Another scorching day – reaching 32C by midday – was interrupted at 10.6 pm when Simon Lampard (no relation) the Marlow Park fixture secretary emailed to say the 300ms stretch from the High Street to Pound Lane leading to the ground has been closed for repairs to the gas main. He advised tackling the Lane from the east instead of the west. Not easy to do with the river Thames on one side.
Whether the confusion in trying to find the right detour – most of the roads were unmarked cul de sacs – could be blamed but our opening bowler Chris “Spinach” Wilton started by conceding ten runs in his first over,. In our lineup was a club record of four Kiwis, three from the North Island and one from the South. Chris, a 25 year old Bournemouth supporter, comes from Poole and works in the same company as SP.
Another Kiwi, Grant “Lumber” Clark on debut, bowled two wayward overs and seized up. He is from his words Tokoroa (shitty little hick farm town with a timber mill) in NZ, and when I asked about all four of the kiwis sporting beards, he said it was Lumber-Sexual! He was feeling a 'bit stiff' after a sexy Blonde Essex lass narrowly slipped past his outside edge in a cab at 3am .Shaun Paterson soon took over and found a good length of a shortened run. Runky fulminated against yet another declaration game and said “We’ve just seen one of the greatest Test matches of all time and it showed people that its proper cricket, not mickey mouse cricket.”
Michael “Fishy” Fischer arrived with a new set of kit and spun the ball appreciably on a low bounce pitch and had presentable figures of 7-6-58-2. Anything hit off the square shot over the rockhard straw – you can’t call it grass – to the boundary, boosted by a number of fielding indiscretions. The variable bounce hampered Alex Collier’s wicket keeping. There were 49 extras – 22 wides, 9 no balls, 14 byes and 4 leg byes. But well short of our all time record.Don Pennant, a longtime friend of POB from Dulwich College Prep School bowled beautifully for his 8-1-31-2 but we were unable to curb their number four Pete Stevens, a 26 year old talented tennis player who hit out ferociously with his 120 not out, his fourth century so far since they promoted him from the tail end. Don’s 14 year old son Leo had his turn with the ball as well, unsuccesfully. Runky, 7-0-56-1, found it hard work after playing in another declaration exercise at the HAC twenty four hour earlier. 256-7 off 40 overs
We had one of our largest attendance of relatives and friends, all sheltering under trees – Shaun’s parents “Horse” and “Caps” and supporters, Mel and family friends of five from Norwich helping to celebrate Isabella’s 11th birthday
There was a first appearance of the season for Gill and the Pennant family. Don’s wife Allie recently finished the 14 miles Thames swim in five hours and the star was fifteen month old Emmy -Shaun’s wife’s niece. Luckily there were enough pots of tea and leftovers for those who showed up towards the end of the interval. Marlow’s total was attainable in the conditions but we needed a Kane Williamson or a Kohli.
Kieran Preston, now christened “Kipper” after Colin Cowdrey when they realized KP wasn’t one of ours, was troubled by the Yips otherwise he could have stemmed the flow of runs. He represented Central Districts in NZ in his younger days (mainly as a spinner) and played for Wanneroo in Australia. “Kipper” and Shaun put on 93 for the first wicket and there was hope of an upset. Tight bowling, tighter than ours, kept the scoring rate behind the target and “Kipper” was bowled for 49. “Fishy” was bowled by Jez `Barlow with his fastish off cutters and Shaun was adjudged lbw by Guy, the home side’s veteran umpire, also dismissed by Barlow for 49.How's that for double-Kiwi Jug avoidance!
Our last star batsman Alex Collier was hitting out cleanly until he went down the pitch and lifted his head and was bowled the persistent Barlow. An interesting aspect of the game was the introduction of their 12 year old leg-spin bowler Joe Hoggen – quite a prospect. He turned the ball two or more feet and flighted and ball and troubled all of our batsmen. After he was asked to bowl he came up to hand his cap to our umpire (LP) and said “I’m sorry, it’s all wet. I tried to cool myself.” A sensible young man. After going for two sixes he almost burst into tears and one of the seniors gave him a consuling hug.Leo, 2, didn’t stay long and it was down to POB to go for a big one but after whacking a six towards the packed pavilion, he was another of Barlow’s victims, bowled for 21
Alex Cumming, a newcomer introduced by Louise Scovell, came out at eight to carve an elegant two to third man and followed up by one of the best dives ever seen at Higginson Park, full length a la Jurgen Klinsmann. And he got to his feet unmarked. Bowled for 2 by Barlow whose 8-0-53-5 sent Peckers to a 36 run defeat.
When “Spinach” was bowled there was only one ball remaining from the 40th over and no new batsmen appearing LP yanked out the stumps. Guy was confused and after a delay he intimated the two minutes were about to elapse, curtailing the innings. Suddenly Don Tennant, helped by Leo by putting his pads on, emerged and ran out to the wicket. Their last bowler hurled down a short delivery and Don cracked it to the cover boundary, the shot of the day. The batsmen came in at 220-9, an honourable defeat by 36, or, as Runky claims, a “draw.”
Marlow Park is 127 years going strong and they are nice people to play and we’ll be back next year, welcome guests. Our run of five victories came to an end, but another cracking day at Marlow.