Rotherfield Peppard

Peppard Stoke Row CC 15th September 2019. -By Spinach, Pob in Italics and after party by Horse

The Peckers gathered for the season finale at Peppard Common to be treated to a Dupa sponsored bonanza in the newly renovated clubhouse, nestled a stone’s throw away from Henley, within the quaint Chiltern Hills . The renovation to the clubhouse cost over £270k which provided ample space and facilities for Peckers and Peckerinos/WAGs alike. My helpful Peppard contact assured me that the food had arrived and slightly awed informed me that ‘Otto’ was happy. A new nickname was born as we don’t like the Aussie ‘surname with a y’ approach. The weather was unseasonably warm with Peckers making sure to lather up before entering the fray. POBsy lost the toss but as has been custom for the most of the season would have opted to bowl first regardless. A tactic employed for good reason, especially for this match considering the generous bar tab in place by Dupa which may have led some astray before making any notable contributions on the field! The format was set at 38 overs each way match and a 1.30 start (later renegotiated to 35 overs by POBsy to fully tuck into the bar tab and BBQ). A strong contingent of supporters gathered on the sidelines, enticed by the warm weather, glorious location and the promise of one last village cricket match to cap of a biblical summer of cricket. WAGS/Peckerinos included Spinach’s entourage with ‘Avocado’ they all got Pobsy Peckers nicknames ‘Goose and Floopert (potential peckers) plus the lovely Daisy’Plumsy’ Simpson’  and Jiggy not needing a nickname. The recently engaged JeMotty (congratulations again!), Life President, Bugsy, SP’s parents Horse and Caps to name but a few. As has been customary for Caps a delicious Egg Pie was provided to the team, much to the delight of those who were nursing hangovers or simply weary from the journey across.

Jemotty and Bugsy enjoy the sunshine -Jemotty glowing from recent betrothal

Jemotty and Bugsy enjoy the sunshine -Jemotty glowing from recent betrothal

Fush recruited Kiwi Tom Mccarty,his wife's brothers wife's little brother who went to Cambridge University and played for their 2nd X1 …so was christened ‘Dolphin’ as Fish’s more intelligent cousin and Barney ‘Rubble’ Shit-Heap another Teddington CC member made his long awaited debut.

Spinach and Greasy opened the bowling, limiting the openers to 2-3 runs an over. Spinach (2-30 off 7) made the breakthrough in his after having one earlier difficult chance at slip shelled by SP. Bowling in the corridor of uncertainty, he once again tempted the batsmen into a drive which was as lapped up gleefully by Dolphin who was very very apt behind the stumps showing his pedigree from under 19s district cricket in NZ.

The first change bowlers continued to make in roads, with some crafty spin shown by Barney Rubble and medium pace from Motty both taking a wicket apiece. Barney bowled well to remove Badger for 43, pouched tidily by Horse in the deep.

The Two Teams

The Two Teams

As the sun bore down on the Peckers, the quick outfield and gentle slope made fielding laborious and tiresome. Hangovers unfortunately came into fruition with a few fielding errors and overthrows not helping us to reduce the runs conceded (35 in total). As enthusiasm slightly waned, the Home side’s middle order started to up the run rate to in excess of 6 an over.

Felix the Cat bowled well, but was unrewarded, as did the Old Horse cantering in to bowl Kimber for 37 Their skipper Nutt has played as a semi-pro and also was at school with Felix the Cat resulting in some good banter. He reached his half century with ease until the crucial breakthrough -a strangle down the leg-side off Motty and a brilliant take by the Dolphin. The Peckers managed to drain up the runs towards the end of the home team’s innings, with only a handful of boundaries to the new batsmen’s names. Greasy’s 2nd spell was much better than his first, taking two wickets and bowling some hostile stuff to a 12 year old.

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Peppard Stoke Row CC finished on 210 for 8 off their 35 overs, a respectable score on a good pitch For tea a delicious assortment presented itself to the weary Peckers who lapped up the cold meats, cheeses, curry and more. As had been the case for Tadworth, Spinach was promoted to ‘pinch-hitter’ to join SP in the middle in the Pecker’s reply. Unfortunately, Spinach didn’t get the full memo for and opted for a more Boycottesque approach, trying to preserve his average for the season. The openers put on a stand of about 40 for none, until Spinach (11) fell to one of the younger members of the Home side, failing to damage the scoreboard too much. SP (24) who looked in good nick with some lovely boundaries also fell soon after to a dubious lbw decision (triggered by Horse) despite being at least a couple of yards outside the crease. This brought Barney Rubble and Dolphin to the crease who batted well and kept up with the run rate in style. Barney (66*) used all of his league expertise, playing expertly behind square with Dolphin (47 – yet another jug avoidance by a kiwi, the conspiracy continues) at the end opting to go aerial, at such a rate that he didn’t register a single run which wasn’t a 4 or 6 until he was well into the 40s! This accelerated the innings swimmingly until Dolphin was harpooned lbw. His cousin ‘Fush’ (43) also started to grind down the home side’s bowling and was unlucky to be reeled in by a good catch by the opposition in the deep

Our Bearded Kiwi Trio -Fush, Dolphin and SP

Our Bearded Kiwi Trio -Fush, Dolphin and SP

Our sponsor Dupa (13*) come to the crease, and struck three powerful boundaries to seal the Peckers win .A solid win for the Woodpeckers by 6 wickets.

The end of season BBQ was a triumph – with Otto Mott, the renowned Bavarian chef, taking the spatula and tongs. Replete in his lederhosen, and with Jemotto looking admiringly on, he flipped and roasted like a dervish, serving delicious marinated lamb, spatchcocked chicken, racks of ribs and of course his world-renowned wiener.The feast was paired with a beautifully seasoned salad and a wide array of beers and wines from around the world. Dessert was a special chocolate brownie, arguably the moment the wheels came off.

Chef Otto (fun is his motto and likes to get Blotto) carves the Butterfly Lamb whilst a Hungry Horse looks on

Chef Otto (fun is his motto and likes to get Blotto) carves the Butterfly Lamb whilst a Hungry Horse looks on

Peckers celebrated long into night, and a re-invigorated POB felt the need to give a speech and engineer a beer-shotgunning competition. Dolphin leapt at the opportunity, confirming he was as adept with a can as he was with the gloves. The youngsters of Peppard Row were speechless with admiration. Well, speechless for sure.

From the left -2 young Peppard lads, Pobsy, Dolphi and Shit Heap

From the left -2 young Peppard lads, Pobsy, Dolphi and Shit Heap

Come 9pm the cab was summoned for the long trip back to London. The final five revellers bought the roadies (then promptly left them in the fridge) and headed back to wintry reality. A wonderful season done and dusted.

A special thanks to POB for all his hard work building the relationships that give us such a marvellous fixture list, and for patiently getting teams out.

Tadworth

Woodpeckers v Tadworth, Sunday September 8th 2019

 As Summer starts to give way to Autumn and the cricket season comes to a close, the fixture list brings us to Tadworth. There seems to be something about this ground that produces exciting cricket, and this was a real thriller with the game going to the last ball.  

We were sporting two debutantes as Spinach recruited two Uni Mates, James ’Mitchy’ Mitchell and his house mate James ’Ritchie’ . It was also great to have Tadworth specialists Pet Shop and Huggy back after a few years on the sidelines. Captain Patrick wisely decided to bowl first as we weren’t sure about the strength of the opposition, which hinted at a strong batting lineup. Their openers were certainly an eclectic pair, with one barely able to get it off the square at all, and the other seemingly in a rush to catch an early train. 

On a good pitch, young Baker hit through the line of everything and quickly amassed 38 off just 28 balls, in an opening stand of 40. He was undone by the wily Chris ‘Tiddles’ Palmer (2-37), who held one back and yorked him as he tried another big shot. Sander picked up the pace and put on 55 for the second wicket, before he was caught off Henry ‘Henners’ Walpole (1-43) at mid on by the skipper, making up for an earlier miss. 95-2 off 17. 

L-R Back -SP, Mitchie, POB, Huggy, Ritchie, Pet Shop. Front -Tiddles, Snax, Henners, Karl with a a K, Spinach

L-R Back -SP, Mitchie, POB, Huggy, Ritchie, Pet Shop. Front -Tiddles, Snax, Henners, Karl with a a K, Spinach

Patrick tried different bowling combinations to keep the batsmen guessing, but we tended to offer one boundary ball per over, and the score kept climbing. The Robinsons didn’t always look secure, but they punished the bad ball for a 3rd wicket partnership of 87 in 13 overs. 182-3 with 5 to go. 

 Our fielding did appear to be sponsored by Saga at times, but we stuck to it. The fact that we were chasing only 216 was partly due to a fight back in the last 5 overs as Chris ‘Spinach’ Wilton returned for another spell and picked up 4 important late wickets to finish with 4-43. The 6 foot 4 Ritchie also bowled tidily down the hill on debut . The asking rate was therefore just over 6 per over.  

Over an excellent tea, and as the Old Trafford test moved towards an exciting finish with the England rearguard action. This was a definite podium finish for tea of the season -A great sandwich platter backed by fresh Fruits, Cheese Board and a stunning array of freshly made cakes including Carrot and Lemon Drizzle -very pleased we’d fielded first.

Captain POB had the innovative idea to ask Spinach to open up in a ‘pinch hitter’ role (promoted from 11 to 1) in combination with Shaun ‘SP’ Paterson, who was playing in front of his parents and they thrilled the crowd with some aggressive batting in an opening stand of 63 in 10 overs. Spinach hit 2 big maximums in his 28 (38 balls), while SP was all along the floor with 4 fours in his 30 (32 balls). They fell in consecutive overs, which brought Henners and Hugo ‘Huggy’ Petshop together.  

Henners is top of the 2019 Pecker batting averages and it showed here. His 55 came off just 32 balls, and it gave us excellent momentum. Huggy was having his first proper bat of the season, but it didn’t show as he gave the strike to Henners and then played the anchor role to last to the final over. Their 3rd wicket partnership of 87 left 66 off the last 10 overs. Karl (with a K) Knight fell quickly, so Captain POB joined Huggy. They hustled and ran well in a 50 partnership for the 5th wicket in 7 overs.

At this point we needed 24 off 4 and the tension was palpable L-R Jonathan Walpole, Henners, Karl with a K, Tiddles with a Tea, Spinach, Ritchie

At this point we needed 24 off 4 and the tension was palpable L-R Jonathan Walpole, Henners, Karl with a K, Tiddles with a Tea, Spinach, Ritchie

Patrick (26) was undone by a slower ball (or ‘pie’, depending on your perspective) to his obvious frustration. 18 needed off the last 3 overs.  

Huggy reached his 50 off 65 balls and he clearly enjoys batting at Tadworth, where he also scored 50 a few years ago. James ‘Mitchie’ Mitchell had earlier kept wicket for the first time this season commendably well, but with the bat he was ‘run out’ when, from a distance it seemed that 1) no one had bothered to appeal and 2) he wasn’t out.  

The 6 foot 7 inches Huggy tries another drive

The 6 foot 7 inches Huggy tries another drive

However he had to go for 3, which left Huggy with Tiddles, now needing 8 off the last over. Alas Huggy perished first ball for 58, bringing Old Man Mark Petshop to the crease. An arthritic run 2 was followed by a noble swipe to deep mid wicket - a yard either side and the game was won, but it went straight down 72 year old Williams’ throat, who managed to spot it looking directly into the low sunlight for a remarkable catch. 6 required with 2 balls to go, but Tiddles and James ‘Ritchie’ couldn’t find the boundary required for the victory. So we ended just 3 runs short in a gripping chase.

A cracking game and thanks to all who came to support, including the Walpole parents, the Paterson parents, the LP Brian himself, Zoe and the terriers, and to Jim for umpiring. A special mention to Spinach who recruited two great lads, drove us there and recorded his best ever batting and bowling figures for the Peckers 

Forza Peckers....

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Dunsfold

Peckers vs  Dunsfold -August 27th 2019

Neither turmoil from bank holiday A3 traffic nor the stag-afflicted jaded occupants of Greasy’s car hold back the flow of excitement of a Pecker’s return to Dunsfold CC. On a stunning late August bank holiday weekend everyone had their eyes drawn to the clear blue skies to take in the annual aerobatic display out of the Dunsfold Aerodrome. 

With half of the peckers squinting into the sunlight at the only plane in the sky (a BA passenger plane at about 6,000 feet) and the other half circling an iPad to see Bairstow and Stokes raucously cheered off at Headingly for the lunch break, no one noticed POB had inspected the middle and won the toss.

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With the Dunsfold wicket a combination of cushioned moss and grass, it was understandable that the skipper had decided to put the home team in to bat but there was a palpable moan from the Peckers bowling unit at the prospect of bowling in 34°C heat. Mid-week communications had also unearthed a distinct lack of enthusiasm to contribute to the bowling outfit, as almost every Pecker’s bowler had offered their services as a specialist batsman! A buoyant POB returned from the toss and exclaimed, as a call to arms, “Well I thought we’d get the fielding out the way lads”.

Cricket whites were donned while the Pecker dressing room was deep in negotiation to determine who was keeping and despite showing the effects of his own 4-day stag, Botty reluctantly took the gloves.  A rare Pecker 12th man in the form of Baron von Runkel was a victim of the traffic chaos (mmmm) so an eleven propped up by Potty took to the field for a 35 over battle.

Cricketing optimism was in check as early as the walk out to the middle. The two Dunsfold left handed openers wearing there pristine whites embroidered with the Cranleigh 1st XI emblem both looked and talked the part. Pug took the new ball and bowled tightly without reward from the top end at Bell and Richards. A first over full delivery from Pug beautifully timed by Bell straight past the bowler had fielders and umpire mentally acknowledging an early boundary. There was, however, a sudden realisation of the fielding task at hand as the ball slowed toward the boundary, kicking up a trail of dead grass as it came to rest well before the boundary – this was going to be a long afternoon in the field chasing anything struck along the ground.

Greasy partnered Pug and both opening bowlers had the talented batsmen reaching for the length deliveries and missing without reward. Any edges were along the ground or agonisingly wide of Motty and SP in the slip cordon. Both Pug and Greasy bowled a long spell trying to make inroads in the Dunsfold batting but as both began to tire the full delivery was coming on to the bat nicely and the short ball ballooned slowly with the opposition untroubled. Botty was busy behind the stumps and exerted further pressure on the openers by standing up to Pug (not amused).

The POB bowling change, bringing Horse up the hill, brought almost immediate reward. A ball just short of a length, catching the edge of Bell’s bat but the chance was put down in the slips by the now-arrived Runckie. Big Dutch joined the attack first change and found the going as hard as the remainder of the quartet. The just short-of-a-length delivery was elusively not found often enough and the Dunsfold batsmen were looking assured.

The Peckers breakthrough did arrive in the  with a false shot off the bowling of Horse, with Bell departing after a crisp 33 pulling the ball to square-leg. Thankfully the ball went straight at Potty and the only real movement he made was to raise the ball above his head in celebration. Dunsfold 63 for 1 and with the pitch still offering assistance was this a chance for the Peckers to attack?

Richards continued to make the bowlers and fielders toil in the afternoon heat. Runky substitution recipients (Motty and then Potty) frequently updated the Peckers fielding side with an update from Headingly but he Dunsfold batting continued to be positive and the batsmen began taking the aerial route, taking the slow outfield out of the equation.

Runky replaced horse and through guile and length lured Richards into a loose shot. The ball towered toward the extra cover boundary but a well-placed POB put the chance down. Baron hands on hips .The subsequent bowler-captain stand-off 2 overs later was almost predictable as the Peckers began to look fatigued in the field.  The Runky arm ball cleaned up the Dunsfold number 3 and all was forgiven…… for now.

Future of Peckers Cricket -Chug and Samsterdam (Dutchie Jr)

Future of Peckers Cricket -Chug and Samsterdam (Dutchie Jr)

Special mention to Chug who was very enthusiastic about the Armband of Shame. Fish misfielded a tough chance and the youthful cry of ‘armband’ went up again. Chug ran over, collected the armband from me and delivered the armband to a prostrate Fish who was on the ground who had just failed to take what would have been a spectacular chance off Runky’s next ball

A short 2-over spell from Snax was met with some lusty blows to the leg-side boundary, a fearful SP standing dangerously close at leg slip and a pleading request from Snax for “just one more over, Skip? We could put it to a vote!” defended firmly with “I wouldn’t put it to a vote if I were you” from Botty. Change of bowling.

Horse, Greasy and Dutchie completed the overs and the latter picked up an LBW before Richards completed his accomplished hundred in the last over. A fine knock and his first of the season. The noise from the pavilion increased as Stokes plundered the Australian bowlers towards a thrilling finish. POB mediated a captains’ agreement of a 34 over match and players from both sides were all off toward screens of varying size to watch the Headingly finale. Dunsfold CC 196-3

Players and supporters gather round screens to watch the thrilling Headingly climax

Players and supporters gather round screens to watch the thrilling Headingly climax

This was a good total, on a pitch offering help to accurate seam bowling and now showing grip for the spinners. The Peckers had a tough ask, and as Motty helpfully pointed out “we’re a couple of batsmen light”.

The heroics of Leach and Stokes filled the Peckers dressing room with optimism. Opening up, Potty and SP strode confidently out to the middle to set the tone for the Peckers reply. Surely an inspired batting line-up would knock these runs off?

Having made peace with POB, the indefatigable Runky was loaned to the home side to make up a fielding 11 and the Dunsfold opening bowlers of Young and Coveney immediately found the long sought for length. Conditions offering swing and seam movement made it difficult for both batsmen. Potter wafted at 6 consecutive deliveries outside off stump before the pressure told and one was nicked behind off the bowling of Coveney.

SP was joined by Botty in the 4th over but the wearied stag was bowled by a yorker clipping off stump. 2 down for only 4 runs was about to get worse. Despite being watchful SP was caught behind for 3 and in the very same over Motty was cleaned bowled by a full delivery that did just about everything before clattering into the stumps. 8-4 after six overs was not the start the Peckers needed but the opening spell by Coveney of 7 overs on the bounce, 2 maidens, 8 runs and 3 wickets was as good as the figures suggested and he had all the batsmen hopping around.

Pads were being applied in a rush now as Peckers wickets tumbled. Fish in at 4 and Big Dutch in at 6 needed to limit the Peckers damaged top order but we were already well behind the required run rate and “just have a look” couldn’t last for too long. Fish started well, cutting the short ball effectively whilst Dutchie used his reach to smother any movement and hit strongly down the ground.

Dr Dutchie doles out the medicine

Dr Dutchie doles out the medicine

The change bowlers for Dunsfold didn’t have quite the same movement and the Peckers pair started to look more assured, putting on a partnership of 85 for the fifth wicket. The required run rate was coming down and hope sprung from Peckers and their supporters.

Dutchie fell caught behind for a well-made 42, with the score at 93-5 but all was not lost as Horse joined Fish and struck crisply from the start. Fish (38) was out, stumped when trying to accelerate against the tall Dunsfold off-spinner. Greasy was out for 5 but momentum was maintained with a typically energetic POB innings. Patrick hit well and put pressure on the fielders, turning ones into twos. This had a detrimental affect on Horse, however who was visibly struggling but with runs required now 50 off 36, the game was in the balance.

Dunsfold had one last ace up their sleeve in the form of Baron von Runkel, and despite spending over 65 overs in the field on a blistering summers day, he was up for the challenge. After an over or 2 of the duel POB danced down the pitch and was smartly stumped for 13.

Partnership broken Horse was eventually out for a fine 34 as the run rate required climbed. Was there to be a Headingly 10th wicket partnership to match that of Stokes and Leach? Snax joined Pug and they set about the task. Short-lived was the hope however when Snax was stumped 4 balls later.

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Peckers 166 all out and a loss by 30 runs but with the Ashes still alive at 1-1, a couple of cold beers at The Sun with the opposition afterwards and a bank holiday Monday to look forward to, it had been a very enjoyable day. The tranquility of the garden at the Sun was shattered by a loud crash as Baron ran his car into a tree trunk. Having ploughed into Cousin Le David’ car here a few years ago.. who needs an airshow when you have the Bloody Red Beearon in his Hybrid?

Delicious Darling!

Delicious Darling!

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Teddington

Peckers vs Teddington - Bushey Park -Sunday 19th Aug

 Our annual trip to Teddington was a poignant one. We played today in memory of Stefan Bullon, a local cricketer and coach, a member for 25 years, a life tragically cut all too short. Stef would be remembered in the only way we know how: with stories and laughter, with rivalry and friendship, with bat and ball. With Cricket. 

The match was to be played in front of two imposing backdrops – that of Bushey Park, the traditional hunting ground of King Henners VIII, and that of the fifth day of an Ashes Test, with all results possible. The fine XI of the Woodpeckers featured a single debutant, Garreth “Pirate” Dorree (he had to be with that many RRs), a chipper Yorkie; favourite ground: “Scarbados”. Pirate arrived with a big reputation, enough to push Henners and Botty to unfamiliar territory of 5 and 6 respectively. The batting order published, eyebrows raised, they eyed this balding northerner with newfound respect.  

Cous and SP took to the middle, a partnership as familiar as Bairstow and Roy, with energetic lunges, sweeps and thrashes abounding. Sadly, few runs were actually added, and SP caught a trigger early from a Teddington ump keen to get involved. Le Cousin entertained in his inimitable style before being caught for 17.

Spectators were treated to an absolutely delicious Bacon and Egg Pie, baked by Caps Patterson

Spectators were treated to an absolutely delicious Bacon and Egg Pie, baked by Caps Patterson

Gav and Pirate took up the challenge. Out of the game for some years, Pirate looked caught adrift, fishing outside the off to the lively swingers of Dancy, who bowled with control and lusty enthusiasm. The ball ducked and weaved like a cabin boy evading capture, and despite a number of stabs, thrusts and pokes, Pirate would fall for a swashbuckling 0, the middle of the cutlass unused.  

Gav, by contrast, was in rare spirits. A change in bowling exposed some of the buried treasure in this Teddington attack, and the short pavilion boundary sent him plundering, thrashing and pillaging - hearty boundaries mainly deposited into the swampy building site of the new pavilion.  

Teddington though had a plan. Throw the ball up and tempt this motley crew, and it worked a treat. A succession of Peckers joined for brief stays before walking the plank: Henners caught hunting booty, Botty halfway down the track digging for bullion, Merv caught in front without the required silver

Without Gav’s tireless efforts, the Peckers (Parrots?) would have been sinking fast -Sp and and Merv had only managed ‘pieces of eight’. But Gav continued the fight, reaching his ton off only 50 balls, ending 107 before an LBW shout sunk him. This Twenty20 style innings left the tail with 10 overs to see out.

Centurion Gav

Centurion Gav

POB caught a turner after an energetic 12, and the hungover Motty was unlucky to be hit plumb in front to Dancy, as he attempted another reverse sweep to a full outswinger. At 216-9, like a Frenchman mid-way through his breakfast, only Horse and Spinach remained The Peckers were looking short of bounty. 

Ahhrrrr! Here was some respite, Horse nudging and nurdling and Spinach swinging through the line, inspired by his supporting girlfriend Avocado, a real ‘Pretty Polly’ . The Pecker-Parrots would finally succumb for 246 off 39 overs, a competitive total on this greentop, but a defendable one with tight bowling from this experienced bowling unit.

Our Wagging tail -A Frenchman’s breakfast of Horse (26) and Spinach(16*)

Our Wagging tail -A Frenchman’s breakfast of Horse (26) and Spinach(16*)

The teams retired for tea, where the real reward lay. Hot Pizza, sausage rolls, onion rings glistened atop the chest, with sandwiches and cakes ensuring a strong haul for everyone. England – led by Stokes – had managed to nurdle their own par score. The games both looked delicately balanced. Could these two teams push results their way? 

The Teddington innings promised much. Of the old guard there were four ex-1st teamers and one, Phil ‘Headless’ Eastland who’d won several Middlesex League turtles and the odd National Club Championship in his time at the top.  

With no less than four Matts in the line-up, Teddington fielded them in positions 2-5. With four Matts and two Motts, one can only imagine the commotion in the scorers’ box, with a great deal of furtive rubbing required to keep the book clean. Nonetheless they started brightly, with the opening pair scoring freely against the Spinach-Mott opening salvo. Spinach for his part bowled beautifully, with pace and grace, his slingy wheels bruising the palms of Botty behind the stumps. Motty bowling uphill into the wind, created plenty of his own wind and blamed the extra Onion Rings.

Teddington however managed to nick and nurdle the runs along. A breakthrough for Spinach barely slowed them and they ticked off the runs at about the required rate for about 20 overs, with opener Head making a fine half century.  It was the introduction of Henners and his beautifully flighted off spin that would bring the Peckers into the game, with a glorious stumping from Bottoire.

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Horse down the hill summed up much of the Peckers bowling display. Four generally solid balls an over were interspersed with two rank long hops that kept the scores ticking along. Horse would claim the prize of the enigmatic O’Toole, and a fine run out of Pryor from Pirate and suddenly the Peckers were on top, with the score 128/5 after a good catch on the boundary, in what was a fielding masterclass by Spinach.   

Austen (somewhat fortuitous not to have been given LBW to Horse) and Snodgrass held the key to Teddington. Austen hitting the ball with swagger and élan, Snodgrass the keeper (who had worn one in the shoulder when keeping) was furtive and darting, and they kept pushing the score along, punishing the bad ball (on which they could rely) and keeping the bowlers guessing. Needing 100 off 10 though, a Teddington win seemed far off.  

The game suddenly took a change. The introduction of Gav’s lively medium pacers saw Snodgrass cop one in the cheek. A brave and ruddy fellow, he shook it off, prompting the somewhat bizarre scenario of the ump, who had been out of the game for too long, to declare that he would not allow the game to continue until the batsman left the field. A stand-off ensued, but eventually – having been checked for concussion – the umpire retook his position. A rain shower quickly intervened, and a break was enforced, but not until the ball had been hammered around the wet outfield.  

Returning after a short break, Teddington asserted their chase and Austen swung hard, Pecker bowlers losing their rhythm. Suddenly the score was looking ominously light, and whilst Snodgrass eventually fell to Gav, this only served to bring the youthful Clarke to the crease.  

An U14 Middlesex player, our bowlers briefly gave him some slack, slack which was harshly punished by the young rascal and suddenly Teddies were close, requiring 40 off 30. They continued to punish a buffet that put the luscious tea to shame, and Clarke would finish with a cavalier 27 to win the game, denying Austen (91no) his century. This was a poignant result and comeback as the former teammates of Teddington united to honour their fallen hero. Clarke is a terrific young prospect, one to keep an eye on, all rolling wrists and ginger hair like a latter day Paul Collingwood. 

Botty must be noted for a breathtakingly adept ‘keeping display. Precious little got past, and some sharp work stood up to Gav and SP would have been at home in the county game. The Peckers will rarely have been so generous with the ball, but today was not about winning or losing. It was a wonderful tribute to a young man, and continued long into the evening, sharing marvellous stories over delicious fillet kebabs, ale and good spirits. 

Fittingly a day that began with rain streaming down the windows finished in the sunlit golden beauty of Bushey Park. A day to remember a fine Teddington man, a wonderful match in the very best tradition of our two clubs, united in grief for their loss, and in delight for our game. 

RIP Stefan Bullon. 1981-2019

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Marlow Park

The well-heeled, Michelin star adorned town of Marlow, home to the Paralympics and for one Sunday afternoon a year, home to the Woodpeckers annual fixture on Higginson Park. The Paralympics motto is “Spirit in Motion”, an accurate description of Woodpeckers at any point in the cricket season but without question it epitomised this performance.

No call for an 11th player the day before, despite the challenges of Ride London shutting down major routes out of the city, despite 2 days at the Edgbaston test with the Barmy Army, despite an awkward 7:30am moment that morning of a pecker being caught in flagrante and the expected plethora of hangovers, all were present and correct, ready to roll, ready to shine. Take note Paralympic committee, this is overcoming adversity, this is spirit in motion.  

Le Daviiide, shaking off the effects of a long drive from Dorset, which was punctuated with a bed purchase now expertly strapped to the top of his Land Rover, led out the peckers on a “nibbling” track. In the modern era of the game, it shouldn’t surprise us to see spin open from one end, it didn’t surprise Le Daviiide, dispatching the first two balls for well hit leg side pulls. What did come as a surprise to David was the spin on the 3rd ball, what came as a surprise to the umpire (Henners) was his decision to not offer a shot, out, lbw for 11. This would be something of a theme throughout the day, the nearby finish line of the Thames half marathon with professional PA system, was regularly outshouted by this cricket match.

Batting at 2 - SP with his wife Bugsy, and fresh after his birthday where he had been surprised by the arrival of his parents Horse and Caps over from NZ for a 2 month jaunt. Bugsy’s family were also on hand and the strong support for the peckers rewarded by a fine opening batting performance from SP, doing the openers job, seeing off the new pill.

Now joined at the crease by Botty, the pitch was starting to nibble more and more. Not a problem for Ben as he joined SP in crashing short balls to the boundary and grabbing invaluable singles. The previous night’s escapades and that mornings event which had lead him to know his brother “just that little bit more”, bore no obvious, negative effects.  After reaching 11 a ball that kept low produced another loud shout for lbw, not before Botty had set for a single and SP had reciprocated, decision given (for lbw) not before Marlow also made sure with a run out at the strikers’ end. The ensuing chaos meant both batsmen were now walking back to the pavilion, a “double out” something never seen before in the game and Botty lbw for 11.

Next Karl with a K at 4 batting in front of parents (drove down from Koventry with a K) also on debut and family flattered to deceive with just 6 runs before a skied off drive to deep mid-off, back in the pavilion to make way for Henners at 5, thank god he did.

SP was eventually out for 37 before another lbw decision given to Marlow despite a strong stride out of his crease. SP holding his almost yoga like pose for several seconds before having to trudge back, fine work. Henners continued in typical fashion, fierce driving and hellish pulling of the ball meant dog walkers, ice cream enthusiasts and canoodling couples around the boundary were at times in grave danger. For those fielding inside the ropes, one shoulder injury, a firm strike in the pills and a dislocated finger, much like writing this report, the experience of fielding that day was harrowing. In total Henners would hit 110 with 10 6’s and 7 4’s, this wasn’t just bludgeoning, this was full face of the bat, well timed and well executed shot-making… when I grow up I want to bat just like Henners.

Henners 110

Henners 110

Whilst our number 5 remained at the crease for much of the Peckers innings, the team provided ample support, Milky Milky (15- talented hockey player and son of Don) rotating the strike effectively keeping the field on their toes with his lithe youth and intimidating display of bare ankles to the opposition. Making a stylish 3 before making way for skips at 7.

This change of batsman also necessitated a change in umpire, step forward Cousin David to the middle leaving only his lovely girlfriend tic tac and the dachshund in the stroking arms of Motty back in the pavilion. Tobacco, papers, filters, beer and appropriate redneck shirt all went with him to perform his duties. 

Le Daviiide in adapted umpire shirt and supporting materials

Le Daviiide in adapted umpire shirt and supporting materials

What happened next is common in many village cricket grounds around the country: team mate (Le Daviiide) umpires, captain gets caught on pad -well forward, team mate (Le Daviiide) triggers captain, stand off…. moments pass, skipper walks back. POB’s lbw for 4. We are now up to 4 lbw’s in the 1st 6 wickets, this wasn’t normal.

Motty having shaken off his hangover(still drunk) with his early work out that morning had already attempted to sneak up the order at 7, now in at 8 approached his innings with two attempted reverse sweeps before a chip to the inner ring, “total cricket” out for 0.

Phil OOOO on debut, Marlow local refused to surrender his wicket at 9 for 4 runs, would see off the innings and see off several jugs of the clubhouse beer. Donny ( Marlow local and oldest prep school chum of POB’s) after a well hit 4 applied a head down strategy to ensure we used all 40 overs, clearly counter to his instincts, out playing a defensive shot bowled for 4. 

Spinach, fresh from 2 solid days with the barmy army in Edgbaston and 2 nights’ sound sleep in a £16 a night Airbnb had been steadily working his way through a 6 pack of all butter brioche during the peckers innings. Now rounding things off at 11 with a well struck 4 and single, bowled for 5, off just 32 overs peckers had a total of 214 all out.

 So, to the Woodpeckers bowling, Spinach opening it all up from the top end, aside from a loosening opening over Spinach gave nothing away, extracting movement off the pitch, bowling with genuine wheels and taking proper wickets. The all butter brioche had clearly worked to deliver the best bowling spell many had witnessed from Spinach, these were proper wickets: beaten for pace, beaten for movement, leaving nothing out there, spent and exasperated Spinach had 3 - 25 from 7 overs, Chapeux!

From the other end an equally destructive spell was provided by Motty, his 1st over delivering a 2-wicket maiden from catches at cover.  This was the catalyst to the woodpeckers destructive bowling spell which would see their 1st 6 batsmen back in the pavilion for just 24 runs. Motty’s juices were clearly flowing clearly recovered from his groin strain) whatever his pre-match warm up was it was enabling blood flow to all reaches of his body to deliver a bowling performance that delivered 3 wickets for just 2 runs off 5 overs, tremendous.

The support in the field was strong with catches from Milky Milky, Phil OOOOO and Karl with a K, field placement was key, expertly executed by POB’s aside from one discussion with Motty to “stand wherever he liked”, the very next ball went directly into Motty’s out stretched hands above his head, and then directly out.

The father son combination of Donny and Milky Milky, delivered impressive figures of 1 for 2 from 4 overs (Donny) and 1 for 4 from 1 over (Milky), clearly in the genes, woodpeckers were now clearing up the Marlow tail with tight wicket to wicket bowling.

Phil OOOOOO on debut contained some tail end hitting to bowl out the final resistance from Marlow, 1 for 22 from 2 over before Karl with a K was given the pleasure of 2 balls to wrap up the Marlow innings, all out 57. 

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 So, a victory for the Woodpeckers by 157 runs, leaving sufficient time to enjoy the clubhouse beer on a warm Sunday evening, just how it should be.  

World Cup Final

This Cricket World Cup Final was the greatest of all time, and we’ll all remember where we were that day - but for the Woodpeckers Cricket Club, and from some of our players’ perspective, it was particularly poignant.

Gavin Scovell holds numerous Woodpecker batting records including Most Hundreds (28) and Highest Score (184*). Gav was the TV director for the pictures going out to the entire world at Lord’s, his country’s HQ and his MCC club. England being in the final turned his lifetime experience into a dream and the subsequent drama into a fantasy of which he could have only dreamed. It was all the more poignant that our surprise opponents were New Zealand where Gav had lived and worked: setting up a business with Martin Crowe, the legendary Kiwi bat and inventor of Twenty20’s ancestor “Cricket Max”. Many of his best friends come from New Zealand too. His international crew made few mistakes, and in the semi and final, Gav and his team nailed the coverage, with no missed-cuts, and a brilliant programme going out to the world of cricket lovers. They gave a fantastic shot-by-shot 360 degree depiction of the drama unfolding to viewers all over the world.

Gav the Director

Gav the Director

Gav is a product of two amazing and dedicated people from very disparate industries. His father, Brian is the only man to be chairman of both the Football and Cricket Writers’ association and a dedicated journalist and writer for sixty years. Gav’s mother Audrey was a passionate and successful artist and Art Teacher, her work exhibited by the Royal Academy of Art for 11 years. She also loving looking after a large family, including her lovely mother-of-nine, Lucy. Gav has broken the mould of Cricket Directing as he is a blend of his parents’ expertise in great sports journalism and wonderful artistic interpretation.

His production partner is Jo Lewis, daughter of England great Tony, and they make a perfect team, working with Sunset + Vine, who won two Baftas for cricket coverage including the greatest series, Ashes 2005. Congratulations Gav on living your dream and to you and the crew for the amazing TV coverage we all enjoyed. In the breathless climax, third umpire Rod Tucker (who had received replays through six sensational weeks) called the booth after the fantastic diving forward catch of Lockie Ferguson, for the final crucial replay: Rather than asking angle by angle, he knew Gav and his team would again deliver, so said..“Just gimme everything you’ve got Gav”.

Gav and my dad worked together at Associated sharing a passion for sports, and Audrey and my mum, Barbara were best friends as their uproarious and hilarious laughter could be heard wherever they went.My greatest memory of my father is a summer’s day in our living room in College Road, Dulwich, when Colin had constructed a tower of televisions. The 28” Sony Trinitron had the Open Golf, the 23 inch from his bedroom had the Ashes Test, and balancing precariously on top of the tower, his 14 inch B&W showing the King George VIII from Ascot. At any point, he would cry ‘Patrick - Volume Racing!!’ and I was required to leap up and adjust the controls accordingly.

So my life and a lot of my family life is partly defined by a shared obsession with sport. England only winning one World Cup in the major team sports of cricket, football and rugby union in my entire lifetime has always been a massive personal regret, and I find it particularly galling that the only time we won a football world cup I was a 6 month foetus…I imagine myself jumping up and down in the womb as Hurst surged forward. My generation and I have endured a lifetime of near-misses for fifty years with only the Rugby World Cup of 2003 occupying the trophy cabinet.

Gav was in the Director’s chair facing a massive bank of Television, and huge team of Cameramen, Commentators, Producers and VT Ops. Treas ( Pecker Treasurer - aka Meddy/Chips) and I were together in the Upper Tier of the Tavern Stand, with a fantastic view of the action and cousin Doby (Pecker multiple centurion and reliable Mid-Off) a few rows in front. As Treas sat down, he reminded me we had watched the glorious 2003 RWC Final triumph together, and on that occasion, only two men scored points for England: ‘Jonny’ Wilkinson and ‘Jason’ Robinson… and who was opening the batting for us today? ‘Jonny’ Bairstow and ‘Jason’ Roy…the omens seemed strong. though a ten wicket victory seemed unlikely.

Sadiq Khan was very excited just behind us, and in his party was Seb Salter, useful leg-spinner and old school-mate of Doby’s, who had also worked with me. England bowled and fielded well to restrict the Kiwis to 241, Woakes opening well again with Archer, north-eastern legend and team mascot Liam ‘Plunky’ Plunkett chipping in again with three wickets. It was nice that two 27 year old batters who’d struggled through the tournament Henry Nichols and Tom Latham stood up with solid scores for the Kiwis

Motty, Gemotty and Veuve

Motty, Gemotty and Veuve

At lunch our group of Peckers met on the Nursery Lawn and there was an air of optimism. Charlie ’Shylock’ Young, and Motty and Gemotty, Jeffers and Shazadi were also there and we watched on the big screen as the first ball of our inning thudded into Roy’s pads, what looked to me plumb in front. Umpire’s call saved us and we hurried back to the seats. As I’d stayed sober for the semi-final due to my impending MC duties for Treas’ wedding the next day - literally Sober in a Blazer in the noisiest part of the Hollies stand with Horse hammered next to me and the crowd going more berserk than any crowd I’d ever experienced. So at Lords I was rather thirsty for some Ale, Viognier and Pimms. The crowd around us were mainly Indian with some English and a few other internationals, and it became eerily quiet as wickets fell and runs dried up, though some groups of Kiwis were making a lot of noise, cheering dot ball after dot ball as England struggled to get back in the game. Myself and another chap tried to get the support going (some Hindi phrases helping) and Ben Stokes rewarded us by playing a fantastic and disciplined innings to get us back in the game, much like he had when we’d been in trouble against Sri Lanka and Australia

Treas, Pob,Dobby, Mayor

Treas, Pob,Dobby, Mayor

The last few overs and super overs were spent in a dreamlike state, knowing you are in the middle of one of the greatest sporting occasions of all-time . We needed 15 off four balls…and chances looked bleakn and then a massive six, a deflection for six .. That over, and both super overs went for exactly 15 runs, and the game was tied twice,…as that final throw came in we surged forward and I found myself at the front of the stand going crazy in celebration, embracing the London Mayor. (There’s a paragraph I never imagined writing)

Gav, Morgs and the Trophy

Gav, Morgs and the Trophy

One tinge of regret was that I would have loved it to not be New Zealand: they are a great bunch of people, who have (like us) suffered gallant World Cup failures over the years. On Sunday they bowled and fielded in Herculean fashion with two courageous diving-forward catches, and suffered bad luck through random tie-break rules, lbws, deflections, overthrow interpretations and man of the match being a Kiwi. They bore it with the humility you would expect from the Kiwis and got a nice consolation winning the Netball World Cup in Liverpool this weekend. England were rewarded for the hard work and investment over the last four years, and for being the best and most exciting England one-day team in living history. For that and our long-suffering World Cup past, we all really deserve this magnificent achievement.



Malden Wanderers

The Woodpeckers' last outing to New Malden saw the controversial conclusion of the 2018 season for the infamous Peckers v's Peckers. the Peckers' 2019 return to KT3 was a considerably heartier 35 over affair under blue skies and with a determination to repeat the strong win against Blackheath the previous weekend. 

On the Friday morning, POB sent out the obligatory Whatsapp clarion call for an 11th player and, to add to what was already a talented ten on paper, Meakers saved the day to introduce gloveman Jim "Gilly" Gillions to the Peckers fold for a glorious debut. An Old Harrovian, who only confessed en route to the ground that he last played cricket ten years previously, he arrived in pristine whites with a £25 bat he'd bought the day before. Cousin David wasn't on the team sheet for this fixture but, in place of his Alepine, Meakers fortuitously arrived with a keg of delicious Signal lager left over from his school parents party the night before which served to keep the team well hydrated throughout the day. There was also delicious Wimbledon Pale Ale on tap in the pavilion for the non lager-louts

L-R, T-B -Gilly, SP, Dutch, POB, Cat, Colleen, Pug, Greasy, Samsterdam, Chug, Peaches, Lav, Henners

L-R, T-B -Gilly, SP, Dutch, POB, Cat, Colleen, Pug, Greasy, Samsterdam, Chug, Peaches, Lav, Henners

 Having lost the toss, the Peckers were put into bat on a wicket which had evidently acted like a sponge during the previous night's storm as it produced equal measures of plugged deliveries and steepling snorters from the Wanderers endless line of teenage quicks. Although he had claimed he "felt ill" and asked if someone could take his place only hours before game began, Shaun Patterson (SP) curiously volunteered to open the batting alongside Henry "Greasy" Glaister. In truth, both were nursing nothing more than hangovers, SP from a Pimms infused day a Wimbledon and Greasy having celebrated his birthday in that Fulham haunt, Pagliaccio's, which was slightly marred by throwing up his entire carbonara back onto his plate whilst sitting at the table. Smooth. However, despite heavy eyes, slow reactions and a combined lack of sleep, Greasy and SP laid a foundation, stuck to the task and stoically weathered the stodgy wicket and uneven bounce admirably, Greasy eventually being caught for 16. He headed back to the pavilion at 40 for 1 to join his chums from the night before to help them consume the pimms, rose and beers they'd brought in order to take the edge off the hangover. El Colleen only briefly joined SP in the middle and, after a few characteristically muscular swings and misses, he misjudged the fourth in succession to be clean bowled for 7 (56 for 2). The Woodpecker of the year Curse continues… Out strode Henners, hotfoot from a commanding, quickfire and unbeaten 70 at Blackheath, only to uncharacteristically miscue a short delivery for 7 and then quickly blamed his brief innings on his mother; "I blame my mother, I told her not to watch me", he chuntered. It was great to see the Walpole Parents on debut

At 62 for 3, out stepped Gilly on debut and confidently blew away 10 years of cricketing cobwebs with a selection of the most orthodox of forward defensive strokes ever employed by any Pecker before him, before innocuously "gloving" a close catch which so surprised the opposition that Gilly sportingly walked off, without troubling the scorer (or christening the new bat!), despite the Wanderers failing to utter a single appeal. 64 for 4

POB joined SP at the crease to stem the fall of wickets and quickly raised our run rate in an assured partnership of 62 before looping a catch to mid wicket. A steadying innings of 24 and we were 126 for 5. All the while, soporific SP was gradually coming to terms with the turgid wicket and gradually accumulated runs as Surrey's finest A&E Consultant Edwin "Duchy" Behn joined him at the crease. Despite formerly opening the batting with Radley school chum Andrew Strauss, Duchy also had initial difficulty finding his rhythm on the moist Malden track but, all was not lost, despite SP eventually capitulating at the other end for an outstanding top score of 75 from 81 deliveries. At this point, the Peckers were 138 for 6 and those of us watching were thinking it was unlikely we would reach 190 at this rate.

Gilly the Gloves

Gilly the Gloves

However, POB had one more ace in the pack, as Old Tonbridgian, Jamie "Lav" Lavers ambled to the crease sporting a fetching stripey cap, a certain swagger and a cricket bat which he wielded like a loaded basooka. What he subsequently unleashed on the Malden bowling attack who, hitherto, had shown guile and accuracy, soon withered on the vine. Lav took both teams by surprise and quickly demonstrated hand/eye coordination rarely seen in a Sunday "friendly". "He's seeing it like a beachball" came the cries. In a display of fierce hitting, quick hands and top class Jason Roy-esque shot selection worthy of a top order batsmen ("I'm very happy batting at 7 Patrick", said Lav earlier in the day), Jamie proceeded to play a succession of big hits to all parts of Malden and the home side was broken from hereon in. As Geoff Boycott said "To stay in, you've got to not get out" and Jamie was not out at our innings close, scoring 62 from just 26 deliveries (ten 4's and two 6's), ably supported by Duchy who also bludgeoned 35 not out from just 20 deliveries. We ended our innings at 236 for 6 and POB was confident we could defend that total.

 

After an award winning match tea and much Jamie and Duchy back slapping, the Peckers took to the field, Pugh Snr with cherry in hand, even though he'd been asked by Pugh Jnr if he could bowl dozens of time already. At this point in the proceedings, however, the balance of power shifted on its axis as every Pecker suddenly forgot the Prep School mantra that "catches win matches".Honestly, I could divert the match report at this point to focus almost exclusively on the succession of dropped Pecker catches, which we think was up to 9 or 10 by the end of the day. In fairness, we could have delivered a village green drubbing on the Wanderers had we held on to so many chances but, we were clearly bedazzled by the glaring sun (by now, the wicket was sun baked, flatter and distinctly more batsmen friendly by the way!) and revelling in our inadequacies.

 

Their opening bat, young rake Dan Shepherd, played a stubborn role, riding the wave of uppish drives and stuck like a limpet, Meakers dropping a tough fizzer at point, copping a bruised peach in the process and a low skidder at slip. At 51 for 0 from their first ten over, Malden were behind the run rate required but we couldn't break though the Wanderers' youth. Pug and Duchy bowled well for their opening spell but, first change Felix "The Cat" Wood had other ideas and took the scalp of the first of their three Bateman batsmen, this time caught by Pug at mid off, who having dropped a sitter earlier simply allowed the ball to plant itself in his midriff more by luck than judgement. He shouted "YES" and held the ball aloft as proof. We'd caught one and we were euphoric. caught Pug bowled Cat was one for the domestic pet lovers

 

Second change was for the flighty off spin of Jamie Lavers, following his batting fireworks with similar bowling effervescence. 5 overs, 1 maiden, 1 wicket for 6 runs and it was his tight spell that pegged back any lingering Malden excpectations for achieving their initial required run rate of 6.77/over. At close of play, Jamie not only revealed he broke his back in three places at school, forshortening a promising rugby career but played Tonbridge 1st XI cricket, then a "few years of Kent Premier League". He certainly was in a completely different league to the rest of us. 

POB then turned to trusty Henry Walpole, upon whom the wicket taking gods were smiling, which more than made up for his brief innings with the willow. He constantly found biting turn in the hardening wicket, narrowly avoiding the jug for the second week in a row with a superb 4 for 33 from 7 overs. The wicket spoils were shared around but, dropped catches excruciatingly defined our fielding display although Gilly took a sharp catch behind the stumps, POB - one a juggler in the deep and Pug both bagged a brace.  

At the point at which the required run rate had spiralled beyond 13 an over and any chance of a Malden recovery was mathematically impossible, the home side very kindly relaxed their rules concerning junior players joining in. Having spent much of the day playing in the nets, looking for golf balls in the stream or asking his father for a new cricket bat, young Chuggy Pugh (who'd briefly fielded alongside his pal and Duchy's son Sam) was, at last given the chance to bowl. He proceeded to demonstrate line and length in an accurate two over spell and claimed his first ever Pecker wicket, much to his delight and our collective admiration. Bateman Snr was plum lbw, Chuggy's day was complete (especially if Dad would by him a new bat on the way home!!) and victory was ours by 55 runs. It was an incredibly fun day, played in great Pecker spirit. It was punctuated by some atrocious Pecker fielding but a win crafted by some exceptional solo contributions and Charlie Pugh being arguably the youngest ever Pecker wicket taker.

Lovely Pugs and Dutchies

Lovely Pugs and Dutchies

Blackheath

It always surprises me that you would not find Blackheath CC on any list comprising top village cricket grounds in the UK. Whereas local rivals Tilford regularly draw deserved nods for their picture postcard ground, with the Barley Mow on one boundary and the River Wey on another, Blackheath never features. This, despite its stunning heathland setting, permanently-open bar (with offerings from the local Hogs Back Brewery) and a superbly-run and supported cricket section for all ages. The main reason for this must be the fact it is up a single lane track in the arse-end of nowhere, despite being a mere 15 minutes from Guildford town centre, and has no passing traffic other than the occasional dog walker. The wider world’s loss is very much our gain.

blackheath.jpg

The ‘Peckers fielded a blend of experienced hands and first timers for this prestigious fixture. Dr Ed Behn (aka Edwin, or the Dutchman, and one-time teammate of Andrew Strauss at Radley) came into the side for his full debut (having featured at last year’s Peckers v Peckers debacle and almost being put off for life in the process) as did fellow local lad and friend of the Gowars, Jack Riddy (aka the Riddler), fresh from winning the club championship at Hankley Common earlier in the week. Riddler manfully took the gloves for the first time in countless years. Horse brought his foals along for a local outing, and Meakers made a welcome return after back problems (we’re all falling to pieces, its OK). In fact Spinach was the only one of us being sub-30. We had a strong group of supporters with Pugs, Behns, Riddlers and Foals aplenty. 

Meanwhile, in their must-win game versus India at Edgbaston, England were tucking into India’s bowlers just as eagerly as POB was tucking into other people’s picnics at our pre-match gathering. Having big-screen Sky coverage in the bar just adds to the allure of this tucked-away clubhouse, and updates were fed onto the outfield on a regular basis. 

POB won the toss and we chose to bowl on a dry wicket with Chug filling in for Henners who had erroneously made his way to Blackheath, Kent (muppet, there’s always one) Actually Ella Pugh -The Princess Pugletta now 12 who is now playing a lot of cricket fielded for the 1st 4 balls and proved a lucky charm for her daddy -She becomes the 2nd Puglet to make debut at Blackheath, and we look forward to Sampy making it a hat-trick and maybe all four on the pitch one day. Blackheath were perhaps not as strong as in previous years (they had permitted their Kiwi off-spinner a weekend away from ripping through local league opposition) but still had a good smattering of 1st teamers and strong youngsters. Pug took the new nut alongside Horse and claimed the first wicket with only the second delivery, a horrid ball that would have otherwise been a wide if the young opener hadn’t kindly nicked off to Riddler for his debut take. Horse also quickly accounted for the other opener with a scuttler. Thereafter, Pug (trying to be modest here) kept up an unusually consistent line and length for his 7 over spell, taking 4-19 in the process, including the ominous-looking Ronny Harrison with a leg-cutter. Botty eventually held one at first slip having shelled others (as did the freshly-arrived Henners – again, muppet) and Riddler took a second nick. Horse bowled well without further reward, although was gleefully deposited over the pavilion at one point by Ronny. 

Coming in at 6 for Blackheath was Stephen Holden, head coach of the Blackheath U10 team who include in their ranks Chug, Behn Jnr and his own son. He batted very solidly for a patient and well-earned 55, almost exclusively with a straight bat, and I think his young watching charges were quietly impressed (as they were by Pug and Edwin by all accounts). He batted without a lid, even when Edwin, replacing Pug downhill, was generating some notable pace and bounce. Ed is a consultant in the A&E dept at Frimley Park, so at least Stephen would have been in good hands had he caught one on the beak. Ed claimed 3-27 off his 6, including Stephen pinned lbw to reclaim local bragging rights. Ed, like Horse, expressed surprise at being given guidance as to how to bowl by POB from mid-on, something he will unfortunately need to get used to, as well all have, if he fancies an extended Peckers career.

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Henners flighted the ball beautifully while taking a bit of tap from Danny Harrison before trapping him in front for an entertaining 40 (courtesy of a LP trigger that went up so quickly he almost knocked himself off balance), whilst Spinach bowled energetically uphill without taking a deserved wicket. Big Merve enjoyed a rare couple of overs, allowing the home team to give their total a much-needed boost, whilst Fish only got an over of twirl. POB showed good judgment in giving each Harrison brother the benefit of the doubt when each could have been potentially caught early in their respective innings (including an otherwise super take by POB himself).

Meakers finished off matters with a full straight one to the 14-year old No.11. Not that you would know it from the way Meakers peeled off towards the covers, both arms pumping above his head à la Imran Tahir. Anyone who saw him celebrate the wicket of a 13-year old tailender at Headley a few years ago with a full Brett Lee-chainsaw would have been equally embarrassed this time. Naturally we asked Meakers to lead us off the field for this match-defining contribution. Blackheath were 175 all out off 35 overs.

black team.jpg

 

Tea was a generous medley of hot and cold offerings, including some onion bhajis, perhaps in a nod to events unfolding up at Edgbaston. Much of the food was hoovered up by our younger supporters. By now India were well behind in their run chase and Woakes had taken a stunner on the boundary to remove Pant. One feared that Blackheath would also need to be on their mettle in the field to prevent a decent ‘Peckers batting line up from chasing down their sub-par total. 

Meakers and Fish opened the order, very much an alternative opening combo, with others busy tucking into the Hazy Hog organic cider (mmm) and/or glued to India’s faltering run chase. Meakers flattered to deceive with a well-timed cut but was soon bowled by Blackheath’s pacey opener (it was a surprise that Meakers didn’t raise his bat to all sides of the ground after his 4, given his fondness for exuberant celebrations). Botty, in at 3, also quickly fell in similar fashion. Fish, meanwhile, enjoyed the challenge presented by the opening attack and the Harrisons’ liquorice allsorts. He ran well on a hot day, with less than half his runs coming in boundaries. He was eventually out for an excellent 48 to another LP trigger.

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Riddler brushed off the cobwebs and entertained his fan club with a patient 18, displaying a high elbow that his watching son would do well to replicate. Patient is not the word I would use to describe Henner’s knock. Coming in at 5, suffice to say he hit a rapid 70*, with exactly 50 coming in boundaries including some of the longest 6s seen at the ground for some time. It was a brutal, chanceless knock that entertained the late-afternoon spectators and helped soon bring the ‘Peckers towards their 4th win of the season. Ably supported by Horse, who also played fluidly for his 21*, we wrapped up the win with plenty of time to devote to the bar and all things glorious in the post-match sunshine (including an admiration of Big Merve’s heel tats).  Beers and cider were taken with supporters and the oppo (those of drinking age anyway) to conclude another Pecker outing to this finest of village grounds. 

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Peckers 178-4 beat Blackheath 175 by 6 wickets.

Headley

Big Merv was making a long overdue return to the Peckers fold , and was coming over to watch the champions league final the night before with Cousin le Daviiiide,who called to say that a buxom girl working with  him at Epsom had split up with her boyfriend and needed somewhere to crash…I agreed and went into a ‘spruce the hoose like a juiced up moose’ frenzy, watering plants, washing bedding, cleaning the kitchen and changing my underpants.

 The lovely Cornish lass Victoria arrived and we had some curry and tucked into the vino, whilst le Davide told her tales of Pobsy’s over-zealous field settings.There was one moment between us when the lads had a smoke on the balcony but after that we just ploughed through my entire wine cellar and I left them at 4 am still in fine voice.

Cousine le Davide was so excited he awoke at 7am and stomped around like Boris Johnson on the campaign trail, making Tea and watching to chat. I had to give him short shrift but then emerged at 8.30 feeling more than a little peaky, and Big Merv awoke in the same bed as Victoria but denied any impropriety –apparently he went there 1st…. Pobsy sorted breakfast ,with Merv supplying the digestif to Cousin Le Davide on the balcony after, who then berated me to drive his car for him. I opted for Merv’s old smokey and we arrived in good time on beautiful Headley Heath.

Headley is a place dear to my heart where we have the memorial bench for my folks and it was wonderful to see so many lovely supporters -a lot of O-Bs- Kim/Boss, Doby, Maz and Winnies, Ru/Floopert , Jamie/JOB, Queen Kindly  plus Horse and Foals Freddie Boom-Boom and Happy Jack, Coatesy/Muttley, Caz the Razz and Hazza Twaites came along too, with the Fingers.. Jim and LP/Cakey umpiring.

Headley are a strong village side and came in on the back of four wins in a row, the toss came down Heads for me for the 1st time this season, and with all the supporters I elected to bat first. I reinstated the SP/Cousin opening combo after their fantastic century on Tooer at Bures the Saturday before, and they didn’t let us down with 51 today, SP edging behind for a solid 21.

The digestif may have started wearing off…

The digestif may have started wearing off…

botty drive

Botty came in and the Cavalier Cousin blended well with the Busy Botty and they accumulated a 122 run partnership. Botty lofted one six into the lower tier of the pavilion and Horse had to hastily take evasive action to avoid Happy Jack being sconned. Botty was again narrowly denied a fifty, floored for fourty four by Headley Chairman and stalwart medium pacer Andy Pickering.

Cous really was in full flow now with a dozen 4s and a 6, and Headley had an injury, so I went out to sub field….. He struck one to me at mid on, which I thought I had but when I hit the ground I didn’t…I was most ashamed as the bowler was my old adversary and friend Andy Pickering .

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I felt better when the Mid off put down a similar chance ten runs later, and then Cous went on to strike the crucial boundary to take him to his first ever Pecker century. This is always a beautiful moment and so amazing that it was the week after SP had scored his first ton in any form of cricket the week before. He was caught the very next ball for a magnificent 101. Apparently his only other ton came against much inferior bowling and indolent youths, so Le Davide is most proud of his Pecker ton at Headley.

cousin david in golf shoes

A series of other Peckers struggled to add much to the score – 1 Will Collier (Bro de El Collleen) , 8 shots of Cannon , 10 Mervs a Milking, and a not so sweet 16 for Pobsy after his spilt milk earlier. When Motty was caught for a quick handful (5) , we tucked into a delicious tea of which he hoovered more than a handful of some very decent sandwiches. They were accompanied by a marvellous melange of melon and a chunk of chockie cake so colossal the chomping captain choked on it….really not my day. 239 – 7 off our 35 overs looked about par with a brace of wickets for Colonel Pickering, Tunnel and Winslett, an up and coming Bobby Barton unlucky to only get one.

The pitch still had some life in it and Tiddles and Motty bowled some good stuff, but loose balls were often punished and many flew through and over the decorative slips cordon or evaded the stumps whilst the score climbed steadily at 6s to 96-0 . The Beearon took the first breakthrough removing Dickinson lbw for 38, and then Paul ‘Baz’ Aitken kept up his knack of taking wickets with his assortments of mixed toffees, caramels and the occasional snorter yielding 2-45 from his 5.

At this point Motty’s groin gave way completely having troubled him for a bit, and he became completely immobile plus the Beearon was really struggling with his kidney stones. The fielding malaise spread through the ranks as the scoreboard climbed. Botty lacked his usual control and was also dispatched 4 overs for 37, whilst getting involved in a couple of feisty exchanges and then as things turned from bad to horrific, SPs 2nd over went for 27 and the game was really up. It’s the sort of ground where you have to bowl with discipline to avoid being clubbed to the short boundaries, and we just struggled to find a consistently good length.

Headley ultimately cruised to the target with almost 7 overs to spare and 7 wickets in hand, and it was a shame that we didn’t celebrate Cousin le Davide’s 1st Pecker ton with a victory, but we celebrated with plenty of ale instead, and it was another fun Peckers day at Headley.

cous maiden pecker ton

North Essex Tour vs Bures

The Tooooer had kicked off with a marvellous 9-holes at the delightful Braxted Park golf course, Runky particularly impressing with his play. There was some excellent revelry on the Friday night, and a delicious Vegetable Chilli back at the Old Rectory before the feature game of the tour against a gastronomical Bures CC.

Bures is a beautiful ground, nestled in behind the charming high street, the medieval steeple of St Mary's Church and the River Stour. The river is, in fact, the border between Essex and Suffolk, so this must be one of the only grounds in the country where you can literally hit (or be hit) into the next county. The clubhouse itself is thatched (that must also be incredibly rare) and rather delicious, with all the mod cons - wine glasses, room in the fridge for magnums of rose and a good spot to place a firkin of local ale. 

I was most impressed however with how seriously they were taking the pre-match barbeque. Local hero Rupert Tozer had half an oil drum of white-hot coals ready on arrival and awaiting the well-marinaded meat - two butterflied legs of local lamb and three spatchcocked chickens!! These were clearly OUR SORT OF PEOPLE. And they really were, we're lucky enough to play over a dozen teams who all share our ethos, but to find another who saw cricket the same way we do was a delight. We should have known, they're Cousin David's home club of course. The rest of the day followed a similar format, although they weren't as strong cricket-wise they were great company and the day flowed beautifully as a result.

Bures Chef Rupert Tozer getting a round of applause.

Bures Chef Rupert Tozer getting a round of applause.

We batted 1st, and SP and Cous made a solid start. Le Davide seemed unusually focused for this contest between his two teams . They raced to the 100 partnership, Cous getting to 50 1st but the message for the Tooer rule of retire at 50 got lost in translation and was replaced by hit out and get out -Cous struck 2 large 6s and was dismissed playing the Dil-scoop. SP was hitting out but no intention of getting out, but as I realised he was searching for his 1st Pecker ton, we agreed to let him continue. He eventually retired for a magnificent 103, which turned out to be his 1st in any form of cricket!.

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Centurian Kiwi SP

Centurian Kiwi SP

After his countryman Fish’s 50 at hogs, it’s been a great fortnight for the Pecker-Kiwis. This triggered a Pecker collapse with POB, Botty, Greasy and the Cat scoring 21 between us. we collapsed to 167-4 but luckily Cous’s neighbour the Stig (19) and Snax (15) chipped in with useful contributions and the Beearon was left 8 not out in our 238-8 off 35 overs.

Greasy Snax

Greasy Snax

Following on from SP's magnificent hundred, I wanted to add a note about Peckers who have scored their first (and perhaps only) ton whilst playing for the Woodpeckers. We counted five of us in the current set up but I could be short there - Patrick and Coatesy (did it together at Tilford), Cuddy, Motty and now SP. We all joined the Peckers after years of other / league cricket in perhaps what could be called the twilight of our careers. I didn't think I'd ever score a 100 after years of trying and getting close-ish. To finally get one feels bloody brilliant and to get it for the Peckers is an extra joy. So welcome to the club SP!!

 To chase 268 on any surface in a 35 over game is a serious task,- Bures started the chase positively with Chairman Chris Crace (heavily responsible for saving Bures CC from folding a few years ago) and part time Pecker Archie Wilkinson's father Chris (Old Spice). 

An early breakthrough from a well oiled and rhythmic Motty from the Stour End saw Old Spice hesitating slightly as he headed back to the thatched pavilion, following a low and probably DRS worthy snatch from bowler brother botty, but the consensus was (from Cracey also) was that it was clean and Old Spice headed in to roar through some more Rose. 

Cracey and Shenners, two Old Etonians disguised as rough Essex Village cricketers started opening up the chokes vs Motty and Greasy. It wasn't too hard for them vs Greasy having arrived from teaching children how to play 'good sports', following a night out on the WD40 and then driving up with Snax and Felix crammed in the car... 

Shenners hit several 4's & 6's and like our innings, we were starting to find that we were spending more time thwacking nettles finding the ball and altering the field than actually playing cricket. Chairman Cracey loosely top edged a cut shot which found C'Le'D at point, taken with appalling technique supposedly... gone for 22. 

Runky also had replaced Greasy at the Rolls Royce end, which proved painful to watch at times as the surely >£100,000 1930's car had been parked slap bang on cow corner, and the owner old Bures player Chris Chambers sat watching the wicket (not the ball) as it missed the barrage of grenades smacked away by Shenners off the Bearon... 

Soon enough Shenners had one straight, which beat his evasive and agressive action, and Runky had his first pinless grenade causing perhaps terminal damage to the Bures top order...

Snax (Buddha in the Bures Scorebook... ) had Captain Carl found wanting at the River end as he also tried to muller one off the peaceful preacher... (who later on had some good tales, advice amoung mostly jibberish in the conservatory).

Runky asked if we were through the danger, to which I confirmed as long as he bowled straight... which he did, claiming BBQ chef extraordinaire Rupert Tozer and DI Paul like he was on a driven duck drive... quack quack, back to the pavilion to get some more bangers going... 

A couple of Bures players had to leave early so Peckers drew cards for who would get to make a guest batting appearance for Bures -Pobsy drew the King. He went into the pavilion in search of squash and ale, throwing the heavy armband of captaincy (the armband of shame was doubled up on Cousin D following some drops (tricky I might add)) to Botty, with the word 'give potter a bowl at some point' as he prepared to play for Bures at the death... I'm not entirely sure what was said, but a few of us were lobbying the new skip for a bowl, and Potty and myself were instructed to warm up. Potty was especially keen as he had driven 2.5 hrs as had his family, and had batted at 11, and for some reason had been retired through a declaration with 2 overs to go (interesting in limited overs cricket) whilst batting at 11... by keen I mean fuming, and looking rather like he (and his black hand) were about to explode...Runky continued by zapping Jock Gordon with another straight one.
Around this time, Pobsy appeared at the crease for Bures and Potter had his chance at revenge. He could now show Pobsy what he thought of his captaincy, and send him straight back to the pavilion... after 4,6,4,6,4,4 or something similar... but was removed trying to farm the strike from a 12 year by an electric piece of fielding, a direct hit run-out by Snax aka the Guru Tugginmypuddah.
This ended the Bures innings on 162... over 100 runs off our total.

A few hugs and appreciative speeches were made to thank the oppo and reiterate how lovely it had all been before jugs on SP the centurion and singing from Elvis Owen Browne were enjoyed (and endured) in the 3 Horseshoes. 

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The rest of the weekend was glorious, as we enjoyed Tennis, Croquet, Boules, Pool, Swimming, Dog Walk to the Pub and the wonderful hospitality of Cous and the wonderful organisation of Tamsin(Tic Tac) working magnificently to ensure we were all well fed, ‘watered’ and entertained. A massive thanks to them for a glorious and memorable toooer.






  T

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.

Hogs warm up.jpg

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 .

pugs.jpg

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: