The esteemed P.G Wodehouse once wrote; “The only way of really finding out a man’s true character is to play golf with him. In no other walk of life does the cloven hoof so quickly display itself.” Incredibly salient words.
However, clearly Master Woodhouse never took part in a key TVL Division 7 fixture, for here homes the pig sty in which, either hooves are revealed or heroes emerge, covered in slop, but immortalised by their exploits.
This brings me to this week’s match report, where Windsor’s premiere Second xi took on Binfield in an incredible clash, that encapsulated many of league cricket’s finest tropes.
We were blessed with what looked a belter of a day, some light cloud cover present, mostly paired with sunshine and also two lone bouts of drizzle and rain. The deck looked good and the outfield had benefited from some rain, meaning the grass resembled grass rather than the barren Sahara it had become during the heatwave. This suggested, conditions would be prime for some good cricket.
After a quick consultation with his senior leadership team, skipper Jag and the brain trust decided having a bowl first would be the most prudent thing to do this week. However, as is the way, Binfield won the toss and Windsor would continue their streak of setting a score to defend.
This was met with delight by one of last week’s star performers, Alexander P. Haynes, who was eagerly awaiting a KFC order by way of personal food chauffeurs, Deliveroo.
The original opening pair of Rob Noble and Tim Hale were reinstated for the first time since week one as the stars had aligned and so did their availability. Noble who was keen to get back to league cricket having missed out last week having been taken captive and taken to a ritualistic ceremony held in honor of the Noble matriarch as a ‘celebration’ of her reaching septuagenarianship, otherwise known as a 70th birthday party.
Messrs Noble and Hale did exactly what we wanted, Tim pelted the hard new ball around the park, and Nobsey protected his wicket while rotating the strike (although, suspiciously, rotated on the last ball of some overs to coincidentally retain the strike) onto an opening partnership of 65 before Hale, on 39, chipped one up to a fielder named Tim Vines, who sadly did not deliver humorous one liners all day, nor was he related to Jeremy Vine. Hale was replaced by Chorley.
The Entertainers cracked on, Nobsey pushing on and Chuckles getting settled before disaster struck. The budding 34 run partnership was shattered when disaster struck. Chorley, on 8 and facing, confidently stepped onto his back and middled his own stumps. Chuckles returned to the boundary, bewlidered at what had just happened, perplexed by the fall of his wicket in a manner that was unique to him in 30 years of cricket. Anyone who is aware of the laws of physics knows that energy is infinite, it does not dissipate but it transfers and every action has a reaction. Chuckles was notorious for unwittingly reverberating his malcontent, the question was, who would be the victim of Chorley’s expulsion of disenchanted energy, to rectify the cruel hand the cricket Gods had dealt him. Noble followed soon for a well made 35, lowering his average to 41 for the season. Doye followed soon after despite some characteristically fluid shots, for 5. This brought in Haynes to accompany Bhabra, who had spent his first over on strike trying to differentiate his backside from his elbow, as he’s forgotten batting isn’t golf. The two dug in, and did what they do best, rotating the strike with lots of quick singles, with Bhabra bludgeoning the odd boundary. Chorley had joined the party to umpire, and of course so did the inevitability of physics. Chuckles immediately no-balled a young spinner. Why, you ask? Well he gave two reasons, one legitimate; the bowler was too wide of the crease, and one that could be deemed a bit militant in an amateur league fixture with no promotion or relegation; the bowler failed to tell the umpire his action….
I’ll let you guess which one Chuckles led with and you can imagine how well it went down. Discretion was a lost virtue in that moment.
Nonetheless, Bhabra and Haynes cracked on before Jag, who was bowled once last year, missed another straight one and departed for 18, and another decent partnership, leaving Haynes to continue his magic and bat with the tail.
The magic did indeed continue, Omar joined Sauce, and the pair put on 35 in good time, Omar continued to look the part and a very solid bat. However, cricket is cruel (a recurring theme in this fixture) and Omar was barbequed by Haynes and complying to save the senior man. I’m sure you’ll recall Omar having been given out on a no ball last week due to Birchy not being up to date on the rules.
Danger man and star of last week, George Smith followed. George recovered from the mild alcohol poisoning of last Saturday with the indifference that only an 18 year old who is almost immune to hangovers can. George, blasted four 4s in quick succession then spooned one up, him and Sauce having added another 28.
This meant it was down to Edgey to close out the innings (this would be foreshadowing) with Sauce, and protect Brooker and Bean from batting. Haynes carried the pair for a quick fire 26, so Windsor finished on 230-6 off their 40 overs, of which 50 were extras. Haynes carried on his splendid form finishing 42 not out – he has yet to be dismissed for the 2s.
Leading into the second innings, Bhabra highlighted the fundamentals of effective team work; “if everyone does their job, we will win”. Chuckles, now decompressed after releasing his aggression while umpiring, urged the bowlers to knock the oppo over for under 100. The spirit in the camp was buoyant.
So we didn’t get off to the best start. As we noticed in the first innings, the field for some reason felt big, in the sense that there always seemed to be gaps. The opening bowling pair, and stars of ITV4s latest buddy cop sitcom; Thunder and Quietening had challenges in the build up.
Omar had bowled the day before for his county and was feeling a bit knackered, while Bean had inhaled something quite herbal during the first innings. Thankfully Omar, soldiered through and bowled his entire spell brilliantly, however the usually economic Bean was uncharacteristically ‘licked to the weeds’ after bowling an opening maiden. When the 2s are at their worst, we don’t create chances, which is worse than not taking chances. And this felt like one of those days. Omar hit the pads multiple times, all not out decisions, which we felt were more influenced by Chorley’s earlier umpiring indiscretions than the ball tracking of the delivery. Binfield’s opening pair ploughed on, picking off the gaps, with their skipper motoring to 50 despite Brooker and Smith pulling back the run rate with some smart bowling, Brooker especially carrying on from last week bowling very intelligently on a surface that dried up to be a very good batting deck. George then did what George does, took a wicket and broke through their skippers defence to make the breakthrough. Binfield were 108-1 off 23 overs, just behind the run rate but with wickets in hand. Soon after the drama continued to follow Windsor like a besotted groupie. Brooker got into it with Binfield’s other opener. The batsman was quite outspoken during the game, mostly harmless and in good nature but served with a side of nause. No one knows exactly what happened, rumour is after a few plays and misses, Tommy suggested to the bat that he had him “on toast”. Brooker refutes this, however, the bat was incensed by something and at one point offered to put a dent in Tom, something which skipper Jag suggested would be a terrible idea. Cloven hooves. The young bowlers bowled their spells out and did well to keep their economies comfortably under 5. Tommy was again the pick of the bowlers but went wicketless.
During the middle spells, Chris Edge managed to hurt his foot, inhibiting him and putting him off bowling in case of emergency. So skipper Jag brought himself on, knowing full well it go very tits up as being a spinner has its risks. Supported by Bean and Omar from the other end, Windsor managed to continue to choke the run rate, Binfield’s remaining opener departed for 81, no longer on toast, but stumped by Haynes, who now has as many catches as he has stumpings, a testament to how much his glovework has come on over the years. 175-2 off 35.
With Binfield really going for it, Bean continued to be expensive but finished strong, and Omar closed out his spell, again choking out Binfield so they would need 24 off 2 overs to win.
Jag bowled his final over, and miraculously left the opposition needing 19 off the last to win, 18 to tie. One small matter, Jag had bungled his over management again, and without bowling his usual Liam Plunkett-esque middle overs, there was one over left to fill. The options were a hobbled Edge, or the untested Chorley.
Edgy was given the nod, and set about completing the task. I’ve played with Edgey for years and I’ve never seen him give up 19 in an over, I very much doubted he’d do it that day.
Edge ran in first ball, the big hitting number 4 on strike, the ball was bunted down to long on where Bean awaited, the key was to keep the danger man off strike. However, Bean, just like Jason Roy, and the bats scampered back for 2.
Edgey made clear his displeasure at Bean, which may have been a little harsh on a 50 year old quick bowler at the end of a long day, I think expectations may have been misaligned. It did prove costly, Edge followed that by being hit for two 4s and a 6. As a genuine all rounder, Edge always spoke of himself as our Ben Stokes, however it seemed he was bowling to his version of Carlos Braithwaite, and this could end in tears.
Binfield needed 3 off 2 balls to win. Bhabra, in slight disbelief wondered if it was too late to bring on another bowler to finish the over due to injury, but maintained his faith in the Sheffield Wasim Akram.
3 off 2, dot ball. Binfield would need 3 off the last to win, 2 to tie.
There are times in sport, where character transcends the moment, where a man is stripped to nothing but his greatest virtues and worst impulses.
Edge stood alone at the top of his mark, ice in his veins, ready to reveal himself.
3 needed off 1.
Edge runs in, bowls into the pads of the advancing batsman. The ball trickles down the wicket, Edgey sprints over to claim the ball and quell a second tying run. Just as he kicks the ball towards the stumps, disaster strikes. The Home Park sniper, who’s been claiming victims since 1865 got Edgey in the achilles and he fell to the ground clutching his leg in agony. Victorious, covered in heroic slop, but in agony. Windsor win by 1 run.
Next week we travel to Maidenhead & Bray.