2012 FCL Week 12

Finally, another day of uncaged cricket; that day being Sunday, 2 teams worth of it, albeit 2 losses. As for Saturday, that was their 8th, yes, that is correct, 8th loss to the weather in the 2012 season. So far.

On Saturday 11 cricketers were successfully selected for the task of receiving the morning bad news & responding in an appropriate manner. A few reacted by entering the community cage & moving their arms & legs around briefly, but it invariably resulted in activities primarily indulged at the Plough. Evan, Grove, Strange, Dave Toole, Kahlu, Gretch, Tim, Garnier, Budge & RT1 each received 10 points for their patience & willingness. For Iggy, the story was just beginning, but 10 points were also gleaned here.

On Sunday, both teams having contained their end of the week emotional flux just long enough to stop any further weekend rain, were to be found huddled outside the door of the Plough, not quite sure what was supposed to happen next. Shockingly, both games had failed to be called off, meaning 22 people suddenly had to step out into the unfamiliar environment of a potential cricket match. Blinking & dazed, the 1s headed off to the lower pitch at Stothert & Pitt, while the 2s went off with kit, keys & scorebook on board towards Frenchay & a date with some ravenous Lions.

Arriving at Stothert under leaden, humid skies, an initial inspection revealed a moist but drying wicket with a solid resonant underbelly, nevertheless as Neil returned from a successful toss the S&P robotkids were already sniggering & making little attempt to conceal their amusement with Neil's decision to have a little bat. This decision was apparently driven by the idea that should we have bowled them all out for a miniscule score, as per the plan, we would never have been able to enjoy a decent 40 overs batting. As it turned out....well, all will become clear in time.

Justin & Bolts went out to open against a pair of complementary swingers making the most of the new ball, the drying track, ideal metereological conditions & a young, quick-handed prodigy of a keeper, stood up to prevent any negation of the extreme swing. This was seriously tough going; the fielders were switched on & the ring was tight; the inswinger was bowling a dangerous full length & had his line well under control, while the outswinger was quicker, albeit slightly back of a seriously threatening length & essentially finishing too wide of off to realistically be touched without superhuman reach edging to the slips or gulley. Good length balls hitting the seam were rising sharply & deviating radically & it wasn't until the 6th over that the first run off the bat was scored off the blondy outswinger, & although a few runs had been turned to leg off the inswinger, the majority of the scoring was coming from fumbled byes, a leg bye or two & wides resulting from excessive swing. Bolts finally got off the mark with a sharp run called through following a back cut fumbled by the slips, Justin's best shot had been a straight drive slammed fruitlessly back into middle stump at the bowler's end & it was no insignificant feat to have seen off both opening bowlers at a run rate just over 2 an over & the opening partnership still intact. With the first change bowlers came some more scoring opportunities, but the keen fielding ring kept life tough & even powerful strokes along the ground were holding up & failing to cross the boundary. In the 14th over the first boundaries off Justin's bat arrived with a couple of pulls backward of square, followed later by a classical on drive through midwicket & both batsmen were running keenly & making the most of any rare opportunities that presented themselves. As the partnership remained intact & the running continued to be successful, the robotkids began to get a little rattled & bickery with each other, & as Bolts & Justin teased the fielders one particular series of panicky overthrows produced a free run & almost a five run penalty, as the final throw sped narrowly past the helmet behind the keeper. The first change railway line end bowler, whose main weapon had been surprising straightness, got one to lift alarmingly & Justin gloved it to the keeper, & as Justin turned to walk he noticed the keeper was so keen on making a hearty & insistant appeal that he had failed to catch the ball. So, arriving unbroken at drinks the run rate had been elevated to over 3, the sun was coming out & the foundations had been laid for reapage of some proper harvest (ergot notwithstanding). Although the majority of the feedback from the rest of the team was supportive & appreciative of the fine ground work that had been done, with Wilko recognising the platform developed & nobly & honourably offering to drop down the order to allow for an increased rate of immediate acceleration, Dunc had some special advice from a special place deep in his heart, reminding the openers that there were in fact 9 other players in the team who were quite keen to play their part. This might seem strange coming from an opening bowler virtually guaranteed to bowl a full 8 overs & such a comment seems less egocentric when you are going to make damn sure you see out the full 40 overs with the bat. Next match Bolts & Justin shall be opening the bowling & all 10 outfielders will get 4 overs each. Anyway, with that information on board Justin & Neil went back out intending to continue grinding their attack into a state of fruitless despair, but tellingly with different individual ideas as to how to accomplish it. When an early opportunity to take a couple of byes was considered & then refused on the grounds of not quite being at the races yet, the signs were there that the openers were in need of a little communication to ensure they were both on the same page. However, Justin drove the next ball firmly off the back foot to the left of the extra cover fielder, called yes & set off up the track to belatedly see an otherwise silent Bolts setting off from a standing start, & before any chance of a recovery, the charm had been broken, as Jakey, the uber robotkid moved sweetly to his left, gathered the ball cleanly & sent in a fast throw right next to the stumps. Bolts' displeasure was palpable & clearly painful to all as his innings ended on 15 incredibly hard earned run points.

For all those who partook in the 2010 sweepstake the result is now in. It was Bolts who was run out in the 22nd over of the 33rd completed league match since the sweepstake began. Whoever nominated that outcome should make a packet, what with all the interest, & a new sweepstake can now be initiated.

Matt Davey then arrived at 3, turned down an almost identically risky single, which led curiously to a missed run out of Justin, as before he could return to his ground the keeper seemed suddenly incapable of moving his hands to the stumps & removing the bails. Justin was now acutely aware of the deathwish demons that followed the emotional trauma of the run out, but was powerless to exorcise them & aimed to swing the next ball over the pavilion, but instead got bowled middle stump for a total of 30 run points, but at least the Kevin Keeganlike 3rd person references to the 1st person can now stop. One down at 69, 2 down at 70, but 22 overs had been bowled & the innings could now accelerate with confidence. Matty Caven was the 4th man in, & as Matt D got to grips with smacking the ball loftily over the infield, Matt C, after scoring a run point off his first ball, was given out by Jeff on his second ball, LBW to their ginger chucker, but notably not for a duck. Coming in at the cursed number 5 slot was RT2 & so began a highly entertaining partnership of 39, sadly too short in duration, but which captivated the attention splendidly. Sadly, it reminded me of when KP first appeared on the scene & Fred then started trying too hard; Matt was carving powerfully & successfully over the infield & getting regular fours to up the scoring rate, Rob never really got himself in but swung hard, ran well & kept the strike turning over before at the end of an over where virtually every ball had provided a chance, a particularly inelegant hoick played the ball onto the stumps & that was that for 11 run points with the score on 119-4. At least this brought Duncan to the crease at 6 with plenty of opportunity remaining to do it all himself & see us safely through to the end of the innings. But when at 138-5 Matt's hearty knock was terminated, bowled for a nigh jug evading 42 run points, bringing Mark in to face the restored opening bowlers, but confident that we had two opening batsmen of yesteryear to deal with them, Dunc proceded to offer a pretty meek c&b to the opening inswinger & was 6th out for 4 run points with the score now 138-6. Andy Chester came in to join Wilko & dominated a 14 run partnership with some classy aggression before falling for 11 run points, now 152-7 & some work still to be done before we had a score we'd be confident of defending. Unfortunately Jeff got a -15 point quacker as the inswinger refined the number of centimetres by which the ball passed the off stump over the course of 5 balls until it no longer had any room to miss them. Mark then got himself bowled by blondy outswinger for a total of 2 run points & in came Martin to step away left handed from a ball that followed him & rebounded off his pads onto the stumps for a -25 point golden. The last 3 wickets had fallen with the score on 153, Steve O was O balls faced for O & not out at the other end & we hadn't even seen out the 40th over, but at least blondy will be on a hat trick when he opens next game.

Going in to tea we came to appreciate the single most important consequence of batting first, that being no rush to pad up & get into the right headspace with no appetite, & a laudable tea, with proper cake diversity it proved to be.

They opened with a lefty righty combo which we countered with our wisest senior statesmen. The righty in particular went for it straight off the bat, as it were, lofting over mid off & bringing them a sense of rapid comfort with the required run rate, but over the next few overs an iron grip of economy was enforced & the runs became a slow trickle. The lefty in particular was well pinned down & kept turning the ball off his legs in the air tantalisingly close but never quite close enough to the one stationed fielder backward of square, albeit generally for no runs either. Martin, bowling from the trainline end was deceiving & beating them regularly & putting our younger & some might say more athletic fielders to shame with a display of hands first keen fielding in his zone between mid on & midwicket. I shit you not; in the nine years since I've been at the club I've never seen anything like it, but by his own account he had been capable of this for the whole of that time & apparently in the early 1990s he was always like that. This set the tone in the field & there was no weak link nor easy single to be found, & although the breakthrough was not forthcoming they gradually started to fall back to under our run rate. Martin's end of over exhortations were getting regular giggles from the direction of the pavilion, but they had no idea what they were dealing with. When Dunc was removed from the attack having literally tried a variety of approaches but without any joy, Matt Davey came on at the pikey road end to tighten the screw further. When Martin finally got his just desserts it was in his 8th over & with his worst ball of the day; a surprise floated full toss was top edged up into the air behind square legside, & when Jeff turned to run after it the familiar Keeganesque double phoneme cry of Duncsgot soon stopped him dead in his tracks & the catch was safely pouched. Glory be. They were 46-1 at the end of the 16th & Martin took 1-18 from his 8 overs, with 2 maidens bringing him a much needed 35 bowling points, seeing him safely into positive figures for the day despite his golden duck, but it is also worthy of note that his excellence in the field did not end with the last ball of his bowling spell. This brought on what we reckoned was possibly the critical challenge of the day, as Jakey arrived to present a double southpaw option, only to meet with an RT2, saved up specially for the occasion, from the railway end. With Matt D & RT2 on together the adrenaline & excitement rose a notch with each successive economical over. Jakey faced 15 balls & never made it off the mark before RT2 bowled him a quick jaffa, rising abruptly from just back of a length. Jakey could not resist & followed the flight of the ball with the shoulder of his bat, but as Jeff's flightpath took him past that of the ball our hearts sank a little. Some time later however the ball was still on its way down when Wilko, who had followed it all the way back to first slip took it on the move at around ankle height. He must like them at that height as it is hard to imagine any ball other than that one carrying far enough to reach without bouncing at least once, but it made for a really suspenseful moment & we were overjoyed as Jakey had made an unbeaten 90 in the reverse fixture & inroads were now to be taken seriously. 55-2 they were now. A couple of overs & numerous beatings of the bat later & another peach got number 4 clean bowled with a full, straight fast one. It may have been full in length but when the bails flew off the bat was still being lifted for the attempted drive. Very nice, beaten for sheer pace; 64-3. More come on cowboys, more sniggers from the pavilion. In Matt Davey's 8th over he too got his deserved reward for a good spell, bowling their uncomfortable number 5 for just 2 & now it was 71-4, & somehow the intensifying adrenaline levels continued to rise & rise with each over as the required rate edged ever higher. A couple of edgy pop ups fell just short or out of reach of the keen fielders & a few dances down the track went frustratingly unpunished as Jeff always seemed to be taking the ball travelling backwards & a stumping always seemed like an afterthought from where the ball found the gloves. Saving a pair of overs from RT2 to go with 2 in the bag for Duncan, the skipper now made his tricky decision on how to use up the 8 uncertain overs of remaining bowling potential. When Andy Chester struggled for accuracy, particularly length, & took some tap from the pikey road end things seemed slightly concerning, but Andy always seemed to take a couple of overs to find his rhythm & we just hoped there was enough leeway to play with. But when Wilko's first ball from the train end, bowled their well established, but slowly scoring lefty opener with no little flight & guile it was 91-5 & game back on. Then the next 5 balls went for 12 & it was worrying times again, especially as still settling, Andy C's next over also took a bit of tap & went for 8. Steve O was reluctant to bowl, at least from the end he would have been required to, so there seemed no option but to persevere & hope Andy found his rhythm quickly. At the start of Wilki's 2nd over they had reached nelson but the required rate was still over 6, which seemed high in the context of this match. First ball the batsman sent back a loopy dolly, & with a loud & protracted scream of yes stood still where he had played the shot & watched. Unfazed, Wilko judged the dolly well & they were 111-6. Second ball, new batsman, bowled; 111-7 & at this point one end looked gapingly open, tempting RT2 into making a youthfully enthusiastic comment about there being only one way the game was going now. Trouble with the young is that they have no understanding of the relationship between hubris & nemesis, even if they may have heard about it in the abstract ... and the problem with the old is that they underestimate the value of trying to get under the skin of the opposition and keeping a smile on our faces. It should be noted I had made a joke about it being unlucky to lose a wicket on nelson and when the lost a second wicket on nelson it was clearly a certainty we would win... Ah, yes; getting under the skin; that's where the raw nerves are isn't it? I can't disagree about the value, just the idea that the "old" underestimate it. As for smiling, I couldn't agree more, except the idea that one smile fits all I find a bit disturbing, but I'm going to resist refreshing your memory about the specific realities of that one on the day, while as to what constitutes a joke, everyone has their own favoured styles & natural resonances. Despite having my eyes opened recently to the regenerative powers of punning, particularly when in a state of psychologically disturbed nigh hysteria, I'm primarily a parody, irony & sarcasm man myself, plus something subtle I wouldn't care to define, but it's a risky style with no guarantees & there are plenty of others in this world who prefer it more in your face. I'm sort of surprised you couldn't let this one by without a nibble to the slips, but maybe I should be grateful the whole page isn't covered in red ink. Next week the whole league report page is yours to scrawl all over if you like, or someone else might get it together to submit a report. Anyway, I can see you're quite a fan of parody yourself. And listen, if the old understand the relationship between hubris & nemesis it's only through painful bloody experience as a result of earlier folly. The joke was directed generally, not personally; age is not seriously something I believe much can be done about (occasional mystical fountains of youth notwithstanding). Please don't be in too much of a rush to get old; you're perfect & lovely just as you are. Your shot I believe...

Although no hat trick came to pass, the next four balls completed a double wicket maiden & at this point, in the hindsight driven replay of the game, Wilko is taken off & RT2 comes back on to polish off the fragile tail. As it turned out Andy C's next efforts, albeit more accurately delivered, saw blondy outswinger, now in a batting role, but still swinging, slog himself into form & after his 3rd over Andy had gone for 24 (-12 for the spell), but they still needed nigh on 6 an over & we were still very much in the hunt. In the real version of the replay Wilko bowled another over & blondy gambled as they had to now, & went 4, big 6, bigger 6, new ball please, even, even boundary, single. Quite possibly that single was the most damaging thing about it, but the over had gone for 23. After a highly involved game for Mark in the field, a deep slip catch, c&b, 3 wickets in total & 35 off 3 overs with one maiden, he finished with +55 from that part of the game. Dunc replaced Andy at the pikey end, but it was all just a little too late as nothing was stopping blondy's swinging now. Dunc finished with 37 coming off his 7 overs, with one earlier maiden gathering him a total of -6 in the bowling department, but with the catch, +9 in the field for the day. With the last roll of the dice to start the 36th over they needed 2 runs to win, but RT2 had not lost hope & bowled a full quick one which was driven aerially straight down the throat of Andy C at cow boundary. It bounced out of his hands & over the boundary & that was the match.

There had been a number of deserving candidates for MoM, but as it turned out Matt Davey took the vote by an overwhelming majority & should now feel right at home. Somewhere between Rob's fast lifter (which some were calling a bouncer, but bear in mind Jakey is shorter than Duncan) & Wilko's slip catch, was the cider moment. Matt Davey was the game's principal scorer with all things tallied bringing him 108 for his proper competitive debut. Wilko totalled 67 in what must be one of the oddest personal performances of his life. Also worthy of attention were, you guessed it, RT2, advancing further into the lead of everything with a match score of 56.67. Justin picked up 40, Bolts 25, Dunc 23, & Martin & Steve O 20 apiece, all other performances earned lowish, albeit positive scores, but it was to be a bad day for the Otterbecks; JeffO setting the tone with -5.

There is no little confusion as to what exactly transpired at Frenchay against the Lions as initial scorebook malfunctions have been compounded by difficulties in website results entry protocol & match reports are currently sketchy. We do know for sure that the cowboys had an enjoyable time all round, are developing a good sense of team spirit & identity & ran the Lions far closer than in the reverse fixture, with Dave L having a jolly good game, so all that really remains, unless we receive any sort of other news to enlighten us, is a statistically based summary of personal performances based on a series of individually incomplete & somewhat blurry digital snaps of the scorebook. It seems most likely that the Lions batted first & set a pretty competitive total with the figure 230 appearing in one box that seems appropriate. There is plenty of mystery surrounding how the opposition wickets actually fell as none of this info reached the scorebook, let alone the photographic pieces. Dave L & Alfie are the first bowlers listed, with 8 overs each earning 3-18, one of which was reported to be a c&b, so he gets 15 catch points for that, & 2-42 respectively, plus a catch here for Alex. It should also be noted that no maidens have been completed in the scorebook for any bowler, so Dave L in particular looks likely to have lost out just a little. Next on were Wayne, with 1-36 off his 8, & Iggy, with 1-41 from his 8. Alex bowled 2 overs & took 1 for 12, apparently an LBW despite the umpiring prerogatives, so it must have been plumber than a lead balloon. Captain James bowled 5 overs for 50 with a wicket along the way, courtesy of a stumping by Angelo & DylanO made his competitive bowling debut with an over going for 13. By all accounts Matt Noodles was a tiger in the field, cutting off anything directed into the cover region, but regrettably there is no fantasy points bonus for that, although the Sunday 1s officers are now taking serious note. Nor is there any fantasy penalty for Treacher, although not being in anyone's team this is hardly relevant, but he apparently ran concentric circles instead of fielding as some type of sulk for not getting a bowl & still has no idea how this reflects on the perception of his character; next season he should take note of what constitutes proper commitment if he wants a bowl ahead of those who have already been putting in the work. There is no news on the performance of his competitive tea. In the cowboys reply it would appear that wides put in a sterling performance & outscored any of the batsmen by some significant margin. Dave L opened with Angelo & they made 23 & 6 run points respectively. Next came Nelly, followed shortly after by Iggy, for 1 run apiece, & it can be fairly safely assumed Dave L was still in at the other end. Alfie was next in to bat, getting 2 run points, & Matt Noodles got himself 1 run point, & maybe Dave L was still in throughout all that too. Teamaker of the weekend, Treacher happened next, making 16 run points, & chances are Dave L fell somewhere about now. Alex came next hitting 19 & Dylan was to follow with a golden duck at 9. This left Wayne making 6 & James with 10 not out bonus points & no score. 75 runs had come off the bats, but extras looked like they brought the total to over the ton mark. Fantasy wise there were a few notable scores; Angelo made 36 & Alfie 32, Wayne got 27, as did Iggy over the course of both games & Treacher 26. Alex accumulated an impressive 55, but Dave L was MoM bringing his total to 139, just outside the best performances bracket. Otterbeck cub #1 made -24, but will certainly improve if we can get him away from his old man & down for a session at BWI.

We now have a report from James, so here's the verbatim:

sunday sunday so good for me....

and, lo and bloody behold it lived up to it's moniker and was a belter.

time for a game of cricket, which i was beginning to think was a winter sport or even a water sport.

time to play the league leaders, bristol lions, a team full of sri lankans.

i decided to field if we won the toss. i lost the toss and their captain said they would bat so quickly it was almost insulting.

it didn't matter though, to have any chance in the game we had to bat second and try to restrict the lions to an attainable score.

things started well, really well. our reliable vice captain dave littleton opened one end and upcoming allrounder alfie had the other one.

we didn't roll the wicket and the first couple of overs suggested that the wicket was still asleep. then the bowlers found their length and all sorts of things started to happen.

wickets began to fall, spirits began to rise, we fielded extremely well, the best i have seen from a second team for years. things were going our way.

at drinks we had them 70 something for 5 and looking vulnerable...could we get them out for 120? i think we believed we could and i know we deserved to be in that position.............

then came the only dark cloud in an otherwise beautiful day.

in the shape of the lions captain, who came out to umpire as we began to turn the screw.

i hesitate to use the c word, not the one that rhymes with punt, the one that rhymes with feet. i still hesitate and after time for reflection i can view his behaviour as a compliment but nonetheless the game changed from that point.

nonexistent no balls, mobile ringing whilst the bowler is running in, i could go on. but i wont, well maybe a little bit.

i believe he gave his batsmen instructions to hit out across the line with no fear of lbw, as he was stump umpire when the square leg boundary was 35 yards away this allowed the batsmen to amass what became 230 for 9 after 40. as i say it really is a compliment to our efforts and an indication of what some people will do to win a game of cricket.

the rest of the lions were lovely, friendly and noisy, but their captain is a punt.

and so to tea...

the tea competition has been an equal victim in this sodding sodden season so marks out of 10 don't come into it and it has to be judged alone...it was a good tea, a very good tea....

then it was our turn to bat....and umpire.....we were all out for 120 in 36...bristol lions are good cricketers, destined i think to storm each division in succession. they bowled brilliantly, our lack of practice showed and our general feeling towards lbw's and wide's mirrored the lions.

i hope we made our point, in a different game they would have had more decisions go their way and probably a lot less extras in the score book.

man of the match went to dave, looked like carrying his bat for a while, held up one end as we resorted to type at the other and bowled his vegan socks off.

8 overs 3 wickets 18 runs, it is a shame the weather has got in the way of his form this year.

BUT,... we played 80 overs of cricket for the first time in weeks, the team spirit is fantastic, the bar was open!!, the sun was out.

so fuck the politics and result, it was a good day.

that all folks

MVP (Most Valuable Player):

This Week:

1st: Dave Littleton 139 points

2nd: Matt Davey 108 points

3rd: Mark Wilkinson 67 points

Overall:

1st: Rob Taylor 647 points

2nd: Ian Higgins 429 points

3rd: Duncan Brewood 420 points

Tarka's Rings of Dull Water for the Week:

1st: Dylan Otterbeck -24 points

2nd: Jeff Otterbeck -5 points

3rd: James Tinkler 5 points

Mark's Mystical Altruists Team of the Week:

Justin Avery 40 £11Bn

Neil Boulton 25 £11Bn

Mark Wilkinson 67 £13Bn

Rob Taylor 56.67 £11Bn

Ian Higgins 27 £10Bn

Dave Littleton* 278 £9Bn

Alfie Baker 32 £4Bn

Angelo Bordi+ 36 £10Bn

Wayne Kelly 27 £8Bn

Mark Treacher 26 £6Bn

Alex Hooper 55 £5Bn

Total: 669.67 £98Bn

Spend as much as you like in any classes, you can't improve on this blend of Sunday talents; not even Duncan doing all the batting, fielding & bowling will make it any better.

Trophy Tracker:

League Standings:

1st: The Nooderlaters 3887 points

2nd: Voltan's Destroyers 3871 points

3rd: Wistical Mankers 3806 points

Despite having no say in any cricket this weekend RT1 had a fantastic time in this game. E11a were the week's top scorers, team of the week & move into 47th place on 3058 after top scoring with 436. They only included 5 of this week's selected Mystics but made sure they had the most important ones, including their skipper. Mi11a, RT1's other team, scored 389.33, the week's 6th best score, moving them into position for a serious challenge in 18th, now on 3453. On the same RT theme & mystically altruistic note, RT2 had one of his less successful weekends in person (well, it's all relative), with Ruthless Efficient CC having the week's 4th best score of 401 taking them right into the running in 15th on 3504, whilst Hopeless Wonder, scoring the weekend's 7th best 387 are now positioned very handily in 9th on 3654. A dreadful week for the Otterbecks was similarly mirrored inversely by the week's 5th highest score of 391 for Splendid Splendid who now lie 20th on 3422.

Matt's Nooderlaters now sit on top of the table with 3887 after their score of 402 was the 3rd best of the weekend, while Bat Shit Mental, high flyers last weekend, could only manage 275 & slip all the way back to 5th on 3780. After scoring a decent 328 Voltan's Destroyers hold 2nd on 3871 & Wistical Mankers consolidated 3rd position on 3806 with the 11th highest score this week of 366, whilst Netball Berds stand 4th on 3796 after a week of 273.

Worthy of special note are Anny Cullum's Cool Beans, scoring 421 & moving up many places to 40th on 3168. Anny, give up the Sunday job; there's a cricket team in desperate need of a numerate scorer.

Everything is still to play for, especially if the weather keeps being so bounteous in its blessings...