Ripley v Woodpeckers 2017 –Penned by Ducky, POB in Green

The bravest cricketers in the land are Captain Botty and his Band.

There’s Tiddles, Gimli, Cousin Dave,

Meakers, Windy and the Baron Brave.

They’re all happy band of  Woodies -

Very happy after Runkie’s goodies.

Girdle and I were the first to arrive at Ripley, one of the oldest cricket clubs in England but, looking around, it looked like one of the youngest sides in England. Other Woodies were meeting at the Anchor but us old stagers forwent the lunchtime pint for the pick of the prime positions in the changing room. It’s a lovely old wooden pavilion and, though it’s the scene of our lowest total – 24 I believe – (and our highest 326 in 2015)

I’ve always enjoyed playing there.The rest rolled in about 1.45 with Cousin Dave standing out in orange braces and spongebag trousers. There was a story involving girlfriends, racing and Chardonnay but I didn’t get the full gist. Mind you, I often don’t get the full gist from the Cousin! The Baron also arrived;apparently he’d been too busy tending his crops to shave – a strange vision.

Captain Botty announced, for reasons that were hard to follow, that it would be a 35 over match – something to do with their players not arriving though they seemed to have 11. We were inserted and the Captain said ’You all know where you’re batting, right?’ Blank looks from everyone. ‘But I sent you all an email with instructions and everything!’ A dim light seems to glimmer in some eyes.’ Oh yes’ I said’ I got that email but I didn’t see a batting order’ ‘You were down at 7’ says Botty. ‘Oh’ I reply ‘I didn’t realise that meant I was batting at 7. I just thought it was a list of the side 1 to 11.’ I think that was the first inkling that Botty had that captaining the Woodies wasn’t going to be totally straightforward!

The Ripley skipper, a fine figure of a man, had said that they had a weaker side but their opening bowlers seemed quite useful, especially Russell who looked like he was bowling off the wrong foot but with reasonable pace on a wicket that looked to have a bit of bounce in it. Our opening partnership were men of substance in Girdle and Cannon they were both soon bowled by Wrongfoot.

Real Shame to break up the record breaking heavyweights

Pot calling the Kettle black here but defensive technique seemed to go out of the window and Gimli coming in at 3 was immediately at full flail. His scoring record went 2-4-6 and then he was caught trying to hit an 8.

Captain Botty in at 4 was now joined by Meakers, the score at 25 for 3 and our lowest ever total (24 against Ripley!) comfortably passed. Botty settled in immediately though Meakers was less certain. Botty batted beautifully, never giving a chance, and the score mounted steadily and we settled back in our seats, our nerves calmed. Meakers(now known as Peaches or Peachey)settled in too and the partnership grew. The bowling changed and changed again and the weakness in their side started to show. Botty’s 50 came, the 100 stand, Meaker’s 50 until with the score at 181 Botty gave his wicket away to give the rest a chance to bat. His final total 112 and it really was a lovely innings.Thepartnership of 156 was the 3rd highest ever for the 4th wicket well played Peachy Botty. You could see his reasoning. 10 overs to go, let the others have a go, Cuddy in next, give him a good few overs. Mistake!

A slow, inconsistent young bowler is on and Cuddy hits his first ball, a long hop, hard and low to the midwicket boundary where their fielder takes a very good catch. So in I go to face a hat-trick ball, just what you want for your first delivery since last August. But its a doddle. A high full toss down the leg. Easy. I’ll just swing it over square leg. No. I won’t, I’ll top-edge it to leg-slip. He drops it. But I don’t last long. Meakers also goes for a well-deserved 62 and the innings closes after a breezy 24 from Cousin Dave who, it turns out, has read his email which gave him ‘Licence to Swing’ and swing he did while tastefully shod in loafers. 237 for 9 with the Baron not out for 0 without facing a ball but successfully defending his average.

Cannon missing from photo as hadn’t come out yet to (answers on a postcard please)

a- Miss Fielding Practice

b- Enjoy the last slice of Ripley Cake

c- Strap on the Girdle’s no 2 Girdle

There was also an excellent support, Mel and Girls, Lou and Sebby. Emotty/Bitty on Peckers Debut, Old Horse + Foals and Boss/Queen Kindly

We’d supplied both umpires for our innings and the LP and Jim(Baker) took the coats for theirs. We opened with Windy and Cuddles and while Windy hit a good groove, Cuddles struggled with his left arm over line. Windy took 2 wickets and Cuddles hit his perfect line once to give Botty a good catch behind. We also got 2 LBWs. Now I’m not saying they weren’t out – from square leg all I could say about one was that it was OK for height and the keeper and slips all seemed happy – but I’m bloody sure their umpires wouldn’t have given them!

Runkie came on and bowled beautifully- only very occasionally muttering ‘Bad ball’ as he was hit for a rare boundary. His figures of 3-15 tell the story, the pitch giving that bit of bounce and pace that gives the batsman no chance to recover once beaten in flight. Tiddles had a bowl, getting very good pace but the game had taken a strange turn. The Baron was bowling well but Ripley got bogged down and didn’t seem to try and get out of the situation. They fell further and further behind the asking rate so much so that Botty gave me a bowl. I really didn’t bowl well but they never really went after me, content to sit back and hit off the back foot. I actually took a wicket which wascovered in commentary by Runkie who said ‘Well bowled’ as I launched it and then took a lovely toppling catch at mid-off to justify the compliment!It really was a brilliant catch by the Beearon and he was duly mobbed

Their innings crawled along and POB who was now umpiring told me their young batsmen had said they couldn’t win so they were batting for their averages! There’s Overs cricket for you. In fact POB umpiring produced some of the liveliest moments of their innings as he couldn’t keep quiet and started suggesting fielding changes which had Botty reminding him quite forcefully that he was umpire not skipper! It was the most noise of the afternoon as we seemed unusually quiet in the field. In the end their innings closed about 40 short.

One of the best moments on the field was when a ball disappeared down a hole in the square. The game was held up as everyone tried their hand – literally – at getting it out. For a while it looked like the practical part of a proctologist’s exam. Eventually to the cry of ‘Forceps!’ salad tongs were brought on the field and the ball rescued.

One of the best moments off the field was after the match when Botty, mindful that he had to celebrate his ton, asked the barmaid if she had jugs. I didn’t catch her reply but I think it was a good one.

It may have been an unenthusiastic run chase and a slightly damp squib of an ending but it’s never wasted time to play cricket for the Woodies and I loved every minute of it!

Peachy-Botty combination very generously bought 3 jugs (2 cheeks from Botty)

Peckers 237-9 Beats Ripley 193-9 by 46 runs

Runky's miracle catch