With thirty minutes to go Brockley were deep in discussions as to whether they had 8, 9 or 10 players and who was going to skipper. There was also anticipation that Jo Reed may make a return to Bcc. It transpired we hadn’t managed to get the “yes pls” through to him in time but hope remains for the next game.
Our chairman Bob made a corporate decision and appointed Blackledge (young) as the skipper. He in turn delegated the toss to Blackledge (old) who offered the Melford skipper a toss free choice of “up to you … bat or bowl”. This completely threw the Melford captain who glazed over with confusion followed by rising suspicion and some stuttering – in the end he seemed to work it out and settled on “heads”.
With BCC in the field our opening bowlers MEETKINS (Rick) and ENGLISH (young) started a session of steady and competent bowling. Melford batted steadily throughout their innings with regular wickets falling from the bowling of Blackledge (old) 10-1-52-5, Webb (old) 10-1-46-4 and WALETR-SMITH (Joel).
Of note was Melford’s opener who batted with patience and determination until he got to 94. WEBB (old) then tempted him to rush down the wicket to make his 100 with a boundary. Totally foxed by the enormous altitude of the flight and prodigious turn he was clean bowled (or was it stumped?). After looking like scoring 220-250 our bowlers kept Melford to an achievable 188.
It’s worth relating the event of a square cut of enormous power in the early overs that raced along the ground towards PARKER (Jason). In the fraction of time available to him before contact he remembers pondering the potential pain the ball might cause his hands should he bend down and stop it. Knowing that he needed his hands the following day for work he chose to protect them and instead make use his ankle to save the otherwise inevitable boundary. The resulting crack caused the birds to scatter as a collective wince went round the ground. After a few dazed moments PARKER stood and gazed out across the horizon as if looking for a place of tranquility to house his pain. Then, with a Clint Eastward calm, he took out a fag which he lit with a single flick of his lighter. He moved himself to deep square leg and opened a cooled can of oranjeboom. This self medication seemed to give relief although the batsman continued to target him throughout their innings with matters worsening throughout the game – the end of the day saw him quite literally carried to his car and sent on his way.
At Tea PARKER continued to self medicate and confidently declared himself fit to bat at 3. ENGLISH (old) and ENGLISH (young) opened and made a steady start. Things spiced up a bit when a seemingly clear edge from ENGLISH (young) was not given. Several words and phrases were exchanged which resulted in ENGLISH (young) looking for a self affirming boundary off the next ball. BOWLED. Stomping off he engaged in another heated exchange. In the knowledge that he would soon reach the haven and safety of his team mates he left little unsaid. It was unfortunate therefor that he was told to immediately return to the crease as PARKER’s runner who’d realised he could now barely walk.
Whether it was the level of pain or the decreasing levels of nicotine or indeed the rising levels of oranjeboom is not clear but PARKER proceeded to bait the opposition with advice on where to bowl if they wanted him gone. “At the stumps” was his repeated cry. This challenge of accuracy on the opposition bowling caused an outbreak of nerves and wides became frequent (18 in total), often followed by a chuckle and more coaching from PARKER. The added confusion of having a runner seemed to perplex batsman and opposition alike and PARKER was often to be found standing in random parts of the field balancing on one leg while ENGLISH (young) was repeatedly seeking clarification on what his role was.
ENGLISH (old) fell shortly after for 5 and WALTER-SMITH joined PARKER and ENGLISH (young). There are significant gaps in the scorebook but BLACKLEDGE (young) estimates PARKER’s partnership with WALTER-SMITH was around 50 which was a remarkable achievement. Eventually a wise Melford bowler actually listened to PARKER’s advice and bowled at the stumps. OUT for 3.
BLACKLEDGE (young) joined WALTER-SMITH and the runs continued to mount. With a win looking very possible, BLACKLEDGE (young) looked to pull a ball only to find his broken helmet caught in his woollen jumper. This caused a contortion more akin to a dance floor than a cricket game. OUT (caught) for 22.
WALTER-SMITH continued to accumulate with an expertise that bellied his hitherto failure to make a 50. He powered through his half century and looked set to push on for a century and to win the game. Sadly he fell to an unfortunate pea roller having made a truly outstanding 80. Tail enders BLACKLEDGE (old) 30, WEBB (old) 6, CHAPMAN 1, MEETKINS 1 and FENNER (old) not out, got so very close losing by only 12 with overs to spare.
The general conclusion was that getting that close with 10 men and only 19 legs was a superb moral victory. After stretchering PARKER to his car we retired to the CROWN where BLACKLEDGE (old) bought a jug and WALTER-SMITH didn’t – the bar did shut early. Two pints of cider saw ENGLISH (young) discussing an evening out he has planned for Friday. It remains unclear whether it’s with a potential lover, just a friend or indeed an Aunt. Possibly all three. The only thing for sure was that he’s quite prepared to change the location in order “to be with the lads”.
Man of the match – WALTER-SMITH Quote of the match – PARKER … “I’m fine”