Match report - vs Lofthouse & Middlesmoor CC, 30th July, 2022.

Written by Andy Wood

One fine morning in Long Marston Nessie was inspecting her beautiful new home and unpacking a myriad of boxes. Having lived for so many years at the far end of the village, the family had now progressed to the other side of the B1224. She smiled to herself as she thought “finally I’ve made it to the posh end ...... where Andy Wood lives!”

Just then though the blissful thought was shattered by the sight of a scuttling, hairy form disappearing into the kitchen. No, it wasn’t Willie, sheepishly remembering he’d promised to make a brew half an hour ago ..... He was still wandering round the new garden, smoking a cigar and pretending to be busy. No, this form was small, furry and had a long tail! A MOUSE!!

Nessie shrieked and leapt for the nearest chair. As they hadn’t been unpacked yet she crashed down in a heap on the floor! Hearing the cry though Willie came hurtling in. “I was just getting some milk!” he breathlessly and self-preservationally claimed, before tripping over his prostrate wife and sending the contents of his carton of semi skimmed FULLY skimming across the brand new carpet.

Nessie didn’t care a jot as she screamed “THERE’S A MOUSE!” Checking his flies and looking confused, Willie finally realised she was pointing to the kitchen. “ARTHUR!” he cried elatedly, recognising his secret little pet who had gone missing during the move and was now helping himself to a box of Ready Brek on the kitchen table. Nessie leapt to her feet in a pained but raging rage, “Arthur? ARTHUR?? ..... Is this YOUR pet?! I’ll give you bloody Arthur!!” Hastily reading the room Willie was quick with the response ..... “No, I said ‘alf a carton of milk has been spilled. That horrible creature is a wild shrew .... honest!” As he breathed a sigh of relief that he had seemingly got away with the biggest whopper since the last Tory leadership debate ..... he reached for the mop. Arthur beat him to the punch though for not only had he been disowned, but having been described as a shrew ..... (essentially a mouse with a huge snout)..... he had been called an ugly bleeder as well. Biting Willie swiftly on the arse, he packed a bag and sobbingly made for the exit ..... ne’er to be seen again? ........

...... Just three short years later here was Willie driving into Lofthouse CC to watch the latest game of cricket. Every now and then he thought about Arthur. He hoped he was ok. For now though he was busy, along with eleven SCC players, trying to get his sea legs back. That eight mile winding road from Pateley Bridge had claimed many a victim. Still recovering from Friday night, Sharkey exited HIS motor and hurled straight into the pretty nearby river, giving the fish their lunch in the process. It wouldn’t be the only projectile entering THOSE watery depths today. Round here those same fish wear high viz and safety helmets!

...... For yes, as the boys took their first look around the beautiful scenic surroundings one thing was clear. A good fart would blow the ball for six! Walking into the changing rooms young Callum (who had been subjected to Rast’s eclectic taste in music for the second half of the four day trip), was still rubbing his ears and wishing that his ageing Uncle had merely stuck to lecturing him on how to take a catch with SOFT hands.

Talking of soft and following much morning rain and an uncovered wicket, Quirkey took one look at the track and had no hesitation in electing to field. If only he’d looked at the twenty yard boundaries instead! However as Sharkey nicked off last week’s Lofthouse centurion with the second ball ..... all was well with the world. Five overs later and eighty on the board ...... the world was developing a high temperature and a more than nasty little fever! The opposition number three had decided the boundaries weren’t big enough and that Sicklinghall couldn’t catch ...... he wasn’t wrong on either count!

One of those dropped catches went through Callum like a tracer bullet and as Uncle Rast supportively mouthed “soft hands” to his knowledge hoovering nephew, the youngster merely walked up to him, punched him on the nose and said “is that soft enough for you?!” Ironically with all the spillage (blood included!), it was to be Pecker, pulling off a world class caught and bowled, that finally ended the onslaught .... the number three having made 104 out of 130. Bloody hell!

At the other end Irish Steve had now come into the attack and was finding the deck conducive to his medium paced swingers. Diving about in his usual manner, he was finding the severely muddy deck slightly less conducive to his formerly white attire. By the time his spell was done, like about 25 cricket balls ..... he looked like he had been dragged from the clarted depths of the adjacent river. In between though he was weaving his magic and making his way through the middle order and getting the boys back in the game.

Zai, Callum and especially Toby were all contributing and it was only the late flailings of the number eight, another man who certainly understood the particular intricacies of this field (ie. brutally whack it out of the field!) ..... which accelerated the final score up to a mind bending 296. The final ten overs had been bowled in increasingly heavy rain and it was a sorry and soggy bunch that exited the field at half time ..... save for Pecker and Zai who had BOTH strategically placed themselves under the shelter of boundaryside trees. Karma would have provided a thunderstorm but not to be!

Any self pity (and pneumonia) soon wore off as sodden shirts were hung up to dry and savoury treats were drawn eagerly from the various bags. (Forty overs of this had felt like the equivalent of a hundred overs!) Star of the show was Irish Steve, whose TWO homemade and not inconsiderable porky pies were the mere John the Baptists to the Jesus Christ which was his enormous curry filled tortilla. Incredible and his failure to even GIVE away one of his porcine pastried beauties, served only to highlight the sheer jealousy felt over his Jalfrezi joyousness!

On to the second half then and with the rain now stopped the Hall boys were amazed to see that the home side didn’t appear overly eager to come out and defend basically 300! As the early overs saw the bowlers sliding even more than Boris Johnson’s popularity rating after the masses got wise to the con ..... their reticence was suddenly understandable. In these days of covers it’s a rare sight to see an opening bowler running in and delivering like something akin to John Travolta in ‘Saturday Night Fever’.

It was a good start though by Rich and Rast and 60 were on the board before Rast became the first person to duff a shot all day and NOT see it go for six, dopily hitting as he did, towards the only normal sized boundary. Before the knackered has been had even got his pads off and finished moaning about having to go out and umpire, Robbie and Toby had already joined him back in the tent.

Sharkey was next in and having survived a close LBW as the new umpire got his eyes accustomed to the light, he took the score on with Rich to 87 before getting cleaned up. As the wickets fell Rich knew that the only hope was for him to aim his blows towards the REALLY short boundary. That’s exactly what he did but with the weight of expectation once again firmly on his shoulders ..... he couldn’t reach it .... and was caught!

Meanwhile the new found batting genius that is Irish Steve was once more on display, as his three ball cameo featured ten runs and a dismissal. With the scorecard crediting him with nil fours or sixes he also took the record of becoming the first player ever to run more than a single on this ground. How he managed to run two fives remains a mystery, but does go some way to explaining his knackered and ruddy look ..... though two humongous pork pies, the world’s largest curry butty and a week’s supply of Wotsits may also have contributed!

As Pecker, Callum and Quirkey all fell .... Pecker also failing to reach the twenty yard sanctity of the road, it all came down to the last pair of Zai (a record of run scoring but mainly in days gone by) and Ben (a record of run scoring ..... that is literally ONE run .... ever!), to try to glean some respect from the day of disaster. Meanwhile on the boundary edge, Sharkey (who has promised to fund Ben’s gluttony if he ever outscores him), looked towards his teammates, chuckled and put his twenty pound note firmly back in his wallet.

Forty minutes later Zai and Ben had put on sixty for the tenth wicket, Ben had biffed his way to a career best 36 ..... and it was only debatable over who was most exasperated .... Lofthouse as they couldn’t get the tenth wicket, Pecker and Rast as the pub window was ever closing ... or Sharkey as it was going to cost him and he had to share a car back with Ben ..... on the longest journey that local leagues can provide!

Finally though Ben was pinned LBW and Lofthouse, Pecker and Rast could at least breathe a sigh of relief. With Zai and Ben achieving the final batting point it was though a slightly cheerier bunch that made their way up the 1 in 3 mountainside to the pub, where as Ben ordered the bar staff to set the table and told Sharkey to get his wallet out ...... over in the beer garden a certain little mouse cum shrew, had bolted from its hovel in the undergrowth and bit Willie on his arse for the second time ..... shouting “You’re no George Clooney yourself pal!!”