Allstars – the first ten years

In continuation of our tenth birthday celebrations, here’s some highlights to savour from each year of the Allstars.
2001, Newark – Jonesy takes a bow
Few knew what they were letting themselves in for when we met up at King’s Cross that Bank Holiday Monday, but many probably feared a heavy defeat in our first game against South Muskham & Little Carlton.  But, incredibly, we almost snatched a win thanks to a terrific display of hitting from Nick Jones, who smashed 66 from just 41 balls to go with his 3 wickets with the ball.  A late collapse led to defeat by 22 runs, but it was a great day out and gave much hope to the fledgling Allstars.
2002, Trengilly Wartha – The big break
The expectations of our maiden tour to Newquay had reached such fever pitch, thanks to Boves it famously made the Talksport lunchtime news.  They obviously hadn’t realised we’d only beaten the Rain Men up to then. By the Sunday the hangovers were really kicking in, and in no time we were 0-2.  Tom Morris’ 67 gave us something to bowl at, and he and Tristan bowled superbly, backed up by Chris Gould’s excellent catching behind the stumps.  As Trengilly Wartha’s lower order dug in, victory looked like slipping away from us, but a devastating final spell from Tristan, who finished with 6 wickets, gave us a win to cherish.
2003, Brading – Hooray, hooray, for Halla-day
On the Isle of Wight, another tour win after an inauspicious start.  On his captaincy debut, Devers made an immediate statement of intent by vomiting in a car, and we quickly slid to 44-5.  Enter Dave Halladay to play the innings of his life, an imperious unbeaten 89 which with good support from the tail took us to 177.  Excellent bowling and fielding dismisses the islanders 49 runs short.  It was to be 7 long years before we tasted victory on tour again.
2004, Gunnersbury – Grabbed by the Plums
A narrow Allstars defeat – but this was only half the story.  In a crazy short-handed game, we lent the Winchester Plums three players: Tom Chicken, Jim Jarrett and Felix Allen. Then, when two Allstars failed to turn up in time for the start, Jim and Felix took their places as substitutes, and fielded for the Allstars. They then proceeded to both take catches within the first seven balls of the match – the second one dismissing …Tom Chicken. So we had an Allstars bowler taking the wicket of a Plums batsman (who was actually an Allstars player) via a catch by an Allstars fielder, who was actually from the Plums (but originally from the Allstars).  Work that one out.
2005, Surbiton – Scratching the Gents itch
The opening day of the Allstars season usually has a familiar ring to it: the cheer of seeing old friends again, followed by rusty cricket and defeat to the Gentlemen of West London.  This time was different thanks to Simon “Scratch” Begley, who hit a superb 89 not out as we posted 153-8.  Nick Chadwick and Devers did the damage with the ball as we bowled out the Gents for a famous 39-run victory.
2006, Barnes – A Few Good Men not quite good enough
With a name like that, we must have been disappointed when Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and Jack Nicholson didn’t show up.  But the Hollywood A-listers missed a classic, the closest finish in Allstars history.  Tristan’s second hundred in a week, putting on a huge stand of 191 with Tim Ross, put us in a commanding position, but A Few Good Men bravely kept up with the rate.  Six were needed off the final ball, and a lofted drive landed barely six feet inside the boundary.  Even when we win, the Allstars always like to do it the hard way.
2007, Matfield – Canbashers put on their bikes
On the day the Tour de France raced through town, another Allstars classic on a picture postcard Kent village green.  Scratch’s peerless 84 and a late cameo from Dave Halladay took us to 181-9 before a fired-up Paul Nicol demolished the Canbashers’ middle order.  But the canny Canbashers had the odd ace up their sleeve, a certain James Hindle lurking down at number 10, and we faced the fight of our lives to take the last few wickets before scraping over the finish line.  Matfield has never seen a sporting day like it.
2008, Barnes – Caesars slain
A fascinating reminder of where it all began.  Adrian Marsden’s Twelve Caesars team were every bit as eccentric as their Oxford counterparts, with Roman emperors’ names in the scorebook and one player taking the field in a tweed jacket.  But they showed little resistance with the bat, collapsing to 41 all out, easily the lowest total we’ve bowled a side out for.  We had a top-order wobble as the Caesars put up more of a fight in the field, but eventually cruised home by 6 wickets.
2009, Oxford – Von Ryan’s express derails Salix
Against our oldest rivals, an absolute cracker on a belting summer’s day.  We posted a modest 144-6 which Salix must have thought they’d chase down easily.  But they’d reckoned without Jon Ryan, the man with a thousand nicknames, who bowled the spell of his life to blow away their top order.  A determined Salix fightback took them to within 20 of the target with 5 wickets standing, but some unbelievable death bowling broke the sixth wicket stand and skittled their tail to snatch us a famous win.
2010, Eymet – Le jour de gloire est arrivé
On a converted rugby field in France, we finally nailed that long-awaited overseas tour win.  Paul Bowman and Paul Nicol set it up with 4 wickets each to dismiss Eymet for 112, and after the odd scare we sauntered home by 4 wickets.  The open-top bus ride and visit to Downing Street surely awaits …

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