Hampshire Hogs

The Peckers travelled down to the beautiful home of the Hampshire Hogs hoping to lift The Gette Cup for the first time since the two clubs started playing for the prestigious piece of silverware 3 years ago. (Is this right?)

The day got off to a slightly delayed start due to Archie “Austin Powers” Wilko questionable time keeping, Cous’ latest eBay exploits, purchasing a malfunctioning lawnmower as well as Jamie managing to end up at the wrong ground despite countless messages and the WhatsApp group chat’s name.

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Eventually the game got under way with the Peckers fielding first. Jamie and Spinach’s economical opening spell forcing the Hogs into a slow and run shy start. Jamie(Potty’s neighbour and former 2020 team mate of POB/SP) bowled some lively in-swing and claimed the first victim of the day after just 13 runs, forcing the batsmen into lofting the ball into the grateful clutches of Austin Wilko.

The Hogs pushed on to 59 before losing their second wicket to the exceptional bowling of Greasy Glaister, dismissing the veteran opener Gunyon for 12 off 76 balls. The next wicket fell shortly as a risky call for a run was duly punished as Felix The Cat on debut pounced on the ball before throwing down the stumps, a lightning throw and from side on. Cousin Le Davide bowled a one-over cameo but couldn’t keep his footing in his golf shoues so was more,like Bambi on ice. Motty’s 2 over cameo proved fruitful, taking 2 wickets, the first a longhop, which the dangerous looking Gabb spliced to Spinach.. The second was a Bogota off-Cutter that caused the 12 year old batsman Foster to shoulder arms. This brought the 9 man Hogs into Lunch at a disappointing 75-5. Peckers were delighted by the late flurry and duly the Wine and port came out.

Motty picked this one up in Douro …needed decanting really but delicious

Motty picked this one up in Douro …needed decanting really but delicious

The Hog’s had put on a fantastic spread, a coronation chicken affair and tasty cheeseboard which in hindsight the Peckers may have overindulged in as the Hogs came out back out and moved without incident to 132-5. Pobsy decided to turn to Felix The Cat having seen his incredible run out.. a few expected good things.. and they were right as the Cat was on the money straight away with some decent pace. Botty wanted to get involved in the bowling so off came his keeping gloves and he started to prove his worth going at a very economical rate and to everyone’s surprise picking up 3 wickets. Hogs eventually finished on 178 all out - some impressive Pecker Figures included Grease Lightening who was unfortunate to only pick up 1 wicket, 11 overs 1-26 for Greasy.

Motty and Cous went out to the middle to open, with Motty showing some lovely strokes. Cous was instructed to play himself in so on his first ball he tried to loft one to cow corner, the end result was the bails flying in the air. Out came Botty and he immediately showed some delicious timing with the bat (whilst reprimanding his brother for loose play), hitting the Hogs youthful side to all parts of the ground,. Motty was unfortunate to go early on after hitting a few boundaries but in came the determined Fish to make amends of his duck the week before - thankfully Spinach wasn’t umpiring so he may stand a chance... He and Botty made a brilliant partnership punishing the  bad balls and blocking the odd decent one. Botty was eventually bowled but made an impressive 45 off 46 balls. Next in was Archie “Austin Powers” Wilko, AKA Paul Collingwood the handy man - indeed he turned out to be very handy making a crafty 46 not out, with an impressive 6 over the sight screen to win the game for the Peckers. Fish also not out with an incredible innings ending up on 65 not out. Fish and Archie walked towards the glorious Hogs club house grinning from ear to ear.

A special mention to the WAGS that came and supported, as well as Spinach’ parents Savoy & Florentina, Tic Tacs mother and God father, and even Potty made an appearance! A truly fabulous and memorable day of cricket in Hampshire, surrounded by delightful people. Hadleigh Graves completed the trio of delightful debutantes.

Peckers bring home the bacon as a run thirsty Fish knocks an undefeated maiden half century. A fantastic team effort lads -well played all round

The Teams and Supporters

The Teams and Supporters

Potty pops down and gets involved in the handshakes

Potty pops down and gets involved in the handshakes

Man of the Match Fish gets to drink from the Gette Cup

Man of the Match Fish gets to drink from the Gette Cup

Chertsey

We arrived at Chertsey to be welcomed by a packed clubhouse due to a training session being held for various ages of the club. It was good to see the club thriving, especially as it is one of the oldest clubs in the land (founded in 1737) and even boasts inventing the middle stump 39 years after its inception .

After the season opener at Sanderstead, where our abject batting performance being put down to 11 Peckers arriving without hangovers, this week, we decided to revert back to default hoping we could match Jos Buttler’s exploits from the day before.

We had Pugs of two generations, el Colleens younger brother Alex (and fiancee) supporting, Swampy Marsh over from Singapore who was to keep the stumps and Spinach’s mate Macca. Macca and Alex were on debut .

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The pitch was unlike many had seen before, extremely green, fairly soft, and looked like it would cause all sorts of issues for the batsmen. In fact, some on closer inspection we were confused as to which strip was to be played on, save for the stumps (all 6) which had been drilled in.

On to the match, the Woodpeckers fielded first and faced a youthful side which included two brothers who squabbled throughout (more on that later) and one of which was the captain. We opened up with yours truly (Spinach) and SP. Unfortunately, I failed to hold up my end and went to all parts of the ground, with a fielding change after only the 3rd ball of the innings by POBsy to remove the 2nd slip and provide damage limitation on the leg side.( I should have stuck a couple in the Wendy House) Safe to say, I was more than happy that this was not being filmed like at Sanderstead CC. After the batsmen lapped up the plethora of full tosses, I was removed after 4 overs with Chertsey on 73-0 off 8 overs. Pugsy and SP made the breakthrough in the 10th and 11th over to stem the onslaught. However, the worst was to come with their in-form batsman coming to the crease, and he was unfortunate not to score a century, before being caught, bowled by Fish.

Other notable highlights included PUG junior’s bowling. Despite only turning into double figures of age very recently, his tight lines restricted the batsmen who struggled to get anything but singles. Fantastic spell by Chuggy . POBsy took an excellent one-handed catch on the boundary despite Henner’s best efforts to also catch it. Fish and Henners both took excellent catches too.

Spinach ended up being involved in one of the more controversial events of the match whilst returning with his second spell. Latham, one of the more senior members of the Chertsey team, turned down a single whilst at the non-strikers end. However, unfortunately for him hadn’t quite realised he hadn’t returned to his crease and Spinach took this opportunity to run him out. There were parallels of the infamous ‘Mankad’ incident, especially as after a brief discussion about calling him back, we awaited the new batsman.

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After the 40 overs Chertsey ended on a decent 230, considering the outfield was incredibly slow this was quite impressive.Bowling stats –PUGsy 24-2, SP 36- 2, Henners 48-1 and Fish 7-1.

Even with 230 the target, we thought with a good start, we could give ourselves a very good chance. We opened up with el Colleen and his younger brother Alex who started well with a couple of nicely timed boundaries. However, a classic Woodpecker collapse left the team 5 down with only 50 runs on the board. Both openers were caught, El Collleen not shaking off the Woodpecker of the year Curse in game one and Fish suffered a golden duck after being given lbw, plum in front, triggered by Spinach. Henners got off to a nice start with a maximum and another boundary but was also caught and Marsh scored 2 runs and suffered the same fate. Their opening pair had all 5 wickets with Mukund achieving impressive figures of 3-15 at the end of his spell

An all too familiar sight for Pecker Middle order batsmen

An all too familiar sight for Pecker Middle order batsmen

Worryingly, a score below the season opener at Sanderstead (89) looked a real possibility and we needed to stop the rot fast. With bated breath, PUGsy joined POBsy out in the middle, and the two managed to survive a few overs. With this, confidence grew and with some good stroke play and some large 6s from PUGsy both batsmen reached their half century’s with little trouble (51 and 72 respectively). It was Pug’s 1st ever 50 for the Peckers and indeed as an adult, and contained 5 6s mixed with sensible defence. It was a new Pug with his son on debut and he coached me between overs on how we could achieve a victory. This partnership did nothing for the relationship between the two brothers who seemed to enjoy it when each other got hit for boundaries but it was all positive for the Peckers! 

Pug lashes another 6

Pug lashes another 6

However, once both were caught, the run rate started to rise dramatically with 8 an over needed off the last 10. SP needed a runner, so Spinach provided this after being caught out. Safe to say SP has never before recorded so many 3s playing for the Peckers!

With just under two overs remaining and over 40 needed, PUGsy Jnr came out at 11 to join Macca and got his first run for the Peckers with a lovely on-drive for a single. The innings came to a close with the Peckers reaching 188 off 40 overs.

Batting stats – PUGsy 72, POBsy 51, Macca 12*, Henners 11

Chertsey CC 230-7 beat Woodpeckers 188-9 by 42 runs

Chip off the old Pug Block (Block not being the operative word)

Chip off the old Pug Block (Block not being the operative word)

Sanderstead


Subtext - Sanderstead have embraced digital and are doing it brilliantly. They now film all of their matches and publish a 20-25 minute highlights reel on their YouTube channel (1.5m views and counting) within 24 hours. At the time of writing our reel had clocked 13,500+ views. They also cut the best bits into shorter 10-15 second clips for social media. It goes without saying that we served up a bounty of hilarity, and at the time of writing the clips produced and shared by the cricketing fraternity on social media have clocked well over 200,000 views. We’ve gone viral. The video is embedded below and this match report fills in the gaps.

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The first game of the new season is a challenge for cricketers at all levels of the game. It’s a test of how you’ve wintered, how nets and fitness training have gone and how mentally prepared you are for the season ahead.

Our now traditional season opener at Sanderstead is usually a bit of a rude awakening - we’ve wintered by adding a stone each, we don’t do nets and our mental preparation is usually marred by turning up with an enormous hangover.

Which is why it was such a surprise to find myself at the Saw Mill Ground on a brisk Sunday morning amongst 10 other Woodpeckers without hangovers, over an hour before play was due to start, deciding who should pad up first for our net session. Most unusual.

Amongst us were four debutants - all a product of match manager Motty and some old university connections. First things first were the traditional nickname giving, like getting your first cap for England, we couldn’t possibly use real names so nicknames had to be found without delay, here they are

Stuart Aitken aka StuPoo. Hadn’t played cricket for 23 years. Right arm leg-spin, RHB. StuPoo sat in the wrong place at his first lecture at the University of Brighton and with Motty as one of his oldest mates, is still living to regret it.

Paul Aitken aka Baz. Hadn’t played cricket for 11 years. Right arm fast medium, RHB. As an embryo Baz sat in the wrong place in at his first stage of zygotic fertilisation in his mother’s womb and with Stu as his twin brother, is still living to regret it.

Owain Walcroft aka Steamtrain. Hadn’t played cricket for 23 years. Unknown, RHB. ST is an old friend of all of the above and an occasional cricketer who should have been running the London marathon today, but he got injured and as a local will now play for the Woodpeckers here every season until his knees give in (probably his only game).

Miles McCulloch aka Mowgli. Hadn’t played since last summer. Wicketkeeper, RHB. Mowgli joined the wrong team at work and with Baz as his boss and being the owner of his own wicketkeeping gloves, is now our official wicketkeeper.

On to the actual game then.

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It wasn’t an overly warm day, barely breaking into 10 degrees and rain expected at 3ish, so a 35 over match was agreed before the toss, which pleased everybody. These days when he does win the toss, Patrick quite sensibly looks not at the overhead conditions or the pitch, but the state of his Peckers, when deciding what to do.

Sanderstead looked strong, with 4 or 5 1st teamers and some callow youth who looked to be spritely in the field.

The Peckers, on the other hand, were celebrating the lack of hangovers by tucking into the delicious Surrey Ales on offer in the bar.

So although there wasn’t a single hangover and we felt strong in both batting and bowling, we’d been warming up in the nets for 45 minutes and were as supple and ready to go as we’re likely to be all season. So we inserted and got out there.

Spinach and Motty opened the bowling. Spinach began, tearing down the hill with the wind slinging it down like Malinga and immediately giving the batsmen problems on what looked an uneven and lively surface. Motty on the other hand, heading up the hill into the biting wind, quickly found a rhythm and consistency that surprised everybody, including the batsmen.

The first breakthrough was Motty’s, with a technically sound opener leaving one too late and playing on to his stumps. This brought Chris ‘Aesch’ Aeschlimann to the wicket, pumped up the order for a bit of the old long handle. Chris is a great friend of the Woodpeckers having toured with a few of the older members - including our dear Old Sea Dog Chris Rossi - to Sri Lanka a few years back. Aesch isn’t going to die wondering that’s for sure and looking back over our previous encounters he’s consistent with this approach. One lusty blow over mid off and a couple of miscues quickly followed by missing what was an excellent yorker from Spinach .

Spinach (5-1-24-1) gave way to Phil ‘Polly’ Horton, a mate of Botty’s whose debut was the ‘Battle of New Malden’ last season. Polly quickly accounted for the other opener with a sharp catch for debutant Mowgli behind the sticks. By the time Motty (7-3-9-1) had completed his set we had them at 40-3 after 15 overs and we were looking in control.

Cue Henners - POTY elect and looking to start the season off with a bang. He did, but just at the wrong end. The batsmen had clearly been waiting for some twirlymen and they tucked in immediately. Polly took advantage and dispatched the dangerous looking Hassan, caught well by Botty for 15.

Lemon, looking well set on 29, went for another maximum in Henners’ third over and what looked like a lost ball hung in the wind and POB at long off was in the game. The ball hung in the air for what seemed a lifetime and we all had time to lay a bet on red or white, with red coming up the long favourite. POB defied the odds and took the catch cleanly and calmly, a shape of things to come? At 78-5 it was time to changes things up again and POB elected to bring the twins - Poo and Baz - on from each end.

Poo has a very natural leg spinners action, all wrist and shape. Initially he struggled to find his line but eventually a few absolute gems started coming down which would have troubled much better batsmen than were at the crease. Unfortunately we weren’t playing better cricket and so Poo quickly learned that bad bowling gets the wickets in the village. Deadman was his first wicket this century, falling to a great catch from Polly, who had a ball magnet in his pocket, at short fine leg.

With his twin brother Baz steaming in from the other end, we had 20 minutes of uninterrupted Aitken bowling. And it was joyous. Baz was generating some decent pace and odd unplayable from the top end and was rewarded with the wickets of Ward and Rushforth - with 13,000 runs between them for SCC these were good scalps to get.

The twins bowled brilliantly given their lack of cricket for so many years. With some nets and a bit of work both can become great additions to our bowling attack. Poo finished with (5-0-19-1) and Baz (5-0-33-2).

Save for a sleeping umpire, we would have had them all out for under 120, alas he was asleep and an obvious stumping wasn’t given. The last pair then added 20 odd to post a flattering 144, bowled out in 30.3 overs.

Incredibly, the Peckers of Sanderstead 2019 took all seven of their catches, with not a single drop. Some of these were half-chances. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen that.

We left the field with our heads high, delighted to have all bowled and fielded well. A dozen ales were ordered and a long-ish tea was enjoyed.

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Tea

Basic but well-filled sandwiches were complimented by a plethora of pakoras, pasties and mini-pies. A platter of cakes and pastries that would have kept The Baron in battenbergs for a week was hoovered with more ales and well stewed tea.Spinach really wanted me to mention the Bacon bits -Spinach and Bacon do go well together

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Where our bowling and fielding was a professional, efficient and impressive - our batting was the complete opposite.

I won’t dwell too much on this but a strong upper order of Fischy, Botty (fingered tbf), Henners and Mowgli all fell before we could agree the rest of the order. At 20-3 after just a few overs chaos enveloped the napping middle and lower order.

By the time Owain returned from his innings on a stretcher we were 60-6 and the game was nearly over. A clip of his retired hurt has gone properly viral, being seen over 50,000 times - here it is:

https://twitter.com/i/status/1122889867522916352

The tail unfortunately didn’t wag and we capitulated for just 89.

Full scorecard: https://sanderstead.play-cricket.com/website/results/4039306

Well done reading this drivel, here’s the video: