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Match report - vs Embsay CC, 13th August, 2022.

Written by Andy Wood

The cost of living crisis was really starting to bite in Sicklinghall. Despite it being August and so hot that even Icarus was checking the oil and water in the Winnebago and planning a touring holiday in the area ..... in the Cleggy household belts were already being tightened at the prospect of yet another indefensible rise in the energy cap ..... and a Winter of discontent. Cleggy and Mrs Cleggy were discussing their options. After two hours of ideas and sombre debate they had a list of two. They could move to France and see their electricity increases capped at 4%, with NO increase for gas ..... or they could dust down the log burner, get the chainsaw out and butcher that grand and dignified old oak at the bottom of the garden. With our highly talented Government of fraudsters and charlatans having taken away our freedom of movement though, Cleggy was quickly out to the shed searching for the two stroke!

As the blade ripped through branches that were already mature when the Roundheads took on the Cavaliers .... and when Zai Ali made his debut for St Chads ..... Cleggy couldn’t hear the high pitched screams coming from the poor tree. Human ears aren’t tuned for that ..... plus his 24 inch Sachs-Dolmar was making a right racket! But those screams were there right enough. All the other trees heard them and as Cleggy grinningly stacked up enough wood to warm him through at least TWO Tory Winters ..... they wept their sappy tears ..... and planned their revenge!

So pleased with his money saving work was Cleggy, that he was more than happy to start up the jalopy and incur at least £40 to get to Embsay at the weekend. Also more than happy were Irish Steve and Alfie .... who had cunningly cadged a lift. Also cunningly saving on THEIR fuel costs were Zai’s three mates from the Yorkshire 70s, who had agreed to make a special guest appearance .... and were currently rolling in down the hill from the direction of Holmfirth ..... all crammed into an old tin bath! Miles, Bryan P and Bryan H would however be three of the fitter specimens on display this day ... and were a fines saving Godsend!

What a scene though! The lovely tree bordered cricket ground at Embsay sits on a plateau halfway up a hillside that looks across a valley, along the bottom of which runs the well known and beautiful steam railway. By the end of the day as the mercury hit 34C, the only thing to differentiate between steaming old Engines and steaming old cricketers would be the sound of whistling against the sound of swearing!

The new batting God that is Sharkey was in charge this week (Quirkey was making his second visit in a month to France and rumours are abound that he’s trying via that and his Irish roots to wangle an EU passport and residence) and having viewed the rock hard track and the thermometer .... he thankfully elected to bat. Maybe Embsay would wilt in the first half, maybe it would cool down later ...... maybe Leeds United wouldn’t throw away a two goal start .... !

So it would be Rast and Miles to open the batting and despite Miles having recently blown out seventy candles, Rast was quick to ask him to go easy on the running of any quick singles. As his new partner felt his calf go while walking to the middle though .... he needn’t have worried. With any kind of quick (or even quickish) movements out of the question, the two willow wielding (supporting) protagonists agreed a strategy of “blunting the attack” and got to work with their blunting.

It took until the twelfth over before the two even changed ends and by the time Miles succumbed in the sixteenth, the home side had changed the bowling five times and were looking slightly blunted ..... only slightly that is because the score during this time had whizzed round to a mind boggling 25. Down at the railway an engineer was pointing up towards the cricket scoreboard and saying to one of the drivers “Now THAT’S a platform!!”

Bryan P was next in and greeted Rast’s “it’s skidding and not coming through ... he’s got a funny action .... he’s got a good slower ball” information dossier with the disdain quite rightly reserved for a man who had currently batted over an hour .... for ten not out! It became clear that Bryan wasn’t a chatter and his sole batting mantra was ‘just concentrate on the next ball’. Half an hour later he was giving Rast a filthy look for turning down a single, before promptly getting cleaned up next ball. The irony wasn’t lost on Rast, who quickly also deduced he had better not get out anytime soon or the next ball Bryan would be concentrating on would be either HIS left or right one ..... with his size ten foot!

Thankfully Sharkey Lara was now coming to the crease and immediately he became the first ‘Hall batter to time more than one on the trot. By now Rast was going through that tricky period of weighing up being more aggressive against the thought of getting out and having to replace Zai and Irish Steve as umpire. Currently they had done twenty overs each and appeared to be having a great time. Nonetheless the thought of batting forty overs for forty not out was not appealing and so he finally reached for the handbrake ..... and released it ..... soon making his way to a fifty which no one applauded for but three reasons ..... 1) it was dull, 2) he clottishly got out next ball and 3) the scorers had gone to sleep and failed to tell anyone!

Ginger Brett Anderson was now in the middle and between he and Sharkey they finally gave the crowd something to entertain them (other than watching trains) and finally made the home side do some retrieving. Leo scored a better than a run a ball eighteen, while Sharkey went past fifty for the second week running. By the time tea arrived shortly after Irish Steve and then Kev had helped Sharkey take the score to 177 and maximum bonus points.

Teas could be enjoyed now and with copious plates of sandwiches, sausage rolls, pork pies and cakes provided by the opposition ..... they certainly were. Sadly the plates weren’t quite big enough for the treats and as they were carried outside into the heat, the troughing had to be quick before the fresh cream from the scones melted and slid all over the sandwiches ..... or in a Fatha Wood’s case melted and slid clean off his plate and splattered all over the flags .... taking his chocolate muffin and egg butty with it! Fatha’s invoking of the five second rule for the muffin was fair enough, though watching him scrape up the face down eggy number and re-acquaint it with some ham, was a little harder to stomach ..... although HE seemed to have little trouble!

All that done it was time to buy shares in Ambre Solaire and get out and face the furnace. A reasonable score had been accumulated and the home side would find it tricky too. Or as they say at the pantomime ...... “OH NO THEY WON’T!” Having watched the ‘Hall scrape their way to a score, Embsay decided on a different plan of attack ..... see ball hit ball ...... and hit it they did ...... regularly and a long way!

The lack of activity on the adjacent building site was suddenly explained. The construction workers had downed tools and refused to work Saturdays due to the unacceptable danger. They could cope with falling masonry and swinging machinery ..... but exocet missiles from the cricket ground was too much. And there were many missiles.

Eventually Sharkey teased the opener into missing one but aside from that and Irish Steve sending back the other opener as he tried to hit a ball into the railway sheds down in the valley, there wasn’t much to shout about. Still heads were far from going down and there was plenty of effort in the field (mainly fetching the ball back admittedly).

With just twenty needed to win Cleggy chased yet another boundary destined ball and stuck out a size 11 to brilliantly prevent it from rolling over the line. As he did so though the stump of an adjacent tree stuck out a small root and sent poor Cleggy rolling over said boundary, down the embankment and into some nettles .... eventually coming to rest at the feet of four concerned spectators. Also showing concern were Cleggy’s team mates, but as he confirmed despite his foot pointing West and his big toe pointing South, that the only wound was to his pride, they laughed vociferously at his misfortune ..... and wounded his pride a bit more! The trees in the area rustled despite the lack of breeze. They were appreciative and content!

Cleggy still had it in him to run in and bowl two decent overs, despite leaving a trail of blood from his knee which looked like a post watershed version of Hansel and Gretel .... while young farmer Alfie also turned his arm over and showed a couple of his more experienced team mates how to bowl line and length. He was more than happy to tell them so!

The game was soon up though, beaten by eight wickets with fully seventeen overs to spare, but as Johnny settled Alfie’s subs for the season by way of twenty assorted cold bottles, Cleggy had taken his chainsaw from the car and was re-acquainting himself with a certain tree root. By the time he would be done he’d have enough wood for FIVE Winters and the landscape around Embsay cricket ground would be something slightly less picturesque!

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