As per usual it was in dribs and drabs that the Woodpeckers arrived at the picturesque Headley ground, on a glorious June summer’s day. Memories of last years fixture; the record breaking 10th wicket partnership, unveiling of the Owen-Browne bench, and lashings of ale were recalled in the Lancer on the way from CJ.
Rumours abound that both teams had tardy players, led to the agreement of a 15-minute delayed start. After losing the toss, the peckers were put into field. The green looking wicket manged to convince our diligent treasurer that today would be the day for the newly purchased Duke’s to make an appearance.
The opening bowling fell to the responsible shoulders of Pug who made things happen with that duke. Two dropped catches in the first over – a tough one to Ali in the slips, but then new pecker Donner should really have held onto the second chance at mid-wicket. (To be fair he is coming out of the 6-year semi-retirement home that we seem to recruit most peckers from) Doner also got redemption as he took a nice catch later on Behind the stumps it seemed like Pug had it on a string, and it could only be a matter of time before his first scalp? In normal sports writing this is where one might pose the question would the Woodpeckers go onto rue these gilt-edged chances? Alas, avid readers of the match report and even casual observers, may not be surprised to read that opener Paul went onto to top score for Headley with a decent 42 runs. Tiddles opened from the other end and ran in beautifully for his 7 overs. Finishing with figures of 2-28, that could have been bettered had it not been for a couple of wayward deliveries in his 4th. The short boundaries at Headley meant all the bowlers had to be on their game.
After the swooping 1st over, the duke stopped doing things and the green wicket was our only ally. Despite tight bowling after 5 overs Pug was given a breather and on came an actually fresh-faced Motty. He started slowly but improved against thr left/right batting combo that we seemed to face all innings, keeping his discipline whilst running in over and around the wicket. Motty’s bowling was rewarded by a double wicket maiden in his sixth, with double catches at 2nd/3rd/gully hybrid position by Ali. The second low and at his feet was an excellent catch. Perhaps the finest slip catch in my 3 years with the peckers. At the other end the now heavily worn duke had been tossed to the baron.
After words were had between The Baron and No.7 Barton Snr. (whom was dealing in boundaries and ended up with a quickfire 28) came the first controversial moment in the game. In the previous over Barton Snr. had hit one achingly just over the head of POBs at Long off. Now firmly entrenched on the boundary rope Barton Snr. looped another one straight at him but this time it was falling 10 yards short. A diving attempt from POBs resulted in the longest catch I have seen taken in my three years as a pecker. After spilling the initial attempt, the ball was juggled on thigh, elbow, chest, a couple of palms and then eventually was cleanly taken. Given out by the watching spectators close by Barton was not a happy man to be walking off the field. The Baron finished with 3-58 and it was left to Ali and Gav to clean up the tail enders with a wicket apiece. Headley had set us a total of 169.
Tea was a casual affair with simple sandwiches and cakes. This was my first appearance this season without experiencing the delightful baking of Peckerette Tamsin. Oh, how I longed for a piece of your asparagus tart.
The left/right combination that had served Headley well had already been a plan of action for POBS. With openers Ali and Gav, we had a fluid 3 and 4 depending on whether the left or the right hander got out. After two overs, we had our answer, with a very contentious LBW from LP that Ali may have middled. We only had to wait a further 4 overs for the next contentious decision. Cuddy whilst looking solid was given out LBW once again with valid shouts he had hit it. Woodpeckers 15-2, with both scalps coming from Barton Jnr.
Coleen came in at 4 and ably supported Gav in taking full advantage of the short boundaries. A quick and extremely powerful 31 was achieved before Barton Snr took a good catch to break the biggest partnership of our innings; 68 runs. This was my first time playing with the much-fabled Gav Scovell. Not only had I heard how accomplished a batsmen he is from Peckers past and present. On more than one occasion, when out covering square leg umpire, the oppo have enquired after Gavin and told tales of a demolition he had dealt out. It was a pleasure to watch. The remainder of the peckers batting performance was not a pleasure. With the score at 165-5 and Motty looking settled, I should not have made the observation that Myself, Pug and Tiddles were still padded up. Out went Mott, then the three of us all returned to the pavilion having not troubled the scorers. Within the space of nine balls the peckers had fallen to 165-9.
Out strode the Baron to the scene of his stunning innings to draw the match last year. Headley CC smelt blood and closed the field. We needn’t have worried as his huge stride and forward defence was impeccable. An edge to third man saw him off strike. Gav suitably carried his bat through to score 90 N.O. to see the Woodpeckers through to our first victory of the summer.
The result would have been so much worse had a correct no ball not been called by LP. With Gav hovering just below 50 a full toss was ducked and then died clipping the top of the bails on it’s way through. Headley CC were convinced LP had raised a finger when in fact it was only to his side to indicate a No Ball.
Mainly played in great spirit, it was fantastic to get our first victory on the board for the season. Up next is Tilford with their lovely short boundaries.