Fixtures 2012

16 May 2012

Friendly, Civil Service Sports Ground, Chiswick

DfT Green Sox 116-6 beat DWP Hassra 114-5 by 2 runs.

WILKINSON BLUDGEONS GREEN SOX TO MAIDEN WIN IN THRILLER

Following two early season wash-outs the Green Sox were in impatient mood to compare Sports Direct discount purchases at a sun-kissed CSSG. Resplendently attired from 1 to 12, the team took to precipitous fielding drills with an eagerness and discipline that had latecomer, Skipper Howe, rumbling out of the pavilion like a WWE super-villain at his first Royal Rumble.

With the setting sun offering little time for some quick 5-a-side or handstand practice, the shiny new conker was tossed to Ben Formela, who, blessed with the honour of unleashing competitive Green Sox cricket, delivered a series of balls shorter and wider than his farcical whites, as though he was pitching the ball off the upturned hull of a small boat.

Season expectations were duly managed by the DWP openers who dispatched some early dirge to the leg side boundary with sumptuous ease, offering the Sox opportunities to sharpen their collective head shaking, thousand-yard-stares, and frowns that you could stir concrete with.

There were no such problems with the radars of Tom Newman-Taylor, David Grocott, and Stephen Howe, who all came away with figures that did not adequately reflect the quality of their relatively long unbroken spells, nagging away like an over-protective mother spying rogue dirt behind impish ears.

It was Captain Fantastic Howe who was to claim the Sox’s first ever wicket, forcing the DWP southpaw to spoon a mouthful of leather down the throat of Chris Jones at deep square leg. With a collective intake of breath, and despite the confidence that one has in a 3 year old in a similar situation, Jonesy demonstrated cajones so large you could demolish a factory with them, sucking the ball into his palms like tiddlywinks dropping into a tall egg-cup.

With the wind in their sails, and the obdurate fellow opener retired and out of the game, the Green Sox went to work dismantling the long DWP tail whilst squeezing the run rate tighter than Sophie Williamson’s purse on a Friday evening in the Royal Oak. Wickets followed for the dynamite Newman-Taylor and Lawrence ‘Max Walker’ de Glossop who caused significant distress with his super slow motion dobbers on a green-top pitch that wasn’t turning, merely using the suggestion of possible spin to come as his tool.

Chiswick is not known as an easy place to keep, but the understated performance by Nick Piercey behind the sticks proves that he can do the tricky things well, hoovering up all the wayward leg-side deliveries before they crashed to the boundary, but as is customary at this level, shelling a modest number of regulation takes. Honourable mentions must go to Chris Jones for his threatening spell which yielded a smart run-out off his own bowling, and to George Clarkson, who showed that, like a blue movie actress of unspoken vintage, he knows his way around a good length.

The true heroes of the day were found somewhere in the distant and hazy outfield of gargantuan Pitch C. All action David Grocott set the tone by keeping spirits high with his idiosyncratic blend of capoeira fielding, scampering away at short extra cover like a groom’s ageing spinster sister after the bride’s bouquet. Alex Philpott, eschewing his personal well being for the cause, spent the afternoon cutting out powerful blows, turning 3s into 2s, and putting a marker down for the summer on how to get shit done.

Mark Leonard demonstrated the levelheaded insouciance of a player with many a summers’ experience around a boundary rope, sometimes seemingly within the field of play, sometimes not. And of course Ben Fowler, who showed real sledging promise, but was unluckily trapped in the sunshine under the high ball like a struggling fish caught in a spider’s web.

During the refreshment break, Howe gave his boys carte blanche to treat the bowling like it was U11s stuff, and, with a target of 115, De Glossop and Grocott strode out to the middle like a pair of thirsty beer guts crashing through a saloon door. A few crisp shots and a healthy dose of extras in and the Sox were cooking like Grandma on a Sunday night. Things were looking set until David Grocott was mesmerised by a straight one that castled his leg stump.

In stepped Tom Newman-Taylor who sealed a M-O-M performance with some steady stroke play, and acutely poor running, sending LDG back to the hutch on 15 when the Dutchman was seemingly ready to reach his 25n.o. In strode Big Ben Fowler, his broad shoulders swinging powerfully at anything coming his way until he guided one down the gullet of a man in white. Next, Mark Leonard who surprised all with his impatient innings, dancing down the wicket at his second ball only to be stumped behind by the man in gloves – both men leaving with a resigned quack.

Tom Newman-Taylor steadied the middle order by forming a dangerous partnership with Handsome George Clarkson, both picking off poor balls with shots so meaty you could have served them in a pie with mash and peas on the side. As the duo neared their respective quarter centuries, the Sox were looking at an unexpectedly comfortable first victory, with only a handful of runs required from the last 4 overs and plentiful wickets in the bank.

With DWP captain ‘Chris’ bowling like a filthy tramp taking a meth-fuelled swing at a hanging basket, it seemed that a steady head and some calm stroke play was all that was needed to take the Sox over the line. However with Chris’ overs fulfilled, DWP brought back a strike bowler and a succession of Green Sox batsman came and went quickly, and all trying to play as though using their bat to fend off a rabid, aggressive weasel.

With five more runs required and only one ball left in the day, the game was as taut as the Incredible Hulk’s dental floss. It looked to some as though the Green Sox’s cows were finally coming home to roost, but hopes remained through Derbyshire gritter, Roy Wilkinson despite a dreadful shoulder injury that enveloped his body and mind like a Venus fly-trap.

What happened next will be written in the annals of Green Sox history. Sometimes there’s a man – I won’t say a hero, because what’s a hero? – but sometimes there’s a man. And I’m talking about Roy here. Sometimes there’s a man who, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s Roy. Playing cricket. And even if he’s a lazy man, and Roy is certainly that – quite possibly the laziest in Maritime, which would place him high in the running for laziest worldwide – sometimes there’s a man… sometimes there’s a man.

 

24 May

Friendly, Bel Air Park, LA

Green Sox vs. Tilburg Regents

FLYING SCOTSMAN STEAMS TO VICTORY

In an evening of cricket memorable as much for its unorthodoxy as its effectiveness, it was left to the skipper, W.G. Howe, with just two balls to come, to sweep behind for an easy single to seal a hard-fought victory for the Green Sox against an experienced Tilberg Regents side, marking an impressive two-match unbeaten spell for the Sox.

Gifted the new ball, the Old Guard of Howe and Big Ben Formela opened the bowling for the Sox, squeezing the visitors’ run rate and building an early – if prematurely stated – platform for victory.  Distracted by bladder failures and passing female joggers, the Sox’s outfield failed to live up to their sparkling promise, dropping catches like beats, and leaving the home-side with work to do.

When wickets came, they came; Chris ‘Indiana’ Jones and Ben ‘Whiter Than’ White both served up two-wicket overs to crumple the Regents’ upper order, while Nick Piercy took a smart stumping off a Glossop special.  Ben Fowler and Handsome George Clarkson bowled well down the chain, pinning the Regents’ batsmen down – leaving a challenging, if achievable, total of 157 for the Sox to chase.

With most of his side busy unwrapping their new batting gloves, Howe opted for two experienced openers in resident wicketkeeper, Nick Piercy, and HS2 man, Indy Jones.  Jones raced away like a Class 395 before being derailed by a good catch at square leg, and was replaced by Handsome George Clarkson.  Any residual joy following his assured performance against DWP Hassra was soon dampened however, as Clarkson was run out for a disappointing three.  Next in was Laurence D. Glossop: legspinner, strokemaker, legstroker.  Piercy and Glossop built a steady partnership before Piercy was caught behind, three runs shy of well-earned retirement.

With ten overs gone, the Sox’s run rate was faltering and victory looked increasingly unattainable.  Enter the untested ‘Raging’ Stewart Agnew.  300 years of simmering resentment at English rule were about to boil over into a full-frontal assault on the foundations of the game.  Grasping his bat like a claymore, Agnew set about his work with unerring verve, finding rope with nearly every ball.  He tried it with glasses; he tried it without glasses.  It made little difference.  With Agnew and Glossop both retiring on swift quarter centuries, and the game on a knife edge, it was left to the lengthy Green Sox tail to keep the wheels turning.

Roy ‘Gritter’ Wilkinson lived up to his moniker, managing a steady ‘1’ off eight balls, before being dismissed LBW.  BigBen Formela was next, scoring a vital, if turgid, six runs, before dancing eagerly down the pitch, only to have his bails pinched while he was away.  It was left to Howe and White to pile on some runs to take the Sox towards that magical 157.

White flashed hard at anything that came his way, putting on valuable runs, before seeing his stumps flattened by the first ball of the final over.  With six runs needed off the last five balls, the new batsmen – David Grocott – didn’t fancy the first, ratcheting up the pressure for the next four.  Having pushed the next ball to mid-wicket, and against the screamed advice of his skipper, Grocott opted for just the one run, putting Howe on strike, and the pressure were it belonged.

It was the time for a leader, and a leader they found.  With five runs required from the final three balls, Howe opted for an audacious pre-meditated reverse sweep which carried to the boundary for four, provoking rapturous applause from the home fans.  All eyes were on the skipper as the penultimate ball thundered down the wicket, only to be met by a repeat reverse sweep leaving an easy run-in for the single that signalled a well-earned victory for this impressive Sox side.

 

22 June 2012

Tooting, Green Sox vs Carib Beer

Record attendance sees Carib lower order dismissed before Sox total reached

The box-office-smashing crowd had already taken her (car) seat as the Green Sox arrived at Tooting to face the Carib XI, on the longest day of the year.

The battle of wills began in earnest as the Sox demonstrated ruthless commitment to the game, by engaging in a selection of the skipper’s fielding drills, and to TNT’s commitment to public exposure, by shunning the club house in favour of the outfield.

The opposition, however, demonstrated superior commitment to the post match entertainment, explaining that they drew their name from a beer enjoyed on a past trip to the West Indies, and arriving replete with beer to enjoy on the way to the post game pub.

The Sox lost the toss, and therefore faced a different challenge: batting first.  The skipper set out a game plan: 150 runs in the 20 overs, and the opening batsmen took the field.

Piercey had obviously looked at a map, as he was able to find the boundary with ruthless efficiency.  He was supported by Roy, a man with more grit than John Wayne, and the determination to prop up any partnership without actually scoring runs himself.

This was more traditional cricket, with a full time umpire, wides bowled again, and a change of ends after each over.  While it would late become apparent that this would also be a game of two halves – a fast downhill wicket away from the clubhouse, and a slower paced uphill from the far end, at this earlier stage of the game Roy was taken by surprise, and his wicket fell, not with the expected run out by Piercey, but from a ball edged behind to second slip.

This allowed De Glossop his chance at the crease, and he made sterling progress against a Carib bowler who seemed determined to use the full width of the pitch, and sometimes a little more, with a bowling action that gave every impression of someone suddenly troubled by a passing wasp.

Piercey held out for a heroic 13 before being bowled, and De Glossop had a new batting partnership with the ever capable Grocott.  However De Glossop’s staying power shone through as he outlasted Grocott, who was dismissed for 5.

Agnew strode onto the pitch having challenged the staying power of the crowd by hitting his practice shot straight at their car, his powerful drive seeking out the only valuable object within 200 yards in any direction…  His keen eye and willingness to swing at anything quickly notched up the runs until the retirement of De Glossop.  He was helped to his total by some inspired work at the boundary as a dropped catch lay unreturned by the fielder, who remained horizontal in consoling himself.

In strode Leonard, who seemed to have confused the game at hand for a round of golf, causing a cheer of “fore” from the club house as he struck a single with a stylish follow through.

Agnew fell for 13, when he was caught napping in a rare moment of pace at the downhill end.  In strode Fowler, whose first strike rang loudly across the ground.  The momentary hope of a boundary became the harsh reality of a golden duck, and Fowler was gone as quickly as he arrived.

Leonard was joined by Ben White notching up a career best innings, having been controversially granted a lifeline by umpire Grocott.

With few overs remaining, pace increased and wickets fell more quickly.  First White for 5, then Handsome George Clarkson, who had surprised even himself by arriving without a jacket, fell for 9.

Formela propped up a valiant last stand, partnering Howe, whose wicket fell for 5, before the returning De Glossop was run out.  De Glossop managed a Sox record 34, and Formela was 12 not out.

The Sox had set a target of 112, which clearly un-nerved the Carib XI.

Formela’s stamina was outstanding and, despite having closed the batting, he stepped up to open the bowling.  A mixture of downhill pace, accuracy, and a wary batsman meant only a single run in 5 balls, but this put the second Carib at bat in the line of fire.  A wide sweep could have been a boundary, but Formela’s arm sought out Fyfe’s pad so cleanly that LBW could not be denied.

A steady partnership followed, with the boundary found alarmingly regularly, punctuated by a rare dropped catch from the Sox.  De Glossop, however, overcame this mistake, and injury, to bowl a few safe overs.

Agnew took over from Grocott in offering acrobatics in the outfield, though less successfully as he fell over his own feet at fine leg, the ball floating over his head to the boundary.  This was repeated at mid on as both he and Clarkson tripped over the same ball, with Handsome George seeming to do so sympathetically, while nowhere near the ball.

Ben White’s two wicket performance finished with the Sox’s first wicket to fall caught and bowled.

Grocott found his pace and accuracy, and bowled a rapid over from the clubhouse end.

Handsome George, not daring to crease his whites by risking a run up, managed 3 wickets from the slow end, offering a ball that seemed to sit up prime for the taking, only to surprise the batsman in homing into the stumps.

He took the last man in the Carib running order as his third wicket, with Carib XI at 109, off 17 overs.

 

4 July 2012

Green Sox vs Superstars

Green Sox’s fifth game of the season followed swiftly on the heels of their first forty over game, a Sunday afternoon pasting in which encouraging bowling performances and disciplined fielding was ultimately undermined by a truly woeful batting performance even uglier in the flesh than it looks in the Wisden. Confidence was brittle, and the Greeners would need all their composure, discipline and organisation in order to regroup against a Superstars team fabled across the South London mid-week limited-overs leagues for a nigh-on inexhaustible supply of talent and a ruthless desire to win.

Thus Howe was dismayed to find himself staggering over Vauxhall Bridge, smashing pedestrians out of the way with his over-sized IKEA big only two minutes before the ‘last suitable train to Barnes’. Rolling back the years to surge into a trot, any brief hope of a heroic in-the-nick-of-time arrival was extinguished at the gate by the sight of Roy Wollerston feeding tuppenny-bits into a ticket machine, patiently awaiting a paper ticket to emerge from a dot-matrix printer, doffing his cap to the kind gent who’d guided him through the touch screen technology and lumbering slap bang into the rest of the middle order in the lower corridor arguing over which platform the train would have been stood at had it still been there.  All in all hats off to White, Fowler, Jones and Piercey, the only clubmen whose extensive on-the-job expertise enabled them to navigate public transport with sufficient know-how as to arrive on time. Joe Bason is still probably lost on the Hammersmith flyover and Ben Formela, well, where was he and did he have any batting gloves?

Green Sox welcomed back George Clarkson and Chris Jones after the pair’s brief spell waiting tables in the Algarve, and shook hands with Pacific Islander Joe Bason, whose well-tanned and IPL-honed leg-spin would, it was hoped, add some wicket-taking guile to the middle overs. Other regulars were absent: Tom Newton Taylor continues to flirt shamelessly with various clubs’ mailing lists without ever committing to more than cameos; Thom Evans, noting the high possibility of rain, took one for the team at 5pm by walking over to the nearest DG and criticising the way they handled their policy-portfolio; and Stewart Agnew refused to play against any team boasting super-natural powers.

Jones and Piercey had more kit on than the rest and so strode out to bat, blocked a couple and strode back to the hutch. Ben Formela finished flicking through his magazine, zipped his tracksuit top up to the neck and thought about setting off. Some sympathy for Piercey, the latest player to fall victim to Dave Grocott’s failure to complete Umpiring: Know your Noughts from your Not Outs. Superstars were accurate and decent, their field placings astute and their fielding tight. Scoring runs wasn’t easy, and White and Howe were besieged for a long few overs. However, buoyed by the sight of Dutch maverick and club leading scorer Max Walker’s appearance on the side-line, the two saw off the Superstars’ opening bowlers and started to pick the odd gap from the mid-over pie-chucker bowling from the Chiswick end. It wasn’t to last: just as Formela was languidly draining his coffee cup from the Westminster Pret both batsmen fell in the teens – White stumped by the Stars’ excellent wicketkeeper and Howe holing out to deep square leg. Teens weren’t enough; the Sox needed a mainstay, a linchpin, an innings.

Step-forward Max Walker. Twirling his bat above his head, vigorously pumping his legs, graciously accepting the opposition’s applause, eyes alighting on the worst ball of the season, storming down the wicket like the non-striker was his long-lost friend, heaving a mighty heave a few feet to the right of the ball’s pitch, arcing the divot fully ten feet above the umpire’s head and retreating with the Sox’s hopes of a reasonable total lying in tatters around his feet. The crisis deepened as George Clarkson, unlucky to pick out a fielder very early in his innings, fell soon after. Could Roy Wollerston (memorably described by one commentator as playing like a man whose mind and shoulder was ensnared by a deadly venus fly-trap) and Dave ‘shoulder arms to a straight one’ Grocott really lift the Sox to a reasonable total, mused BenFO as he window-shopped on Barnes High Street.

The pressure was on Wilkinson in particular. The club-founder and team heartbeat found himself four games into the season described in some quarters as having ‘contributed nothing at all, be it as batsman, bowler or fielder’. He must have sensed the crowd’s opprobrium, not least when B Fowler greeted his opening high-elbowed forward defensive with a derisive ‘stop gritting it out’. If Roy felt that that comment said more about the Sox’s collective batting brain-melt than it did about his own game it didn’t stop him caving into the pressure and slamming the next ball through the covers for four, upping his season’s batting average by 800%. The shot set the tone for an excellent and well-judged knock, combining rigid defence with bat-flailing aggression and shoulder-dislocating heaves to slay the fly-trap and inch the Sox back into the game. And then play a practice shot in which he caressed the Sox into an authoritative leave.

At the other end was Grocott, a man whose broad-shoulders and agricultural roots link him directly and evocatively with the blacksmith and labourer forefathers of the beautiful game. A mixed season with the bat – some electric highs, some questionable shot-making – hit its zenith here, diligently reducing two-run wide-balls into tense singles and carving more than one bowler back over his head with authority. Whilst both batsmen desperately scanned the horizon for BenFO (propped in a phonebox to call his mum, who he’d not spoken to in ages) the runs kept coming. They couldn’t hit out until Ben arrived, but they couldn’t be given out stumped whilst the square leg umpire was texting Ben on his phone. It was beautifully balanced.

Wilkinson finally fell to be replaced by Fowler, who until that point had been doing a stirling and largely unsupported role as scorer.  Run-hungry Ben chipped in with the odd scampered single, Grocott at the other end just kept accumulating and Formela paused to share pleasantries with the attractive girl at the kiosk. When Fowler became the latest Greener to demonstrate ignorance of the stumping-rule in came Piercey again for the final over, sliding a glorious two off the last ball to leave Grocott high and dry on 18 and the Sox a total of 78 – perhaps not enough, but a fine team effort with some stand out performances. Formela chirpily skipped through the gate to aggressive heckling from a tired but competitive team who had done enough to make a game of it.

Defend a 78? Stranger things have happened, teammates noted.  Remember Ambrose ripping through England in ’92? Caddick v Australia at Edgbaston in ’97? No extras, no wides, turn twos into ones. And so the Greeners took the field, hopefully scanning the evening sky for sight of rain.

The need to keep it tight from the off had Formela and de Glossop bowling in tandem for the first seven overs. They rewarded the team in style – bowling tight off-stump lines and probing lengths, and both finishing their spells very unlucky not to have claimed a wicket. Formela had one chance fly between wicket-keeper and slip, de Glossop tempted their best batsman into an injudicious drive that just evaded the man at cover, and the Green Sox were keeping Superstars within the required run-rate. All this whilst contending with a top knock from their opening batsman, whose unruffled aggression and seeming ability to hit boundaries at will led to a well-deserved 25 in what can’t have been more than 15 balls.

But with him gone the Sox had two ends to bowl at, and the team scented hope in the air as Howe threw the ball to debutante Bason: long-limbed, bronzed of skin and surely not mature enough to be a qualified Doctor. From the off Bason was on the money with his length and turning the ball both ways. And his success in luring the batsman down the wicket was rewarded by the ever-excellent Piercey’s quick stumping behind the stumps.

A spinner’s wicket! Oh joy of joys! Memories of Laker at Old Trafford; Tufnell at the Oval. Base ripped through another over, one cautious prod flying off the shoulder of a bat just past gully. Howe bowled three from the other end, one slower ball almost being snaffled at point. But slowly, calmly, the experienced oppo settled and set about chipping off the runs. No more wickets tumbled and no new chances fell. And in the end the Sox total looked just what it was – thirty runs short of being competitive.

With 1.5 overs left and 3 to score Howe stoked the wrath of the Superstars by suggesting a drinks break, having to settle after some argument for a quick toilet visit and cereal bar stop. Desperately eeking out the match the Captain shuffled his field by the ball, closing the Sox around the wicket like a ragged, permeable tourniquet. At one stage they had four slips and a gully. But when Superstars’ wicketkeeper batsman (deservedly) hit the winning runs there were still three overs on the board. And so another loss; the team’s fourth in five.

There was lots to be proud of in this performance from the Green Sox. Fielding tightens game on game, bowling is more creative and authoritative, fines flow more effortlessly the longer the team plays together and no-one actually fell over on the outfield. Some familiar failings too, though; and whilst batsmen getting out playing attacking shots is both represented on our club crest and, indeed, our motto, perhaps we could all learn something from Wollerston’s high elbow, willingness to get in line and show the bowler the name of the bat (Slazenger, £20 from Sports Direct). In short every player should spend the weekend hitting a golf ball against a rubbish bin with a single stump like Bradman used to do in 1920s Australia.

 

 Green Sox vs Tilburg Regents

10th July 2012

18:12pm

Raining

Brave, Damp, Men or Fools

Diving, Driving, Mud, Stumps, Ball

Keep it Dry! They Cry.

– Anon

After the shambles of the previous week’s match against Superstars, Green Sox were surprised to arrive marginally ahead of their reluctant opponents, the Tilburg Regents, who were evidently and sensibly waiting in the office until the very last second for the inevitable cancellation email. It never came, it was game on. The venue was Ruskin Park atop Denmark Hill, a ground blessed with views of London as majestically turned out as absent George Clarkson, and which would afford all the romance, tradition and all-round Jerusalem singing beer swilling Englishness of a summer evening of cricket. The sun beat down onto the thinning hair of twenty men at the peak of their virility, the freshly mown grass radiated a lush green and the expertly cultivated pitch lay in wait for the thunder of leather on willow. The prospect of cricket was leapt upon and grasped with eager hands, as if it were a buxom maiden leaning seductively over a desk on the third floor of GMH wearing nothing but a 1978 British Rail timetable.

And so, to play! Having chosen, or possibly been put into bat, Ben “I’m very busy” Formela and Joe “Big Bass” Bason strode out to the middle full of the optimism that only cricketing self-delusion can bring. Ben Formela’s mid-afternoon nap earlier that day had brought him the same ethereal vision as his late-morning siesta had before; a series of stunning cover drives, their beauty being matched only by their importance in leading the Green Sox to victory. He was reflecting on the cognitive dissonance between his dreams of glory and the reality of the Green Sox experience to date when he was caught idly flicking one off his legs to midwicket. This brought Dave “Grocott” Grocott to the crease. Unfortunately the number of different ways of pronouncing his surname were greater than the number of balls that he faced, the ball trickling onto the stumps and the leg stump bail apologetically falling from its perch like a menial office worker finally giving up on life as he realises that he doesn’t contribute in anyway to the sum of human happiness and is in fact just paid £30,000 to send emails. It displayed all the apathy and lack of fight that one would expect of an inert wooden object. The bail, not Dave.

Ben Fowler faced the hat trick ball. The pressure would have crushed any normal man like an egg shell on concrete beneath a lumbering jack-booted foot soldier. Ben Fowler is no ordinary man. He played the hat trick ball with ease and not a little grace, before connecting with a less elegant but far lustier off-drive for four. His brief innings cruelly and prematurely cut short, as he would later make clear, by a catch in the deep. If only he had caught it a bit sweeter, if only…

Joe Bason had also found time in this interlude to lose his middle stump, and at this point the sun was still burning bright in a cloudless sky. However next came debutant Thom Evans, and dark descended upon south London. The oval became suffocated by monstrous black clouds storming in from the West, row after row of marching low pressure systems bringing untold misery to previously sunny and carefree outdoorsmen everywhere. Thom would later admit in the bar that this was an act of karmic revenge for bumping off his boss, but for now there was batting to do and Thom was able to scratch a single before being dismissed in a manner unspecified by the scorebook.

This left the Green Sox in an all too familiar position, 5 wickets down with pittance on the board and half their overs gone. Nick Piercey and Chris Jones were at the crease, neither of them in the form of their lives with bat in hand. Surely the game was up? “Hang on a minute” said Nick, “I can single handedly rescue this innings by displaying batting prowess that up until now I had deliberately chosen to keep hidden”. And he did. A swashbuckling 23 followed, Piercy swatting the long hops through the leg side and flaying the full ones through mid-off. A well deserved retirement was on the cards until he was bowled by one that probably kept a bit low and definitely swung and maybe even did a bit off the pitch.

Piercing Piercy was supported through his innings by Jones, who despite not connecting with the ball for fully four overs, then played some handsome shots for singles and slogged one straight for a boundary. He was eventually caught for 15 to bring to an end an innings so tortured that it is now the subject of an MI6 cover up. The lack of urgency in Jones’ innings meant that his dismissal was greeted with loud cheers on the boundary. In fact the ball wasn’t even in the fielder’s hands before Captain Howe was taking guard at the strikers end. However it was too late for S. Howe or his brother M. Howe to make any impression on the score, although the younger Howe did not help in this regard by running the older Howe out by half the length of the pitch, Umpire Grocott having no choice but to give him out, possibly. Mark Leonard was last man in, but spent longer doing his pads up than he did wearing them in the middle and a single was scored. The total of 85 off 20 overs looked possible to defend on a pitch that had turned out to be a fickle mistress[1] and an outfield which the rain had caused to ruin the whites of all who crossed the boundary.

It turned out not to be possible to defend when approximately 63 catches were put down by the Sox in a display of fielding ineptitude not seen in these parts since the National Partially-Sighted and Amputee Cricket (NAPSAC) league held their under 5’s open day in Ruskin Park[2]. The bowling figures were flattered by the low total that the Regents had to chase, but three wickets were taken – one each for Howe (terrifying pace), Bason (spitting out of the rough) and Jones (dubious catch) – along with several run outs by Man of the Match Nick Piercey. Of course these run outs were only made possible by the bowling of Ben Fowler, who’s line and length forced the batsmen into taking suicidal singles and calling for two when the most athletic Sox were haring towards the ball. These wickets have been accordingly accredited to Fowler, giving him figures of 2 for 8 off one over. The MCC have also been informed of this rule change so that they can cascade it to the international community in time for the forthcoming England vs South Africa Test series.

Apparently the next game is in, like, ages. Maybe August or something. Oh and Steve broke the stumps, the wally, so we need some more.


[1] It said it isn’t the jealous type, but then it causes an almighty row when I try to innocently but secretly go for a drink with an old ‘girl-friend’. Honestly what is wrong with her it?

[2] Is that ok? All the under 5’s I’ve met are shit at catching, I think it’s defensible.

 

Green Sox vs Lt Dinosaurs

15th August 2012

Chiswick

Light cloud at 2000ft with a moderate south westerly

With the nights drawing in the Green Sox returned from their still unexplained mid-season break against the LT Dinosaurs. Well rested, after two weeks spent on the sofa shouting abuse at Olympic athletes whose sports where unknown to the majority of the population just days earlier, the Sox arrived at Chiswick with an unexpected yet steely determination to win. Perhaps it was the memories of Captain Howe’s team talks, or perhaps the phenomenal performance of Team GB just days before, or perhaps this writer just needed some bumph to fill out his opening paragraph – we will never truly know.

Continuing their development the Sox also showcased a new level of organisation and maturity by managing to (mostly) heed Captain Howe’s travel advice and arrive on the same train. Only Sox Clarkson arrived slightly behind schedule having come directly from his Olympic check-in duties at Heathrow. The day’s opponents were from Transport for London and their advantage in upper body strength was in no doubt given the tendency of staff to shrug off dismissively any customer query that might come their way. With Captain Howe otherwise engaged, (rumours were abound of a medical at his beloved Derby County) Sox Wilkinson set off to open negotiations and ensure the Sox the best possible start.

Forced in to bat Sox Piercey and de Glossop headed off to the centre to begin what all present felt would be a landmark innings. Admittedly Sox Piercey’s rapid return to the fold, caught after 2 balls did put something of a dampener on proceedings but with Sox White next at the crease the stage was set for a magnificent partnership. What followed were runs and really quite a few of them. But unfortunately there were a good few wickets added in for good measure, the result being that Sox White, de Glossop and Formela were all bowled and left the field of play for 5, 10 and 5 respectively.

The scene was set, the time was now and the Sox looked to one individual to stand up and make his presence known:

The sand of the desert is sodden red, —

Red with the wreck of a square that broke; —

The Gatling’s jammed and the Colonel dead,

And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.

The river of death has brimmed his banks,

And England’s far, and Honour a name,

But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:

‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’[1]

To a resounding roar from the boundary the resplendent Sox Clarkson took to the field to join Sox Wilkinson for the make or break overs of match. Given this writer’s lack of memory and cricketing knowledge, the lack of skill bit comes shortly, what followed next is unclear. There were, however runs and lots of them before Sox Clarkson was unfortunate to be caught for 19 while briefly distracted by a low flying non-ATOL affiliated aircraft. Next up was Sox Leonard[2] who while not known for his prowess with the bat was determined to give his all. However, despite Sox Wilkinson’s sound advice to ‘twit it out’ [sic] there was little he could do when facing a ball he could barely see let alone hit and he departed the crease with a golden shine added to the now all too familiar quack!

Next in was Sox Philpott. Held back by a shoulder injury reportedly sustained during an arm wrestle with Usain Bolt, he was forced to adopt the little seen ‘letter box’ stance. But this was of no matter as he brushed aside even the most probing of Dinosaur attacks; even taking the time to admire his own handiwork as he sent the ball spinning into square leg. Next followed Sox Evans who added 2 to the total before his enforced retirement, (bowled) with Sox Wilkinson achieving a creditable 13 before being caught by some bloke called Cooles. With Sox Piercey and de Glossop returning to the battle hopes on the boundary were briefly raised but it was not to be as the Sox were all out for 80.

Webster’s dictionary defines a ‘target’ as “something to be aimed or fired at” and it is not for this writer to deny that the 80 chalked up by the Sox was indeed just that. Despite and because of this the Sox took to the field their energy and enthusiasm reduced not one iota. However, despite heroic bowling by Sox Clarkson and the passionate never ending energy of Sox Piercey[3] the Green Sox were unable to contain the Dinosaurs.

While defeat is always a bitter pill to swallow the Green Sox can be in no doubt as to what their next course of action will be; it will be what it has always been, they will of course:

‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’


[1] Vitai Lampada, Sir Henry Newbolt

[2] Please excuse the 3rd person!

[3] Seriously, I’ve seen ten year olds on a Haribo high with less energy then this!

 

Thursday 16th August 2012

Belair Park

Greensox XI v Shorts and T-shirt XI: Greensox win by lost ball (Cricket Ippon)

The Greensox turned up in high spirits to their favourite home ground in the muddy, flea-ridden swamps of south London’s Belair park. On a late summer’s afternoon, officially described as ‘Muggy’ in the scorebook,  hope was high as the Greensox tried to keep up their 100% record at London’s premium amphitheatre against a team wearing T-shirts and shorts from somewhere else; some of them sounded a bit northern but I wasn’t paying attention.

Anyway having won the toss by virtue of having less people or something, the Dutch Chevalier Laurens de Glossop strode out with the talented, dogged, yet mentally fragile, Piercey to open up a world of pain on the visitors heads. And this was done. De Glossop opened up his shoulders and spanked the new nut like it was a side show in a cheap Deventer brothel. Piercey followed suit with some elegant footwork and classic Fairbrother-esque singles. Sadly de Glossop’s swash was buckled for the last time as one of the other lot, apparently called Sam, had him caught, thus bringing the skip to the crease. After a swift four captain Howe decided he couldn’t be seen on the same pitch as a team wearing shorts and surrendered his wicket. New boy Tom ‘Tommy’ Doherty strode out then strode back again, disgusted at the non-cricketing attire on display as ‘Will’ claimed his second wicket…it seems that the opposition all lacked second names in the fine tradition of English bastards. The West Country’s finest pantaloons wearer, Formela, ran out scenting blood and set to work dispatching a rank leg-side poo of a ball from ‘Ed’ to the long grass for six. With the ball lost Piercey and Formela walked off claiming the victory which Greensox rightly deserved. In the spirit of good sport the game continued as a friendly with the ‘sox de facto winners. Piercey kept up the pace accumulating a fine score of 19 before getting out to the worst ball delivered in London that day. As Ed found the pitch for the first time the ball stopped in a quagmire of shit left from his other attempts and was sadly chopped on to the stumps. Always the gent Piercey left the crease without pointing out to Ed that Geoffrey Boycott’s beaten lover could have delivered a better ball. (Never forget!)

Four. Four. Single. Single. Formela was on fire like an upset Tunisian fruit seller, but, just like the fruit seller (although with more runs), Formela expired for 16 as the wicket keeper snaffled a decent take. Jones (14) and Stanners (4) at the crease kept up the runs, with Jones’ boundaries apparently limitless and Stanners taking crisp singles like a New York stripper. Sadly both men got out. I don’t know how because I was in the hedge trying to find the ball Formela had hit there…which as we all remember ended the game officially…Wilkinson came in playing his adventurous best and knocking the ball firmly into the ground a yard in front of him, getting to 5 not out, joined by Bason hitting 3. Leonard and Clarkson remained in the hutch. The Greensox closed the innings at a score of 123 from 18 overs…or something like that. Given the now unofficial nature of the game the beshorted team decided to end the innings early.

Set a notional target of 123 baby Steve Waugh set about hitting some runs quickly and got to 40 before retiring. Little else is remembered of the oppositions innings (and not because the photo I have of the scorebook is very blurry) except a stunning pair of wickets for Jones, another cracking stumping for Piercey, in his Alec Stewart best, off the mercurial spin of Bason (I think), Howe’s military medium tucking up the batters, Formela once again not returning the figures his line deserved, George ‘wickets’ Clarkson turned the screw and sent down some crackers and some floppy haired twat (and his mum) being abused by Stanners relentlessly. Anyway they got runs.

As the two teams left the field, and talk turned to wasting public money on high-faulting transport projects, purging the UK of intellectuals and civil servants and the futility of existence, the Greensox went to the pub joyous at their victory; a good time had by all. Owing to the nature of the victory the Greensox decided not to award a man of the match award, despite some stunning batting and wicket keeping performances. Belair Park, two games, two wins. In the words of the immortal Foo Fighters, who I watched while typing this: ‘Done. Done. On to the next one.’ Indeed.

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