“Quintili Vare, legions redde!”
Trans. “Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions!”
The Emperor Augustus is said to have been so shaken by the defeat of Varus in the Teutoburg Forest that he stood butting his head against the walls of his palace, and shouting for his legions to be returned. Assorted third team captains throughout the land will know this feeling, a full roster of gallant cricketers on selection night, decimated by Friday and leaving just the dregs, the aged, the infirm, the chap from the pub, the chap from the pub’s wife, and even occasionally his daughter too, and Threaders, to take to the field on Saturday. On a good weekend Marshfield’s 3rd XI is genuinely good enough to beat anyone in the Stound and District Division 2, and the eventual finishing spot of fourth should be seen as both a missed chance, but also perhaps a peril dodged, as promotion may not have been in the best interests of the side. Rumours of a return to the Wilts leagues aside, this season’s foray into Stroud has provided some excellent cricket, some new grounds and crucially a few new watering holes for thirsty players in need of a sports drink1 to recover from exertions.
As usual the side played host to a veritable cast of thousands, with 30 players donning the whites over the season’s 11 completed fixtures. Despite the churn, it is possible to discern a core element to the team of skipper Pierce, Willsy, Terry, Dicko, Chris Ruddell, The Prof, the other Prof, Hodor, Charles, Sandra, and yours truly all of whom played seven or more times. Strikingly, most of the rest played either once or at most twice, some with significant impact and others less so. For instance Sim Townend produced one of the innings of the season to bludgeon Hawkesbury and Upton’s 2nd’s for a rapid 39, with four fours and two mighty sixes. It is appropriate to pay tribute to the hard work of the cricket manager, Hodor, for it is he, and all others who ensure that Marshfield gets 33 players on the pitch on Saturday without fail.
A season’s tally of 6 games won and 5 lost fails to tell the whole story. Three of the defeats were whoppers, by 122, 177 and 161 runs respectively against Whitminster, Hardwicke and Chippenham 4th XI, while the other two both came against Chalford (away by 4 wickets – see below for more details of the controversy, and home by 49 runs). Whitminster, Hardwicke and Chalford were the three sides to finish above Marshfield in the table, suggesting that fourth was a fair outcome.
The season started with a friendly against Bradford 2nd XI. Captain Pierce, against all protocol, both won the toss AND decided to bat first. Those surviving members from the Warminster debacle of 2015 could only shake their heads and prepare for a heading to Broadleys at about 4 pm for a pint after a sound thrashing. Astonishingly the expected collapse and low target did not transpire, rather an excellent 69 from James Howarth, ably supported by Dicko (really) with 46 allowed a total of 172 to be set. Happily we even managed to fit in a mini collapse, for old time’s sake, slumping from 159-3 to 172 all out (Threaders 1*).
With a score on the board, the Marshfield bowlers were unleashed (‘let slip the dogs…’) and did not disappoint, with Dicko claiming 4 and Tom Wallis 3, to earn a 64 run win. After last years’ struggles the win came almost as a surprise, but was a clear vindication of the skippers choice to bat first. The only sour note on a good day came with the match report, which featured a disgraceful image of a football match, but what can you expect from northern philistines?
Confidence boosted, the thirds now embarked on the new season in the Stroud and District Division 2, with a fixture at Whitminster. This time, on once again proving just what a good tosser he is, the skipper elected to put Whitminster in. I can only assume the weakness of the batting line-up made him choose this option, with both the Prof (Guy) and Hodor absent. A fair effort with the ball ended up restricting the opponents to 173 for 8, the bulk of the damage coming from one of the openers who hit 88. Now we would witness the return of the old favorite – the collapse. With four ducks, three scores of 1 and a highest score of just 14, Marshfield were never going to get near in this one, and the innings close with nearly 9 overs to spare (more drinking time…). Was this a worrying sign of things to come or just one of those things – a weakened line-up being asked to do things beyond its powers, like the British 6th Airborne at Arnhem?
After the first of what would prove to be an annoyingly high number of called off (weather) games, the 3rd’s returned to action at home to Hardwicke. The visitor’s won the toss, and perhaps guided by reports (freely available on the internet) of 3rd team frailty wasted no time in inserting the home team. Their decision seemed to bare immediate fruit as Willsy, deceived by a straight one, left the crease with his timbers somewhat shivered, and Marshfield at 5-1. Gradually however Prof Guy and Hodor did something unthinkable – they built a partnership. And what a partnership! The score passed 100 and then the stand too entered three figures, before Gary too missed a straight one (perhaps its catching?). I hesitate to refer to the rest of the batting as a ‘middle order’ as there is more than a hint a rabbit in the air, but between them Dicko, Hussain and Chris Ruddell helped Richard to get the score to 171 for 7 – a decent total AND a mini-collapse, just for old time’s sake. Gary posted a decent 52 and the Prof 76, proving once again that you only really need two batsmen to come off to post a target.
Hardwicke failed to get close, and Hodor benefited from others effort to pick up a 5-for, to go with the half century and complete a wonderful game. Perhaps this league wouldn’t be quite the struggle it had looked?
The following week’s trip to Chalford brought the one moment of controversy for the season. I should record that the wicket and outfield at Chalford was extremely good (so much so that your correspondent managed to post some runs) and a pleasure to play on. Once again inserted, the 3rd’s once again posted a score 171, this time for 8 wickets, with Prof Guy and Dicko once more in the runs. Richard elected to avoid a jug on 49 and Dicko nearly passed out for 52, raising some fitness concerns amongst the onlookers.
In hindsight the quality of the pitch and the speed of the outfield should have been a warning that the total, whilst respectable, was possibly a few runs short, and so it proved. Despite an early breakthrough, Chalford were always up with the rate, and it seemed that only be bowling them out would Marshfield be able to claim victory. The moment of controversy came when Piercy appealed for an lbw which was given by the umpire. The batsmen had clearly nicked the ball and your correspondent informed the skipper of this, and the batsmen was recalled. Unfortunately he carried on to add an further 30-odd runs and almost certainly this sporting act cost Marshfield the game. The question of whether this was the right thing to do should not be asked, as it clearly was – at our level sportsmanship and the ‘spirit of cricket’ are everything – how can they not be when your own team adjudicate on your batting?
Now came an enforced hiatus, as the weather (twice) and a forfeit saw Marshfield without a game for three weeks. The return to action began a run a three wins, comfortably beating Hawkesbury (58 runs), Whitminster (30 runs) and Cam CC by 7 wickets. These three wins saw some accomplished batting – Sam Burnstone posting 52 (prior to Sim Townend’s bludgeoned 39), a Hodor 55 and two unbeaten knocks from George (‘I told them I was a bowler’) Pollitt of 86 and 57. The bowlers too chipped in, both Al Chivers (5-29) and George (‘I thought I was a batsman’) Pollitt (5-13) taking 5 wicket hauls and in a hint of future glory, Prof Guy with 4-29. The last win saw Marshfield swap places with Cam CC to go into 2nd place.
It was now that the curse of the 3rd team returned. A much denuded side, with two both Rouse ladies taking the field and still only numbering 10 was put to the sword by Hardwicke, Only Hodor was able to exert any control, and he still went at 4 per over. Plaudits to Nicola who stepped up and bowled 10 overs, and picked up a wicket. Chasing 261 never looked likely and once the openers were removed with the score on 59, the inevitable happened and the innings ended in disarray at 85 for 9 (all out). Extras (18) were just beaten in the top scoring ranks by Gary.
Most surprising, at least to this correspondent, was the efforts of Dicko, who helped himself to a decent 122 runs, some consolation for a relatively poor season with the ball.
The following week was a similar outcome, although on this occasion the opponents, Chalford, were restricted to 155 for 8, with Chris Ruddell picking up 4-23. The attempt to chase down this score saw a valiant effort by Prof Guy, with 59, and with a bit more support may have been able to get Marshfield home. Alas no one else could reach double figures, and a 49 run defeat was the result.
Stroud 4th XI struggled for a side and in the end played with 10, including 4 old timers and assorted youth. Skipper for the day (was there some kind of competition on?) Prof Guy won the toss and having seen the opposition clearly fancied some runs, so elected to bat. ALAS – he could only plunder 21 before lobbing a catch, and trudged off. George Pollitt, who had so far scored 89 and 57, both not out, now seized the chance and with a mixture of excellent timing and some degree of big hitting helped himself to a first senior century, eventually bowled for 110. Uncle Gary (for it was he) had also joined the fun and together with Willsy’s bright 28 a total of 257 for 7 looked far too many.
Stroud made a decent fist of chasing, and scored at a decent rate, however wickets was always going to be the problem. Dicko could only watch in horror as the Prof made up for not getting runs by taking his first ever 5 wicket haul with 6 for 12 in 6 overs. Dicko was even more upset as the Prof had dropped a dolly of Dicko’s bowling shortly before, claiming the sun was in his eyes. This led to some terrible decisions to be made by the editor of the Match Report, and certain text was redacted, to the Prof’s chagrin.
And that would be that for the league season. Weather (Frampton) and a forfeit (Painswick) and lastly weather (Hawkesbury) saw the season ending in a squelchy damp mess, although the retired, and brought out of retirement skipper Pierce still managed to cause some hilarity in the rain, before giving in to reason.
The main batting highlights have been discussed above, but it would be remiss not to mention George Pollitt once more ending with average of 253, from just three innings. Prof Guy also scored over 200 in the season, but will perhaps feel he has not yet fulfilled the promise of his Wisden mentions (1870 and 1871), but there is of course still time. Hodor was always steady, and on more than one occasion lifted a sluggish scoring rate to add vital late innings runs. Most surprising, at least to this correspondent, was the efforts of Dicko, who helped himself to a decent 122 runs, some consolation for a relatively poor season with the ball. Willsy will perhaps feel he could have scored more, and as for myself, I hope I have led the way in selfless batting for the team, including two needless run-outs on the off chance of eking out one more run. The batting was notable for a feeling of solidity at times, and with 8 fifties and a century, the constant fragility of previous seasons was to some extent put away.
2016 Batting Statistics (Incl 3rdXI Friendlies)
|Player||Games||Inns||Not Outs||Runs||High Score||Avg||50s||100s||Ducks||Did Not Bat(%)|
|Richard Guy||9||6||0||255||76||42.50||2||0||0||3(33.33 %)|
|George Pollitt||3||3||2||253||110||253.00||2||1||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Gary Hodder||7||5||1||176||55||44.00||2||0||0||2(28.57 %)|
|Mark Dixon||10||8||2||168||52||28.00||1||0||0||2(20.00 %)|
|Andy Wills||14||11||0||116||28||10.55||0||0||2||3(21.43 %)|
|James Howarth||1||1||0||69||69||69.00||1||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Sam Burnstone||2||2||0||61||52||30.50||1||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Terry Bishop||12||9||0||60||12||6.67||0||0||3||3(25.00 %)|
|Tim Woodman||9||6||1||51||31||10.20||0||0||1||3(33.33 %)|
|Simeon Townend||1||1||0||39||39||39.00||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Chris Ruddell||10||8||1||25||9||3.57||0||0||2||2(20.00 %)|
|Andrew Pierce||12||7||2||19||12*||3.80||0||0||3||5(41.67 %)|
|Tom Wallis||3||2||1||16||12*||16.00||0||0||0||1(33.33 %)|
|Martin Roper||4||3||0||12||11||4.00||0||0||1||1(25.00 %)|
|Hussain Saeed||3||3||0||11||10||3.67||0||0||1||0(0.00 %)|
|Mike Threadgill||8||3||2||10||8*||10.00||0||0||0||5(62.50 %)|
|Will Christie||2||2||0||9||9||4.50||0||0||1||0(0.00 %)|
|Chris Grubb||1||1||1||7||7*||-||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Charles Harris||9||5||0||7||4||1.40||0||0||2||4(44.44 %)|
|Chris Revell||1||1||0||7||7||7.00||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Tim Hawke||3||1||0||6||6||6.00||0||0||0||2(66.67 %)|
|Simon Taylor||1||1||0||5||5||5.00||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Alan Chivers||4||1||0||5||5||5.00||0||0||0||3(75.00 %)|
|Sandra Rouse||8||5||1||2||1||0.50||0||0||3||3(37.50 %)|
|Amelia Bond||1||1||0||2||2||2.00||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Chris Middup||2||2||1||1||1||1.00||0||0||0||0(0.00 %)|
|Kent Collins||4||2||0||1||1||0.50||0||0||1||2(50.00 %)|
|Nicola Rouse||2||2||1||0||0*||0.00||0||0||1||0(0.00 %)|
|Oliver Kinsey||2||1||1||0||0*||-||0||0||0||1(50.00 %)|
|Keith Pullin||2||1||0||0||0||0.00||0||0||1||1(50.00 %)|
|Gregory Sankaran||1||0||0||0||-||0||0||0||1(100.00 %)|
|Johnny Heyel||2||0||0||0||-||0||0||0||2(100.00 %)|
Sitting pretty on top of the wicket takes is none other than the Prof, with 15, four more than Dicko could manage. Notable too is the presence of Richard’s 6-12 which was also listed on the season best Wiltshire Bowling Honours Board. I know this because Richard emailed me to make sure I put this in. I think he may be slightly miffed that the report of these heroics are STILL redacted… They are probably limited by the 30 year rule or some such.
George, Gary and Alan C also earned 5-fors. Honourable mentions for Chris Ruddell and Piercy who got through 57 and 51 over respectively, often without the wicket that their bowling deserved. Pace was inject by Tom Wallis and Hussain – it was just a shame that they only played 4 games between them.
2016 Bowling Statistics (Incl 3rdXI Friendlies)
|Player||Overs||Maidens||Runs||Wickets||Best Bowling||5 Wicket Haul||Economy Rate||Strike Rate||Average|
I was tempted to leave this blank, but that would do some a disservice. Many catches were taken, but the pervading air was one of comical missed chances. I have no need to name names, but the guilty men all know and if you send an SAE I will furnish you with the list. For the record, Richard’s miss of Dicko (was the sun that bright?), Piercy’s boundary travails at Tormarton, Threaders failure to pick flight of the lob and Terry’s leap when a gentle step back may have been the wiser choice stand out. Elsewhere the fielding was as expected for a bunch of older player who can’t throw. So large was one out-field that one return from the boundary needed a relay of three! Positional sense was also lacking at times, and caused the skipper some distress, which may have contributed to several ‘sense of humour’ failures, and a dread of seeing a left handed batsman come to the crease. Hints for the new skipper – purchase some marker spray and draw locations for some of the more uncertain fielders.
The best moment in the field came in the leaving of the field – Kent Collins’ vault of the stone wall to the nearby field of turkeys, and ensuing trip on an unseen wire would not have been out of place in the Premiership, so good was the dive.
2016 Fielding Statistics (Incl 3rdXI Friendlies)
|Player||Wicket Keeping Catches||Stumpings||Total Wicket Keeping Wickets||Fielding Catches||Run Outs||Total Fielding Wickets|
Running Between The Wickets
Running between the wickets is a much neglected skill. Done well and 20-30 more runs can be gleaned in a 40 over match. Done badly and not only will runs go begging but often wickets will fall. Done REALLY badly and comedy follows. Step forward George and the Prof, who managed to run 6 between them, with both appearing at one end and the opponents still failing to run anyone out. If only it had been caught on camera… Otherwise the running was at times poor, with a lack of fitness a recurring theme for some.
Some glorious teas as ever, but shock and consternation all round as the third’s own Mary Berry was knocked off his perch by the upstart Jonathon Burnstone.
And so at the end another enjoyable season, sadly with not as much cricket as might be hoped. We’ll do it all again next year, assuming we are not sold off to Channel 4.
Hints for the incoming captain…
- Rigorous fitness campaign pre-season, especially for Dicko.
- Field position briefing cards for suspect fielders.
- Get George Pollitt to play every game…
1 I have had it confirmed by a food scientist that beer is isotonic, and this counts as a sports drink. I tried, unsuccessfully to get Grolsch to change their brand to Grolsch Sport, but with no success…