“We are Greysmen of the Peoples’ Republic of Brighton, Southern England’s last bastion of brotherly solidarity, beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the Tyranny of Tories. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds his team to the valley of darkness. For he is truly a wicket keeper and finder of lost cricket balls. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the LORD when I lay my vengeance upon you!”
– The captain’s conference hadn’t gone well, and the Twineham skipper was beginning to regret telling Glorious Leader Biff (Red) Line that they planned to play with 12.
TWINEHAM…No name undermines a Greysman’s god given aura of Mightiness than Twineham, a team TMG’s have never beaten. For this reason, No.3 on the Chairman’s list of desired achievements for 2015 read “We not only beat Twineham, we give them a good kicking.”, a task that would need to be fulfilled today to keep alive the dream of a Caribbean AGM.
Arena Twineham, this unhappiest of hunting grounds, features a pitch of polymer, hedgerows as thick, dense and hostile as Nigel Farage, and a pavilion of brutal austerity prescient of Cameron’s Britain 2018. So daunting was the challenge that lay ahead, that a rash of lily-livered absenteeism had broken out amongst show-pony Greysmen:
This (and every other) season’s top scorer, Delbert, offered an excuse note commissioned from the hand of his mother-in-law.
Leading wicket taker, Robbie H, continued to his winter net form with an unnecessary declaration of non-availablity when in fact the opposite was true.
…and Chubster, a man so engorged, he was unable to extricate himself from a restaurant.
Mind games began early, The Mighty Greys arriving to a scene of delicately orchestrated menace; a deserted field, the disembodied snarl of a blood-thirsty hell hound, and a single dead shrew laid across the doorway of the visitors changing room. It served as such a potently cryptic symbol of quiet malevolence, that Alfred Hitchcock himself would have been proud.
One by one the Twinehams emerged, congregating wicketward into a fool’s ballet of false clumsiness, but TMG’s were wise to such hustling ploys and would give no quarter. The time had come time for Our Glorious Leader to meet captain Twineham, argue the toss and thrash out days playing conditions.
As is characteristic of Liaisons Diplomatique de Biff (Red) Line, A spiky consensus was reached: there were in fact 11 players on a cricket team, even on a Sunday, the rules were village, their opposite number was a ****, and it was now more important than ever that they smashed their respective opponents. TMGs won the toss and elected to field. The cloud cover began break as if absorbing air turned blue by inter-team pleasantries, and something remarkable happened, we had sun and warmth for the first time this season. Battle was joined.
Gallagher opened from the Southern end and bowled a tidy spell, his pace suiting the wicket, but with no wickets and all the luck of a Liberal Democrat so far this season, his figures ended 8 overs, 2 maidens, 0 for 21. Ricky Southon, a character who defies political analogy, had more luck from the Ex-Shrew end, taking Hunter for 8, excellently caught by Azami (PSM nom), and Rogers for 3 courtesy of a rare snaffle by Newland, ending his spell with figures of 7 overs, 2 for 16.
In previous meetings the Twinehams had blasted their way to strong position from the off, but helped by a bit of movement off the wicket and a slow outfield, the opening bowlers had done well to restrict the score to 40ish for 2 off 15.
Eo Sewell, reminiscent of Michael Howard in his propensity to avoid straight answers, was next into the attack. Starting with an immaculate 1st over, then going for a few runs before fighting back with a proper cricket wicket; an audible nick from Edwards (8) through to keeper, Fenton. Keeper and Batsman weren’t sure about that one, but everyone else was, including the umpire, so off he went. He then bowled Simon for 4, finishing with figures of 8 overs 2 for 29.
Newland replaced Gallagher from the Southern end, and with the conditions allowing for some swing and seam movement, he opened with a maiden before losing his length in over 3, largely finding it again later. He was the recipient of some luck when Bunn (4) spooned a loose ball to the Glorious Leader to take a spinning fizzy catch.
Meanwhile, the old TMG nemesis, rangy opener Trollope had been gradually accumulating runs, and when Spin Doctor Azami joined the party, he started quickly accumulating runs, peppering Shrew Hall (pavilion), and forcing members of his own team into a number of prickly episodes of ball searching. This was not a wicket for the spinners.
It was left to Newland to take care of Trollope (75), hitting the top of his middle stump, the opener missing a straight one, and the bail whistling past EO’s nose at slip and coming to rest 22 EO strides from the stumps. This, it would turn out, was enough to win Newland’s first ever Party Seven Moment, in his 37th match, thanks in part to what was generally considered a slow week for nominations.
Newland eventually ended up with figures of 10 overs, 1 maiden, 2 for 22, and was replaced by Malyon the Destroyer, chief whip of the tail. The tail quicky fell into line, Chatfield caught for 16 by Azami, Panther (6) and Karvay (0), the latter 2 caught by Zack Dykes on debut, the second of which, a fantastic catch on the sprint, and an (un)fortunate runner up in the PSM vote. Malyon ended with the days best figures of 3 for 11 off 2.4 overs.
Azami had Adley caught and bowled for 3, and Twineham were all out for 143 in the over before tea.
Tea featured a solid selection of sandwiches, the always welcome appearance of a homemade lemon drizzle cake, and the mysterious disappearance of our friend the Shrew. As TMGs considered their forthcoming innings the general opinion was that the bowlers had done their job and 144 was eminently gettable.
TMG’s longterm opening pair, Brasher and The Glorious Leader strode out confidently and got off to a quick start, with the nippy Brock still finding his range and going for extras; 4 byes in his opening over (an outside punt for PSM).
Brasher, a man whose predilection for reckless cutting could be matched only by George Osbourne, lofted his signature shot through a vacant gully and Our Glorious Leader, not often easily influenced, attempted to emulate the same shot off the bowling of Simon. He made a lovely contact, alas this time gully was very much occupied, and (Red) Line was excellently caught by Trollope, for 3.
In came Malyon the Destroyer, AKA Wrists of Fury. After a circumspect start he began to accelerate until he swung with such violence as to cause himself side-torso-mischief (medical term), and was shortly thereafter bowled by Brock for 18.
At the other end, Brasher was scratching and dotting for some time until Edwards bowled a fast straight full toss which caused no little stump decimation. What would turn out to be the longest Greysman innings, had yielded just 12 runs.
This brought TMG stalwart Burgess into the crucible, very much the Boris Johnson of the middle order; at first sight disarming and unconventional, but quickly revealing himself to be tenacious and ruthless. Not quickly enough on this occasion however, as he was bowled for 3 by Edwards.
Dykes on debut, an Ian Duncan-Smith-like quite man of the batting order (I bequeath to you the nick name “Quiet”, sorry), coming in at 5 on the back of terrific progress in the nets and a sterling effort in the field, was alas undone by a straight one and bowled for 2 by Brock.
Fenton, much like the Labour party, has in the past been undone by a swing to the left, but today was playing very straight and correctly, eventually bowled by Edwards for 13.
TMG’s shortness of batting had told and it was up to the longish tail to accelerate the run rate and/or hang around long enough for a draw.
Newland’s innings was brief; a push, a pull and edge before obligingly shouldering a leading edge to slip off the bowling of Hunter. 5 off 5.
EO Sewell hung around a bit longer, still not providing clear answers, but scored a few less going for 3, caught off the bowling of Panther.
The lengthened tail allowed Gallagher to come in from his recent exile at no.11, up to the giddy heights of 9. We were rewarded with some more of the stylish cover drives we have seen in the nets this winter, one of which connected with the ball for a rare boundary, a shot nominated for PSM. It wasn’t to last though, and Gallagher was bowled for 7 by Karvay.
It was left for Azami and Southon of the lower tail, to try and wag their way to a draw, and they hung around longer than could be reasonably expected. Azami was eventually caught for 4 off the bowling of Panther, leaving Southon stranded on 6 NO, with TMGs 30 short of victory and 5 overs short of a draw.
I was a game defined by Trollope’s excellent 75, and by no Mighty Greys batsmen making it to 20, with the, always disappointing, stat that our top scorer was extras with 34.
All that was left was for EO to scatter his kit to the 4 corners of the changing room, to ponder on what became of the unfortunate shrew, retire to the Royal Oak to drown our sorrows with pints of Harveys, and once the Glorious Leader had left, EO, in his capacity as diplomatic envoy to the Greys, to attempt to repair relations with the Twinehams.
If you are just skipping to the end of this report to find out result and can’t be arsed with the text, this video provides a handy visual metaphor for the story of the game. Twineham are represented by the Japanese girl on the left, and TMGs by the girl on the right. To maintain political analogies, the TMGs should obviously be on the left, but you can’t have everything. That is a cockroach in the middle. Enjoy!