Tadworth

By Graham and Bertie - Pob in Italics

Part 1 -Graham

It was during a familiar 3-set defeat at the hands of my wife, back on a sunny Saturday in May at Henley Tennis Club, and, more specifically, during yet another timely, interesting phone call that Emma had decided to take from one of her sisters, that a strange man on an adjacent court noticed me casually bowling some wibbly-wobblies against the net. The man had been the subject of my close attention, not to say suspicion, prior to this because Emma had earlier muttered to me something about recently sharing an “enjoyable sauna”, along with her mother, with one of the guys playing highly charged singles next to us.
“Excuse me, do you play cricket?” the strange man asked.
“No. Well, not for 14 years. Even then I was crap.”
“Sounds perfect”.
Recalling the sauna incident, I was slightly hesitant about the strange man’s intentions but it latterly emerged from Emma it was actually his opponent who’d had the pleasure of that encounter. The strange man’s name was Cuddy, who turned out to be a very nice man and not at all strange, and so began my Woodpeckers adventure. To ease my insecurity I asked along an unusual chap I’d known for 18 years, Bertie.

Prior commitments conspired to make Tadworth only the 2nd fixture we were available for this season but the warm welcome we received on our rusty first outing at Marlow and the quantity and quality of email communication flying around made us feel part of something very nice indeed. This is despite the fact, in the pseudonym-ridden world of the Peckers, it’s impossible to figure out who anyone actually is, although I suspect this is quite intentional. Questions abound for us to ponder late at night this Winter by the ashes on the fire and on TV: Are E-Motty, Botty, Motty and Momotty all the same person? Might we have even batted with one of them at some point? How to distinguish between all the men of medium height with greying hair who loudly and repeatedly moan about being bossed around in the field by our captain? Who are the mysterious characters prefixed by a “Oh… wait til you meet” Big Merv, Horse or the Baron von Runkel? Who is Davide and whose cousin is he? Simon’s? And how does a Frenchman write so prosaically on limited overs versus declaration cricket? Has a longer email been written by anyone, ever? Might he not be French?

Further questions presented themselves in lieu of the depressing weather forecast as both sides arrived in drips (literally) and drabs in the pavilion around 1pm. A quick 20:20 before tea then same again after if the rain holds off? Settle it on the ping pong table? A 30 overs aside format was agreed upon and Tadworth were going to bat first. Lanno and I were playing darts and being told what triple 17 equalled by 8 year old Charlie, who I think is a “Puglet” or “Chuglet” or something similar, so I’m afraid I don’t know who won the toss. Lanno and Charlie were welcome late additions to our side that had, 7 days earlier, numbered 11, then had mysteriously dropped to 9 around midweek before being restored to a full compliment. Lanno is an Aussie off spinner living in Essex, a friend of mine, who came with a reasonable reputation having bowled A.N. Cook in a club match in 2014 and one which was heightened by his dressing room announcement that he’d taken a match winning six-for in an Essex Premier League match the day before. As we took the field around 1.30pm we only numbered 10, Bertie embodying the triple whammy of absent, uncontactable and whose last communication had been an out-of-the-blue 3.11am What’s App video of Phil Mickelson holing an iron shot from the rough in 2009. As the Bald, Fearsome and Gigantic Tadworth openers (BFGs) strode to the middle, POB noticed a dishevelled figure slowly emerging from the dense woodland at the far end of the ground, decked in jeans and t-shirt. It was indeed our missing man and without any show of urgency whatsoever, Bertie made it to the pavilion, changed and took the field. In the shelter of the bar a smattering of supporters representing a variety of ages, genders and ethnicities had bravely assembled – presumably affiliated in some way to our team or Tadworth’s but I don’t want to cause offence by attempting guesses at relationships, let alone nicknames. They all seemed lovely.  

Part 2 -Bertie

Thanks for the lengthy introduction Graham, has anyone ever written a more roundabout opening gambit? Probably not, but I rather enjoyed it.

Here is Aussie (r)Andy Roberts (not to be confused the well hung West Indian bowler of the same name). He kept decently in his first game for Ages and is looking forward to playing the International Peckers -A lurching Bertie and BFG in the background

Here is Aussie (r)Andy Roberts (not to be confused the well hung West Indian bowler of the same name). He kept decently in his first game for Ages and is looking forward to playing the International Peckers -A lurching Bertie and BFG in the background



So, taking to the field, forever a joy, as joyous as ever it was... As one may have guessed by now, it was a typical English autumn day. Any semblance of the ok weather we had received in smatterings were now long forgotten.. Never has a team started with such lacklustre. After Pugs last performance, taking a five-for, a new bowler had decided to emerge for this week.. A rare off day for Pug I am sure.. After around 4 overs, we found ourselves staring down the barrel, around 38/0. Tiddles was also wicketless and apparently hasn't snaffled one this year, perhaps affected by the Pecker of the Year Curse. Then on came SP with his first and penultimate over. A series of looseners saw him dispatched over square leg for 6 on ball one. Having only seen him bowl once before, this was a disappointing opening over, and Pob ruthlessly removed him from duties after his first over. Visibly frustrated, he didn't bowl again until over 29, when Tadworth were well on their way to a heady 189/6 of their 30 overs. In between all of this, there was an inevitable break for rain, some dropped catches, Pob x2, Graham x2, various other culprits x a few, the odd missed run out chance, and the constant shuffling of the field to accommodate their 8ft6 opening batsman, who made 94...Our shuffling back and forth between boundary and saving the one, were in vain, as he effortlessly dispatched all our bowlers, apart from Bertie and Liam (admittedly Bertie never did have to bowl at him…) for six… With his custom made bit of willow… Pug was even able to have a conversation with the resident BFG while half the team wandered off into the woods to find yet another ball that was almost always in danger of being lost. Lanno took the first wicket after an opening stand of around 80, with BFG no2 Guiding him helplessly to Cuddy grateful mits at gully.

Amongst this running amok, there were some good moments, a fantastic run out eventually fashioned Mr Big Man's fall, as he foolishly took on Bertie for a second run, “laser arm” duly obliged, throwing his usual bullets to our new resident magician (known for making the girls disappear, not for this bowling prowess), who took out the stumps. Afterwards, Liam did tell us all that it was blatantly not out, but the umpiring gods (Jim Baker) were on our side for that one moment…

Conditions were hard, the ball was a bar of soap, Pob had hurt his hand, no one was firing on all cylinders, the outfield resembled a village football ground, there were barely any appeals, pob self banishing himself to the deep square leg boundary spending the afternoon retrieving various balls, and the weather was always going to bring things to an end… even our new aussie recruit who has once dismissed the test rock A.Cook could only manage a long hop first ball which was swatted away for four. To their credit, Lanno and Cuddy did bowl some charming little overs and ended on figures of 43/1 and 30/0 respectively off their full quota of 6 each. Dickie bowled some good stuff taking 2 wickets. Bertie also bowled economically with a bar of soap, conceding 15 off his three overs and taking one wicket. Other highlights were a brilliant performance in the field by young Charlie, and a damn good over himself, not taking after his father on this particular day. Good lad! Oh, SP returns for his second over of beamers, long hops and wides, emphatically blames POB.. “What do you expect when I’m not given the chance to get into my rhythm in my first spell”, to be fair to SP, he was essentially bowling with a dung ball, as the first smattering of rain never really gave way. He was desperately trying to impress parents Horse and Cappy with a wicket before they boarded a plane back to NZ that night

peckers tadworth.jpg

So in we trudged for tea, where we were greeted with the highlight of the day, a wonderful spread. The usual smorgasbord of sandwiches was accompanied by warm quiches, sausage rolls, chocolate eclairs,  and some FANTASTIC home made cakes, including a wonderful Gin and Tonic cake! Yep, me neither.. Well done to those fine culinary hands over at Tadworth.

Jim and Tiddles tucking in heartily. Tiddles staring at the scorebook, desperately waiting for a wicket to appear

Jim and Tiddles tucking in heartily. Tiddles staring at the scorebook, desperately waiting for a wicket to appear

 

By now the rain was  a steady drizzle, and off went Graham and Cuddy to give this total a crack… Very quickly, we needed 10 an over, having started the innings needing just over 6s. After some very “annoying line” as cudds described their opening bowler, a Surrey U21 ladies player, he eventually succumbed by playing “another premeditated shot”, to their other opening bowler for 29 including 3 6s. It was down to SP and Graham to chase down the total, with Cuddy and Tiddles looking after the scoreboard, as the rest of the peckers took up their comfortable spots at the bar with the other cake, carrot and something or other, which was also fantastic.

Cuddy and Tiddles having a lovely time

Cuddy and Tiddles having a lovely time

A couple of inflamed locals started to vent their frustrations on the boundary “never seen anything like it”, “this is getting ridiculous “ this is absurd”, you get the idea… we had been playing in ridiculous conditions for over an hour, it was genuinely raining and the players carried on Regardless. No doubt Pug (standing in as umpire) was busy waiting for us to be on the right side of Duckworth Lewis, which never looked like coming, and all of a sudden proceedings were called off, hands were shaken, and we got that rarest of results, a draw. Graham hit a well constructed 37, with a very useful strike rate of around 16,  just the sort of attacking innings that was needed chasing now around 12 an over. But With that, a lovely pint and a quick bit of reminiscing, and the regular season was over.

It was a wonderful two days of experience, despite the rain, I will never forget the conditions we were playing in, watching Cuddy score under an umbrella, unable to even open the book, ink running down the pages, . It's just not cricket, without a bit of the ridiculous is it. Until next year, my dear old things!
Bertie

Tadworth 189-6 drew with Woodpeckers 89-1 (match abandoned)

 

Marlow

The laissez faire spirit was missing from Marlow Park as the Peckers arrived shortly after 12pm for the 1pm start. The otty’s arrived with Emotty and the welcome return of Momotty quickly securing the finest bench in the park. With the puglets and pugletta , Dickie and family, Don, Leo and SP’s folks and lovely debut of peckeortta Laura; the scene was set for what is always our most picnic and spectator friendly game of the season.

Malden Wanderers

 Malden Wanderers v Woodpeckers 2nd July 2017 –Penned by Alan Wood –POB in Green

When Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post exposed POTUS Nixon, not only did Watergate become part of 20th Century history and literature, but any subsequent noun with the suffix –gateheralded impending calamity. One of the earliest uses of such a term was golfgate, a term used to describePOTUS Ford who succeeded Nixon at the White House. Apparently Ford, a keen golfer, played Palm Springs where there were a number of courses and the story goes that he never knew which  he was playing until he’d hit his first tee shot. I digress. Welcome to Catchgate.

When the Woodies took the field after a resplendent tea defending 193 in a 35 limited over match it was almost as if they’d come to some unwritten agreement that they would try to win without using the traditional dismissal method of catching

Earlier in the day the captains tried to negotiate the toss each trying to ascertain the strength of the other. It was decided that the teams were well matched – so it proved – and the toss ensued with the Woodies batting. Malden fielded 9 players under 18 and their decent pace attack made early inroads.It was great to have our long-time statistician Alan Wood playing for us, he has scored over 11,000 runs for the Peckers, easily our highest and is the most amiable man you could hope to meet. We also welcomed the Patron of the Singapore Peckers and over for their tour of Menorca, the Dupa. Scoring was difficult and it was left to Botty and Dupa to start to mend the damage with a well-constructed 5th wicket partnership of 68. (There was a very unusual scoring pattern in the Woodies innings. Runs accrued through boundaries across a very fast outfield or extras and it was not until the 16th over, with the score in the fifties, that the first non-boundary run was scored off the bat!)  Botty’s 40, some beautiful on –drives the sure sign of a class batsman, Greg P with a gorgeous 48 and Dupa with a muscular 32 were the main contributors along with 40 extras in ensuring the Woodies had a competitive total. Keeping to Woody’s boundary theory, it is a statistical anomaly that all of the batsman fell to a multiple of 4…Wood 12, Greasy 8, Tid, Cudd and Sp all for 4, our two intrepid openers Girdle and Cannon…0x4 =…. It was excellent to see the new expanded Palmer family there –Greggles and Chlobo with Bubsy, Ploppies and Napalm on debut. Tiddles and Glenda with Emile and Mushy Mushy on debut. Gimli even came along with the Gimletta and a large bag of ales and cider –thanks Gimli

A leisurely tea was taken with POB stating it was the best tea on the circuit a compliment passed on to a happy Liz. Her daughter Jo scored for both sides by the way and made an excellent job of it.

Now came the tricky part. How to defend 193 without taking catches.

. Woody started it, missing an absolute sitter, and, as if to make the old boy feel better, others steadily joined him… You had to feel sorry for the bowlers toiling away on a decent track in hot conditions; none more so than SP who had 4 dropped in in 11 deliveries. A slip catch to Cannon which seemed to bounce of everything before hitting the ground, Sharp edges to Botty and Girdle, a tough caught and bowled to SP, Cuddy at Mid-Wicket…

Gregglesarrived with his usual announcement that he wasn’t goingto bowl, but with Malden 140-3 and up with the rate, he knew we needed him. His 1st ball was miscued just between him and brother Tid and he exclaimed at the ball as it lobbed over him a Homer-sque…’Why you’...^^&^’ The next ball he put down a caught and bowled chance –even Greggles had caught the terrible pandemic. Captain Botty chipped in with a couple of overs but the last ball of his spell was put down at long on by Cannon.

If we had been told before the game that we would be 0-2, 38-4 and drop 10 catches (this is a conservative estimate) we’d have thought our chances of victory were slight but cricket surprises.

Fortunately the ground fielding was always enthusiastic, the bowling good and the captaincy excellent.Botty finally showed that we could hold a catch, diving forward to remove Gerrard off Greggles for 71.  Still with 2 overs to go, New Malden were 182-4 and only needing 11 runs, hot favourites. Greggles dug deep and bowled one of his finest overs ever. It only went for 1 run, and induced a run out.

Six bowlers were used, judicious fields set and aided by 3 run outs a slender victory was achieved with two balls to spare. Special mention for the bowlers today; under pressure against a good batting side they all bowled well and gave little away. SP 7-1-29-1, Cuddy 7-0-39-2, C.Palmer 6-0-17-0, Woody7-1-31-1, Greg 6-0-33-2 and the Skip 2 overs for 16

This was a fine game played in excellent spirit between 2 good teams. The youngsters of MW will have learnt much. Beer was taken on the outfield of an attractive ground on a lovely summer’s evening. Good to see young families present and thanks to Jim B and POB for umpiring.

That’s all for now, can’t stop, just going for catching practice.

Blackheath

 WOODPECKERS V BLACKHEATHSunday 16thJuly 2017

And so to Blackheath, the scene of last year’s successful chase of 242 largely thanks to AJ’s unbeaten 139. Even without the now-deported AJ, on paper our 11 looked good. I had informed Blackheath we had a fairly strong line-up, which POB immediately castigated me for. Many years of captaining the Peckers has taught POB that things never tend to work out quite as intended.

Our fantastic band of supporters, comprising Pughs(x8), Palmers (x5), Millers (plural, if you include the bump) and Gowars(7) made it a lovely family affair. LP and Jim also very kindly came along to umpire (LP even keeping the trigger safely tucked away). However, would the contest be more even than that playing out on Centre Court 30 miles away or that up at Trent Bridge?

Early on Saturday, our fairly-strong 11 was upgraded to a more athletic 10 with the withdrawal of Cannon, who claimed, to much mirth, that a sore ankle was limiting his mobility even further. And overnight on Saturday Taters also had to sadly withdraw, leaving us with a now weaker 9. A call to arms went out, Twitter, Instawhatsit and everything else went into overdrive for an extra player or two. At the end of which, a simple call out to the oppofor an extra player turned up trumps(more of which below), the Horse was roused from his stable with his foals in tow for a knock, and young Charlie Pugh was primed for his debut in the field at the grand age of 8.

Nick Harrison, Chairman of the club and captain of the Sunday XI, claimed that he didn’t have a particularly strong batting line-up and suggested we bat first to ensure a good game. What he didn’t know is that ourform batsman of the season, Botty, had had barely any sleep and whose eyes weren’t quite working as normal.

The same applied to his brother, playing as a batsman, who had been whatsapping complete nonsense at 4am. Cuddy, sensible as ever (other than his laughable choice of car which is going to cost him a fortune in time) could at least see straight when he and Botty strode out.

The Sunday XIs we face don’t usually include many Saturday 1st teamers, but Blackheath like to include 4 or 5 each time we play them to ensure an even game (which, to be fair, has always worked well in the past, as this beautiful ground tends to attract our better players). And so Botty and Cuddy found themselves facing 19 year-old Taylor, their 1st XI new ball bowler, who bowled with decent pace and control. Both initially found gaps through the rapid outfield, but thereafter fell in identical fashion to Taylor nipping one back. O Mott at 3 also played some lovely shots for 18 before nicking off to the first change bowler (a 14 year-old with shoulders like Chris Gayle) with SP falling quickly for 5. At this point our recruit from the oppo was called upon. Danny Harrison, son of Nick, is a 1st team regular and well-regarded coach at the club. However, Danny is a kindred spirit of brothers Mott, and had had even less sleep than them (Nick had got up to let the dog out on Sunday morning to see his son walking up the path). Hence their seemingly kind gesture of lending us a 1stteam player was anything but, as Danny was out for a third ball duck to one of the 14 year-olds that he coaches.

At this point we were 63 for 5 and in trouble. Runkyhad by now arrived (no explanation provided, just an amiable “Hi man” as he wandered off to find adders in the heathland). Big Merv, keeping up the tennis theme with his Borg-esque headband, was doing well to keep one end up. The only problem was that he was also failing to score, wafting hopefully outside off but hitting more of the prevalent flying ants that any cricket balls. When he did fall, the scorebook showed 1 run off 10 overs, much to Merv’s discontent (“I definitely scored 2”).

POB and the Horse steadied the ship admirably and took us past 100 with excellent running (although this cost Horse one of his hamstrings) whilst Botty, fortified by the now open bar, went to task on trying to persuade Greggles that he should abandon his young family in favour of a knock in the lower order. Greggles, understandably not wanting to be associated with this sh1tshow, stuck to his guns and left the tail to fend for themselves. POB went for a hard-earned 26 and a now-lame Horse was caught on the boundary for an excellent top score 30.

The tail failed to wag, with Pug and Windy falling quickly to the returning opening bowlers to set a total of 145 and the Baron again protecting his average.Windy a tad early as Pug and LP look on

Tea was a pleasant medley of hot and cold offerings, much of which was hoovered by the Puglets, Palmerinos and Foals, washed down by tea or, in some cases TEA (Hog’s Back, 4.2 ABV). During the break a timely shower set in, which wasn’t going to help keep the new ball dry. The big screen was showing South Africa’s dogged resilience up at Trent Bridge, but which example would Blackheath follow –Amla and du Plessis’s doggedeness, or Bairstow’s hot-headed attacking nonsense?

So that Horse would rest his injured pin and teach his boys the art of forward defence in the nets, we brought on Charlie Pugh aka Chuggyfor his debut (having fielded for a couple of overs last year). We agreed with Nick (his club coach) to keep him behind the bat, so he ran fine leg to fine leg for 35 overs. Windy, clocking this, suggested he wear his fitbit to improve his stats, but to no avail. Chuggy fielded with great enthusiasm and one sliding stop in particular drew applause all round.

SP opened downhill and Windy uphill. Both bowled with good wheels but, without much of a total to defend, the experienced Blackheath openers were able to use the pace of the ball to find gaps through the drying outfield for boundaries we could barely afford. SP castled one opener with a good yorker but the left-handed Hardcastle weathered the early storm. Windy, charging in like a bull and filling his shirt like one, bowled very well but for no reward.

POB brought on Cuddles downhill for 6 tight overs (1-15) and he took the much-needed wicket of the other Harrison 1st team brother, Ronny. After a couple of loose Pug overs, the Baron was brought on to bowl up the slope. Other than a couple of early ugly half-trackers (one of which drew a barely-deserved wicket with a close catch from Pug that the Baron refused to celebrate)This was a brilliant catch by Pug diving forward, clearly turning it on for his son and local crowd), the Beearon (3-30) cemented his place as our go-to bowler when wickets are needed and he was too much for a succession of Blackheath youngsters to handle. When Botty ran out their keeper with a superb direct hit from the deep, Blackheath were 114-6 and it was very much game on.

However, at the other end Hardcastlewas playing the paternal role, keeping things very steady whilst his young charges threw the bat. Botty was brought on to flight his twirlers downwind but was unable to find the breakthrough. Pug came on downhill and Cuddy took a great catch on the drive to expose the tail further. A mention for Mervwho kept excellently, with one superb juggling catch ultimately not given as POB kindly reprieved the batsman who pointed to his hip.

However a few boundaries later Blackheath were nearing the required total. At which point POB threw the ball to Chuggy for his first ever couple of overs with a hard ball and on a 22-yard strip. Hardcastle managed to see out the first six to give Chuggy a maiden, with a few off the second. The boy was absolutely stoked, the oppo enjoyed it too (he being of their stable usually) and it was a nice way to see out the game. The winning runs came with 3 overs to spare with Hardcastledeservedly 60 n.o., and Charlie and the Baron led us off the field to handshakes all round with the oppogivingthe match ball to Chuggy.

Another fantastic day, no quibbles about losing to this great bunch of lads.

Blackheath won by 3 wickets.

MAN OF THE MATCH -CHUGGY

PROUD DAD AND MATCH MANAGER

Chuggy Charges in

Chuggy Charges in

Delicious Defence Darling

Delicious Defence Darling

Cudd Missile

Cudd Missile

Horse tucks into Blackheath Oats

Horse tucks into Blackheath Oats

Ranger's Vigil ended

Ranger's Vigil ended

Pug on Home Turf

Pug on Home Turf

Blackheath Team

Blackheath Team

Mott game of Oranges and Lemons

Mott game of Oranges and Lemons

Windy a bit early

Windy a bit early

Tilford

Tilford

...Hoards of coffee drinking, lager swilling oiks kept most of the team a good 4 meters away from the ale selection before the game, meaning that despite the rather slow traffic ridden drive  for the Peckers in the Hearse (my delicious long & black Ford Mondeo Estate...) the team were both parched and sober before the game...

Headley

Headley

Sunday morning proved to be more emotional than the average Woodpecker outing: details of the horrific terrorist attack in London Bridge the previous evening were still filtering through, and I was preparing to unveil a bench dedicated to my dear parents at Headley. My dad loved playing cricket at Headley...