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Nepotists CC v Teddington CC

Sunday July 22, 2018: 1.30pm. 40 Overs
Toss: Uncontested, Nepo's To Bowl
Teddington: 10-195, 34 Overs (Price 3-16, Grieve 3-19)
 3-196, 29.4 Overs (Hoar 68, Mason 32, Price 32, Grieve 30)
Result: Win
Scorecard: Here

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Nestled deep amongst the flora, fauna, and public of bucolic Bushy Park, behind Hampton Court Palace in the South West of London, hides Teddington Cricket Club. Just as many lose their way in the garden maze of the nearby Palace so too do many visiting cricket teams navigating the bum steerage of modern technology that directs them to most every part of Bushy Park than that of the cricket club.

The expected loss of Nepo’s meant a suggested 12.30pm arrival for the 1:30pm start, instead of the usual 30mins prior. This resulted in not only every Nepo being on time for the first time this season, but some 30mins earlier than suggested, allowing for Steve Werren (AUS) plenty of time to warm up. The day was off to a positive start.

Strangely however, after I arrived and met their captain amid the hubbub of the morning cricket revellers lining their livers at the bar post-match, it became apparent there were more Nepo’s than Teddo’s. When pressing for the coin to be tossed the hosts had an air of ‘do we really have to play’. Due in part to their 11 being only 8 and my sensing the captain would rather be at the bar than at the wicket

With only 8 opposition players, which eventually swelled to 9, without a toss we agreed Teddington would bat, allowing two of their lowest scorers to bat twice. It could have worked very wrongly as their 1st XI opening bat, was castled on the 3rd ball of the day. So yes, it ‘could have’, which says it didn’t. By the time he came back with 10 overs of lethargic Nepo bowling left, the 10th wicket fell, and he’d only added one run to his match aggregate. So yes, we got off to a great start.

Following a nasty head injury (the injury was nasty, not my head!) sustained the week before, I was unfit to play after one week in hospitals and doctor’s surgeries and a diet of paracetamol but had to nonetheless hide in the field as we were otherwise one man down. Thankfully we were extremely top heavy with bowlers (so much so no one bowled 8 overs, a first for a long time), which meant I didn’t have to.

Ryan Styles (AUS) opened from the Palace End, and got the breakthrough in the 1st, and ended his one spell 5-1-34-1. Bilal Niaz (PAK) opened from the No Palace End and though went wicketless showed his improving direction with the ball delivering a solid 5-2-16-0. Taking over from Ryan, Nick Grieve (NZ) bowled one no-ball, something that has become the norm for Nick, in what was a match defining spell of 5-0-19-3, one wicket in each of his first three overs. His first wicket breaking the dominance of Teddington which to that point had put on 60 for the 2nd wicket. He was only dragged because I needed others to have a go.

Jim Mason (AUS) replaced Bilal and compared to his previous matches, didn’t quite have it but still got amongst the wickets with one of the poorest LBW decision we’ve ever received. In short, if the ball struck the batsman in line then the umpire (ECB accredited!) was going to give him out. Jim didn’t argue, ending 5-0-35-1.

With Ali Baloch (PAK) replacing Jim, Terrence Ford (ENG) replacing Ali, and James Ronaldson (NZ) replacing Nick, I reckon Rich Price (NZ) was thinking he was never going to bowl, after announcing at the start his preference to bowl from the Palace, and ‘staying warm’ for 28 overs before finally given the honours.

So enamoured with the opportunity he didn’t waste any time arguing with the umpire over his ‘usual’ no-ball, before taking 3-16 in 3 overs. All the while Ali took his first Nepo wicket coming home 3-1-6-1, Terrence didn’t, ending 3-0-23-0, and Jamie having first bowled from the Palace without luck, switched to the No Palace End and wrapped up the inning 5-0-34-1, Teddington with 195 on the board; a lot more than I thought.

Very surprisingly, we rolled through our overs and Teddington in record time, which meant tea was not ready, so Carl Hoar (ENG) and Jim padded up to face 4 overs, and very sharply came off once the billy had boiled with 37 to the Nepo’s.

Compared with last year’s free tea, I think Rich just threw 8 points on their card because it was better than 2017. Not worth 8 but 8 it was before the Nepo’s went to bat once again to chase down 196; two Nepo’s required to field for Teddington. Thankfully there were no catches offered, though no Nepo can be blamed for letting a boundary or two slip by. It’s OK to lose bark saving your own runs, but not for the opposition.

Now just as I thought 195 was a lot more than I thought, at no point did I think 196 was ever too many. The game was played with a casualness akin to one team preferring to be at the bar and like never before, the Nepo’s only faced 4 bowlers. Each trundled in off 10 steps or so, delivering rubbish that allowed Carl to come home in text book style with a red-ink 68 off 77, with Jim wasting another 50 on his way to 32 off 28 in an opening stand of 78 in just 11 overs.

Terrence, in his first match for the Nepo’s since last year’s Old Wimbledonian farce, was elevated to 3 for the chance of getting runs. Alas he succumbed to Trigger adjudging him LBW after the ball hit his thigh pad on its way over middle stump for 9 off 14. Nick too threw away 50 on his way to 30 off 33, whereas Rich simply ran out of runs ending 32 off 27 as the Nepo’s strolled off in the 30th over, 7 wicket victors, with no doubt more effort required to play for next week.

As I write, I can’t help but feel this match was simply a waste of everyone’s time. Teddington players that did turn up possibly wished they didn’t and the Nepo’s played in a very positive ‘let’s get this over with’ style without actually saying it. The day came and went in a lethargic blink, which reminds of Steve telling me that we are Teddington’s only Sunday fixture, the match played out of long-standing courtesy.

If we are to confirm 2019 with Teddington based on today’s game, it will not happen. Nepo availability hasn’t been the greatest this year and we are guilty of disappointing opposition teams with late cancellation, but at least we have given warning. If Teddington can’t be bothered to turn up, or simply don’t want to field a team, then out of long-standing courtesy say so, rather than waste everyone’s Sunday afternoon that could be better spent at the bar in bucolic Teddington, than spent in the field preventing runs from our own batsmen!

Yours In Nepotism,

Lukey Sparrow

Schwim Moment: Jim Mason for bludgeoning his first ball for 4, and cracking the roof of a mini-cooper parked a very long way from the middle.

NACA: Terrence Ford for wearing such exceptionally tight whites he had to wear his thigh-pad in the outside!

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