By Maxie Allen
A day of fluctuating fortunes, and emotions to suit. Despair turned to hope, then to frustration.
The pitch – this was a park ground – ensured the cricket remained lively throughout. Deceptively slow, its bounce was wildly erratic. Many balls reared up off a length; others shot through at ankle height.
Two weeks previously, against Sanford, we’d begun the match in disastrous fashion – subsiding to 4-3. Never again, we pledged. And we were true to our word. This time, we were 5-4.
First, James Hindle missed a straight one, which kept a little low, before Felix fenced a throat ball to square leg. Andy Reid then lost his middle stump, and as the chaos intensified the inevitable happened: a run out. Simon Begley was the victim, after protracted confusion between him and James Morgan over a putative single to square leg. It was impossible to determine whose fault it was – just one of those things, really. But Scratch wasn’t best pleased. I’m glad I wasn’t his kit bag.
By this point, it had begun to rain – quite heavily, and would continue to drizzle for most of the match. In view of the scoreline it hardly seemed sporting of us to come off, and the fielders, understandably, wished to continue. I was umpiring, and as I stood there, getting drenched, with my side 5-4, I kind of wondered what the point of it all was.
Fortunately, Morgsy and TG slowly began to restore order. How many runs they added together I can’t tell you precisely, as the scorebook ended up in the wrong bag, but their promising partnership ended prematurely when Morgsy, after unfurling a couple of fine cut shots, clipped one off the middle of his bat into the hands of mid-wicket, who took a good catch. An unlucky dismissal.
By now we were contemplating total humiliation, but after Quokkas brought on their gentler bowlers, we gradually edged our way towards a workable score. TG, in perhaps his finest ever Allstars innings, was superb – judiciously mixing attack with defence and playing back, and very late, to negate the vagaries of the pitch. From memory, he made 42.
An acceptable total was transformed into a good one by the arrival at the crease of Sam MacDonald, batting in the unusual position of number nine. Playing at his most Chris Gayle-esque, Sam unleashed a remarkable range of attacking, clean-hitting strokes, savagely dispatching the bowlers to all parts. He took 24 off a single over, and added 50 for the ninth wicket with The Rocket, who batted commendably. By the time Sam was last out, for about 75, we’d reached 179 off 33.3 overs – a noteworthy recovery.
As we walked back onto the field for the start of Quokkas’ innings, the rain stepped up a gear. TG, Gren, and Chadders, all bowled very well – and although their batsmen looked very sharp, the combination of Gren’s pace and the wetness of the pitch – whose bounce was now more variable than ever – led to two wickets, both bowled.
But by now it was bucketing down, and there was no choice but to abandon play and shake hands on a draw. A shame really, as with Quokkas 32-2 off 9, chasing 180, I fancied our chances.
We then retired, sopping wet, to the ‘other’ Sun Inn – the Richmond one – which for cosy atmosphere more than made up for the dirtiest pub carpets I have ever seen.
Location:Old Deer Park, Richmond