Match report - vs Thirsk CC, 21st May, 2022.

Written by Andy Wood

As Sicklinghall CC captain Tim Quirke made his way into Manchester arena on Friday evening, he’d never doubted himself so much. Fresh from the Tuesday night mullering by Thirsk CC, here he was, 58 years old and feeling 88, but worse than that, for the first time in his captaincy career his decision making had seriously come into question ...... What was he doing thinking that Andy Wood could bowl four overs when he needs the full week to soak in a bath of WD-40? What was he doing letting Zai Ali, a proven game changer, go off and play with his younger teammates in the Yorkshire over 60s ..... and worst of all ....... WHAT WAS HE DOING COMING TO SEE THE PET SHOP BOYS?!


As the 80s synth pop duo started up their trebly warbling, Quirkey pondered. Was he past it? Should he carry on? Did he still want it? ..... How could he possibly hope to decide? At the end of the day though he had always been a big believer in destiny. Que sera sera. Whatever will be will be. Somehow in the next hour or so he knew that the fates would undoubtedly decide and there would be a sign! ............


......... “What have I ..... what have I .... WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS!?” wailed Neil Tennant from the stage. Quirkey looked around. “I think I deserve a drink” he thought, making his way to the bar. Back on the stage the formerly curly topped frontman was looking straight at him now ..... “IT’S A SIN!” he screamed pleadingly. “Ooh I like this one” thought the ageing skipper, “It’s a sin that I’m not dancing”. Making his way to the front he started to strut his funky moves ..... and promptly collapsed due to his bad back. “Nope” he thought to himself, as they wheeled him to the waiting ambulance ...... not a single sign!”


Roll on one day and his misfiring team of misfits were making their weary way into Thirsk CC for the big re-match. As Rast dragged his kitbag along the racecourse bordering the beautiful cricket ground, the irony was not lost on him that this turf was used to seeing thoroughbreds effortlessly travelling at 45 miles per hour. This old nag would be lucky if his fastest bowling efforts would see 45 miles per hour!


Getting out of HIS car and promptly bursting into tears was Zai. When he’d been told to be at Thirsk racecourse for 1pm, he excitedly assumed he had a 7 race afternoon and a slap up meal with the county set to look forward to. Instead he had a 7 over slog up the hill and into the wind to look forward to. Taking off his morning suit and top hat, he reluctantly took his kitbag from the boot and walked over to Tesco’s to buy an egg butty.


The weekly team changes are becoming too long to list (and keep tabs of), but one significant change this time came with the debut of former 10cc star Kevin Godley. He sure looks different these days without the 1970s hippie combo of flyaway hair and unkempt beard, but hey even Lindsey Pearson had been mistaken for Roy Wood back in the day!


And so on a day where God was presumably having his radiators looked at ...... one minute freezing, one minute cooking ..... Quirkey won the toss and elected to bat first on a cracking looking deck. With Opper deciding that Centerparcs’s pricing method of ‘establish fair value of a holiday and then quadruple it’ was perfectly acceptable, it was left to Rast to excitedly accompany Rich to the middle. His joy at being once again at the top of the order was only slightly tempered by the sight of the colossal boundaries and the thought of being expected to run threes. As Rich stroked an early cover drive to the fence, the relief at the fast speed of the outfield was palpable.


The opening exchanges were interesting (except for the bored crowd) as the two openers found little in the way of wayward bowling to go at and then hitting it to athletic fielders when they did. Something had to give and it eventually did as Rast attempted a beautiful aesthetic pull shot off a ball not quite there for it and only succeeded in playing the famed PJ paddle. He promptly paddled off back to the hutch.


It was a similar tale for Sharkey and Toby as they too found scoring at a run a ball to be about as likely as the Prime Minister correcting the parliamentary record, or as easy as Nadine Dorries doing some research. Ginger Brett Anderson though had come up with a genius plan to not bat lots of time for not many runs ..... which was to bat hardly any time for next to no runs ..... a cunning plan with just one drawback!


London exile Robbie was next in and thankfully he and Rich put together a partnership and accelerated the scoring rate - and the score had moved to exactly 100 when Rich squirted one to point and walked off for 44. Just as well he did walk as umpire Sharkey had seen it as a bump ball, which had it gone to adjudication would undoubtedly have seen the outbreak of World War 3!


Talking of bad eyesight Irish Steve was now at the crease and as he drilled one past mid wicket he set off for what he expected to be a minimum of three runs. That was in HIS eyes. In everyone else’s the mid-wicket had stopped and gathered the ball and was now in the process of running the poor gasping, scrambling and diving Irishman out ..... by approximately 6 yards. The opposition (and possibly a veteran team mate umpiring) sympathetically grinned.


With a period of consolidation now clearly required, the super calm captain Quirkey entered the fray, whereupon he was immediately triggered by Sharkey and exited slightly less calm and not thinking it overly super. Sharkey’s brilliant plan of how to get out of umpiring appears to be nicely on track, even if Quirkey is currently trying to round up a restless Lynch mob!


That then brought debutant Kevin to the crease and it was just unfortunate that as he arrived at the crease still sporting a black hoodie and had to walk off and remove it, his concentration was broken and a short stay duly followed. The creme will have to wait for another day!


With Ben unable to take the scoring forward, the precarious position of 108 for 9 greeted last man in Zai. Between him and Robbie though they stroked some late boundaries and in doing so not only showed that Quirkey had read the batting order out the wrong way round, but also consigned a very hungry Rast to the longest stint of umpiring since the timeless test match of 1932, when England and Australia had to call a halt in order for England to catch the boat home. THAT’S how long it was and as the raging veteran dragged his giant space hopper bladder across the outfield at half time, the racecourse was only saved from the declared going changing from ‘Good to firm’ to ‘Heavy’ by the proximity of the Gents. Meanwhile further rage at the length of the stint was prevented when it was explained that the only possible replacement umpire was Ginger Brett Anderson.


Thanks to Robbie and Zai the boys could tuck more happily into their teas with a below par, but better than it looked like being 129 on the board.


So now onto the bowling and after Tuesday night’s carnage it was not something the boys were overly looking forward to. As Sharkey marked his run, his headband giving him the appearance of a tennis player, at the other end Rast was in the process of cutting off the circulation in his arm, due to being afflicted with tennis elbow. Could anything else go wrong? As the Thirsk opener helped himself to a couple of freebies in the first two overs, seemingly it could.


Thankfully as he got over ambitious and dragged one back on, he had to disappear. Coincidentally also disappearing at the sight of this wicket was Rast’s tennis elbow. Funny that .... although he had by now lost all feeling in the limb and was relying on memory and the wind to rotate it for him. As the number 3 was cleaned up the next ball, the wind was clearly doing a half decent job.


Ginger Brett Anderson was now into the attack and taking a wicket with his first ball, somehow nonchalantly holding on to a return chance which came at him with a fiery comet tail on it! He soon repeated this to give proof to Thirsk if ‘twere needed that they should aim for one of the many other fielders ..... who can’t catch.


The home team were now in trouble, not least the poor guy who nearly found his teeth in the way of Ginger Brett’s accidental beamer! He became one of four batsmen to be undone by the subsequent wily guile of Zai and as Sharkey pouched the final chance out at long on, it was all over and the boys could head off to the bar to talk about procuring training tops ..... as long as it doesn’t involve training!!


Meanwhile as he drove back towards Leeds, a bell had finally chimed in Quirkey’s head. Of course, it was all clear now - he HAD received a sign at The Pet Shop Boys gig. Neil Tennant WAS trying to tell him what he should do. There was just one problem though ....... Where on Earth was he going to find a whole team of WEST END GIRLS to captain?!u,