After a couple blank weeks, a tussle on the greensward still seemed unlikely on Friday when Alex discovered that Ansty had better things to do than play against TMG. Shortly after, it began to rain and in the next 24 hours most of the Atlantic fell on Sussex, so it was with surprise and relief that the Mighty Greys convoy found themselves at Southwick Wanderers new tree-lined venue in Sayers Common. Great admin as usual Mr Fixtures.
Winning the toss, and having had a quick look at a sodden green pitch, Biff elected to bowl first for a change. After the first ten overs, this didn’t look like too hot a decision. Although Ben had one of the openers athletically caught at Backward Square by a AlGal diving forwards, the Wanderer’s opener and their number three tucked into our opening attack and helped themselves to some meaty blows to all parts. The run-feast saw them get to 73 buffet-style.
It was time for the Ricky Southon show to start. Bowling with the wind he took out Mr Wilson for a mightily clubbed 57 (which included ten boundaries), quickly followed by Naida on 37. Eo, playing his first game of the season, was welcomed back by the sight of his first ball disappearing to the boundary and had little luck for the rest of his overs. But Ricky kept going, completing his spell with three all-bowled wickets: 8 overs, 2 maidens, 3 wickets, 11 runs. Magnifique!
The Shadow – on a hatrick at one point – got a couple at the other end and the menacingly reliable Zonk helped himself to three, the first sharply caught by QB at SMO, the second bowled (swinging in from outside off), and the third which was just plumb. Or P-L-U-M, as he tried to convince the umpire. Biff came on and polished off the tail with his second ball and Wanderers had collapsed from 105-2 to 143 all out without using their allotted 40 overs. TMG had truly turned the screw.
144 to win in 40 overs– piece of piss, we all thought quietly to ourselves as we munched on self-service baguettes and jam scones with lashings of clotted cream.
Biff struggled against the openers and it wasn’t until Jerry opened his shoulders against the gloriously named Slaymaker (something to do with weaving machines), milking the wide open space on the midwicket boundary with some hefty, horn-worthy blows that the rate started to wind down.
At this point Hatrick came to the party. After hiding in the kitchen by the dips, he burst onto the dance floor, hoisting three maximums and a straight-driven four in the space of thirteen balls. With Jerry now departed (needing another 61 for 7000 career runs) and Alex not troubling the scorers, it still seemed game on when Zonk hit his third ball out of the park.
The Greys then staged a 90s-style retro collapse, when Rick ran himself out on 37, Dom got trapped in front (P-L-U-M-B!), and Duncan, Alan and Ben disappeared quicker than you can say Scaramucci. 85 for 2 had become 106 for 9, with 38 needed for victory.
It was time for Mr Southon to borrow some pads and a bat, pull on his undersized Vietnam cap and get the “Rickyflicky” out of the locker.
How to play the “Rickyflicky”:
- Take a stance similar to one not seen since the days of W.G. Grace, with a guard somewhere outside of off.
- As the ball is released, take a further two steps to your right, so that both feet are now on or outside the return crease.
- Pull back your bat until it is horizontal and swing it in front of you across your hips until, nano seconds before it smacks into the stumps, the ball starts its journey to the boundary.
- Try and stay on your feet as your bat and arms continue their circumnavigation of your waistline. If you stay vertical, smile triumphantly at all the bemused onlooking faces.
- If you do fall over, try and stop your bat, arms, head or cap from knocking the bails off. Even if you fail in this, smile triumphantly at all the bemused onlooking faces from your new supine stance.
With the partnership unbroken and the target drawing nearer, the chirping from the field also got louder.
“You’ve only got one shot!”, the Wanderers’ keeper said to me, more than once.
“So why have you still got five men on the off side?”
I twatted the next ball through backward square leg and in the process Target Number 8 (and PSM) disappeared into the hedge as well.
What does 5000 career runs look like? From where I was standing it was a couple of Wanderers with their heads in the thorns, arses poking skywards.
With just nine balls to go, chasing 143 and needing another thirteen, Ricki was back on strike. Would I regret leaving him there?
Ricki missed the first delivery completely and pirouetted in his crease, bat hovering dangerously close to his stumps. Rickynoflicky this time.
The second ball – of good line and length – Ricky dispatched to the midwicket boundary and stayed on his feet, meaning that only Target Number 11 had fallen flat on its back.
It was a great shot, perfectly executed. Something had happened to Ricky.
Nine needed from seven.
“I’ve got this, Shadow”, he said, walking up the wicket to retrieve his cap which had somehow found its way to the middle of the pitch again. “Leave it with me”, he said. “Hahaha”.
Ricky expertly pushed the final ball of the over for a single, leaving him on strike for the fortieth over from the nippy Mr Walker.
With Ricky sensibly pushing the ball in all directions, we ran three 2s off the first five. The secret is to run the first one hard, we both agreed. Four for a win!
Under the peak of his khaki cap, Ricki’s eyes are twinkling. Walker releases the ball, heading for off stump. Ramrod straight, Ricki plunges out his left leg to the pitch of the ball, and in a perfect vertical arc pulls the bat through 180 degrees. The ball screams off his bat face and starts burning a scorch mark in the ground as it pierces the space between extra cover and mid-off and crashes into the boundary boards. 144!
Ricki just holds his pose, left elbow high in the air, until Jerry, whooping and a hollering, runs on and carries off Ricki on his shoulders and straight into the bar of the Duke of York.
Sitting in the garden of the Duke of York, waiting for Eo to extract himself from the khazi, we found ourselves reflecting on the post-truth age we seem to be living in. So just remember: to anyone who says we lost that match by 9 runs in the 39th over, there is only one reply.
The second leg is in a fortnight’s time”.
and here is the moment captured in all it’s glory from square leg from our newest paparazzi (Duncan), thank the mighty greys lord there wasn’t a run-out on the cards!