Hampshire Hogs is a unique fixture for the Woodpeckers, as it is our only all-day game, and they are a proper cricket team,founded in 1887, they play against a variety of opposition, including MCC, I Zingari, Free Foresters and international touring sides ...and the Woodpeckers. It is a stunning ground in the heart of the Meon Valley, with a fabulous wicket and outfield surrounded by beautiful rolling fields full of the most beautiful beasts in the world.
It was an absolutely glorious day at Warnford and we had a wonderful crowd supporting us. Betty and Billy the retriever pup, Jemmoty on full Debut as was Stef-Doner supporting Chris ‘Doner’ Donely . Tamsin and her God Father, Poppy Holme and Ed (who very kindly rescued Sebbie’s kite from a tree) Scovells and O-Bs made up a really great support team which was much appreciated.
Hampshire Hogs are easily our biggest cricketing challenge of the year as most village oppositions are made up of a mixture of good cricketers, kids, seniors and 'fun' players. Hampshire Hogs are all good cricketers and we've had to take strong sides over the years, had some great games and a few memorable wins. Over the years, their team has got stronger and ours hasn't. It was also the first game of the season for many of our players, whereas the Hogs would have all played and netted.
As it's our only all-day game with lunch many of our bon-vivants led previously by Windy discussed endlessly on the whats-app groups about what combination of Port, Rose and Rjoja would create the perfect day, I tried not to react but did try to stress the sternness of the challenge and my 'Clear Eyes, Full Hearts...can't lose' speech largely fell on deaf ears.
I put them into bat, wanting to avoid an embarrassingly low target and so we could at least field and bowl for a few hours before the Port took it's toll. SP continued his luckless spell for Peckers whilst bowling well, whilst Motty after confidently requesting the new cherry lacked the consistency we saw at Brook. He did induce Bert to leading edge one to mid on where Doby took a great catch running back.
Cousin Le Davide came on and bowled decently down the hill though we worry that his Charles Tyrwhitt shirt may be restricting his pace.Cuddles and Doner were rusty turning their arms for the first time in 7 months, and we didn't really get the breaks either. Runs flowed and at lunch Hogs were 160-1, where Ale and Port duly flowed in certain directions, washing down the Pork Pies, Jersey Royals and excellent cheese board. Toby after deliberating endlessly about bringing the 1966 or 1986 Warres eventually plumped for quantity.
Interestingly...Methuselah is the "Man of the dart/spear", or alternatively "his death shall bring judgment") is a biblical patriarch and a figure in Judaism and Christianity. ..He is reported to have lived the longest of all characters mentioned in the Hebrew Bible at the age of 969. .. Methuselah was the son of Enoch, the father of Lamech, and the grandfather of Noah.
Well the port was well received and I hope I can keep playing til at least the age of 969.One excellent plus point from this game was the debut of Henry Walpole, a keen cricketer, jolly fellow and former housemate of Doby and landlord Charlie Young aka Cyoungy or Shylock who coincidentally got married today to the lovely Lucy -Congrats to them both.
Henners bowled off-spin with excellent control both sides of lunch. Eventually he bowled Olly Kelly for 83, and Botty trapped Henry lbw. Our Henners snaffled two more wickets and it could have been a five for on debut, but for some missed chances. Doby (normally our star fielder)’s fielding for some reason wasn’t quite as sharp after lunch..He missed 2 chances off his former housemate Henners, one apparently due to an over-hanging tree, and fluffed a regulation run out in comedy fashion as Merv did well to collect the throw but missed his shy at the stumps from two yards .Henners ended up bowling 17 overs, 3 for 65 a truly excellent spell in difficult circumstances Cuddy fielded brilliantly and Big Merv produced an excellent display behind the stumps, but Hogs batted on and eventually declared on 297-5.
We really needed our big guns to fire, but the Hogs bowling was quick and accurate and the wickets fell with alarming regularity. Openers Immers (0) and Cous (7) only lurked briefly, and Botty still worrying about the Pecker of the year Curse was stumped for 13. Doby provided brief respite, making a typically breezy 24, but then Henners (1) and Doner (8) were also quick to return to the safety of the pavilion.
As I walked out to join Cuddles, I noticed the the Scoreboard had been eerily possessed by the devil showing 66-6. In the Textus Receptus manuscripts of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation (13:17–18) cryptically asserts 666 to be "man's number" associated with the Beast, an antagonistic creature that appears briefly about two-thirds into the apocalyptic vision.In modern popular culture, 666 has become one of the most widely recognized symbols for the Antichrist or, alternatively, the devil. The number 666 is purportedly used to invoke Satan
We certainly needed an apocalyptic vision or possibly Satan padded up and ready to come in at 9. We were nowhere near two-thirds of the way there, and had a lot of time and overs left. We decided our only option was to try and bat sensibly, and avoid a record loss for the Woodpeckers..The record is a loss by 165 runs at Withyham in 2004. and we needed to double the total to avoid an ugly re-write. We both defended the good balls, and I was lucky to have a few edges go in gaps as we gradually used up some overs and scored a few runs. Cuddles hit two glorious straight sixes after drinks at 20 overs and we got to 143-6 and within about 15 overs of a glorious victory...I mean draw. But then we were both dismissed in quick succession both edging to keeper Henry Wakefield, Cuddles for 35 and POB for 45. Motty made a breezy 25 before he got carried away and became the 2nd Mott of the day to leave the crease and be stumped by the same Henry.
This gave Hog's Henry a day of 88 runs(unluckily dismissed), 4 catches and 2 stumpings in the match, a brilliant performance and a lovely lad. SP was given out as the 1st lbw of the day from the fastidious pro umpire and we were all out 174, a loss by 123 runs but at least not a complete massacre.
It was a fabulous day and we stayed to enjoy some drinks, sunshine and chats with the opposition Henry Wakefield was given his man of the match drink and I awarded the Gette Cup to Charlie Browne. Sadly Chris Bazalgette who introduced us to Hogs is unwell and couldn't make it, but we all wish the Gette well and look forward to seeing him next year.
We repaired to the Palace Spice in Battersea where a dozen peckers were joined by Hogs skipper Charlie Browne who didn't gloat too much and promised to bring back some seniors for next year. Another cracking Peckers occasion, but we may need an inspirational strategy to try and get our hands on the Gette Cup in 2019.