Match report - vs Crossgates, 7th August, 2021.
Written by Andy Wood
Zai Ali wasn’t having any of it. Just as he boarded the coach to Somerset as the proud sole Wetherby League representative in the Yorkshire Over 60s touring side, Barrie Bloody Beal had pinched his limelight ..... again. One year on from “Wicketgate” where Barrie had allegedly claimed a run out from square leg as a stumping to pip Zai to the award for “most dismissals by a man born when no one owned a telly”, the Octogenarian Sherburn legend was at it again. As Zai was about to be interviewed by the Wetherby News, word came through that Barrie was being name checked on Sky Sports as the man who could “supply Bumble with some tins”. Even as Zai inhaled and started to talk, the Wetherby News guy was already back in his car and tearing along the A63, typing Sherburn into the satnav as he sped off. Zai wasn’t news. BARRIE was news!
Hours later as the coach parked up in Taunton Zai had hatched his dastardly plan for revenge, HE would find some tins for Bumble and Barrie would be left to look a fool. Disembarking he spotted a member of the public and followed them into a building .... “The Wheatsheaf”. “Excuse me” said Zai to a man wearing a smock, “do you know where I can get some tins?” The man smiled a toothless smile. “Ooh arrrr Zurr, that oi do!” Eight “tins” of Scrumpy Jack were quickly lined up on the bar ..... and every one of them with 9.5% written on the side. “Good ‘ealth Zurr” said Zai’s new best friend Zebediah. “Oh well” shrugged Zai philosophically, “When in Rome ...”.
Fast forward a day (Readers - We wish you would!!) and here was Zai, staggering round central London nursing a raging headache and with only a pound coin left to his name. Zebediah had put him on the wrong coach. Zai looked around at the passing strangers for help .... but being Londoners they all ignored him, save for one man who sneered and tutted because he’d had to walk round him. Clearly Zai would need to knock on doors. He walked up to the nearest one, number 10 ..... Downing Street and knocked. Of course he should have been stopped by a Policeman, especially with 6,000 “new” ones in recruitment. Oh but of course that doesn’t take into account the 21,000 that they got rid of, hence the only challenge to Zai was from the number 10 cat who just wanted to get in for a kip. A pristine looking gentleman answered the door. “Are you The Prime Minister?” enquired Zai. “Just a moment” said the occupant deliberately messing up his hair and untucking his shirt .... “now I am! ...... What do you want?” Zai reached in his pocket and pulled out his remaining money. “I need your help” begged Zai, “I only have a pound!”. The entirely trustworthy PM thought for a moment ...... “Well” he exclaimed “I do normally insist on at least a grand ....... but here, have yourself a £100m contract to supply PPE!!”. A passing Laura Kuenssberg witnessed the whole sordid thing. “BENEVOLENT BORIS HELPS THE HOMELESS” trumpeted the BBCs chief political correspondent later that evening. And so the con goes on!
So it was a home game again this week (got there in the end), this time with Crossgates licking their lips at the prospect of many points. With Zai otherwise engaged the home side were left with no spinning option, except maybe Ginger Brett Anderson, whose head was still spinning from his teenage alcoholic adventures of the previous evening. Thank God he’s not old enough to drive yet! Back in the ranks though was Skipper Adam Ryko, the sudocrem having worked wonders on his hands and his good lady wife’s self esteem. He had brought with him the new nickname of Maggie and it came as a blessed relief when its origin was made clear as being due to an unfortunate faux pas during a work zoom call, rather than him having been responsible for wrecking the local mining communities. Similarly though it IS unfortunately likely to result in unemployment.
In a late twist umpire Mick Driver was once again in attendance and when quizzed on why he’d sent Alan Fothergill to Caribbean in his place, he replied that he’d finally saved up enough money to buy a pint in the Scotts Arms and it would be sad to miss out the privilege.
Anyway with angry clouds all around the home side chose to bowl first in a game reduced to 35 overs on a wicket the green shade of which perfectly matched Ginger Brett’s sickening (what’s new) face. Fresh from slandering his brother on work calls Adam Ryko ruthlessly grabbed the new ball and in one fell swoop ended the bowling career of poor old ten overs for seventy five Tom, casting him off to backward point and a meeting with the devil later in the piece. Determining that HE would set the tone Adam roared down the hill. Had it been Headingley or Edgbaston there would literally have been a roar from the crowd. As it was the crowd of two roared with laughter as the sudocrem ridden hand mis-controlled the projectile and a 12 foot high slow looping bouncer followed. The batsman also laughed and thus failed to hit it to the Scotts Arms. The umpire laughed and let him off the wide. The only man not laughing was Rast who had been genuinely awestruck by the pace! The tone had indeed been set.
Rast himself came up the hill and every passing year has seemingly changed the 1 in 12 gradient to what in his head is now a 1 in 3 mountain side. The poor old lad (as Will K-W would no doubt say) was genuinely struggling to even get to his delivery stride and the opposition batsmen soon worked out that if they camped on the back foot it didn’t matter whether he swung it, seamed it or span it 3 feet .... they had all the time in the world to pick their boundary .... and pick they did. As Brian Clough once said to a wounded Eddie Gray, “If you were a horse they’d have shot you by now!” Every week when Rast sees tarpaulin rain sheets he prays that they won’t be erected around him if he falls over!
The thing is Adam was taking wickets and as the returning Sharkey was putting in a manful spell as well, things were looking up. If only some of the fielders had been looking up when the ball came near them things could have been even better. Ginger Brett’s magnificent nonchalant palming of a catch for four was a particular highlight and with some notable exceptions (Rich, Robbie, Callum and Irish Steve) the fielding was pretty grim and things were soon heading downhill fast. You know you’re in trouble when an opposition batsman has to have a runner after putting his back out hitting sixes! Not to be outdone in the injuries department Tommy Ryko’s brilliant knee cap deflection of a tracer bullet at backward point, did bring some levity to the afternoon .... as well as some swelling to poor old Tom’s throbbing patella .... and a few quid into the Sicklinghall swear box. At least it spared Adam the ignominy of having to beg his brother to bowl.
The only upside was that the torture (it had drizzled on and off for good measure as well), would only last for 35 rather than 45 overs. As the score ticked past 190 though some wondered if there had been a miscounting. Ali soon confirmed that indeed there had ..... the score was actually 200! It was a weary lot that trudged off at half time, especially Rast who had been forced to chase a ball nearly to the fence as no one else was within 50 yards, only to see Callum sprint past as he bent (nearly) to pick it up, and return it himself ..... laughing mockingly at his Uncle, as he left him to his shame ..... and his arthritis! As they made their way from the field the unmistakable noise of the Harewood Hill Climb could be heard in the distance. That was nothing compared to the hill Sicklinghall would need to climb ..... and unlike 3 miles away there would be a distinct lack of souped up engines!
Watching Sicklinghall players take tea is a joy all of its own these days. You get a good idea of someone’s commitment to the game by what they have brought along in these times of no communal offerings. Matt Hatherly ..... chicken for protein, Rich Brooke ..... salad for lightness, Adam Ryko ..... similar (but shop bought to save time and energy), Martin Wood ..... 3 pork pies, half a pizza and 2 bags of cheese and onion ..... all for pure greed and succour. Maybe he wasn’t expecting to trouble the scorers. How right he was!
The aforementioned and properly nourished Matt and recent centurion Rich went out to take guard. Rich was still bursting with pride at his magnificent effort from last week, while halfway round his first walk round the ground Irish Steve was also bursting with something .... but he just popped behind the nearest tree. No one will ever really know if the accompanying gushing sound was natural relief or Steve wringing out four gallons of filthy water which his kegs had accumulated as he dived around the sodden outfield earlier.
Whatever it was too much for Rich who put off by the steam, succumbed to a straight one. Opper had begged Rast to go in at three ahead of him as he hadn’t finished his crisps, but with Rast not having yet made it to his car for a butty (why did he park 50 yards away in his physical state), the request was politely refused. And so Opper’s phobia of number 3 promptly showed again as he was sent packing for a solitary single and Ali’s notes in the scorebook went only as far as writing the word “sigh”!
Rast joined Matt who had already decided that his approach was going to be ‘see ball, hit ball’, something that Ginger Brett was also planning on doing later ..... except in his state there was little chance of him seeing it. Rast’s pedestrian efforts soon convinced Matt that he needed to change tack to ‘hit ball whatever’ and it soon led to his downfall for a short and sweet 40 odd.
Now though there was trouble as Tommy Ryko was limping in (at least when he remembered), with Rich as a runner. This was to prove the worst threesome since an un-named Sicklinghall player had gleefully agreed to his wife’s request to spice up their bedroom activities, only for a bloke called Frank to turn up ..... carrying a marrow! As per that occasion it could only end in tears and Rast was soon heading back.
The injured Tom though was proving a revelation. With his crippling injury having made up his mind for him he was flaying boundaries all over. Unfortunately as his bad knee began to recover he started to bat properly again and the boundaries dried up. Certain team mates were queuing up to go out and kick him again, but before the plan could be enacted Tom was back in the tent.
Late cameos followed. For a short while Ginger Brett forgot that he was still half p*ssed and nailed a few fours, while at the other end 13 year old Callum showed his shame faced old man how to bat, scoring a text book 4 not out. Quite rightly he even snubbed a lift home from his dad, opting instead to travel home with his mum where he wouldn’t have to hide his face in embarrassment and say “I’m not with him!”
So following a chastening 70 run defeat Opper was left to make his lonely way to the pub, where the rest of his team mates duly shunned him as well as they drowned their sorrows. Meanwhile somewhere on the A1 Barrie Beal turned his nose up as he drove past the hitch hiking hung over form of Zai Ali. Armed with his £100m PPE money he had gone straight to the nearest East End boozer and blown it on super strength cider!