Match report - vs Embsay CC, 18th June, 2022.

Written by Andy Wood

Over in Long Marston one fine sunny morning, Nessie was feeling great. A telegram had just arrived with an official stamp - ‘HMQ’. I mean I know Camilla is her Godmother and all, but royal recognition 40 odd years before her time DOES tend to smack of nepotism in ANYONE’S book!

To her initial dismay however on closer inspection the communication had come from ‘Head Man Quirke’, Sicklinghall’s veteran captain, currently in a remote part of Ireland without a phone signal, filming ‘Who do you think you are?’ He wanted her in the team though for Saturday. Initially he’d sent an identical telegram to Claz, but on reading the words “HI CLAZ CRICKET ON SATURDAY STOP” the wondrous one from Wetherby had taken the words literally .... and huffily pulled out of the team.

Nessie though was thrilled with the call up, remarking to Willie that Sicklinghall’s once in every ten years diversity drive was once again in full flow. Disappointingly on her last appearance she’d pulled up lame having spent twenty overs chasing after balls missed by numerous hopeless old men in the field. Sensing that this was to be her moment she headed to the world famous Wetherby Fair to celebrate .... it being in the area. She was as giddy as a schoolgirl as she leapt onto the bouncy castle.

As fate (not fete) would have it a still brooding Claz was walking home from Aldi at exactly the same time. In a selfish action completely out of kilter with his usual community spirited manner, he oikishly threw the skin from the banana he was eating to the floor five yards in front of him. Two seconds later having forgot this he promptly stood on it and he and three carrier bags of excellent value for money groceries flew through the air. As he landed softly on the edge of the nearby bouncy castle, he thought to himself “what a stroke of luck” ..... but as a now descending Nessie splatted crumpled on the pavement three seconds later, upper arm facing East and lower arm facing West ...... he changed his mind. As he nobly fled the scene, pausing only to pick up his tinnies, Nessie was led sobbing and cursing to the waiting ambulance. So near yet so far!

Two days later and here was Claz arriving through the gates of the SCG for the home game v Embsay, feeling more than a little guilty but confident that Nessie had not recognised her accidental assailant. As Willie chased him into the changing rooms wielding a sharpened pitchfork and screaming bloody murder, he realised that perhaps he’d been clocked after all. Still here he was, confusion over his selection sorted and sporting a great new pair of Ginger Brett’s old boots. They may be four sizes too small but at least they had good spikes in them if he DID need to make a quick getaway.

Also back in the fold this week were Ben M, Zai and Pecker, 144 years between them, but if viewed as a triangle, very much SCALENE! Pecker though had promised to really roll back the years to his peak old self this week and he immediately did so ..... by turning up twenty minutes after the start.

Once again Messrs Pearson and Wood snr had worked their magic and produced a deck and outfield which was the envy of every other club in the district. As a desperate to bat first Skipper Rich lost the toss, the home eleven (the envy of no other club in the district) ambled out to field. As Dave the umpire gathered them round to give a passionate explanation of his actions from last week’s disciplinary shenanigans, the opposition batsmen made their way to the crease, bewilderedly wondering why the home team were seemingly getting the mother of all team talks from the supposedly neutral umpire!

Rast and Ginger Brett would be starting off with the new ball. There are high hopes for Leo. What an athlete. As he stripped to get changed before the game he showed off the physique of an Olympic swimmer, though with his fair skin badly burned in the recent sun (except for the white stripe of his manbag strap) he looked like he was modelling the 2007 Southampton home strip! Back in the middle as Rich told the umpire he should be at the bottom end, Rast joked that he hadn’t realised Dave was opening the bowling. Rich chuckled in pretence that the one-liner was funny but as the first and third overs were despatched for about fifty, he just shook his head in dismay, while Dave stretched and got loose. Embsay are new into the League and it’s fair to say that unlike us, they may have been put in the wrong division!

As Pecker slothed onto the field after six overs he was just in time to applaud the opener’s half century. Rast and Leo looked like they’d just gone twelve rounds with Mike Tyson. The only upside was that they certainly weren’t tired as after each of the frequent sixes were flayed, they got a five minute rest while the next search party played ‘hunt the ball in the hay field’. At one stage an irate Ted turned up from the pub to complain that his customers were getting bombed in the beer garden!

But for the efforts of Ben, who was throwing himself round the field like Superman practicing his take offs, the humiliation could have been even greater in those opening overs. By now Rich had taken pity on Ginger Brett and Zai was now trying his luck at the top end. His luck was in as the savage hitting opener duly launched one into the wind and picked out the best fielder in the side .... Leo.

Inspired by such efforts Irish Steve was now sliding round the boundary and launching long throws to Toby, forgetting or not caring that his knackered shoulder was hanging out of its socket. His pained and ethereal screams perfectly mimicked the sound of a cow attempting to deliver a breeched calf.

Talking of calves Pecker was now on at the top end and after cleaning up the number 3 straight away, he then promptly collapsed in a heap as HIS calf gave way and he let out a similar shout to that of Irish Steve ten minutes earlier. Pecker hobbled off but sensing that his team needed him, as well as being bored of sitting around watching, he promptly came back on, where he stood at slip and watched boredly.

It was now Zai and Callum in the attack and both were doing a great job. Zai was keeping an end quiet while Callum’s tactic of constantly pulling out of his forty yard run up, was upsetting the batsmen’s rhythm, as well as certain fielders who after the earlier ball hunting delays were busy cancelling plans for their futures.

Thanks to their efforts, especially Zai going at under four an over (the equivalent of a Dutch bowler going at eights), as well as Leo fielding like he was on £50 a catch, the boys managed to keep the final score below 300 ..... no mean feat after the start!

The boys duly headed off for teas where aside from the sight of ‘calf torn’ Pecker sprinting like Usain Bolt towards Opper’s hamper .... the highlight was the benevolence of Irish Steve, who was cheerily handing out the entire contents of the McVities factory to his appreciative colleagues. Also appreciating was Fatha Wood, complaining that his diet wasn’t working .... while helping himself to his tenth piece of Millionaire’s shortbread.

Suitably sated Opper and Skipper Rich went out to begin the huge quest for 279 runs. Just seven of those were on the board when Rich, mind still whirring from the plans and decisions of captaincy ..... such as “WHY did I say I’d stand in for Quirkey?” .... top edged a return catch to the bowler. Now Rich never gets out for under fifty and while home players scurried to pad up and/or stop nosebleeds, Rich at least saw the positive side .... he could spend some time playing on the sidelines with his young son Thomas ......

.... Unfortunately young son Thomas was playing with his new friend Dillon and unceremoniously told his Dad to sod off ..... and something about being an embarrassment .... and to keep his eye on the ball next time. How quickly they grow up!

Rast had now joined Opper and was enjoying the fact that he was facing a proper quick bowler. Three weeks ago when he was batting like Ray Charles he would have been cacking himself but now along with Opper, they were loving the challenge. Opper had already played a couple of great pulls by the time he went for a third, not quite short enough ... and got caught.

For the second week running Toby now came to the crease and batted great. The extra pace on the ball didn’t phase him at all and it was ironically a slower ball that did for him for a cameo twenty. That brought in Irish Steve, a man who never lacks heart. He nearly lacked a skull though as a quick bouncer duly whacked him flush on the helmet. Never one to duck a challenge (if only he’d ducked the bouncer!), Steve told him to bring it on and promptly hit the follow up ball for four. Unfortunately another quick bouncer followed and though he got bat on it, Irish could only cloth it in the air and was pouched at slip.

Ginger Brett Anderson now joined Rast in the middle and the old lad was very much enjoying his mentoring role, what with Toby earlier and now Leo. Proudly watching his apprentice take on board the advice to “always make sure you move positively in defence as well as attack”, he was then slightly less proud of himself when he moved like his feet were in cement ..... and waved goodbye to his off stump. Aged Clot!

In a World first we now had Dad Claz proudly puffing out his chest (and sucking in his gut) as he walked out to join his son, pausing only briefly to commiserate with his outgoing colleague ..... by calling him a tart! For a short while it looked like the Claz family could turn the game as they brayed it all around the SCG, but sadly it was not to be as Ginger Brett Anderson holed out.

Claz was still going though and was now joined by a fired up Callum, who immediately suggested that Claz run some twos and threes. Faced with that prospect or slogging, the veteran went for the sensible option ..... and hoyed one up in the air.

As Ben became as unlucky as his more famous namesake, by having to go out and bat in murky drizzle .... and getting bowled, the rate was by now beyond the boys, but with bonus points up for grabs and the rain abating, Callum, Zai and then Pecker (ably abetted by the running skills of Leo), all played handy knocks. Zai was the last to go, caught off a waist high(?) off break and as he left the field sledging poor Dave mercilessly, the beleaguered umpire told him in no uncertain terms that he “should have hit it to bloody Wetherby!” The boys can look forward to another huddle with the Ref at the next home game!

So a 79 run defeat and as the home side drowned their sorrows at the Scott’s Arms twenty minutes later, a sincerely apologetic Claz (failing to notice that Nessie’s broken arm is unfettered and has been left to heal naturally), reached over and announced that he would make it up to her by signing her pot. As Nessie’s agonised screams duly filled the air, Claz’s own agonised screams filled it again soon after ..... as Willie finally hit the big, round and bulbous target with his pitchfork!