Sunday August 12, 2018: 1.00pm. 40 Overs
Toss: Nepotists, Field
Misfits: 10-124, 28.2 Overs (Price 3-9, Mason 2-10, Sparrow 2-11, Grieve 2-29)
Catches: Styles 2, Price 2, Werren 1, Niaz 1, Baloch 1, Hardy 1
Nepotists: 3-196, 29.4 Overs (Styles 37, Coleman 34*, Werren 16*)
As our regular fixture against Edmonton was cancelled, Carl answered Little Missenden Misfits Cricket Club advertisement for a match. This is the brief email exchange:
“I'm Carl Hoar, Fixture Sec for Nepotists CC. We are a wandering team that mainly plays 40 over games in and around London. We play the game with a smile on our faces and never sledge the opposition. We are a weak medium team at the moment.
“Hi Carl, Sound ideal. We are weak medium too (bit more weak than medium so far this season!) so would be happy to welcome you guys August 12. How does a 1pm start sound? Longer in the pub afterwards!
More than ideal it was!
If you were to schedule a match based on spending more time in the pub afterwards, then Little Missenden Misfits Cricket Club should have a very long list of opposition to choose from as the Red Lion is outstanding. Aside the rain that brought us to move our debrief from the ‘Winnie The Pooh’ lakeside table to the under-cover terrace, you have to go far to find a better place to convene post-match. I am very sure there are 1001 village pubs and beer gardens across the country that 1001 would vouch as the best in the land but from Nepotists fixtures perspective, this is #1 and well worth the 40 over prelude on a soggy pitch buried deep in a Chilterns valley, once found of course!
The follow up email from David reads;
“Ground can be hard to find. Go all way through village if coming off A413 and turn left after The Red Lion. Road turns to the right and then it turns left again. Turn again to the right, and then to the left, straighten up, and then take a few more lefts and rights, and you may see entrance to ground in front of you!” (with artistic license)
If you know your lefts from your rights and Red Lions from your Spotted Dicks, you’ll turn through what is simply a hole in the roadside hedge and discover the parched earth of a once green and pleasant land. If you can’t, head back to the Red Lion for a swift half (pint or dozen) and ask directions as our favourite Black Cabbie Carl Hoar (ENG) had to do. Alas for Carl, the ‘Knowledge’ does not extend to Little Missenden, so his Black Cab sadly had to first employ the power of the internet, and second the power of local knowledge to point him in the direction of the ground. Something Jim Mason (AUS) did not have concern, once he remembered he was playing!
I received a text message from Steve Werren (AUS) at 11:15am, “Running late, the earliest the guys can reach Greenford is 12:20pm.” ‘Guys’ translates as ‘Jim’. After getting home at 5am the story says Jim was found wandering around a kitchen (possibly his) at 11am wondering what he'd do with his day. At 11:14am the penny dropped; he needed to be at Greenford in 30mins. Hence the 11:15am message. If finding the ground wasn’t hard enough, being late didn’t help.
As Steve and his passengers, including Jim, huddled at 12:45pm greeting others and extolling virtues of alarm bells and TfL journey planning, I reminded Steve for the 3rd time that we were fielding, which sent him hastily off to tape his fingers and toes and teeth and all that mesmerising preparation that goes into dropping catches and letting through byes. No time for dry-rooting the earth as he did at Teddington, if that was not a paradox in itself, the rain of the past week having sodden the land to the point of unplayable! Thankfully, said rain held off!
The pre-toss discussion of the toss (that landed me a NACA nomination) has since been lost to folklore and hearsay, but truth be known I suggested to David my preference to bowl to which he responded his preference to bat. So, it was settled, Nepo’s to bowl. We nonetheless made our way to the very green and muddy wicket (the 22yards only discerned by 3 stumps pressed into the strip at opposing ends) and tossed the coin. As it happens, I won the toss, chose to bowl, and everything discussed, mentioned, spoken, and distorted through the ages since arrival into the vagaries of Little Missenden was no longer relevant.
Ryan Styles (AUS) was asked to open until told we were using Concordes not Kookaburras. “Then I am not bowling until that shit comes off!” Admittedly our very affordable Concorde balls are coated in a thick lacquer and difficult to grip as the lacquer also coats the thread. Once however the lacquer cracks and splinters off, the polish holds exceptionally well. I can’t say the same for the shape, but at £1.80 per ball what do you expect??
With Ryan curling his bottom lip, myself having had the week off against Shepherd’s Bush to give others the chance to ruin their season average took first use of our affordable plastic. After yielding 5 off my first over, the lacquer causing the ball to stick in or slide from the hand, the ball going every which way but straight, I loosened up into the strong head-wind for a spell of 6-2-11-2. Downwind came Nick Grieve (NZ). With no boundary wife to impress this week, Nick delivered 4-0-29-2 including 9 wides. Better 9 wides than 9 off the bat like the bloke from Shepherd’s Bush (see 25.6 overs of the original scorecard)!!
With the shine now limited to one side of the cherry, Ryan replaced Nick and started scratchy with an 8 but settled down for another luckless spell, which included the ‘pink wig’ for Ali Baloch (PAK); not for dropping a catch but deciding that he’d rather field the ball on the bounce, which ended Ryan’s spell 6-0-34-1.
Fresh from his sins in Vegas, for his 2nd and last run in the Lime Green and Magenta for 2018, Nathan Coleman (NZ) took over from myself and pounded the mud hard with his 7ft 32” frame to deliver from on high a mix of slow-medium-slower, off-spinning, fast dross. Not even Nate knew what he was bowling, hence the batsman didn’t know how to get themselves out, thus Nate ended 4-0-26-0.
At 5-104 after 20 overs, it could be at least suggested that our hosts would set 200+ after 40 but the pitch had other ideas. The ball however was not too conducive to clean hitting or even snicking! The pitch simply did not want to let the ball go. As fast and as bouncy as you would like to bowl, most batsmen were through their shots early, thus many boundaries were only scored from full tosses or when the batsman chose to have a cuppa waiting for the ball to arrive (as Ryan did on the 5th ball). So, when a batsman edged or hit a catch, the ball didn’t so much spoon up as it did float and get pushed about in the heady breeze (which too kept the rain at bay for the day), making any catch worth double points (speaking terms, not earning terms!).
So, slowing up the pace to let ‘the pitch do the work’ Jim with 4-1-10-2 replaced Ryan and Rich Price (NZ) with 4.2-0-9-3 replaced Nathan to bowl in tandem and mop up the Misfits for just 124. On this wicket, that was pretty good. You can recall our capitulation on a similar deck at Putney!
With the Misfits’ early demise, something I was aiming for as the reason to bowl first without discrediting our opposition sight ‘un-seen’, tea was delayed for as long as it took David to say, “Pad up, we’ll have a bowl before tea”. Deciding instead we would indeed have tea was not argued, just inhaled. The Misfit spread ranked one of the season’s finest with 8.5 on the RichTea Scale. Admittedly he did give it an 8 but series of boos and jibes at the debrief added the .5.
With guts full of quiche, scones, and milky tea, Carl and Ali opened once more. This week it was Carl that went early. No photos of text-book defence, no internet melting clips of wonder, just a skied chip to a ball that got stuck in the mud to see him caught for 0 off 3 and thinking of getting a head start on packing the kit as he passed Bilal Niaz (PAK), confidently strolling in at 3!
No sooner had Carl taken one pad off wondering which bag it goes into, than Bilal was sitting next to him to wonder the same question. 4 balls & 2 wickets down, and Time Hardy (ENG) on a hat-trick. No pressure, except for me as I messed up my 3rd umpire recording! In my haste to get into position (late whilst searching for umpiring stones) I inadvertently pushed the record button twice, thus turning on and then off ‘record’. So, when I pushed ‘pause’ after the first ball, I had in fact started recording. I then pushed pause for the 2nd delivery, and then pushed record to count my stones.
When I realised my error, I put the phone away to record the 3rd over, and simply call it the first. Who’s going to know?? That plan went out the window with Carl and Bilal sharing a shower and waiting for Time to join them. By now I wish I was recording, but Time survived the hat-trick so further internet glory will be saved for next week.
Time was eventually knocked over, his 50 cut short by 43 off 22 balls, one that seemingly pitched a yard outside off stump and barely hit leg. At 3-15 our hosts had the local winds in their sails and ‘Putney’ was being spoken. When Ali was amazingly caught for 11 off 20 by a deepish mid-on whom ran (lumbered / gambolled / laboured) in and looked to do nothing more than finger the ball onto his boot and kick it further afield (which he didn’t do!) the Nepo’s were 4-30 and in more strife than Bilal packing the kit on his own.
The damp stage was set for a Ryan and Rich show (below). 4 overs later at 5-50, that poor show was over with Rich strolling off (without internet fame this week) for 12 off 12 (as I write, Rich has been viewed getting out at Shepherd’s Bush 8008 times!). Enter stage far left, Nathan Coleman. If ever there was a batsman that never looked like he wanted to be there, and admitting it so, it was Nate. Try as he might he just couldn’t get out. That instinct to keep the bat between ball and stumps was too hard to ignore. That ignorance put on 47 for the match saving 6th wicket with Ryan.
Ryan deserved 50 but ran out of luck; Time Hardy firing him LBW with the ball ‘probably clipping the top of leg!’ for a superb 37 off 53. In these conditions it was the winning knock that warranted red-ink. With Ryan shaking his head at 6-97 it could have gone either way, as tension crept into the Nepo shed. Steve, elevated to number 8, joined Nate and admirably carried his bat once more with a fine 16 off 21. Surprisingly, so too did Nathan whom strolled proudly home 34 off 58 at barely 6pm, the Nepo’s home by 4 wickets for the first time against Little Missenden Misfits Cricket Club.
With David’s wish for an early start of the match for an early start at the pub, and with Rich talking about bringing his ‘chilly bin’ next year, because as his wife put it ‘If there’s no bar at the cricket, what’s the point in playing!’ because he’d been 59.5 overs without a drink, there was no wasting time in helping Bill pack the kit and getting to the Red Lion. By the time we left, the 2019 fixture against Misfits CC was confirmed and importantly the ‘Winnie The Pooh’ table booked (below).
See you somewhere again in Chilterns next year!
Yours In Nepotism In The Hundred Acre Wood,
Schwim Moment: Ryan getting off the mark with a big 6 down the ground over long off.
NACA: Jim Mason for sleeping in, forgetting we were playing, forgetting his socks, falling asleep at the game, playing in one sock, and the list is endless!