And so, my patient friends, to the villagers of Brunswick, our perennial pre tour match. There was a change of venue this year as we extended our range of Beedings, and we now have a Lower to go with our Upper from a couple of weeks ago.
Our first sight of the ground was a rather professional looking outfield, with stripes in the grass like you see on the telly, and on rounding the pavilion a pleasantly straw coloured wicket came into view. The sun was beating down for the second week in a row, and although not quite as pretty as Buxted Park, all looked set fair for a bloody good game of cricket. And I didn’t mention the weather until half way through the second paragraph.
Skip lost the toss, but as luck would have it, the Brunswick skipper thought it best to field first, at the hottest part of the day on what looked a belter of a wicket. Biff and Jerry again got us off to a solid start against some naggingly accurate medium pace bowling, but feeling the need to press on and up the lowish run rate after 14 overs Jerry got himself caught in the gully on 29. Biff perished shortly afterwards for a well made 30, bringing the Greys new star batsman Dom Ashton to the crease to join Terry, who was looking to push up the score, with some quick singles (stop sniggering at the back, there) and a thunderous pull shot.
Brunswick Village had by this time brought on the Speigelesque Keith Barrs, who bowled his usual loopy deliveries, but with greater accuracy than we’ve seen before, if memory serves, landing the ball in pretty much the same spot every time, and turning a few too. He picked up 3 wickets, as he did against us last year, and the Mighty Greys were having bad memories of last season and all those batting collapses. Terry succumbed to Barrs caught, Dom went to a top edge off Arosh’s leg breaks, having looked dangerous again, and to make matters worse, Fenton, who really can’t say calling is his calling (unless we’re talking volume) had contrived to run out Dave The Kid Hadrill, who had barely faced a ball, by taking a suicidal single. And to make matters worser, Chiefy came out and trod on his stumps attempting a pull shot.
Nice and Quiet Ben came out and played some nice but not noticeably quiet shots, was stumped and followed by Al Gal at the dizzy heights of 9 in the batting order, and with Fenton, 37 not out, but still feeling guilty, they pushed the total up to 150, still 30 odd short of par.
Tea was a fantastic array of cakes, all homemade (special mention to the caramel slice), and sarnies, and was good and plentiful. Needless to say most Greysmen showed no restraint, more than making up for the absence of Ian, and realised their collective mistake when taking to the field for sluggish fielding practice. Some of us failed to shake off our torpor (noticeably the wicket keeper, whose much vaunted new gloves he was showing a strange reluctance to use, but he was having the occasional dizzy spell, in his defence), but Alan was in an unforgiving mood, and in an opening over reminiscent of the opening over of this fixture last year, in which he took three wickets (or four if you count getting Arosh twice…. of which more later), he came steaming in down the slight hill to take two villagers, one bowled round his legs. Two more followed, including the dangerous Arosh, well caught by Dom, and with Ben getting in on the act, removing another batsman, the game looked to be heading towards another Greys victory, even thought the runs were flowing.
Brunswick put up some resistance at 5 down, however, giving Richard P hard time for a couple of overs, until one of them top edged one down to short fine leg, where Ibu had remarkably raced to from slip. He juggled the ball, taking a fine catch at the second attempt. Chiefy was bowling a nice variety of balls, one turning to bowl a villager, and with some help from a bit of variable bounce was causing some trouble to the Brunswick skipper, Funnell. Then came the moment, and potential turning point, of the game. Funnel got a nick on one, taken behind. Keeper, bowler, and a few close in fielders went up for the catch. Batsman and umpire saw things differently, however, and Funnell stayed in his ground.
At this point, mi lord, we should consider the evidence for the prosecution. One- bat was not in proximity to any other part of the batsman. Two- there was a noise audible to Mr Ashton who was stood on the boundary. Three- the aforementioned umpire, who had been conversing enthusiastically with the bowler, immediately after the incident ceased his dialogue and was changed at the end of the over. Four- the also previously verbose Funnell, thereafter also stopped his dialogue with the wicket keeper completely. Well, almost completely, because he did say one more thing. Having enquired as to how many overs Chiefy had bowled, he said to Fenton, “he seems to have been bowling for ages”. Fenton thought of the perfect repost as Chiefy ran in to bowl, but cricket decorum forbade any utterance, and as the batsman set off for a run, he thought the moment may have passed. Fortunately, though, Funnell returned for a second, and the opportunity for Fenton’s acerbic wit came again… “To be fair, it was quite a long time ago he got you out,” he said, a comment deemed worthy of PSM. Not another word came from the batsman, but unfortunately the runs did come, and the Greys were unable to get another wicket, despite some accurate bowling from Ibu and Biff, who enticed Funnell into a drive that was nearly caught by our Amazing Afghan Azami. With overs to spare, Messers Blackman and Nicky McNickface saw Brunswick Village home.
Back at HQ our pizza quicky disappeared. El Shadow, former Greys eldest statesman, can matrix liked no other, and it was time for Terry’s Tour Logistics, in which he tries to work out how you can get 10 Greysmen to Devon and back in the least number of moves. Greysmen then disappeared like the pizza, leaving a diehard few to drown their sorrows, dreaming of tour….. and Law 42.