2012 FCL Week 10

Although the club won a game of cricket this weekend, it was our intrepid travellers to Buckfastleigh who did the honours; unfortunately, the fantasy eligible had to suffer again.

The Saturday XI did not lose, & in the most incredible of manners. See the tearjerking analysis now available on the cowboys website.

11 apostles scored 10 each; Grove, Ben, Tooley, Evan, Ian, Kahlu, Tim, Gretch, Ned, Garnier & RT(no-mis-numbering-this-week)1. All things were equal before Gibbo. Apparently...

On Sunday it was emotional. But not in a good way. If I were a politically intelligent person I would stop here. And why don't I try that for now? If anyone else wants to carry on & understands how to describe the match between our stretched 1st XI & the sheer evil which is now our new grudge foe at Carsons & Mangotsfield (see; no gratuitous punnning despite the obvious potential), the floor is all yours. Otherwise I may just start to dribble stuff in against my better judgement.

The cold, wet light of the day after & I'm doing a systems check with my 2nd double espresso. The beesting is still buzzing, but the nausea is way back there in the background & it seems safe to continue. Has the memory of yesterday changed with a good night's sleep? I just wish...but just possibly the sense of pain is diminishing. Strike while the cliche is hot?

There's all sorts of dilemmas going on in there with the idea of espressing any of it though; circus metaphors abound, along with plenty of images that seem to involve dogs, eating people's homework, for example. Then there are actions speaking louder than words, but pens being mightier than the cricket bat. Truth is apparently the first casualty of war, but I have been reliably informed that this was just a cricket match; if we can just get through this report without firmly establishing any irreversible personal offence or irrevocable insult then truly, it will have been a miracle.

It all really begins somewhere back in the latter stages of the previous week, when it started to become apparent that the Sunday 1s were struggling to get 11 mobilised for the game. As fast as folks were getting recruited for the 1s, anyone not fast enough to escape was being pressed into service against Buckfastleigh. Duncan was having another weekend off, Omar had a social event & Andy C was also preoccupied. Vice captain Dean had to pull out with illness & there were some confused murmurings about Afghans & old men again, & whilst Sayed had been selected in one of the early drafts, the others were all off the radar. Things appeared a little brighter once Matt Davey had been assuredly confirmed as a participant & the possibility of having 5 proper bowlers each doing their share seemed a genuine likelihood, which let Dave Smallpiece off the hook to ruin his daughter's 21st celebrations. Amir was promoted for an opportunity to show what he could do & given the extreme circumstances of the week's needs, Jeff offered up his prodigal son Dylan to the vengeful cricketing gods & lo, his faith was sorely tested. When Sayed pulled out less than 24 hours, but more than a morning ahead of the game, we were fortunate in having Jonse, Zabeullah & Wayne all suddenly available for selection. Jonse responded quickest in the texting race, so he got another chance to make a positive impression in the 1s & the others seemed to be surplus to requirement.

Outside the Plough at 12:30 on the day of the game we had what seemed to be the basis for a decent strength side, despite the debutant components & all the preceding pallaver. Amir & Matt D were going to make their own ways there & I suppose somewhere in the distant reaches of a dim awareness some quiet alarm bells started to go off, but these were easily denied & there were 9 successfully navigated to the Phomphrey Hill (genuine sic handbook typo) Sports Complex in plenty of time to await the drying wicket becoming fit for play. On first inspection just after 1 it was pretty squelchy all round the ground, but there was some sunshine & a good strong breeze at work to dry it. That we would play looked an inevitability, the question was simply when. The toss was made & won early & the decision made to bowl first on this pudding, secure in the knowledge that all our bowlers appreciated that although short stuff would not work today, timing & driving under control would be very tricky for the batters. Reinspection was scheduled first for 2:30, which gave Amir a chance to find us & at this stage Matt found himself still at home sitting for a sick cat, but the vet was on the way & he'd be getting a lift shortly. Just in time for the next inspection, Amir appeared in his plimsolls. The still squelchy ground was going to be slippery at best, but Amir had a change of footwear in the car & if we needed someone to step in for Matt, he said his brother was also keen to get a game in & could help us out. When Matt was asked about it he said things had progressed; he had not been able to get his lift, but was going to get a bus & was on his way, so we didn't need Amir's brother after all. I recall making some sort of glib statement about it always being better to play a game of cricket even if it meant losing, rather than looking to avoid defeat, not play any cricket but get 2 points. In fact I recall being positively scornful of such a negative attitude, & although, when all is said & done I would still stand by this point of view, it would certainly come back to give me a thorough biting on the bum before the day was complete. The start was going to be 3:15 & the game was now reduced to 30 overs a side, so Matt still had plenty of time to make it; a rescue vehicle could still easily have been despatched to retrieve him if that had been necessary, but apparently it wasn't required, so we went up to the Pavillion Room to watch England clean up the Aussie late order. As you can probably tell, we were still in denial about the true nature of the Matt Davey situation; I suppose we were just so excited by the prospect of the potential of this superstar from Dyrham & Hinton finally being realised after such a long period of anticipation. But we knew he appreciated what it was like for a club to be relying on someone & with this in mind, knew he would make every effort not to let us down.

When 3:15 came with the last call to roll up, roll up, as is traditional, the clowns were sent in first. There were still only 10 of us, so we were still anticipating the arrival of Matt Davey any moment now, but meanwhile we had to go with a bit of a conservative field. Amir had retrieved his alternative footwear & was good to go from the car park end. Cue the music. I didn't notice any exploding cars or buckets of confetti, but then I've never really found slapstick all that funny. During the first over, Amir struggled with his footing on delivery & a diverse mix of lines & lengths was served up for the batsmen's delectation; fair enough the ground was still quite slippery underfoot; this situation would obviously require some degree of compensation for the conditions. The principal tone of the advice was to reduce the run up so that control could be maintained when arriving at the crease. Red rag to a bull! Here is a man who laughs in the face of advice. Hah! Enough said? After their innings Amir mentioned that he had never bowled like that before, that he was having difficulty keeping his footing when he landed, that maybe his footwear wasn't appropriate & that he should have reduced his run up to remain in control when he bowled. Funny that; it's pretty much exactly as had been pointed out to him at the time. Now get back up on that tightrope.

When 3 overs had passed they were around 40 for 0 & Martin's first over had gone for 2; finishing with a dismissive yet nonchalant trademark stamp on the ball to gouge a few spiky holes & bring joy to those bowlers in the side who were looking forward to getting a bit of swing going. At least the run rate was to be severely reduced from these beginnings before their innings was over. The noise in the field had been apparent from quite early on. Often we make such noises with no little consideration for its content in order to give each other mutual encouragement & to reinforce positive feedback on well executed or attempted fielding manoeuvres. If only today had been such an occasion. As is so often the case the cricketing gods chose to reward those making the loudest exhortations to the rest of the team to be better by presenting them with the first opportunities to actually take a catch & to inspire through example rather than shout about how others might improve their chances of it happening in abstract. As is also often the case, it was Martin whose bowling was to suffer in consequence of this glass houses & stonethrowing mess of a metaphor. Have I fallen off yet, or is it again? Or did I just imagine that?

RT2 was brought on early to instantly stamp on any ideas they might have had of proceeding at that rate for their whole innings. Quite early on their umpires revealed their hand when questioned for an early no-doubt-about-it LBW appeal. A few edges flew quickly through the unfillable gaps behind square offside & as the game progressed it started to look like everyone was going to get a chance to drop, bottle or ignore catching opportunities. Some people who you might think would know better even tried to catch with their feet, as though overcome by the spirits of the european bladder gods who were all looking to hog the limelight this particular Sunday. At this point I feel I should go back to bed & come back for another go when the dream has fully dissipated & I can remember what really happened. With any luck someone else out there will rescue me from myself before that can take place.

I think I should step in and give Justin a chance to go and lie down for a bit, where were we? Ah yes, RT2 is on bowling tidily for no wickets with Martin at the other end having catches dropped. RT2 was taken out of the attack to save some overs for "the death", an unfortunate turn of phrase on a day like Sunday. Jonse came on at the car park end while Martin continued. We started to realise the Matt Davey situation was not likely to rectify itself and the various fools who still had him in their team despaired. It was at the 15 over drinks interval that Bolts gave him one last try, only to find his phone was now off. Maybe that cat had eaten it. -30 points were handed out for the third time this season, though the way that he had not only let us down but also stopped us from getting one of the four or five willing cricketers available to replace him made some of us feel it should be more than 30. We may have to come up with a new ultimate sanction, as this sort of behaviour is something new & quite unimaginable for a lot of cowboys. We did spend quite some time trying to imagine what possible motivation he must have had to screw us this way & were left with 2 major options. The deliberate ploy of D&H based subversion didn't really seem to hold water, as we have no teams competing in the same division as any D&H side, unless this is part of a longer term deep sleeper plan, to unfold over future seasons, which left only the possibility of some sort of terrible personal tragedy, possibly involving a cat, a bus or a mobile phone. We were starting to develop a taste for the orange in the mouth with whips & bondage chains somewhere about now, so left the scene looking at ideas for a general something so terrible we would truly hate ourselves for thinking so badly of poor Matt in consequence of discovering the truth.

Martin bowled all of his 6 straight through, finishing with figures of 6 overs, no maiden, 0-39 landing him an ugly -15 points, luckily he took a catch and, with his appearance 10 points and 2 heroic runs, ended up on 12 for the weekend. It should be said that the strife of our situation brought the best out of Martin in the field & with only 10 fielders on the pitch, Martin fielded like a whole 1 cricketer, & those of you that know Martin's fielding style will appreciate how significant that statement is. Wilko replaced him from one end with Jonse at the other. The opposition comfortably rattled along at between 6 and 8 an over by hitting the ball into the large gaps or very hard at some of the slightly jaded fielders. Dissatisfied with the plan of bowling good accurate lines & lengths, Jonse decided he had a better one, based on something dark & involving punishment; so Justin & Bolts were brought in too close to react either side of the bat square of the wicket & Jonse tried a policy of mixed full tosses & long hops, hoping that something bloody & dramatic would ensue, possibly resulting in guilt or distraction for the foe, who knows, nobody else really understood the plan. They still had not lost a wicket. Jonse was taken off, figures: 4 overs 0 - 33 giving him -17 bowling points. Matt Caven came on after Jonse and continued to be expensive but one thing was crucially different, Matt took a wicket! This warrants a bit of description, as the captain & vice for the day regained control of the fielding directions & Amir, who had been doing a lot of running & chasing while Jonse was directing & bowling to his personal plan, was moved 10 yards deeper & straighter. Their least slim opener had been getting very tired, to the extent that he wasn't even bothering with doing full runs any more, but luckiliy for him, each time he approached his ground their umpire would be watching the fielders, enabling him to turn like an oil tanker & head back in the other direction without needing to make his ground in the interim & eventually he was reduced to one run at a time, as even getting beyond halfway & back again was becoming a real trial for him. Just after the field adjustment he lofted one up to deep mid on. Amir approached & waited & we got ready to back up the throw once the ball appeared on the ground at his feet. But it was not to be; the ball stayed in his hands & something very odd seemed to have transpired. They were 138 - 1 after 18 or 19 overs (memory fails me) and looking decidedly wobbly. Then only 4 runs later Mark bowled out the other opener with a beautifully flighted delivery, 2 quick wickets and the game was back on! Suddenly the cowboys had a bit more bounce in their step, aided by by some good fielding close in on the leg side by Dylan and Martin.

Unfortunately this bounce in our step was mirrored by the ball frequently bouncing around half way down the track and then bouncing once or twice on the way to the boundary, the two new batsmen who had looked so shaky started to build a partnership. Wilko finished off his spell: 6 overs, no maidens, 1 - 44 giving him -5 bowling points, he ended the weekend on 20 due to some runs and his appearance bonus. Mark showed some signs of the guile and intelligence that netted him the wickets trophy last season with a couple of magic balls but seemed rusty from all the rain and not getting much of a bowl.

Matt swapped ends and RT2 came back on. He was greeted with two exquisite cover drives for 4. The rest of the over was more in control and there was an edge for 2 and a slice high in the air that Justin made an excellent (and spectacular) effort to get to but was unfortunately a little short. Matt Caven initially found changing ends tough but after some intelligent, almost prescient field manoeuvres, Martin took a good catch at shortish mid wicket. This inspired RT2 to try some fielding ploys and, next over, gave the set batsman a single before bringing the field back in, bowling 3 dots and taking his solitary wicket after the batsmen edged it thickly to Justin at gully. We were showing a little fight and bottle towards the end goshdarned it! Matt was given the last over and luckily we kept their in batsman off strike and took a little pleasure leaving him stranded on 49 (why that was pleasurable will become apparent when we come to our own innings). In their eagerness to get him on strike there was a suicide run attempted which gave Amir another chance to make up for his awful opening spell, he ran in, picked it up and hurled it... a metre to Jeff's left. Jeff sprang athletically, gathered it and, though the batsman wasn't really attempting to get back in his ground and Jeff could have taken the bails off by hand, threw the ball at the stumps. Risky? Yes, Successful? Yes.

They had scored 222 for 5 in 30 overs, an imposing total indeed but they had made the error of finishing on double nelson which would surely doom them to lose right? Right? (I'm trying to keep the suspense going you see) All in all at times it felt like we were trying to catch water in a sieve and it was very mentally draining but we were true to the Cowboys ethos and didn't turn on each other and kept our heads high. We had a severely weakened team and a nightmare day in the field but we didn't resort to personal recriminations and we still managed to have a laugh or two.

And then there was the batting, Just and Bolts strode out there purposefully, intending to punish the ball for it's traitorous antics in the first innings with great vengeance and furious anger. Both started sensibly against an accurate but non-threatening bowler from one end and a decent left armer from the other. We started to get an understanding of the sort of team we were playing when Just was struck on the pad by the left arm over bowler from a delivery that had pitched a foot or more outside leg. They erupted into one of the loudest appeals I have experienced as an umpire. Their keeper (see 49 not out above) had a little paddy when I refused to give Bolts out for a stumping despite him not leaving his crease at all and, not much later, turned a peculiar shade of purple appealing for an lbw that had clearly got a nick off Justin's bat and was apparently going down leg (I was at square leg at the time). Jonse hadn't noticed the nick or the line of the ball but maybe he had noticed the appeal and thought he'd better give Justin out before the keeper had a carotid aneurysm. Justin was in the middle of giving the keeper a withering stare for even daring to appeal before being given the bad news. His weekend, with the catch, yielded 29 points & he now has joint lead in the Randall award. If I might just interject for a moment, I had wondered whether this ploy of looking at the keeper as he kept up his act, intended to shame him into an awareness of his own ..[enter your favourite appropriate term here], might have backfired on me as I had not considered the possibility that not looking in the umpire's direction might be misconstrued as a lack of respect towards him. I'll have to think twice next time I turn the ball off my legs & someone turns purple as a result before deciding where to direct my scorn.

Then came Amir, who had assured us that he could bat very well. He didn't take a guard, which was a worry, but then got good contact on a swipe through wide mid on which restored the faith for about 5 seconds before he demonstrated he didn't understand how to run properly, failing to put his bat in when turning for the second run and so forcing Jonse to call him for 1 run short. I can't think of a funny way to put this so I'll just say it, he did it twice more in his short innings. Once is understandable, twice is foolish, three times is basically sabotage.

Bolts was still fuming (one of the short runs had been his!) when he lofted a cover drive to a waiting fielder and wandered off despondently, his 9 run points bringing him a total of 19 for the weekend. I have to say, his normally phlegmatic attitude to adversity looked seriously under siege. Amir was, shockingly, clean bowled soon after (his weekend, with the runout and the catch, totalling 27) which brought Mark Wilkinson and Matt Caven together at the crease. Matt was fooled by a classic village cricket ploy: wide, wide, wide, straight one, bowled! Despite being one of the cowboys who had performed pretty well on the day, his third duck of the season damaged his points total reducing it to 4. Those ducks are killers Matt, sort it out. This brought RT2 to the crease, with the score still on 35.

OK, so now I have to leave the changing room where I'm desperately trying to exorcise the demons threatening my sanity as there's some therapeutic smoke being taken on the boundary edge & I'm wary of missing the most entertaining innings of the game, which on seasonal form was more likely to end sooner rather than later. But how happy I am to have been completely wrong about this; the duck disincentives had obviously paid off when confronted by a responsible intelligence. I did say to Martin that if RT2 was still there at the end that we wouldn't be far away; Martin seemed to think that if was so big it wasn't even worth contemplating. Given where the knock began I wasn't too far wrong.

A healthy partnership began to develop involving some of the best cricket of the game; runs were taken where they were available, dangerous deliveries were seen off & appeals were resisted by the umpires, who by now may just have started to recognise the absence of spirit of cricket in the evil foe (who maintained a low level chirping during the bowler's approach, as the ball left his hand & as the batsman played the stroke) all the way through our innings. As the 15th over approached, dark clouds symbolic of the type of day it had become, gathered ominously & the electronics attached to the scoreboard were hurriedly moved under the pavilion roof. There was some justifiable cause to bring the batsmen in, as conditions became far too dangerous to anyone of a modern take on health & safety, but that dog in the manger attitude was still beyond us, though for a while it seemed like an amusing thing to contemplate. The gallows humour was starting to help us move from despair to hysteria. As a gentle few drops started to fall, Jonse was replaced by Neil in the white coat (coming to take me away haha heehee) & I went out to replace Jeff, so they could pad up & do their bit with the bat.

Mark fell in a most uncharacteristic manner, giving the charge to the leg spinner as the decisive game defining halfway over loomed & with our score still way below the required rate on 70. He'd have been stumped by a good long way if that legbreak hadn't hit the stumps. As it was he made a good 15 run points, bringing him to 20 overall. Thus fell the 5th wicket. The next man in was Jonse, but he was in his chair watching dispassionately knowing he was secure at number 7 & waiting for someone else to go in. Give the foe their due, although it was well over 2 minutes later that he finally crossed the boundary, they steadfastly declined to appeal for timed out. So they do have limits then, although it's possible they were confused into self awareness by my urging them to appeal.

Having said that, no drinks were offered at 15 overs as the foe were lost in their own sense of victory at all costs & there are more important things to do than be courteous to your guests. Rob, who had started out deliberately was now beginning to discover what it was like to be in for a proper innings, & although he batted effortlessly & like the authentic batsman we all knew was hidden in there under the facade of being impressive, the runs were flowing freely & the field was being moved about & just in one small facet of the game we were well & truly on top. They were even becoming a little perplexed as every chirpy comment met with a return chirp & a smile to boot. The only problem was running out of effective support. Although Jonse had smacked his first full tossed delivery through midwicket for 4, that was the pinnacle of his innings, but before he fell bowled for 8, bringing him just into positive figures (+1) for the game, he had run well to support Rob & we had attained the century before Jeff strode Jeff-like to the crease looking resolute & serious. Jonse could now shout instruction to Rob from the boundary, as fuzzy evidently had no idea what he was doing at the crease, while for Jeff, a perfectly timed nick between the slips off a ball heading for off stump brought 2 run points. Jeff's work on his angular deflections towards the stumps then led to his downfall as he reached for one that was about to be called wide before his bat guided it straight onto middle, bringing in Dylan & the father-son partnership would have to wait for another day. With 10 points for his admirable run out assist, verging on representing the major component of the run out itself, Jeff had made 22 points for the day. It should be said that Dylan knows how to keep his bat straight & faced 4 times as many balls as his old man had; he also advanced significantly in his understanding of the fundamentals over the course of his determined innings, starting off not quite sure what to do with his bat while at non-striker, but by the end of the knock he was using it as a proper extension of himself & even starting to get his head round backing up. His arrival had signalled to Rob that a gear change was now required & lo, successive sixes were hit straight & then slightly wider in the batting highlight of the game. It is also worthy of note that no sixes had even been attempted before this point & that Rob was so tuned into the task at hand that before this elevation of the aggression levels, his 50 had already come & gone completely without acknowledgement. Accomplished as he had been in marshalling the tail, Rob could not prevent the straight one which had Dylan's name on it, & making 1 run point, but sadly not overtaking his old man, Dylan had made 11 for the weekend. We can only hope that the trauma of this particular match does not leave him with psychological scarring eternally associated with the game of cricket, as here is the future of the club. Ideally we can find him a properly friendly game to redress the balance before it sinks in too deep.

When Martin came in it was not at number 11, as we didn't have a number 11, so Martin decided instead to bat like a number 10. He hit a couple of nice back foot drives through the cover region & ran like a trooper undergoing a whitey. Before he was run out off the last ball of the penultimate over he had helped add 14 for the last wicket & RT2 was stranded on 72*. One last dig; when they broke the stumps with Martin still clearly short of his ground they immediately began to celebrate. Only when they looked at me wondering why I wasn't standing there with my finger raised did they start to look shirty at me as though it was my fault no-one had yet had the decency to appeal. They can go & join Stuart Broad in his world of @*#!s for all I care. We had made 139 for 9.

Obviously this is a fuller & more explicit weekly report than the usual fare, but it's here because we really needed the therapy. There was only one realistic candidate for MoM & he finished up scoring over 5 times as many points as the nearest alternative this weekend. There he is below at the top of the list. If he wasn't your captain you will have missed out, & if he isn't in your team you will certainly have lost ground. Rob now leads just about every category of award that can be imagined, although his lead in the Hadlee Award has been somewhat diminished & he's less way adrift for the Collingwood.

MVP (Most Valuable Player):

This Week:

1st: Rob Taylor 152 points

2nd: Justin Avery 29 points

3rd: Amir Shah 27 points

...

...

75th: Matt Davey -30 points

Overall:

1st: Rob Taylor 581 points

2nd: Ian Higgins 392 points

3rd: Duncan Brewood 387 points

Carsholes & Maggots of the Week:

1st: Matt Davey -30 points

2nd: Jonse Leach 1 point

3rd: Matt Caven 4 points

Ronald McDonald's Unfunny Clowns of the Week:

Justin Avery 29 £11Bn

Neil Boulton 19 £11Bn

Rich Grove 10 £7Bn

Dave Toole 10 £6Bn

Mark Wilkinson 20 £13Bn

Rob Taylor 304* £11Bn

Steve Ormesher 10 £7Bn

Amir Shah 27 £6Bn

Jeff Otterbeck+ 22 £8Bn

Martin Stratton 12 £8Bn

Dylan Otterbeck 11 £3Bn

Total: 474 £91Bn

Looks a bit like the not so heroic Sunday 1s with the 3 players unlucky enough to score under 10 replaced by the cheapest selected Saturday players.

Trophy Tracker:

League Standings:

1st: Voltan's Destroyers 3443 points

2nd: Netball Berds 3413 points

3rd: Otis McGraw's Blue XI 3404 points

The team of the week is the spoonerific Wistical Mankers with 403 points. Closely followed by the anagrammatic Ebony Sowcoats and the musical Otis Mcgraw's Blues XI on 400 and 397 respectively. Voltan had a bad week for real cricket but in his fantasies the Destroyers have been running wild and he has, with a weekly score of 357, taken the overall lead. Honourable mention for the Bristol Cowboys who managed to be the first team to score precisely 0 points after an unfortunate cancelling out issue caused by a mildy absent player.