As a new season begins following a long winter it was with great pleasure that the Peckers reconvened for their first match of the season at the wonderful Ripley Cricket Club, the picturesque Surrey village just outside Woking. The Pecker Packer & Botty arrived early having escaped the melee of the London marathon and with the nets open and available it was decided that some practice wasn’t a bad idea. However, this only resulted in pulled muscles and people playing themselves seemingly out of form. Big Merv being the exception working up a head of steam with his new wrist action and really impressing the onlooking skipper
The team was soon joined by Mutley, the Palmer brothers, Immers and finally just before we took the field, The Baron. Skip, as befitting the first game of the season, lost the first toss and we were sent into the field. The pitch was green as could expected with the earliness of the season and with the recent rain (they forgot to put covers on). Ripley moved to 27 before first teamer Hussain skied oned to the safe midriff of Tiddles. Edges were then dropped - Some good bowling by Cousin resulted in an edge heading straight into Botty’s hands and straight out again. Was this the beginning of the Pecker of the year curse?The very next over SP, who had the benefit of prodigious outswing, got one to nip away and Mutley dropped what all the Peckers thought was a sitter.
Another 6 overs passed before the next chance and this was taken superbly by Cousin off his own bowling 51-2 By this point the Brothers Palmer had been brought into the attack. Tiddles with his superb line and inswing to complement the speed and accuracy of Greggles at the other end meant that the runs were kept to an absolute minimum and wickets started to fall at regular intervals, with the pair's ability to target the stumps. Panting was finally removed by Greggles skying one to cover where skip showed us how it is done. Tiddles carried the Pecker of the Year Curse last year, resulting in 0-111 with the ball and a batting average of 2.7. He threw off the curse with abandon....3-22 off his 8 , all clean bowled and a tremendous spell.
The skip decided that once Greggles had had enough that we needed to keep some pace on with the Baron at the other end and the ball was chucked to Merv. He certainly lived up to his moniker with a wide range of deliveries which saw his first over going for 10 with the Ripley number 8 charging at everyone (including Greggles) and then securing 3 wickets in his next, interspersed with a couple of wides. He finished with 4 for 14 of 2.3 overs with redemption coming for the Mutley taking an easy one and Botty closing the innings with a stunning catch to his right-hand side. Going into tea after only 32 overs having been set a target of 116 peckers were definitely up. Some glorious deliveries from Big Merv!
Tea, as usual for this wonderful club was a superb affair with a great selection of sandwiches, scones and cake. However, Tamsin out did herself with home made sausage rolls (and the best Dijon mustard) which really was a superb addition.
The Peckers innings saw Immers and Botty make their way to the crease and, having just hit a ball to the boundary, Immers was clean bowled the very next ball. Greasy made his way in and although his resemblance to Stuart Broad is uncanny he was unable to build an innings and was also bowled by the unwavering Cliff. Mutley joined Botty at the crease and the next over Botty was given out LBW by LP having hit the ball squarely into his pad. Botty didn’t move for a moment and even the Ripley field were slightly bemused by the decision (albeit they appealed) and Botty eventually trudged off, muttering under his breath.
SP, who had been having a net wondered out to the middle and with plenty of time available the bats agreed they could take their time. However, some chaotic early season calling from Mutley led to both of them standing in the middle as the bails were whipped off. Mutley bit the bullet but was joined back in the pavilion by SP shortly afterwards following a great catch at slip following a diversion off the keeper’s gloves. 25
25-5 and in some trouble but some stability was brought to proceedings by Cousin and Greggles who got the measure of the bowlers and got the scoreboard ticking along nicely, before Cous holed out for 15 playing an 8 iron where driver was required and Greggles unluckily played on for 23...56-7. Skip wondered out to the wicket and he played a captain’s innings top scoring for with 27. The partnership with Big Merv (10) took us well on the way to the target and those on the boundary thought these 2 had the measure of the wicket. Merv was bowled through his legs for 10 bringing Tid to the wicket who hit one glorious 6.. Ripley seemed to have left their best bowler till 4th change and he was quick and tight, but they managed to keep him out whilst scoring at the other end. He skittled the Skip with the scores tied at 115 with only The Baron left to win the match for us. First ball he was hit on the pad, having in his own words ‘not being able to get any further forward’ ...Jim Baker's finger was raised and he was given out for a golden duck LBW.
And so, with the scores tied we repaired to the club bar for some light refreshments with the opposition and reminisce of what might have been. At least an unbeaten season is still on. A great game to start the season with great all-round performances from Tiddles and Big Merv
Ripley 115 tied with Woodpeckers 115.
Runky discusses the potential of the adjoining South Facing garden with it's owner
Runky on his way to the crease
Our two umpires with their two unlucky victims
The last guard
Greasy full of admiration for the Beeearon
Botty reflecting on the POY curse and wondering why he forgot to bring the trophy
Where is SP? Oh there he is!!” Stood next to him the whole time