3rd xI cricketus interruptus and worse…
A nd so we come to the final two games of the season, with the 3rd XI perched precariously close to the WCCL Division 6 relegation zone. First up was Blunsdon, the unbeaten league leaders and undisputedly best team in the league. A daunting prospect, one might think, but having assembled at the Withy, it turned out that they only had 8 players and that their impressive opening bowling attack was absent. Given our record this year for dispensing efficiently with similarly under-staffed opposition, the mood in the dressing room was rather buoyant as Our Glorious Leader, Kim-Yung Dixon, announced that we were to field first.
This week, it was the returning Sam Threadgill, who was honoured with labouring up the hill, while OGL trundled gently down to open the bowling. Young Samuel’s hairdo did not disappoint, of course, being closely shaven except for a flamboyant swatch of flowing locks (on the left-side, if memory serves me well) dyed a delicate shade of fluorescent yellow. However, the Blunsdon openers were not to be so easily distracted and, despite some close calls, 9 overs had gone by without a wicket when the skipper decided that it was time for Threadgill Major to show his son and heir how to winkle out an obdurate 3rd XI batsman.
Unlike his previous outing at Goatacre, where the wily Old Professor had seen the writing clearly on the wall and pulled up “injured” before delivering his first ball, this time was different. Pounding in from the bottom end like a young stallion, Young Mr Grace produced a slow full toss which Blunsdon’s number 1 mishit perfectly and gently into the waiting hands of new boy, Andy Watts, at mid-wicket. While this was pretty much the highlight of Threaders’ spell, it did motivate OGL to extract his proverbial digit and pick up a couple of mandatory cheap wickets, one of which involved a nicely held caught behind by “alligator-hands” Holman, who was standing in for the AWOL Bishop of Box.
Soon after, the gentle ‘clok’ of leather on willow was interrupted by some massively ungentle claps of thunder, worryingly close flashes of forked lightening, soon to be followed by a torrential downpour. A pause in the proceedings of about 30 minutes ensued before we were able to resume, freshly motivated by the threatening weather to get on with removing the remaining Blunsdon batsmen (after all, we only needed to get 7 wickets!) as quickly as possible. Young Ed Allen bowled a highly respectable spell and removed the opposition’s top scorer to a nicely held catch in the deep by James Roper, while OGL produced a jaffa to bamboozle an understandably incredulous batter – definitely a candidate for ball of the season. [Warning: do not get into a conversation with Dicko about this delivery unless you have at least 30 minutes to spare; wearing of earplugs strongly advised]
Blunsdon’s 6th wicket pair then began to dig in and avoid any risk-taking whatsoever until the ever-darkening skies produced another deluge that sent us all back to the pavilion. An early and delicious tea of gargantuan proportions, produced by Masterchef Rob Redman, was taken in the hope that the storm would blow over and to provide the best chance of finishing the match. Alas, this was not to be, because the rain never really relented by the time we were all replete with Rob’s delicacies and, once we had all shaken hands on the no-result, the heavens (as they say) fully opened.
Blunsdon were happy with the outcome as their 10 points assured a top-two, promotion spot (and they kind of got out of jail having turned up with the minimum of 8 players) – so, well done to them. Had we been offered, at the start of the week, 10 points from a game against the unbeaten league leaders, we would probably have jumped at the chance. Given what happened in the end, however, everyone was left feeling a bit flat and our place in the table remained wobbly. As we had barely more than one-quarter of a match (Blunsdon’s innings lasted only 28 overs, finishing at 88 for 5), MoM and champagne moments are not awarded on this occasion.
|Type :||League: Wiltshire League - Division 6 - 2012||Date :||Saturday 25th August 2012|
|Toss:||Marshfield CC - 3rd XI won the toss and elected to field||Start Time:||13:30|
Highlights :Match Abandoned
|Marshfield CC - 3rd XI||Blunsdon CC - 1st XI|
|Score||0 for 0 (0 overs) 't'||88 for 5 (28.1 overs) 'b'|
|1||A Smith||ct Andy Watts||b Mike Threadgill||12||0||0||0|
|2||P Jones||ct Michael Holman||b Mark Dixon||7||0||0||0|
|3||Dave Bott||b Mark Dixon||8||0||0||0|
|4||M Tomlin||ct James Roper||b Ed Allen||15||1||0||0|
|5||J Mundy*||b Mark Dixon||3||0||0||0|
|6||L Roach||not out||13||0||0||0|
|7||S Kumar||not out||5||0||0||0|
|8||G Varian||did not bat|
|Extras b (3), lb (2), w (15), nb (2)||22|
* = Captain, + = Wicket Keeper
Fall of Wickets
* = not out batsman
|Fielding Extras/Non-bowler wickets||5||0|
|1||Richard Guy||did not bat|
|2||Andy Wills||did not bat|
|3||Robert Redman||did not bat|
|4||Martin Ould||did not bat|
|5||James Roper||did not bat|
|6||Mark Dixon*||did not bat|
|7||Andy Watts||did not bat|
|8||Michael Holman†||did not bat|
|9||Ed Allen||did not bat|
|10||Mike Threadgill||did not bat|
|11||Sam Threadgill||did not bat|
* = Captain, + = Wicket Keeper
The final game of the season took us to Boomsbury with all to play for. With Devizes unable to move from bottom position, no matter the result of their game, it was clear that only a win would secure safety from the drop for Marshfield 3rd XI. For once, the weather leading up to Saturday had been reasonably clement and there was no prediction of precipitation during the afternoon. Your reporter, with the help of James Roper in the co-pilot/navigator’s seat, was the first to arrive at Boomsbury’s ground in Bratton, only to find a padlocked gate, an unopened pavilion and no sign of any sort of cut wicket on the (still fenced-off) square. Also absent was any sign of human life, cricketer or otherwise. A few minutes later, OGL turned up and immediately left an answered message in the opposition skipper’s voicemail. A subsequent call to the Boomsbury Chairman elicited the information that they knew on Wednesday that they would not be able to raise a team but that it appeared that their Captain had ‘forgotten’ to pass that rather important and useful bit of information onto us.
So, there we were, in the middle of deepest, darkest Wiltshire, with 20 points to show for a fruitless drive and, as a result (it turns out), a secure 7th place in WCCL Division 6. There was no other option, at this point, but to retire to a local pub and reflect on a pretty unusual season. While the statistics show a satisfactory, consolidating outcome, the truth of the matter is that there has simply not been enough cricket. Out of 18 games, 4 were cancelled without a ball being bowled, one was abandoned and, as I’ve just recounted, one was won by forfeit. Of the other 12, only 2 (I think) were played under sunny skies throughout and most of the others were rain-affected in some way. The summer of 2012 has been unquestionably miserable but… will we be back next year? You bet. Over and out.