when Wood was trapped in front by a rarely straight pitched slower ball from Your Brave Leader, but Cary tai continued to kick with a swift partnership between numbers 9 and 10 putting the KSCC score under pressure.  Requiring 17 from the last 2 overs, they had to then confront one of the great mixed bag overs ever to be seen on these shores.  El Capitan put the ball wide of off stump and down the leg stump to supply Cary with some very helpful extras to put them on their way.  Unluckily for them, nestled in those great clumps of dirty brown stench were two sparkling nuggets of deliveries.  After 2 wides, one found the target and swung in between bat and pad to clip leg stump.  Then, another wide later, number 11 copped a jaffa that cut in through the gate to take the top of off and it was all over.  KSCC guaranteed promotion and Castle Cary’s challenge for second spot was over.
After the celebrations that night, KSCC were delighted to hear that Middlezoy had lost and that, if results went their way the following week, then first place could still be up for grabs in the last game of the season.

                M Tomlinson         41
                J Rowe                  41
                B Chant                29
                F Barton               28

Bowling:                               o             m            r              w
                C Hansen             5              0              23           3
                S Churchill           6              0              24           2
                T Barton               11           2              32           2
                S Snook                12           2              29           1
                     J Rowe                5               2              18           1  

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

2011 - Game 16 - Sat 20/08 - KSCC 1s @ Horrington

Of all the sports to grace our wonderfully doomed lump of rock called Earth, few sports are geared towards the concept of the highlights package as cricket.  There cannot be a single true fan of the game who has not been at a live game, turned momentarily to thank someone for a cup of tea and then missed the only wicket for 183 minutes, a spectacular delivery never to be repeated.  The concept of a highlights package to summarise the tedium into a cohesive story of derring and do dates back to the early days of the 16th century, when burgeoning playwrights were invited by the King to record the babbling utterances of Mad Prince Cuthbert.  The Mad Prince would walk the halls of the Palace in 3 to 5 day episodes and would, once all the leeches had run out, lead his doctors to attempt to recreate the fictional game of ‘Cricket’ prevalent in these murmurings, a seeming constant amongst all the other talk of cakes and seagulls.  A young scallywag called Billy Shakespeare was among this cadre of playwrights and it is from here he drew much inspiration for his later works, including the famous line “To take 2 or middle?  That is the question.”  These sessions were then summarised into 1 hour plays which were enacted on the stage so that the public could enjoy what would later prove to be an amazingly coherent and prescient account of the English County season 1968-69.  So enthralling were these highlight plays, that England was formally separated into the Counties so that people could migrate to an area of the country where they could share their adoration of Prince Cuthbert’s fictional teams with like minded individuals.
By the time of the Victorian era, Cricket had become reality.  However, with this reality came the uncomfortable notion of the exploits of real life persons being immediately re-enacted on the stage that very evening.  Many talented cricketers and less talented actors were lost to pistol duels during this time when players took exception to the way that they were portrayed on stage.  Ever the innovators, Victorian engineers came up with a unique system to protect viewers of the game from the slow, boring bits and only show the excitement of highlights!  A series of large steam engines were installed at The Oval which were attached to giant iron screens placed around the ground.  Above each set of screens sat an expert cricket pundit, who’s main skill was to be able to read the ebb and flow of the game in such a way as to recognise when something exciting might happen and open the screens at a suitable juncture.  These screens would open at a frightening rate and with a great thunder clap of force as pressure was released from the giant engines.  Not surprisingly, this did often cause the required highlights to occur.  Batsmen would be bowled as they leapt in surprise and fielders would be clattered by the opening screens, completely miss the ball travelling towards them and result in a boundary.  Even in the earliest days of television highlights, producers would routinely install enormous speakers at the ground to boom out the simulated noise of the traditional iron gates to keep the MCC happy.    
Rain had come down during the morning and most of the drive from the general Kilmington area to Wells was performed through steady to hard rain.  However, arrival at the ground showed that the worst of it had missed the thriving mecca of East Horrington.  The wicket was still covered with a light drizzle in the air when the start time passed, but the covers soon came off and both sides got their first look at a green wicket.  As ever, El Capitan choked on the toss where the choice of action was obvious, and was duly invited to get his openers padded up.
Sammy G and Ballistic Tomlinson toiled hard in the early overs to stifle the new ball.  It was hard going, with the pitch giving the sort of assistance normally only offered to bowlers by Indian Test batsmen when off the sub-continent.  It was an impressive effort by both to stay in control and to ignore the odd ball that did a bit.  While Mark performed his normal role of acting as bodyguard to the standing umpire, Sammy G started to crawl out of his shell with a couple of lofted straight drives to make use of the not overly distant straight boundaries.  Once the hard work was over, Ballistic decided to let someone else have a go, playing a trademark uppish drive to the man at cover.  The Anternator strode to the wicket with purpose and immediately deployed that purpose with some effect.  Without middling the ball, he managed to clear the boundary a couple of times and he and Sammy G upped the run rate with some good running.  With Ant looking good and an assured looking Sammy G passing 50, Horrington were being put under considerable pressure on the scoreboard.  However, another big score went begging for Sammy G when he was run out for 63 as The Anternator looked for one too many.  Livewire Benny had the power shut off before he got started and so the unsinkable Ray Rose strode to the wicket to anchor the innings.  While The Anternator continued to pummel, Rayzzo picked up 1’s and 2’s aplenty against the increasingly ragged Horrington.  At 152/3 in the 30th over, things were looking pretty good.  By the 35th over it was 195/3.  The 40th over passed with the score on 238/3.  During this time, The Anternator passed 3 figures for the first time in KSCC colours (white), to the jubilation of his team mates and the inanimate pain of his pads which he struck viciously in celebration.  Not long after, he was finally out trying to push the scoring even harder, run out and with another 7 6’s in his pocket for the sixes trophy.  El Capitan was caught on the boundary chasing runs, but Rayzzo cleared the boundary twice late to see KSCC finish with a massive 283/5 from their 45 overs.
Some big scores had been scored at Horrington, so there was still the thought that there was a job to do in the second innings.  Even if the score was enough, it would be critical in the chase for promotion to secure the full 35 points for the game.  Tommy B’s first over was all over the place and went for 8, some in wides and one from a clattered stand and deliver 4.  However, the tyro struck back in his second over to work the opener over and then shatter the stumps in a wicket maiden.  He then helped Snooky grab a wicket maiden of his own, taking a sharp debut catch at first slip from a trademark Snooky outswinger.  The pressure was kept on Horrington when the dangerous De Lange was run out by a direct hit from mid off courtesy of Livewire Benny.  There was no run there, and Benny made him pay for it to continue the high standard in the KSCC fielding in the early overs.  From that point, Horrington started to shut up shop with the target a long way off.  The Professor made a long awaited comeback with the ball and was keeping it tight, but the remaining opener gave him a hand in the wicket column and punched a catch into the deep.  The chase for wickets was on, which regulations dictate should be achieved through engaging the spin twins.  Spence was the first to strike, having 2 men caught long and straight.  One of those catches was the catch of the season, Sammy G making ground to his right and taking the catch at full stretch, horizontal and mere inches from the ground.  The Destroyer then picked up his third wicket with the batsman playing the wrong line to an offie and disturbing the bails.  It all looked on, but Horrington started a mini-fight back.  The result was never in question, but it looked like they could hold out with wickets in hand despite Freddie looking very dangerous with the ball.  Darkness was creeping in after the late start and so the pace bowlers had to be kept in the would be down to the spinners.  One valuable wicket was found through some inspirational fielding by Freddie out near cow corner, whipping the ball in as the batsmen took a single and taking out the top of the bail to catch the batsman short of his ground.  There was still one wicket required in the final over and the until-then-wicketless Golden Boy turned one through the gate to seal a memorable victory for many reasons.
It was a complete performance.  Great batting, great fielding and great bowling.  A satisfying team performance.  So many highlights.
To cap it off, Castle Cary stumbled at Wells, turning the KSCC v Castle Cary matchup next week into a must-win for them and a chance to secure promotion for the mighty KSCC.

                A Williams           108
                S Gillatt                 63
                R Rose                  50*
                M Tomlinson      22

Bowling:                               o             m            r              w
                S Churchill           11           0              39           3
                J Rowe                  5              1              10           1
                S Snook                8              2              17           1
                T Barton               6              3              18           1
                F Barton               9.4          1              27           1

Friday, 19 August 2011

2011 - Game 15 - Sat 13/08 - KSCC 1s v South Petherton

When it’s all on the line, good teams are ruthless in dispatching lesser teams.  Sometimes, teams that are OK manage to do this also.  And sometimes, bad teams get lucky and win as well.  A quick poll of the major sports writers covering Somerset Cricket League Division 2 has established that KSCC fall firmly into one of these three categories.  This unforgiving approach is referred to in coaching circles as The Maddox Principal, named after the famous Jouster Sir Wilfred Helmsley Maddox.  When battling for the favours of the ladies and mistresses of the court, Sir Maddox would approach any match with equal aggression and unyielding voracity, regardless of his opponents skill or relative health.  Through this, he became the most famous and successful Jouster of his time.  Of course, this was the early 1950’s when Jousting was, admittedly, not at its peak.  Also, many of Sir Maddox’s opponents were attacked from behind and possibly were not aware that they were engaged in a tournament instead of standing in line at the local greengrocers.  Regardless, his record speaks for itself and should not under any circumstances suggest that in those days being connected through old money could get you off several murder charges because you played golf (less well than you jousted) with the magistrate.
South Petherton have been having a difficult season in 2011 and they arrived at a grey and dreary Stourhead ground with what looked to be an understrength side missing several players from the encounter earlier in the year.  Conditions didn’t look like favouring any particular approach, but looked like it could rain at any time.  When the South Petherton skipper won the toss, he elected to bowl.
It was some time before they had anything to celebrate.  The Twin Towers had to work hard, typical late week rain had made the pitch a little slow and there was a heavy dew sitting resolutely on the outfield.  Still Sammy G and Ballistic Tomlinson ground away, some of their blissful strokes that would have found the boundary on another day only went for 2 but both batsman looked comfortable against the battery of South Petherton medium pacers.  After a commanding partnership of 115 from 26 overs, Ballistic played loosely and disappeared just short of his 50.  The Anternator strode to the crease and immediately got into stride, working the ball to all corners before unleashing the prototypical straight drives he is known for.  Sammy G was not to be denied, showing that he is not afraid of a six or two and the platform to assault the last overs grew and grew.  Anternator once again found himself undone with the introduction of spin and Sammy G tamely prodded a catch after a great innings.  Impact players Rayzzo and Livewire unpinched the pinch hitting slots, so it was down to The Professor and the demoted El Capitan to bash and scamper the final overs, both men not afraid of being dropped by the fielders to continue batting, to pip KSCC up to 242/5.
Little did we know at tea that the game at that point was almost over.  Snooky took a couple of overs to get going but found booming outswing once it started going.  Tommy B was just too fast and smashed through one opener.  Snooky off cut his way through number 3 and then the bog hitting Boulton lofted one for The Professor to stand under and snaffle.  Livewire Benny took a good running catch to help Snooky out (at one point in the game there were three men standing behind the stumps that had all dropped a catch of The Stranglers bowling, including a regulation chance straight into the bread basket of Your Brave Leader (TM)).  The next few overs saw the only partnership of the innings before The Golden Boy had both men bowled Barton, caught other Barton.  From 50/6, South Petherton made it to 50 all out.  Snooky refused to come off and give anyone else a go, nicking another 2 wickets in his last over to finish with 5-fer.  Just as The Destroyer was getting warmed up, The Golden Boy secured the last 3 wickets in one over and that was it.
It was a flat game as South Petherton are in a pretty unfortunate way at the moment, but the lads got the 35 points which was the main aim of the day as each of our challengers also took full points to keep things as they were.

                S Gillatt                 68
                M Tomlinson         47
                A Williams             43
                J Rowe                  26*

Bowling:                               o             m            r              w
                S Snook                12           1              24           5
                F Barton               5              1              12           4
                T Barton               7              2              13           1

2011 - Game 14 - Sat 06/08 - KSCC 1s @ North Newton

Doing all the hard work and then chucking it all away.  It’s a familiar tale for those of us with a little extra meat in the lunchbox, if you know what I mean, love.  Now, don’t go calling me a sexist or bigoted or stuck in an age time forgot.  It’s not forgotten, my little petal, because I just remembered it!  How often it is that we blokes bugger ourselves doing the hard yakka only to fail stupidly before the end?  Like spending 30 years of your life building a massive gas pipeline with just your bare hands and scraps of metal recovered solely from clapped out Hillman Hunters, only to celebrate with one fateful cigarette.  Or spending weeks coming up with a series of elaborate lies about how you have to work late on a particular night so you can meet that saucy minx Sandra down at the pub only to succumb to a cheeky chilli and garlic kebab on the way home.  Not some of my finest moments, but hey, don’t blame me...blame my primal programming!  You see, my little honeypot, man has been screwing things up like this since he first crawled out of the cave his ancestors had dug out using sticks just as a herd of starving velociraptors charged past.  I mean, what those starving dinosaurs wouldn’t have given for a doner!  
Third is a place that, in former times, belonged solely to Kilmington and Stourton.  In more recent years, the step to second and promotion has been firmly made.  Leading into this weekend, KSCC were a game and a half ahead of third and creeping right up the big hitting backsides of Middlezoy in the race for the Division 2 title.  This game provided a chance to keep the pressure on and eliminate one of the challengers for the promotion places when KSCC travelled to 4th place North Newton.  The weather was fair with some sun and some cloud about and the wicket looked green.  Unfortunately, El Capitan lost the toss and North Newton had no hesitation in sending us in to bat.
And 2 balls later, he was back in the hutch having been caught at first slip from a bouncy delivery.  Only facing 5 balls in 2 innings might be OK for Sehwag but it’s not to KSCC standard, so it was for the second week in a row that Rayzzo strode out in the first over.  He and Ballistic Tomlinson staged a recovery with contrasting games.  Rayzzo chancing his arm going over the field while Ballistic waited for the chance to unleash the pull on what was an unusually bouncy wicket for SCL Div 2.  In fact, it appeared to have been conjured from a different continent as the ball zipped through with bounce.  Tomlinson became the first of 7 unexpected Mason victims, as likely a venomous serial killer with the ball as a teddy bear.  The next 6 batsmen came and went in limp fashion with a clutch of similar looking soft dismissals.  Whether a soft dab to a fielder, a mistimed pull or a scooped drive each man found a way to get themselves out without troubling the ‘teens.  Rayzzo continued to provide resistance as his partners came and went, but he was also out chipping one into the deep.  Tom Barton and Spencer Churchill provided some small fight at the end of the innings but by the point Snooky decided to embrace his individuality by getting bowled instead of caught, KSCC had rolled over inside 38 overs.  The meagre total of 136 meant that a monumental effort would be required in the second innings.
Things were tight early.  Tommy B was unplayable off a short length as the ball just fired through and womped into Rays gloves ball after ball.  Snooky was working away patiently from the other end, getting a bit of swing going.  The first wicket and the first lift came early with a run out, but the runs started to come as the ball flew through gaps from good deliveries as Snooky searched for a wicket.  Livewire Benny made the next breakthrough, claiming the threatening number 3 by finding the top of leg stump.  The next man came in to play aggressively but he lost his partner, the patient opener and captain, when Snooky swung a cracker of a Yorker through his defences.  Your Brave Leader also fired a yorker through the batsman but, on the way, inside and outside edges from both ends were flying to the boundary and creeping the total required ever closer.  The Golden Boy found two important wickets but they came at the cost of some equally precious runs while The Destroyer played a containing role.  Tommy B and El Capitan returned in the roles of closers with 4 wickets remaining and not many runs to protect.  However, while Tommy B continued to pound in dots his captain leaked runs in two relatively expensive overs.  The game was eventually sealed with an edged 4 off Tommy B, that single shot representing a third of the runs to be taken from his 9 and a half overs.
In the end, another 30-40 runs could have made a very tight and interesting game.  However, KSCC were made to pay for another patchy batting effort.  In previous weeks, 2 or 3 batsman stood up to provide runs but this week we could only find 1.
With that loss, KSCC fell off the tail of first place Middlezoy and fell back into a nasty scrap for second with Castle Cary, with North Newton hanging further back should both teams slip up.

                R Rose                  53
                M Tomlinson        15
                T Barton               15

Bowling:                               o             m            r              w
                F Barton               3              0              17           2
                B Chant                4              1              20           1
                C Hansen             6              0              30           1
                S Snook                9              1              32           1
                T Barton               9.3          4              12           0 (listed as 1 in the records but it was a run out!)

Saturday, 6 August 2011

2011 - Game 13 - Sat 30/07 - KSCC 1s v Middlezoy

No big intro this week....I just blew it all writing the hunk of text below this one.  Suffice to say, the chase for the number 1 spot in SCL Div 2 seemed as unlikely to the KSCC first team a couple of months ago as England reaching number one in the Test arena (ever)....but here we are with those possibilities there to be seized by each team.  I have to admit though, I might be a wee bit happier if we are able to keep the charge on and make top spot by season’s end.  I might be thinking about a British passport but I have my soul to consider.
After copping a fair hiding at Middlezoy earlier in the year, it was a KSCC team that was hungry for revenge.  Middlezoy specialist Raymond Rose was selected for a rare first team appearance and was immediately named at his mythical No 3 spot mid week.  Then, on the day, the heart of the Middlezoy team turned up with horrific hangovers in what can only be described as the most ill advised big game preparation since Glenn McGrath stepped on a land mine at The Oval in 2005 during a special John Buchanan live firing session designed to instil in the team the true Anzac spirit.
The ground was very wet, with the remains of the morning drizzle having nowhere to go under warm and humid conditions, not a breath of wind and high clouds above.  Middlezoy won the toss and elected to bowl while the going looked good.
Last year, Your Brave Leader (TM) proved, in a well (self) documented season, that he was a big game player.  This year, he has confounded his fans by being in form more typical of his wider career, and he swung loosely at a very wide and very bad ball to be caught behind off the under-edge for a sensational 0.  This brought the enigma that is Rayzzo to the crease a little earlier than expected, but his surprise was immediately transformed into runs.  He clipped, punched and hoiked the ball to all corners, being severely robbed of runs by the heavy outfield as he and the invisible man, Ballistic Tomlinson, made a solid start.  Mark was running hard between the stumps with his only reward being a lean on his bat at the non-strikers end.   Ray finally missed one in the 10th over, but it was an entertaining and fruitful cameo of 28.  Sammy G has been the find of the season with the bat and he looked assured from the get-go.  He even let Ballistic face the odd ball or two, allowing him to show that his trademark pull and cover drive were still there waiting to be used if he got on strike.  The Twin Towers eased their way through the Middlezoy bowling attack, keeping out Nemesis Barnard the whole while and maintaining a steady 4 an over to provide a good platform for the final overs.  Sammy G eased a laconic six down to backward square leg to kick off the acceleration.  Unfortunately, Sammy G passed 50 and then became Peacocks first victim, attempting to play a twenty20 scoop through vacant fine leg and losing his leg stump.  It had been an assured and impressive partnership of 113 to leave the score on 151/3 in the 34th over.  This sparked a typical KSCC collapse, unique in that you never know where in the order they will occur.  Ballistic mistimed a shot for a composed and invaluable 43 only 6 runs later and, before the score had reached 160, Jon Rowe and Ben Chant were back in the hutch having been bowled by balls that kept low and jagged off the pitch, the result of a ball that had developed a high but soft seam in the wet outfield in the early innings.  Duncan Burles fell not long after to the same trick and suddenly Peacock had 5 wickets and all momentum had vanished from the KSCC innings.  The Fabulous Barton brothers tried to get things moving and were successful for a couple of overs, however Tommy B holed out, to be replaced by Spence in the line with hardly a missed beat.  He and an aggressive looking Freddie kept the score moving until The Golden Boy was stumped in the last over looking for runs, bringing an unimpressed Snooky to the crease for the final ball to skilfully sneak a leg bye.  Once again, KSCC failed to capitalise on a good partnership and made a solid if slightly under-par 210/9.
Tea was delightful and both teams emerged onto a quickly drying cricket field to be greeted by sunshine for the first time all day.  Luckily, the ball was still swinging as El Capitan surprised himself, the bowlers, fielders, batsmen and the cows in the next field that form the core of our regular spectators by swapping The Strangler and Tommy B’s ends.  The payoff in the conditions was immediate.  The Strangler found immense swing coming down the hill and Tommy B found movement off the pitch coming up it.  The first reward was the big wicket of Troman, Tommy B slicing straight through his defence to clean up off stump.  Snooky followed not long after, banana-ing a ball through the left handed Warren.  Middlezoy were struggling for runs and, when Tommy B punched through the pinch hitter Snell they had lost 3 wickets and were travelling at less than 2 an over after 14.  The Strangler was back in business, keeping things tight, and then El Capitan and Biffer Burles bowled short spells keeping things under control.  The next spark was Livewire Benny, who bowled with such variation in quality that it could have made a liquorice all-sort 20 stories high.  The boy does not, however, lack for effort when coming into the crease and in the bunch were two beauties, first to remove an injured Laceys off stump and then to have the dangerous Harry Roberts caught from a mistimed drive.  What was impressive was that, in his 4 overs, he had also only gone for 6 runs including a stock Livewire Beamer.  He was very unlucky to be taken off as his skipper was doing overs maths in his head, to be replaced with the returning Tommy B at the same time as The Destroyer started wheeling away from the top end.  This saw Middlezoy consolidate with a partnership between the lusty striking Musgrave and a Nemesis Barnard that was looking to control the innings.  The two started to work Middlezoy back into the game, The Golden Boy once again coming in for some punishment from Musgrave as the big lad looked to hoik him over leg with some success.   The Destroyer proved the difference, taking a caught and bowled that may leave him with permanent disfigurement in the wrist if it could be spotted amongst the already pre-existing permanent disfigurement in his wrist, in removing the dangerous Musgrave for 52.  Barnard was now looking to shut up shop and minimise damage with the tail exposed, the run chase all but given up.  Spence had his second victim from a tremendous outfield catch.  Clapp slog swept Spence out towards the boundary at midwicket when Sammy G completely misjudged it in the fading light and ended up taking a very casual looking one handed catch high above and behind him as he backpedalled at the last minute.  KSCC managed to manoeuvre Nemesis away from the strike for the last over, with Tommy B having the ball in his hand in dark conditions.  Middlezoy were made to pay for their slow over rate earlier in the day as Tommy B blasted his way through 9,10,11 in an exciting last over to securing a 5-wicket haul and full points for Kilmington and Stourton.  Middlezoy were all out for 152.
With the win, KSCC pulled themselves to within 9 championship points of a faltering Middlezoy and also provided some mild disappointment to the chasing pair of Castle Cary and North Newton.  KSCC still have some big games to play, with the next against North Newton, and it will be up to us to make sure we keep the pressure on Middlezoy and don’t let the other 2 into the chase in the last month of the season.   

                S Gillatt                 54
                M Tomlinson         43
                R Rose                  28
                F Barton                23

Bowling:                               o             m            r              w
                T Barton               12           1            40           5
                B Chant                4             1            6              2
                S Churchill            6              -            23           2
                S Snook               12            -            24           1

Friday, 5 August 2011

Summer Blockbuster

                The bright melodies of the piano tumbled through the room to fill the spaces between the morose clinking of glasses, grumbled conversation and  scuffing of chairs on the saloons battered wooden floor, but even as it cascaded over the gathered men it could not withstand the oppressive heat that flowed from outside and through the walls like they weren’t even there.  Those that clustered in this old gold town lived in a purgatory between past glories and the hope of future fortune, but today the town struggled to survive from one day to the next against all that the world and it’s uncaring inhabitants dared to throw at it, living on scraps and false victories.
                There was the faint sound of a scuffle outside, struggling valiantly to be heard over the noise and cacophony of the saloon, which drew a few sideways glances towards the still saloon doors that acted as flimsy sentries against the outside world.  Then, suddenly, they were thrown open and in burst a scruffy young rogue.  This on its own did not command any special attention, the town was full of ruffians and thieves looking to find their way, mostly boys too young to remember the good old days.  A large number of the occupants turned back to their drinks and conversations, but those more observant took a slightly closer look.  This was no boy, there was something darker in his beady little eyes, something that spoke volumes about the hurt and pain in the universe.
                The piano stopped.
“Has anyone seen Shane Warne?”, he yelped aimlessly into the room.  There was no response.  He grabbed a nearby chair, dragged it to the doorway and stood on it so that he could see above the heads of the congregation.
                “I said has anyone seen Shane Warne?” he tried once more, a little louder than before.
                “You’re joking, mate”, replied a non-descript man sat in the corner.  “He hasn’t been seen around here for years.”
                “Well that’s f&$ked it all to f&$k then”, the boy-man spat.  His face darkened into a petulant scowl and he chewed aggressively on his gum, looking about the room.  “England are about to become f&$king number 1 in the world and we’re completely f&$ked.”
                The crowd grew quiet.  Together they had endured disaster followed by calamity, but was too much.  It was the final sign that their world had abandoned them, that the old days were gone forever and all that stood before them was despair and desperation.  After a few seconds that stretched for hours, the dirty silence was broken by the scrape of a chair across the battered floor boards.  The crowd turned to see a man standing over the poker table, his black hat low across his brow and his clothes hanging from him like rags caught on a barbed wire fence.  He moved his hand slowly to his head and removed the hat, to place it delicately next to his cards and chips.  A gasp pinballed it’s way through elements of the gathering.  The ‘man’ that stood before them was a facsimile of a man, an almost person, a robot that may have remained undetected from the corner of the eye but which did not stand up to the direct scrutiny of reality.
                “I’m right here, Punter”, it spoke.  Now the entire mass gasped in astonishment.  None dared to think it true, that this thing could be all that was left of the hero they had worshipped for so long.  It was another kick too much to bear.  The saloon doors swept open on their own, forced apart as all ambition and aspiration burst from the room to race into the empty sky and away forever.
                “Warney?”, the boy-man was as disbelieving as the rest.
                “Yes, Punter, it’s me.”  Only now that he was standing could it be noticed that the floor beneath his chair was scattered with numerous empty moisturiser and fake tan bottles.  His belt studded with diet pills instead of bullets.  Regardless of his scepticism, the boy-man was desperate.  Something had to be done.
                “Have you seen Tugga?”
                The crowd parted instantly and a line of sight was established between the small interloper and a seat at the bar.  Hunched on that seat was a grizzled hombre, his dusty clothes looked worn and battered, as though he had fought through a thousand wars just to get to this point, looking for some peace and somewhere to drink.  His hand gently and deliberately lowered his whisky to the bar top, the two meeting with a faint dull thud.  Slowly he turned, his squinting, wether beaten eyes casting a withering stare that would have any reduced most normal men to their very component molecules.
                “Tugga, thank God I found you....mate, I have to tell you....I’ve really got us into the s£*t this time, f&$k it.  Pup's bloody captain and all.”
The man at the bar continued to stare, the air itself evaporating before his steady gaze.
                “I’m telling ya Tugga, we have to get the old team together again...just one more time.”

You’ve all seen this movie before.  It’s an old boys classic formulae, and maybe the only one left for the rest of the world beyond these drizzly shores.
-          Tugga reluctantly straps his pads back on one more time, even though he struggles to walk and can’t get out of bed most mornings.
-          Warney goes back to his own place and, while Liz is sleeping, goes into the basement, takes a key from around his neck and unlocks a old trunk full of beer, cigarettes and baked beans.
-          Punter finds JL working as a human crash test dummy and he immediately says yes before running around in circles for 15 minutes.
-          Tugga has a long talk with Haydo’s over a campfire in the Queensland wilderness before they are attacked by 5 giant feral pigs which Haydo’s takes out with his bare hands
-          Tugga finds Damian Martyn doing whatever it is that Damian Martyn does (this section only appears in the Directors Cut)
-          Punter has to track down Junior who hasn’t spoken to Tugga for years because of <insert some crap family argument here, unlikely to be sleeping with wife>.  Punter must help the two reconcile their differences but in fact makes things worse because of his astonishingly bad interpersonal skills.  Eventually, gambling debt forces Junior to accept the offer and he and his brother have a manly but emotional hug on the SCG square
-          Punter tracks down Gilly, who has taken a job with NASA.  He is responsible for launching cricket ball sized components from Cape Canaveral at the International Space Station since the closure of the Space Shuttle programme.  His tools of choice are a Puma Ballistic cricket bat and a stock bowling machine set to “Andy Caddick”
-          Punter flicks on the TV to see Binga still playing in the Big Bash for Sydney Lollapalooza
-          Punter turns to  a satanic cult so that he can descend to Hell and save Dizzy from his desk job as a minor demon
-          Tugga stakes out Pigeons hairdresser (which he has been using since 1983) and eventually corners him.  Pigeon says that he loves his new job, hammering the same rivet into the same piece of metal 100 times a day, but Tugga tricks him into stepping over a boundary rope he has laid on the footpath outside the barbers.  Pigeon immediately starts foaming at the mouth and must be pointed at an English batsman before the entire population of Wagga Wagga is decimated

The last scene is the old boys all striding out onto Lords, the English fans booing and the travelling (from South London) Australian supporters are cheering like mad.  What happens next?  Well, these days we wouldn’t find out until the inevitable sequel but, as long as the entire CGI budget isn’t blown on making Warney look like his old self, it could be a ripper.      

Friday, 29 July 2011

2011 - Game 12 - Sat 23/07 - KSCC 1s @ Barrington

“Good teams win ugly” is a sporting cliché that belongs in the great pantheon of sporting clichés (along with “It was a game of two halves”, “we will take the positives from this loss”, “one game at a time”, “I didn’t know she was a hooker”, “yo comí una vaca contaminada entera”).  Manchester United, particularly in 2010/11, are a team that has specialised in this ability throughout their existence.  The second placed team of  1987/88 played such an objectionable and unconvincing brand of football that most people could not stand within a 1 mile radius of the stadium for 90 minutes (plus stoppage time) or risk a severe mental breakdown of the sort suffered by Mr and Mrs Rooney on that one unmentionable drunken night in January 1985 while on their honeymoon in Manchester (budget airlines still being over 10 years away).  Surely the most famous example in cricket history of winning ugly was Australia’s whitewash of England in 1979-80.  This series included several memorable incidents including:

  • Dennis Lillee fending off a  rampant Ian Botham for 105 balls in the second innings of the first Test with what appeared to be an oversized salmon.
  • Ray Bright bowling 11 maidens in the second innings of the same match as the batsmen were unable to even set eyes on the ball they were of such turgid quality, eventually forcing the umpire to insist that the ball be wrapped in a brown paper bag
  • Graham Gooch being run out in the first innings of the third Test having passed out from exhaustion running on 4 consecutive ‘tactical’ overthrows
Kilmington and Stourton have certainly been winning ugly this year, each victory punctuated by a couple of outstanding individual performances.  Such is the overflowing bounty of KSCC’s all-round capabilities that this has also been extended to losing ugly in 2011, from the self combustion of the Castle Cary game to the horrific loss to Middlezoy which was so offensive on the eyes that it has been invited to join the second series of Geordie Shore.  However, even out of fluent form, they have found ways to win and continue a successful campaign in the upper echelons of the league ladder.
Barrington are a fellow National Trust team, having their lovely tree-lined ground situated on the grounds of Barrington Court.  On arrival, it provided idyllic surrounds including a rustic thatched pavilion.  The pitch looked a bit mossy and under-used, except for the efforts of a couple of rabbits that had dug holes around and in it which required some field surgery.  On winning the toss, Your Brave Leader (TM) had no hesitation in sending the opposition to bat with the hope of blasting them out early.
The initial overs from Tommy B and The Strangler were tight.  A couple of the times the batsmen opened up to break the shackles and a couple of other times the ball nearly flew to hand, but the partnership stayed intact.  After Toms very economical first spell (7 over, 9 runs), the Barrington openers looked to up the tempo with 50 runs coming from the next 10 overs without a wicket.  The surprise packet of the innings was a great marathon 7 over spell from Biffer Burles with his archaeology-grade left arm seamers.  He had both openers dropped (one an appallingly disappointing effort from the skipper) only for The Destroyer to mop them up from the other end each time, in what was proving an up and down spell that had a bit of everything in it.  Luckily, Tom Barton’s hands were still working and he was able to secure a very good catch on the boundary while still remaining in play.  However, KSCC were unable to capitalise on these important breakthroughs.  Barrington began to plunder runs from a variety pack of KSCC bowlers, including a returning Tommy B.  Their cause was aided and abetted by a substandard KSCC fielding performance which offered up a full house of drops, overthrows, standing on our heels, unsighted boundary riders and dodgy field placement.  Amongst the runs, Tommy B punched through the two set batsmen to open up the middle order, but it was all too late.  El Capitan took the ball for the last over and delivered an all action over, claiming 10/2.  The early plan had been soundly tossed out the window as Barrington ended their 45 overs on 224/6.
In the egg sandwiches available at Barrington we may have found a challenger to the legendary egg sandwiches of Bagborough, each wedge containing enough salt to allow Spencer to perform his amazing “Jesus On Water Spectacular” on Stourhead’s lake for a sell out week.  The run chase began with a bang as 13 runs were plundered from it.  However, El Capitan fell playing at the wrong length in the 5th over with the score on 30 and Ballistic Tomlinson played an uppish cover drive straight to the man at cover a mere 8 runs later.  What happened after that was one of the great impact partnerships of the modern KSCC era.  The Anternator produced a bag full of trademark power drives, punctuated with some typically loud shouts and some well run 1’s and 2’s.  At the other end, Livewire Benny laid bat on ball, thwacking the ball through and over the leg side.  He also found his legs and hared between the wickets as the pair completely demoralised the previously upbeat Barrington attack.  Just as it began to look like they would blast the score in record time, both men fell after a partnership of 115 in 12 overs.  Ant was the first to go, bowled through the gate by the first ball from the spinner (who had opened the bowling from the other end bowling away swing).  Not long after, Livewires defences were pierced by the young quick, who couldn’t decide whether to bowl wides or peaches.  Barringtons tails were up when Sammy G got one of those peaches early, a ball that seamed a mile to bowl him between bat and pad.  The Professor and Biffer Burles then commenced the rear guard action, as the light faded and the sun shone through mottled trees right behind the bowlers arm.  Both men fought hard for their runs before Biffer was given out going back to a straight one from the left arm around spinner.  It might have been straight, but debate rages whether it was high and with the author’s recent umpiring form that could be entirely true.   As The Professor scratched ones and superbly struck boundaries, the required score crept every closer (the required rate long forgotten thanks to the earlier blast).  The Golden Boy never looked in and, when he holed out early, Barrington were in raptures and could sniff a win...but that would be the last of the wickets.  Escorted by Tommy B, Jon Rowe took control and saw KSCC past the post, eventually passing the total to be 229 for 7 from 38 overs.
To describe the effort as patchy would be a disservice to Andy Murray’s beard, but thanks to the big partnership that came and went in a flash, we made it home to take the win.  There is plenty of room to improve and we could probably do with a complete performance at least once this season.

Bowling:                               o             m            r              w
                T Barton               12           4              38           2
                S Churchill           9              0              43           2
                C Hansen             1              0              10           2

                A Williams           67
                B Chant                44
                J Rowe                  34*
                C Hansen             22