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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?