18TH OF JULY 2015
The Ashes - by chopper, pob in italics
The 19th July marked the inaugural Woodpeckers International. Teams from Pakistan, Australia, India and Niger were unable to find the ground so it was left to Woodpeckers UK and Woodpeckers Singapore to slug out the final at Ashtead Park. 38 overs each of IPL quality cricket to determine the trophy holders.
With a dashing cut of a blazer and degree of confident swagger the Singaporeans strolled onto the paddock looking absolutely resplendent. I came in from my Potty/Peppa housesit feeling a bit shady after a spicy curry and ashes nerves had given me a restless night, we found Motty. Cousin and cousin Simon eating foot long breakfast baps, luckily there was a smidgen left for us. We then got a bit lost following a death sat nav idea, 15 minutes later than planned and looking at the entire Aussie team inspecting the wicket resplendent in their beige/off-white bone or ivory blazers –(apparently a tribute to Richie Benaud)...and their beautiful wives and children playing in front of the pavilion I felt much like the England team 20-3 The Brits watched on in silence sizing up their opposition. The tension could be cut with a knife…..until Cousin Dave rounded the corner with the makings of a cracking bar and jugs of homebrew! Hooray Dave!
The Woodpecker flag was hoisted high above the oval, flapping in the breeze and marking the northern boundary between the grand Freemans School and the pitch where combat was due to commence. The pitch carrying a bit of green, the crisp English blue sky and gentle breeze stood in far contrast to what the Singaporeans are used to. Definitely a home ground advantage to the boys from the UK.
A cunning strategy to win the toss and bowl by Prendi worked well in the first 3 overs. Twiney and Chopper opened it up for the equatorians. Twiney dropping nicely into a rhythm from ball two. The batsmen looked ill-at ease with the new ball swinging. The stumps were rattled for the first two with Motty and Windy wandering back for 4 and 0 respectively. TOB stood defiant but was caught by Gus “Safe Hands” Mecurio at square leg for 13. At 3 for 20-odd after 3 there was a level of excitement coming over the fielding team. What they didn’t notice was the speed with which the ball was racing to the boundary. Bam, Bam, Bam…..boundaries started coming as some stern resistance ensued. Cheers welcomed every boundary from the now fully erect Dave’s bar. The home-brewed half lager with a bite fueling the enjoyment as the knife was shoved deep
Spac came on for a tidy 3 overs, expensive in the last 2 as the onslaught warmed up finishing with 1-43 off 5. Palmer #1 led the charge knocking a very stylish 28 including 5 boundaries. Coatesy, looking at ease with 30 including 6 boundaries…..this shows the speed of the outfield was deceptively quick.
Squirrel and SPJ steadied the ship. Bowling a consistent length with some height, pinning the batsmen down. Youngy decided the boundary would have to find him reeling off a 28 based mainly of 1’s and 2’s. Squirrel and SP were miserly with their 5 overs each with 0-21 and 1-23 respectively. Nice work from SPJ picking up a wicket in his first over. The Greg Palmer express charged in and was the first one back in the hutch with a scintillating 40 including 4x4’s and 2x6’s. The rout had started.
Cousin Dave took 2 centres with authority, measured the field for gaps and practiced a few forward defensives. It wasn’t enough as Prendi took his wicket and he was sent back to tend the bar for 3. Prendi and JA continued the bowling attack. Good to see JA, in the absence of the Singapore heat, coming in off the longer run. Prendi picked up the only maiden for the innings and Prendi and JA finished with 1-30 and 1-25 (**off six overs for Prendi). A very nice fielding effort by JA Junior saving a certain boundary off his dad’s bowling. He scootered around the boundary in his Australian cricket shirt saving two and firing a rocket return back to the bowler.
Pat, with a couple of ales under his belt, raised his bat in defiance with a lusty innings of 43 not out. Started slowly showing the Singaporeans how he could turn the ball into the gaps and then opened the shoulders with his last 7 scoring shots yielding 25 with 3x4’s and 2x6’s. Only one bowler for Singapore could tie him down and young Jimmy Twine took heed of his dad’s earlier performance and sent down a tidy 6 balls for 4 runs only. The batsmen showing due respect.
Potter, coming in at 10, was not happy to play the support role bludgeoning 20 runs in quick time with 3x4’s and sending a clear message to the visitors that this was a team that batted all the way down. Runkey joined the fray with 6 including one lovely 4. Potter and Runkey saw off the innings.
Catches win matches and the ones that went down were toughies…..we’ll see how that expression fares. A very strong final tally of 243 despite a strong fielding performance by the Singaporeans. We were very impressed by the excellent line and length, catching and ground fielding of the Singapeckers. But for the width of a fag paper we could easily have been dismissed for under 200.
Lamb Kofta’s, chicken drumsticks, sandwiches, strawberry tarts, Pimms and home brew signaled lunch. the heat had made us very thirsty but cousin David’s POB ginger Beer shandy is made with alcoholic ginger beer –very potent (as his ale) and the soft drinks also ran out early…not many sober peckers The Woodpeckers U.K were menacing in their pre-fielding boundary warm-ups. We were kept updated by our Aussie cousins of the collapse of the England Batting lineup, 20 miles away at Lords. The Singaporeans were struggling to find two men, in a team of specialist sloggers, game enough to open. Prendi and JA strode to the wicket. Youngy and TOB marked out their run-ups and with a youthful glare charged in. Youngy on a consistent line and length kept the first few overs to barely a couple. TOB looked solid for the first over then fell apart. Probably unleashing the out-of-the-back-of-the-hand googlie was a little premature. Prendi was seeing it well from ball one and struck two fours and a six, quickly moving to 17. Cyoungy has played at this ground many times for Surrey Under 14s/15s and also has an excellent brain for setting a field. He places his best mate and Old Tonbridgian colleague Toby at deep backward square and TOB took an excellent and crucial catch low down diving forward. a screamer of a catch by TOB. JA steadied and realized the job was not over.
Potty, full of confidence from his batting performance trundled in to Duper. Duper slotted a boundary and then succumbed to a dead on the wicket ball. Duper has two shots a block and a slog. No-one has ever seen the block performed. Potty bowled economically seeing off four overs and 1-14. A master with the bat and the ball on the day.JA holding up his end as a progression of batsmen added to the tally. Gus “the tiger” Mecurio added 24 before being caught. Tornado looked like he was going to play a typical Haddin like role but ended up with 13.
Cousin Dave had been practicing his off breaks in the garden and delivered a mixed bag –some real turners and few beamers as well 0-23, off 3. Runky sniffed out 2 wickets with his looping mystery balls. TOB took another safe catch, quickly becoming our most reliable snaffler and Windy a juggling effort at cover Olly was smashed with 0-32 off 4…..but looked magnificent on his run in.
Spac with 3 boundaries and a total of 14 before Windy got him with his 1st ball the only genuine edge taken on the day –Windy bowled beautifully for his 4 overs.
Chopper hit a six…. so enormous we lost the ball enough said, bowled by the ball of G. Palmer. GP tested and teased with deliveries that looped, spun, skidded, zipped and bamboozled the batsmen. SPJ sauntered to the pitch with bat under arm, then walked back to the bar with bat under arm after a very sharp caught and bowled by Greg Palmer for nought.
When the cause was lost the Woodpeckers UK still had a surprise up their sleeve. POB came in with vigor tossing down hand grenade after hand grenade, Twiney introduced a new shot to the game which was akin to a forehand cross-court. Leaves it late, comes through at the horizontal, whips the wrist then charges to run 4. A valuable late innings of 32 was ended with a sharp stumping off POB . 5 boundaries recorded against his name.
Squirrel and Dr. Dan saw out the innings. Squirrel lovely work with not-out 20 and Dr. Dan retired hurt with a dislocated knee. Nothing worse than a crowd of men looking over one of their fallen warriors thinking to themselves….”Glad, that’s not me”. Dr. Dan personified the courage of a Woodpecker by not bawling his eyes out as was his due right.
The Woodpeckers, Singapore were bundled out for 188 with no-one making it into the hutch. Superb knock by JA.
A day of smiles and laughs all around. That was not just limited to the players but the wives and girlfriends and most importantly the kids had a great day out. Peppa had a blast on the day chasing every ball down and not letting one get away. Peppa is sitting on the back half of my chair and says thanks to everyone for entertaining her, particularly the Singapore Peckerettes.There were some sensational photos taken and they will all be made available. Big thanks to the “Cousin Dave’s Booze Crew” for attending endlessly to the drinking needs of players and patrons. Cousin Simon was a particularly efficient and jolly barman.
And massive thanks to the Singapore Peckers for sponsoring a very enjoyable and delicious curry after the game. We are now a truly an international club and look forward to playing our Singapore cousins again in a year or two.
Cousin David’s favourite moment is The Singapeckers sponsor Dupa saying to the waiter ‘ Bring me your coldest Farking beer’. Apparently it still arrived warm.