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.
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!.
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.
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.
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.