When George Orwell wrote ‘All animals are equal but some are more equal than others’ he surely had this fixture in mind as the Stags took on the Woodpeckers, replete with Fish and Kipper, in a 35 over bash at Cambridge Avenue. A decent track and a gloriously hot day meant that batting first was a must. The two excellent Skippers, POB and Dave Bateman, first tried to negotiate the toss then, realising both wanted to bowl first (are they mad?) tossed the coin. Stags won and the Woodies batted first. Steve Morgan, a Stags player making his debut for the Woodies, opened with the Kipper. ‘Any advice Skipper?’ asked the Kipper. ‘Yes’ came the reply, ‘Watch for rippers and the odd flipper’. The Kipper solemnly took his place.
Steve started the early scoring with some aggressive pulls only to drag on for 5. Henners played two glorious shots for 4 before hitting one straight to cover leaving the Woodies at 17-2. Henners was disappointed with his dismissal slapping his pad with bat. Fortunately he didn’t realise the bowler, Sam Hopkins, had arrived from Costa Rica that morning after an 10 hour flight with no sleep.
This brought the Fish and Kipper together and the latter, who’d been living up to his nickname, began to awake from his slumber. The Fish and Kips partnership flourished just as you would expect from, well, you know the rest. 69 was added in fine style with the Kipper, with a passing resemblance to, and playing like, Kane Williamson unfurling a gorgeous off drive for 4. The Fish departed for 29 and the Kipper for 47 which brought to together Greggles and Woody, the latter making his annual appearance against his club side
. A partnership of 32, to which the veteran contributed 6, was ended when the old boy hit a fabulous cover drive straight into the hands of mid-wicket.
(Note: Please read the following sentence in the voice of Richie Benaud) Greg soon followed for an excellent 61 with two sixes one of which went into the Wendy house and out again
The inevitable Peckers collapse ensued as 5 wickets fell for 17 runs... Spinach with 9, SP with 1 and Tiddles failing to trouble the scorers brought the final pair together. The 10th wicket partnership of 21 between POB (19*) and the Baron (4*) added gloss to a good performance against a spirited attack and the innings closed at 202-9.
A word about our opponents. They were a very young side with 9 players 17 or under. They play the game in the correct way with great spirit and determination and this was all part of their learning curve. Hear Hear -The young lads played with a professionalism and courtesy one could only admire. The skipper’s sons Matt with 3-34 and Nick 3-16 took the honours but 8 bowlers were given their chance. Liz’s teas were as usual, very good,( fish finger sandwiches, scones with cream, home made choc chip cookies and an ice lolly to finish the highlights of the best tea of the season)and a leisurely interval ensued.
Time to bowl. Tiddles and Spinach took the new ball but found Sam Gerrard and Dan Shepherd, the young openers in fine form. The score began to mount but POB, with some judicious bowling changes, began to slow the scoring. Sam miscued a pull sending it spiralling to deep gully. Greggles and Kipper both move towards it. Each could easily catch it. Woody shouts ‘Greg’s’. Kipper dutifully stops; the ground holds its breath. Greg stood beneath the easy catch and easily dropped it 'The second sitter he's dropped off his twin Tiddles in as many seasons.... Spin at both ends now with the Baron and Henners in charge. Henners is given a break and Greg bowls a few mean overs. I had to whip of a spinner prematurely and thought Henners would be the easier one to manage, but no he threw a fit the Beearon himself would have been proud of, bleating 'Four overs good, two overs bad at a horrified skipper' Still the score mounts until POB produces a masterstroke, he invites LP to umpire. 5 balls later and Sam is plumb lbw to the Baron for a well made 46. (96-1). With LP umpiring at one end, Jim Baker at the other and Woody keeping wicket it’s fair to observe that between them they have about 1000 Woodies games and the total of their ages far exceed the total of the whole Malden side put together. Woody manages to stump Nick Bateman off Henners and Dan is run out by a Greggles underarm trying to increase the scoring rate for a classy 78. (170-3). POB takes a well judged catch in the deep, Steve fields well and Spinach is outstanding on the boundary as the pressure is applied as the scoring rate increases. We are presented with two or three excellent opportunities for run outs but, with a commendable lack of skill, we fail to take any of them. Last over 10 to win. Greg is given the task. 5 yorkers, 2 wickets and 1 good length ball later and we’re home by 4 runs. Tiddles with 1-44, Henners 1-32, Baron 1-30, Greg 2-25 and SP 2-25 shared the wickets. A fantastic game of cricket, a glorious day and a super venue. Beer was drunk and the teams made plans for next year. Two equal sides but one just a little more equal than the other. George would have been pleased. Thanks Woody for a great report, excellent keeping and arranging a marvellous fixture that seems to always produce a nail-biter. Thanks lads for a great team performance and 5 wins in a row for the Woodpeckers!
Woodpeckers 202-9 beat Malden Wanderers 198-8 by 4 runs