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.
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.
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.
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.
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