Marlow Park CC vs Woodpeckers - 7th August 2017

Penned by Cuddles, POB in Italics

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. All in all a fantastic Pecker family gathering. 

While we waited for our opponents to arrive, our new recruits - Graham and Bertie - quickly fitted in, building on the pre-game WhatsApp banter. Graham, an ex-rower and quieter of the two, kept his cards close to his chest. But Bertie, eager to ‘test out his quicks and rattle through the middle order’ was chirping away like he’d played for the Peckers for years. 

Throwing etiquette out the window we decided to test out the wicket. Noticing the outfield was long, eyebrows were raised at the grassy strip in front of us. Speaking with Mo - Marlow’s stalwart of the club for over 30 years - it was explained that Marlow had a series of unfortunate events in that all their field management machinery gave up the ghost a few weeks back. To great expense the club has had to replace their mowers and roller but had meant the square hadn’t been maintained.  We all pretty much agreed we sure as hell didn’t want to bat first. 

So it came as a surprise and welcome relief when the Marlow Skipper Abdul won the toss, and elected to bat. 

With the Marlow team all present and in equally fine spirits - we were out in the field at 1.30pm for a 40 over match. 

POB gave the opening spells to SP and Pug. After two very loose opening overs, PUG immediately found some excellent rhythm - bowing a tight line and using the variable bounce to excellent effect. With SP toiling away up the hill and unlucky to pick up a wicket during his five overs he clearly had the wrong end. But PUG finding an extra yard of pace and reeling with confidence took the successive wickets of their top five batsmen. 

Starting with a simple leading edge caught by Cuddy at gully, a caught behind by Botty, two cleaned bowled (including a lovely middle stump clatter) Pug was at his best. Regularly beating the edge. His fifer came with a brilliantly low and hard catch taken low by Dickie at 3rd slip. Pug’s first five wicket haul and brilliantly deserved.

(Although it’s still unclear how much the Puglet’s and Pugletta’s were watching from the stands). PUGs final figures 6-20-5. 

Proving bowling straight has rewards.

At 40 odd for 5, it was time to mix things up.

Safari Don, the father of our father and son pair took the ball. Don, despite being offered freshly pressed whites before the game, chose to keep his shorts on. Unlike his son Leo - clearly a proper cricketer wearing full cricket attire. At the other end Bertie - who used to open the bowling for his 1st XI at Worth school and hasn’t bowled a ball for 13 years - was still deciding whether to bowl seam up or leg spin. Don finished 3-13-1 and Bertie 3-18-1. 

Don, with a somewhat unorthodox action - showed some nice consistency. And Bertie at the other end, after a positive first over, got spooked and after 2 overs of very mixed medium pace decided it was time for an over of leg spin. Both bowlers picked up a wicket for their efforts - despite a horrible drop by SP at mid-on. 

Dickie then took the reigns up the hill and bowled well for no reward, again no thanks to SP with another drop this time at extra cover. At the other end Leo - showing excellent rhythm and technique bowled well, picking up a great wicket thanks to an excellent diving catch from POB running across from mid off to mid on. 

To finish off the innings it was time for old Hampton School partnership. Motty, coming down the hill was told by match manager Cuddy after 2 overs that 'you’re not a true all-rounder unless you can bat, field, bowl seam up and spin the ball'. Never shy of a challenge Motty bowled one over of leggies leading to another stumping by Botty - who was excellent behind the stumps all day. Cuddy at the other end, who - as explained by Marlow’s 14-year old - was bowling Chinamen was rewarded with a couple of wickets. Cuddy's spinners really are delightfully loopy and offer another string to our excellent treasurer's bow-Shame Runky wasn't there to admire


As the game went on and with Marlow unlikely to put on a competitive total, POB offered Mo Munsha- Marlow’s team manager - the opportunity to bat as a twelfth batsman. Mo, thankful for the opportunity got a somewhat frosty reception from the rest of the Peckers team. Especially Botty who - in particular - wanted to understand at what point did any cricket team have 12 players? But would Mo’s contribution of 12 really make any difference? 

At 121 all out (with us taking 11 wickets), the score was below par. Special recognition goes to Graham who fielded admirably, despite twingeing a hamstring. 

A strong tea supported by Rebellion IPA, brewed locally in Marlow went down a a treat. 

Time to knock these runs off…

Marlow opened with Jazzy - a strong and sharp seamer who puts it on the spot and Alex Head a man who bowls no two balls the same. It was a glorious day and we thought the sun would harden up the wicket. But the variable bounce continued - making it difficult to bat on. 

Opening with Bertie and Botty, there was some bemusement as Bertie still in disbelief that he was opening was quick to remind everyone that he’s never opened before in a similar vein to having not bowled for 13 years. Jazzy, bowling straight and well, bowled Bertie for 3 and shortly after got the in-form Botty with a cracker for 10. 

Never opened before Bertie.

In came the limping Graham, aka Starskey, who with SP as a runner, timed the ball really well, before being bowled for 12 by Head. Cuddy, in next, was doing okay before a rush of blood, resulted in a top edge to gully and back in the pavilion for 10. At 40 odd for 4, were we staring down the barrel of another pecker collapse? 

SP fresh from a stern talking to from his folks and his fianceé  and his future in laws...over tea for an abject fielding performance, was eager to redeem himself. SP was under immense pressure..Seeing the ball well and hitting the middle of the bat he picked up anything short and played some glorious drives and cuts to get the scoreboard motoring. Motty - also in form - looked solid for his 5 before pushing for a two where clearly there was never one, running himself out. His changing room roar of frustration was met by chuckles around the ground. 

With SP still keeping the scoreboard moving, the young Leo took his turn at the crease and it wasn’t long until Marlow deemed Leo  (aged 13) our best batsman. Leo played a cunning innings. Playing straight when it was needed and using his hockey-esque sweep shot to great effect, especially to Marlow’s Ambrose.  

With Dickie, POB, Don and Pug still to come in the odds were still in our favour. But things went awry. We lost SP for 34 - a solid and important innings that kept us in the game. Then Dickie, caught for a duck  was quickly followed back by POB who got an almost unplayable shooter. Within a couple of overs we were 8 down. And unlike Marlow we didn’t have the privilege of 12 players. 

Don still donning his shorts, joined Leo for an exciting father and son partnership. Asking if his dad enjoys batting, Leo responded ‘he likes to hit a couple of sixes and get out’. Which in the context of the game at that point would have been perfect. Don ran himself out for 2 - father and son comms were down also not helped by the fact Don twinned his shjorts with loose fitting boxers...the protector was all over the shop. Leo's mum Allie and sister Munchie -my God Daughter had joined the excited crowd

Still needing 23 runs off 24 balls and 8 down, twelvegate was now back in play. Pete Stephens - Marlow’s 1st team star and opening bat - was in the pavilion and had put his pads on. We had a twelfth player. But Leo - despite some cracking hitting - missed a straight one and finally succumbed to Ambrose. An excellent and important 24. 9 down we were left with the Marlow star and PUG - who clearly after his fifer wanted to be the hero of the day. 

But it wasn’t to be. Pete pushed the ball around, and PUG did to - but the much needed boundaries weren’t forthcoming. With 7 needed to win - it was all over when PUG was bowled for 3 by Hanan. 

A close fought contest. A deserved win by Marlow who bowled and fielded well. Thanks to everyone who came and made it a great day’s cricket. It was the second game in a row that Marlow had won by 7 runs. And no - the result wouldn’t have been any different had we played with 11 players. Played in the right spirit by all.

A fantastic turnout.