The Funday side convened at the home of Itchington Cricket eagerly looking forward to another afternoon of joviality and humour which involved cricket but not always as one may know it….. Immediate troubles hit with the news from the midweek team of selection debates which had been raging for the past hour or so. Of more concern was the absence of one of the three Rawbones who (as only teenagers can) forgot he was working until this very morning. But this was of little worry as the two remaining Rawbone’s who can play decent cricket remained.
The Riley taxi service delivered young George and with it the very capable replacement for James Rawbone. Welcome to the Funday side this season James Riley. Naturally, the pre-match preparations of several players included hangover recovery techniques, Ben Pratt was playing in the 20 Over Plate final and his condition not known I hasten to add.
So with the Funday team selection concluded, the ever present skipper Perks arrived back from the toss to report that the Foxford chap had won the toss and elected to spend 2 hours in the shade…… Team talk tradition dictates that skip reports Bowling lads.
Of note today is the only average which counts, that of age. Post match analysis revealed that this awesome side averaged 43 years old, and that because of the Parsons and Riley junior influence. Age being no barrier to performance (in most cases beer, wine, fortified wine and shots of multiple types was though) the Itchington team took the field.
Young Riley again donned the keeping equipment and absent of all but one regular bowler, Perks took the first over. It is fair to note that the seemingly over tight trousers provided some restriction in the leg and perhaps this affected the length of the balls (bowled) in this initial over but the opening bat for Foxford was delighted and capitalised on the initial first over. Chatter from the mature fielding side suggests that the 4 maidens of weeks prior were as close to a miracle as anyone will ever see. The groundsman is entitled to his opinion of course…..
Leading the pace attack was Charlie Parsons who, bowling from the Farm end showed a direct and positive approach to tackling the opening pair. Both openers struggled to gauge line and length showing great respect to the young man. And it was this respect which engineered the first wicket with a well placed delivery which the opener could do nothing more that put straight down the throat of long on fielder Tom Perks. Good job no movement was required…… One in the hutch and more to follow.
The remaining Foxford opener continued to plunder and looked set for a big score. Sadly, from the Foxford perspective, the other batsmen were not as well versed and a moment of Sunday cricket madness ensued. The bowling duties passed onto Scotty Senior who recognised the challenge of getting enough effort into the ball so that the wind did not push it back sought to get something a little less slow but the height as the ball arrived with the batsman was excessive. The batsman was determined to hit it and did so straight to Rishi Gupta who pouched the catch but No Ball….. however the batsman had elected to run, having taken one and looking to get two, the scurrying batter was well out of his ground and run out with Rishi taking the bails off. Comedic moments for all concerned.
The next man up was clearly not one for the sharp single, his gait being that which WG Grace himself would be proud of. He did look to score and made short work of the Scotty pies but not without some drama. The occasional dipper (also called the gravity ball) took big edges which went up vertically but sadly out of the reach of both keeper and fielders alike. As the appetite increased, so did the clammer for changes in the bowling attack.
Late replacement James Riley took up the challenge and was effective immediately in what was perhaps the shortest bowling spell thus far this season. Ball 1, beauty in line and flight which was played all around, back pad struck and loud appeals made. LBW triggered by the now ex-mate of Mr Number 4 bat.
The following text is a little graphic and those with a weaker constitution are advised to skip this bit….. Ball 2 – wide no shot, ball 3 juicy for the batter who hit hard but uppishly and delivered a chance of a return catch to James. There is a suggestion that more than one ball was being seen and that drinking with Andy Hart can seriously induce the mother of all hangovers. James did well to get a finger on it and took a nasty tip of finger blow, this resulted in dislocation of the finger tip and an unwelcome visit to A & E. Hope recovery is quick James and the golf grip not impinged. Rawbone senior eagerly completed the over and metronomically put great height into the equation.
The visitors continued to score steadily and the regular bowling attack rotation policy kept the Foxford boys on their toes. Some discussion concerning commitment of the fielding team ensued as Rawbone Senior was observed to admire the red ball passing by his left boot and muttering from Greaves about the level of Sunday Players reaching an all time low!!!
That being said, tidy bowling from the infrequently used Greaves which suggest perhaps he has been held back but this week he had already earned his corn with a magnificent 77 at the picturesque Ebrington the day before. Ever keen though, he made the batsmen think about every delivery.
The younger Rawbone rolled back the years and showed how to feed the batsmen with medium paced half volleys which gave the Foxford innings impetus following the strangulation of the pie chuckers.
Moments to saver on Sunday’s are many but of note was the welcome bowling return of Andy Hart who, with Fred being a part of the 20 Over side (well done on being selected Fred) but present for this fine display, revealed a technique not seen for some time. A precise spell of accurate bowling saw Shah enticed into making space outside of, backing away to leg but followed by the vigilant Hart who pinged one onto pads ricocheting to the stumps. Delight all round bar the onlooking Hart junior who rolled his eyes and looked heavenwards.
Hart’s wicket count could, and many say should have been doubled with what was a clear catching chance for the normally dependable Rawbone very senior. Words on paper cannot do justice to the event itself. A mow to cow, mistimed and sky’d and looking very much like there was time for Rawbone very senior to make ground. Putting it politely, the catch was spilt. Those less sympathetic suggested that Martin had lost his touch. Post match interview revealed that Martin was wearing his varifocal glasses and was not wearing spikes which, to him at least we’re both valid and genuine reasons for him falling flat on his back and not making the catch, only those present can comment further…..
With the pressure mounting, the opener still swinging, skipper Perks turned to man of mystery bowling Rishi Gupta who again made light of the dangerous bat and put an excellent ball down on middle with spin away leading to the off bail being removed, excellent ball and danger man gone (but only after he’d had a drink every 2nd over).
Rawbone Senior looked like a man who knew how to get the least athletic fielder to do most of the work….. Scotty Senior patrolling the mid-wicket boundary and leg side balls aplenty saw much of the well manicured outfield trampled on in pursuit of the seemingly never ending leg side nudges. Still, at least that part of the ground won’t need rolling for a while!!
Rotating the bowling again saw head groundsman Foster twirl his arm for the first (and may be last) time this season. To some effect in that the ball got to the batsman and a tidy first over of the season completed.
The batting push towards the end of the innings saw a need for the precision and accuracy that young Parsons in noted for. Perks sharing the final flurry from the River end. The second recording of Bowled Parsons, Caught Perks was only dashed when perhaps restricted movement (see trouser comments mentioned previously) could have been the only reason for not seeing this in the book.
Great narrative on the park today with the motivational voice of Hart senior coupled with Fossie, Greaves and Scott making contributions added value to a hot 40 overs in the field. Set 219, the tea interval began.
Of note today was all of the 10 (there were when we started) fielding side bowled which cements the those of the Sunday side. Good fun had by all.
At the break, the tea spread was a fine feast. Suttcliffe Senior clearly missing his vocation and a second career in catering is beckoning. The Foxford team delighted in the buffet which was better than that found at Norton Lindsey in the opinion of some. The openers for Itch, suitably refuelled, padded up and prepared to get tucked into the Foxford bowling.
Fossie, playing his second game of the weekend rolled the years back (having rolled the strip earlier in the day) and showed glimpses of the hidden depths of talent rarely tapped this year. With one cover drive that generated rapturous applause from the onlookers with comments along the lines of Perkseque mentioned. Andy Hart, in what is now his normal manner looked good with occasional feet movement noted. A close call for LBW was declined as a result of the foot movement. Lusty blows were coming and a fine straight drive back over the bowlers head gave clear indications of his intent.
Sadly this was flattering the deceive and a straight ball undid all the good work of the prior two overs. Bowled.
Rishi at number 3 was being encouraged by the fielding side and showed the makers name to ball number 1, sadly, ball number 2 was an action replay of the Andy Hart wicket taking ball and bails were dislodged.
You George Riley now had a great opportunity to show his ability and solid defence was order of the day. Lose balls got the expected treatment and with Fossie still there, stability was resumed. George was looking set and with Graham nurdling well, the score continued to tick over at the needed rate.
George pushed on a bit too hard and his wicket allowed Rawbone Intermediate to join the fun, significantly earlier than expected with 22 overs still available suggesting the the Itch boys were struggling somewhat.
Fossie’s innings sadly came to a premature end when he provided catching practise for 1st slip allowing Scotty Senior to join the fun. After a couple of sharpish singles for which the finely tuned athlete Rawbone is known to love, he pulled his calf leading to a runner and the risk of mayhem. Skipper did the duties and was not required for long. Clearly hampered, Rawbone intermediate was out swinging hard leading to Perks and Scott needing to stay the distance.
Tom, with new bat and gloves, grabbed his helmet and took guard. The bowling was accurate and naggingly lacking in loose balls. Unusually, Tom went back to one to guide to 3rd man but cramped as he was could only guide the ball onto the off stump.
The mighty Charlie Parsons looked good from the outset but the Foxford leg spin was something else. Charlie got a nasty spitting ball which rose fiercely and clipped his glove and so on through to the keeper. 89 for 7 of 22……
The pressure mounts further but have no fear as the man in form, Martin Greaves fresh from 77 on Saturday made his way to the middle. Plenty of overs and the game was there to be chased. Scotty senior keeping the balls out and gamely running to get the scoreboard ticking with the ever youthful Greaves a willing runner. With only 10 men (get well James Riley), there was a need to protect the wickets balanced with runs.
Foxford started to get edgy as Scotty Senior and Greaves built a solid partnership. Committing to get to 30 over drinks and still a good chance of squeezing and result, the partnership blossomed.
In a moment of drama and controversy, Greaves was bowled off his pads but there was at least 2 bounces which was rightly called no-ball by umpire Hart. Foxford’s keeper was somewhat taken aback and remonstrated. The ongoing debate was resolved with Rawbone Senior making the rule book available which was enough for everybody. Calm restored and the innings resumed with Martin still there.
Applause from the pavilion were misinterpreted by Scotty Senior as recognising he’d got into double figures…. Happen be this was 100 partnership from the two. Scotty senior playing the anchor role allowing Graves to knock another 50+, the second in 2 days.
What was needed was a bit of acceleration given there was 30 needed from 4 overs. Try as they might, Scotty and Greaves struggled to get much needed boundaries and ran hard still but both were clearly flagging.
Eventually the risk taking got the better of Greaves and he bowed out for another big score leaving the might of Rawbone Senior and Scotty Senior to chase the final 16 needed of the last over.
Sadly, the task proved too much with Scotty Senior trying to do something he’d not done for nearly 25 years – advance down the wicket and in doing so yorked himself so ending another fun filled afternoon.
Brilliant fun had by all and sundry, thank you to all for making the game the pleasure it was.
Highlights – Everyone bowled, Fossie was majestic for 35, Greaves got another 50+ and Scotty Senior got a run for every over he batted – what a strike rate!!
The Its Funday team was….