Bat & Ball


Penned by Motty, Pob in italics

Great to see so many regulars had managed to skive off work for this prestigious Thursday fixture. All but the ever-late Runky arrived at the Bat & Ball pub for a pre-game lunch on a warm overcast afternoon on Broadpennyhalf Down. Famously known as the Cradle of Cricket, there was even a professional film crew to capture our exploits.

Local lad Gabbo needed to recharge his big guns with the largest ploughman’s we’d ever seen, including a whole pork pie, half a Cornish pasty and the usual stuff. The most popular choice were the club sandwiches that measured 6 inches high. There was some bravado over those who cut their’s in half and those who tried to engulf the whole sandwich.

Given the choice, POB wanted to field first, knowing that the proximity of the pub and the willpower of the team could spell disaster in the field later. Thankfully the choice wasn’t his as the oppo won the toss and opted to bat first. Their team was mixture of older statesman and young whippets, versus our 30 to 40 year olds and Runky.

We were fired up by the unbelievable goings on at the fourth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge. Australia had been bowled out for the shortest innings in Test history. Australia’s 60 was their 3rd lowest score ever and completed in only 19 overs. Broad’s 8-15 inspirational bowling broke all sorts of records. Unfortunately there were no Australians present to brag at. 

Motty and Potty opened the bowling on possibly the lowest bouncing wicket ever encountered. Motty’s end had a bit of life, but getting the ball to bounce up hill was a challenge.  Motty (6-2-8-0) bowled consistent line It was great to see Motty bowling like his old self for the 1st time since the shoulder injury.  while Potty (5-1-15-1) mixed things up at the other end.   After 6 overs and a stonking 9 runs on the board, Potty foxed their # 2 LBW with a slower ball. After bowling a record 5 overs for the Peckers, Potty was replaced by POB and the ultra economical Motty replaced by Windy.

Despite a tight ring of Botty, Motty and Potty, and some exemplary wicket keeping from Coatesy, the second wicket took an eternity. 5 overs of some variable POB (5-0-27-0) bowling and 7 overs of some impressively consistent and economical Windy (7-3-13-0) bowling couldn’t shift the defenders. There was more interest in the film crew who had come to make a feature on the legend of the club and area – “The Jet”. Great grandson of the Victorian London sewer builder Basil Jet, The Jet was a larger than life character, who at 86 was still doing a paper round in Gabbo’s village. The feature contained numerous shots of the game from a presenter whom Windy heard took 10 takes to explain the how the ground was know as the Cradle of Cricket. 

Hambledon looked like they were going for a draw already as the run slowed to barely 2 an over. Suddenly the deafening monotony was interrupted by an explosion a mile away. Plumes of black smoke and the whir of sirens picked up everyone’s spirits. Most people assumed it was a farm fire, but it could have been a glorious entrance from the Red Baron. Runky (15-2-30-5) replaced POB and started to wreak havoc with his tempting floaters. Not knowing whether to come forward or back (often both for some deliveries), Hambledon were gunned down by the Baron’s wily match winning 5 wicket haul and finally the second wicket came after 25 overs. Botty (12-1-35-1) came on for some more uber consistent line and length at the other end.  

Tea was approaching, so we thought. Having not reached 100 after 40 overs, Hambledon seemed reluctant to hit out, but eventuially and tried to hit out our two spinners. Wickets soon started to fall, so it didn’t matter that Cuddy dropped 2 catches at mid-on and square leg. Potty appeared to have been carrying a ball magnet and was moved to a quieter part of the field after much sprinting and whining. There was another Derek Randall-esque display from POB as he hit a single stump from 25 yards, just missing the run-out - but also just missing the film crew as they had packed up 1 minute earlier. It was repeated the following over as POB scooped the ball up with his left hand and threw at the stumps and it appeared to be an action replay, just bouncing over until we noticed that one bail had been removed for a great run-out.  

Finally, after 50 overs and 3 hours in the field, Hambeldon declared at 5pm on 141. The Jet kept us entertained with his weight loss stories as we chowed down on an excellent tea - the highlight of which was a seriously gooey chocolate brownie that contained no chocolate.

After his fielding indiscretions, a fired up Cuddy and Immo opened the batting. Despite lots of warnings on getting forward on an impossibly dead wicket, the warnings went unheeded. Immo was bowled out for a duck and Cuddy LBW for 2 both falling backwards. 2 for 2. Poor Cuddy put his rare off day down to the presence of his former 1st 11 captain Botty, and some deep set psychological scars. Botty came in to steady the rot and showed us what front foot forward meant. He was partnered by Coatesy and Girdle, who also made the stat friendly 2 runs each. Coatesy was looking good, but was caught, while Girdle’s love of injury continued as he took a full toss in the crown jewels. The sound of ball on box could be easily heard around the ground. Later in the showers, he was showing off an impressive bruise on his whanger.

Gabbo was another backwards wafter and went for a duck, which caused concern for scorer Windy, as he was worried his picture of a duck would look more like a dog, so needed help sketching his friend’s demise. With the score at 57, and his bro past 30, in came Motty, brother of Botty. What followed was a masterclass double act in batting on a dodgy wicket. Front foot forward, Botty and Motty comfortably lifted the score to within 11 of the target.

The day before Rossi’s 77th birthday, saw the Botty and Motty “Combo” score a 77 partnership and between them bag 77% of the Peckers total run score (courtesy of stato O.Mott). Attempting to fall on his sword, Botty’s determination to get out after reaching 50 was negated by the oppo dropping him 3 times. He was finally was bowled for a Man o’ Match total of 66. Motty was at 43 when POB came in, but with only 11 to go needed to face. With Motty at 46, POB couldn’t resist an enormous 6 (first of the day) to win the match in only 26 overs. The 3rd highest scorer was Eddie Extra.

Both teams retired to Bat & Ball to talk about the Ashes and Gabbo’s ginger beard. The usual match presentation of silk ties didn’t take place this year, as Ashley Moat, the kindly gentleman who’s given away ties and historical information of Bat and Ball at previous matches, was at her majesty’s pleasure for £500k expenses fraud. Like former Man of the Match Big Vern, he had been a UKIP MEP ‘specialising in anti –corruption’.

Woodpeckers 146-6 beat Bat and Ball 141-8 declared, by 4 wickets.
Another great win makes it 10 for the season –well done lads!

Penned by Potty, POB in green.