Match report - vs Barwick in Elmet, 8th June 2019.
Report written by Andy Wood
In the Grand National of a cricketing life, ageing Sicklinghall former run gatherer Andy Wood today finds himself limping towards the Elbow, knackered from four long miles and wondering why his top weight of 15 stone (he wishes!) sees him grinding ever closer to a shuddering and ignominious halt. Without even the energy to summon a Devon Loch moment, he looks forlornly to the crowd for cheers and support for that last flourish, only to find that they have all turned their faces away .... unable to bear to look ..... oh and England are on the telly! Bechers and The Chair had been cleared with ease first time round, but as he’d trundled towards them on the second circuit they seemed to be three feet higher and the other horses were chuckling to each other as he witheringly crashed through them ... yet somehow kept going.
He wasn’t even the oldest horse in the race. ‘Spring Heeled Zai’ was a much older runner but was better trained and definitely bred to stay. So it could be worse. Oh God it WAS worse ..... ‘Sniggering Claz’ had drawn level and was pulling away .... an old nag that should have been dog food years ago. In fact a vet had once put the green screens up and shot him in the head - the kindest thing to do .... only to find that the bullet passed straight through the vacant space and took out the poor groom instead! But in an act of pure kindness, here Claz now was, offering words of encouragement to his rival. “Keep going Rast” he neighed warmly, “You just need to go and see Ben. He says he can get you back scoring a hundred every week .... AT LEAST”. Veteran Rast was near to tears. “Oh Claz, you’re a true friend .... and I’m sorry for all the times I called you a ****, or a **** ..... oh, and a ****! Thank you, thank you. Is Ben a Sports Psychologist on the side then?” whinnied the now excited geriatric opener. “NO HE WANTS YOU TO JOIN THE SICKLINGHALL GOLF SOCIETY” came the withering response, “Now **** off and have another sugar lump!”
No-one thought there would even be a game yesterday. Storm Miguel was doing the rounds and as Hall’s players arrived at the ground half an hour after their Barwick rivals (and one hour after umpire Kelmy), their only pre game prep had consisted of finding another fiver for what would surely be longer in the pub. Some players had only gathered their whites from the dryer as an afterthought ..... though most were fine, as their “whites” never left their bags ..... at least not until that time when they’ve been in there so long that they can physically make a break for it themselves .... or September!
On the subject of making a break for it .... Cleggy had of course been on the run following last week’s sex scandal. Seven days on he would surely be cold and wet. His right foot would be anyway, what with the sole of his boot still hanging out of a bin in Crossgates. Gazza had been seen driving back up the A1 on Tuesday and no-one knew if he’d been successful in his bid to bring comfort to the randy renegade runner or not. A desperate Ben tried one last time to contact his mate .... and finally, the crackling intermittent response arrived. He was ok .... Thanks to Gazza he was pissed as a fart .... but had caught himself a lovely couple of trout. Thank God! Ben was quick to give Cleggy the good news. It was all a mix up. Just go and see the Police and it would soon be ironed out. A relieved Cleggy did just that. Suffering not unexpectedly from a heavy cold he strode relievedly into the local nick .... “Thad’s righd Officer, I’m jusd an honedst Marathod rudder who likes to go dogging!” he cheerily announced. .......... They’ve thrown away the key!!
Oh yes, the game! Well it was a full complement of eleven on Saturday for the visit of high flying Barwick. Opper, Zuby, Claz and Erotic were all back in the fold, while Coach Naz had been sent out on loan to Crompark ..... his unreasonable demand of four packets of crisps unable to be met ..... not for financial or fairness reasons, but because Ginger Brett had already cleared out the last five in the Mozzers 24 pack.
As Miguel arrived right on cue the start of the game was inevitably delayed, thus allowing the myriad of time wasting games to be played in the Changing Room. First up was the good old “Hit someone in the gonads with the ball when they’re not looking” game. Claz was good at that, though it wasn’t clear if he was always using the ball. After Zai’s Racing Post reading had duly been disturbed the boys settled for the good old “Nearest the pin” game, predicting the England cricket score. Erotic’s stunning guess of 383 deserved to win a much bigger prize than the £4.50 collected, but as Zai subsequently announced that “Nearest the pin” had become “Hole in one”, poor Erotic was left to rue those final three England runs ..... and the one less lager he’d be having.
Finally Miguel abated and Rich went out for what would be a crucial toss in the now 35 over game. Crucially he lost it as usual and Brother Imran’s skills in this area are now being sorely missed. Needless to say it meant batting first and as Rast made his way back in Daddles quack quack fashion once again after just three balls, he at least took comfort that Ali’s gold duck drawing pen would at least be staying in the case this time.
It meant at least that form man Rich was at the crease, joining Matt, who had already hit the Aussie for four and had his ribs tickled by an unfortunate beamer. Kelmy decided it wasn’t dangerous, which must have broken the heart of any “rapid” opening bowler. The next twenty overs were a joy to behold as Rich and Matt stroked and crashed the bowling all over the park. Both reached well deserved fifties, with the crowd loving it ...... except when Rich pulled one into Johnny’s ready to be silaged field and the rag tag bunch of Pearson, Rast, Claz and Ginger Brett were forced to try their luck getting over the barbed wire fence to find it ..... something which was going well until Claz’s foot slipped on the wet log ..... and he was left skewered and feeling a bit of a prick. It wasn’t much better in the field with two foot high sodden (and sodding) grass and wet clay building up under boots. The ball could stay lost ..... along with Claz’s previous deep voice. Still at least his new found Soprano would go well with the Joe Swash denim shorts that he turned up in!
By now the bowlers were out for revenge with Rich and as one bouncer thudded into his lower chest, it seemed for a short while that we had our very own Anthony Joshua as he staggered backwards .... but not so as Rich gathered his thoughts, glued his broken ribs back together .... and carried on his merry way. Matt had been out for a great 60 odd by now and Opper was at the crease. Despite his lack of games he was soon fluently into his stride ..... though as he sprinted for a quick single he wished his stride was bigger and quicker than that of an 18 year old chihuahua. Luckily the throw missed and his grotesque “dive” saw him in .... just!
Barwick’s catching in the moist conditions had been pretty ropey and as Opper was cleaned up going for late runs, Tommy Ryko made his way out safe in the knowledge that he could safely hit aerially. One ball later he was trudging back bemoaning his luck and the diving catch at point .... while as he looked up, Ali’s gold pen blinked happily and limbered up, as the zip on the case was pulled back.
Ben joined Rich for the last few overs, and together they took Hall past the magical 200 mark and with two balls to go and Rich on 98, Ben was unlucky to run a two instead of a one ...... though not as unlucky as the stranded Rich. It mattered not however as the ump called a five ball over ... again .... and the boys walked off with a superb 208 on the board from just 34 overs
Poor knackered Rich could now concentrate on serving up his scrummy teas .... well what was left of them anyway. The earlier rain had seen regular trips into the tea room to pick at his offerings, as no-one really expected the game to go ahead. Now he was hastily praying that what was left would go round. The fact that the covers needed to go on at least meant that the local carrion crows were out of the way and the away side were able to get fed first. In an ironic twist chief crow Ginger Brett was later seen scraping a dead one up off the road and having a crafty little nibble at that ..... just needed salt he reckoned
So with the covers now off again it was all out together for the freezing second half. Erotic needed to get off early so was given downhill with the wind. Good ploy. When I say leave early, it was already about 6 o’clock and it promised to be the latest climax since Claz had come home from the pub and found Leo’s “art” collection under the settee, while scrabbling about for the remote control. Also needing to leave early was Barwick’s opener and together with his mate, he set about the sizeable target with aplomb ..... and a bat.
Rast had got over his latest duck and was determined to make a contribution with the ball. He soon did just that as Ginger Brett pouched an edge behind, but in the worst case of backfiring since an opposition captain had said to Sicklinghall players “You get teas first lads”, that just brought Barwick’s equivalent of Virat Kohli to the crease. The next 25 overs saw the ball stroked and flain to all parts. An odd wicket or two was going down at the other end as Erotic, Rast, Zuby, Tom, Opper and Zai strove manfully, but Virat was in another league. Aside from Ben’s unlucky flying run out attempt (he forgot the ball), the nearest he came to getting out was when the umpire did her level best to distract him, by telling Tom her cricketing life story as Zuby ran in to bowl. To be fair she thought everyone was still three fields away looking for the latest six that had been hit. Virat was now on 99 and looking for a gap in the field for the hundred. He settled on the easiest gap of all .... lob it in the air to Claz, watch him shell it and jog a single. How could he have known that a passing wasp would make Claz swat at that precise moment and hold onto the ball. (He missed the wasp by two feet and IT went on to run three!)
The game was up though and as the winning runs were hit, Rich was left to contemplate what was going wrong. The captaincy had seen his average go up to 310, but the boys can’t buy a win. Everyone gathered at the pub half an hour later (as Saturday ticked into Sunday) unanimously agreed therefore that it’s all his fault and that he needs to buck his ideas up ..... Everyone that is apart from M Hatherly who couldn’t speak as he had a mouthful of Hellmans!!