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Match report - vs Sharrow CC, 9th July, 2022.

Written by Andy Wood

As Yorkshire wicket keeper Johnny Tattersall drove over to Sicklinghall on Thursday evening, he felt a touch of pride that he had been asked and would be coaching a group of enthusiastic wicket keeping loving youngsters, who would surely be hanging off his every experienced word. As he arrived and walked out to the middle however, he saw that all the kids were whacking balls about, wearing ‘Bairstow’ shirts and ignoring him. Twenty yards to the left of them though stood the slightly older form of Benedict Marson ..... waving at him and calling out “Hi Johnny, I’m here!”

Unperturbed Johnny T duly went to work and put Ben through his paces. While immediately impressed with his keenness he did also pick up that the young protege was failing to move across to the ball and no matter how much he instructed, Ben just wasn’t getting his feet moving properly. “I’m sorry” exclaimed the new ‘Hall glove man, “but it’s my underpants. They’re too tight and they’re chafing like Hell!”

Relieved that he hadn’t suddenly become a shocking coach, or was trying to train a F***wit, Johnny smiled and walked to his car. Returning shortly afterwards he held up a frayed old piece of tatty red (ish) cloth. “Here Ben”, he said “put these on. They’re my old favourite keeping clouts. They’ve been rotting in my bag for a while now as they’re the wrong coloured material. Yorkshire have told me they only allow white ....... but they certainly have some give in them!”

Forgetting that he was performing in front of 35 children Ben enthusiastically tore off his tight bags and fettered himself with the new red numbers right there on the square. Where? There on the square! There was even a little mouse .... though it didn’t have clogs on! Having then successfully fought off a parental lynch mob he confusedly went back to work. The difference was marked ...... as were the pants, but he was prepared to overlook that AND the itching for now as he was diving all over and catching everything (especially from the aged and unwashed briefs), but the simple facts could not be overlooked ...... So what if women wouldn’t go near him anymore ..... he was a proper wicket keeper now!

And so on a hot and gorgeous sunny day Ben drove into the beautiful scenic setting of Sharow CC. He had the colourful pants and he (and they) were ready for action. Slightly less ready for action though was young Toby. To his horror he had found that having not played for a couple of weeks, his mum had done what mums do ..... and been in his cricket bag, taken out his sweaty strides .... and washed them. They were currently folded on his bed, smelling like daisies on a May morning ..... but utterly redundant.

Being an away game and just fifteen minutes from the start time, there was nought else for it ..... the tall and slim Toby was on the cadge. Unfortunately for him though his ‘Hall team mates barely remember to bring even their own kit, so there was no chance of any spares. Just as he had given up all hope though fate lent a hand. The ghostly form of Ronnie Corbett was at that very moment walking (floating) past ..... on his way to the Edinburgh Festival probably ..... and taking pity on Toby he announced that HE had a pair of white slacks in his luggage which the youngster could have. Being six years dead he said, he probably wouldn’t have much use for them himself.

Toby thanked the comedic apparition (as did his dad .... it saved him a trip to Sports Direct) and put the strides on. Sadly the flaw in the plan was quickly becoming plain to see. The waist was eight inches too big and the inside leg was eight inches too short. Poor Toby ..... as his blissfully unaware dad drove away, his face told the sad story ..... for like a fat, crooked charlatan of a Prime Minister ..... he was utterly resigned! Unlike a fat, crooked charlatan of a Prime Minister though, Toby didn’t then decide to hang on so that he could hold his wedding party at Chequers at the tax payers expense! Instead he found a 1970s snake belt in the corner of the changing room .... and wrapped it round his waist.

While all this was happening and while the broken shell of a man that is Irish Steve was making his self inflicted delicate way to the changing rooms, Quirkey was busy losing yet another toss. As the mercury rose to heights exceeding even Claz on viagra and as prayers were said and wills made .... the boys would face the furnace together.

As Sharkey’s first over was treated with less respect than the Daily Mail treats its gaslit readers, it looked like the Sharow openers didn’t want to spend too long in the searing heat either. They duly explained that with no water available for the square during the preparation, the somewhat arid wicket was likely to play one or two tricks .... being as it was in even more need of a drink than the already wilting fielding side. The most guilty wilters were Leo and Ben Challenger, who having already let one each go through their legs, had given their father by default the title of most capable fielder in the family! The trophy was NOT in his possession for long!

Thankfully just as it looked like there may be much leather chasing in store (are those Lords balls even made of leather?!), Rast teased a tickle through to Ben. With the sweaty red pants wrapped snugly round his rectum he was never going to drop it! As his next delivery was then chipped to Ginger Brett Anderson at mid-wicket, the dripping old timer was suddenly on a hat-trick. The next ball went past the outside edge and while Rast smiled ruefully at the missed opportunity, he took pride in how he was bowling. But as he subsequently made small talk with Sharow’s veteran umpire about the heat and was met without a hint of irony with the words “It would be even worse if you were a seam bowler”, all pride duly evaporated and the excoriated alleged seam bowler slunk off back to the slips to weep ..... dreaming of those long past days when he COULD fire it down quicker than Jack Leach!

By now the wicket was indeed getting in on the action, as it played more tricks than Paul Daniels at The Royal Variety Show. Medium paced good length balls were kicking off the surface like they’d been bowled by Jofra Archer, while short balls sat up and begged to be spanked, like they’d been bowled by Jeffrey Archer ..... though begging to spanked would not rule out any number of other deviant Tory MPs for that matter!

Thanks to Quirkey’s coaching Ginger Brett Anderson was certainly looking more like Jofra than Jeffrey and along with Zai they were keeping Ali busy changing the wickets tin on the scoreboard. You’re never too old to learn new tricks and Zai was having much fun just tossing it higher and slower and watching lads miss it or just run past it ..... Ben on hand to effect a stumping ..... with the power of the pants JUST ensuring that his hands didn’t encroach too far ...... again something many male MPs on the right of the house might learn from. I guess they’re unlikely to go out and buy red clouts anytime soon though!

There was still time though for Toby to get in on the act and as he ran in from the road end he was giving a very good demonstration of how a jet engine works. Air was being sucked in up the flared and half mast inlets of Ronnie Corbett’s kegs and regulated by the tightened snake belt, was producing more thrust than a Eurofighter Typhoon fighter. Representatives from the pan European consortium who delivered that successful project were immediately seeking Toby out for a consultation, but were unfortunately asked to leave by a passing Jacob Rees-Mogg, who announced that the UK has left the EU and will instead be focusing on BREXIT benefits, such as once again being able to swim in the sea accompanied by your next door neighbour’s morning turd!

A late wicket though for Toby and as Leo finally spotted that his in-laws were watching and went into full show off mode to uproot the middle stump, it was left to the returning Sharkey to out-shark the Sharks and clean up the final wicket. As the boys staggered off for food and waterrrrrrrrrrrr no-one really knew on that track if 144 was good or not.
> What WAS undoubtedly good though was the sight of copious amounts of butties, lovingly prepared by The Magdalene pub and even more lovingly devoured by the away team, who had suddenly found an extra bit of energy when the queue for teas was forming. With muffins and cakes a-plenty and with Ginger Brett handing out treats provided by his generous in-laws (don’t let this girl go Leo!), it was a happy group which sat eating in the sunshine listening to Quirkey telling how like Adil Rashid and his current pilgrimage to Mecca ...... the captain is travelling to the world renowned holy site of Lourdes next week on his own personal pilgrimage ..... to find out all about croissants and to put to bed once and for all their savoury application or otherwise.


Rich and Rast walked out then to chase the total, Rast gutted that with this track he was having to wear a helmet on the hottest day since records began ..... and Rich gutted that with this opening partner, he was having to give up the hope of any quick singles. As he stroked the first ball for four and pulled the second ball so forcefully through the tiles on the changing room roof that it seemed the ball might reappear with a comet tail, exiting via the back wall ....... it didn’t seem to matter!

That set the tone and with Rast not wanting to be outdone, the back of the challenge was broken seemingly before Sharow could take stock and regroup. To be fair to the home side the wicket did seem to be in a slightly better mood in the second half .... maybe that pint of water that it received so that the middle stump would stay in place sated it’s thirst just enough. The loud belch which seemed to emanate from the very earth, along with the words “Oh thank f**k for that!” suggested so.

As Rich and Rast both reached half centuries it was all done bar the shouting, though there was just time for the local farmer to appear, shouting at umpire Zai ...... demanding to know why he’d stolen his best milking smock!

So with the winning four duly hit, the boys all made their way for much deserved and much needed liquid refreshment at The Magdalene. Andy Wood however had blocked Ali’s exit and was demanding to know how being on a hat-trick could possibly translate to only one wicket in the scorebook! How many times had this happened before? How many other wickets had he been done out of? (Answer: None, he’s just s**t!) Over at the pub meanwhile the heavy air of confrontation was even worse, where the constantly testicle scratching Ben and the thankfully now sartorially sorted Toby were currently trying to break up a fight between Johnny Tattersall and the ghostly form of Ronnie Corbett ..... both of whom were trying to claim the credit for the victory!

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