Almost immediately my suspicions were confirmed. This shed nonsense was just a cover; we were on some sort of spy mission. Le Clunc had barely gone to the trouble of making the whole ruse even slightly believable. If we were going to “buy a second-hand shed from Burgess Hill”, surely we’d be going in a van? Or at least we’d have borrowed a trailer big enough to fit a shed in.
Poker-faces remained. I kept my council and went along with it all – I couldn’t yet work out what I’d actually got myself mixed up in. We arrived at our destination – some smallish suburban town, no sign of a hill. I had only vague memories of the journey, “I’ve probably been drugged” I thought to myself. Slight-of-hand master that he is, Le Clunc could have slipped me some narcotic tincture at almost any juncture…..or jincture.
A blinking woman guided us through an alley and a deserted yard or two in order to show us the ‘shed’ that we were to collect. Was she one of us? A covert operative? Were the blinks a series of morse-coded messages I was too slow to decipher? Le Clunc kept impressively to his cover story for a while longer and we started to lift a number of heavy shed components out onto the main street. Of course, it became obvious none of them would fit in the transportation we had arrived in – surely now his act was blown?
The woman, clearly sensing a trap or some kind of deceit, became agitated and involuntarily increased her blink-rate. “Where’s the money?!” she shouted! “WHERES MY FFFFUCKING MONEY??!!”
She pulled a gun……
Now it was my turn to blink. “Oh, phew, it’s just a drill!” I said out loud to the confusion of those assembled. Was I over-thinking this? Is it possible the Le Clunc is actually off-duty and just making a real pigs-ear of buying a second-hand shed?
A few hours later I find myself in Hartfield sans Le Clunc (for some reason he has the time to arse about around central Sussex looking for sheds but no time for cricket smh). We are to play a reduced 30-over game to avoid impending rain – the song ‘Chasing Rainbows’ is lodged in my head but I can’t remember the name of the band who wrote it.
The Greys start well with Dimu, taking the gloves for the first time ever, performing a lightning-fast stumping to remove one of the openers. An amazing feat in itself but one that was only possible as he was basically standing-up to the quite rapid bowling of Diamond Dan! Top work that won him PSM. Unfortunately Hartfield then seized the initiative. Despite QB and Eeyo bowling well, the latter claiming a rare wicket trapping some Hartfieldian lbw, the home-team’s number 3 waltzed his way to a ton and the handsome Greys were under the pump. Some excellent bowling by HatRick, including two clean-bowled wickets, arrested the situation slightly, but the hosts were able to bat their way to a total of 196 – very healthy from just 30 overs.
The chase was on and two recognised regular runners were up first to get the Greys out of the blocks. Both Rik (no ‘c’) and Jerry batted superbly until they were out. Jerry hit a lovely lofted cut, and a number of other swash-buckling boundaries it has to be said, until he succumbed to a very good fast ‘Micky’ (Jagger) which made a mess of his stumps as he went to play a trade-mark fine cut. Hat-Rik crunched a couple of sixes and also looked in fine form but, possibly in tribute to his opening partner, decided he would also get out bowled to the same bowler for a very similar score (30ish).
The Greys needed to up the rate and Dimu was just the man – he started brightly, playing one beautiful flick to fine leg, but then got out to a fine nick caught behind (10). Dan Cope, as his name would suggest, didn’t look flustered by any of the bowling on offer but was perhaps slightly hampered by a sub-standard new bat (Newbery owe the Greys a few runs I think!). Bumbo (30) and The Shadow (19……these aren’t their ages by the way) briefly shone, both hitting cover-drives that drew coos from on-lookers. Perhaps they both need to be reclassified as posh, text-book front-foot batsmen and not agricultural, leg-side shamblers??? Perhaps.
No-one could quite hang around long enough to make the in-roads needed. Young Liam of the Greys (14) batted well and briefly threatened to embarrass his regular team-mates but the writing was on the wall. QB, Diamond, Trev and Eeyo all put up a brave fight but the target was still some way off and it’s not their job to deliver that many runs. The Greys total reached 154 but alas, by the time the rain arrived, they were all back in the sheds.