The day dawned cloudy and with rain forecast there was scepticism in some corners as to whether the game would go ahead or not. So as we all made our way to the ground in our own sweet time, Boozer replaced the embarrassment of losing the toss, with begging that we be allowed to bat first on the wet, artificial track, because we only had 6 players. And so it was.
Nails and Adam opened up with a couple of early boundaries, before Adam was bowled by a cracking ball that angled in and straightened to take the top of off stump. That bought Matty to crease and he was swiftly off the mark.
With the opening bowlers off, the time to prosper came, as an overweight middle aged man who barely knew what the ball was, took up the attack. For his opening act, he produced a loopy, slow, straight ball that David Blunkett would have caressed through the covers. Hell, even his little dog would have got runs from it. Not wanting to commit too early, Matty stood his ground and played straight – over the top of it – leaving a gap of 18 inches for the ball to comfortably bounce under and hit his off peg. The umpires conferred, and both agreed that it was hilarious. For one, a little bit of wee came out.
That bought Coles, Matty’s late ringer and on Maladroits debut, to the crease. He was the exact opposite of his predecessor, and smashed a couple of boundaries straight away. When Nails departed for a tidy 31, Boozer joined Coles and built a partnership until Coles’ forced retirement when he reached 50. That bought Retter to the crease, fresh from a stag do in Liverpool the night before. They set about destroying the attack, with Ash’s massive 6 over long on one of the shots of the day. Not wanting to retire, he was out on 45 and Lowis joined his skipper, with the score around 200 and 9 overs remaining.
Sensing that there were still great things to come from Coles, and not wanting to deprive him the opportunity of a dream debut, Lowis protested the wide bowling tactics by walking down the pitch 3rd ball and being stumpted. Although TV replays later showed that he was given out by Boland, still reeling from his disgraceful display.
Brenner came in and smashed a quickfire 14 and when Boozer smashed what looked to be a certain 6, before being caught short of the rope at cow, Coles came back in to join Crispin. With only a few overs left, Coles had bullied his way 79* when the final over started. He then hit the first two balls down the ground for 6, and a debut hundred was on. Sadly, he could only manage a single off the next ball and when Crispin was out 7, he was left stranded on 92*. Maladroits 268 for 8 (we were still 2 short).
A bit of light drizzle and a cracking tea later, the Maladroits took the field to defend their 268 in 40 overs.
Lowis and Boland opened the bowling, with Boland having an off day all round and being hit for 3 fours in his first over. Then the mood in the field changed dramatically as the ball was played deep to Lowis on the square leg boundary. Racing around from fine leg and producing a brilliant pick up and throw, Boozer had the bails off and the danger man was on his way back to the pavilion. Lowis then took the next wicket with the score around 30 and the hosts on the back foot.
A small partnership started to form before some inspired captaincy from Boozer saw each and every one of the Maladroits take to the bowling crease. With the troops bowling and fielding well, and Crispin mixing wickets with beamers, the run rate fell and the visitors confidence grew. Sensing blood, the skipper decided it was his turn to roll the arm over, and handed the gloves to Boland. Feeling confident behind the sticks, Matty took his position as Coles stood at the other end. After a loosener, Coles was looking sharp and ready to strike.
What happened next was perhaps the best moment of the entire season.
From behind the stumps, Matty chirped “Let’s find the edge now, I’ll take the catch and be keeper of the season.” Coles ran in, produced the ball of the season and drew the edge from the impotent batsman. The clear snick was heard throughout the county, but amazingly, the ball didn’t deviate at all and went straight into Matty’s gloves. Then out again.
Crispin then chipped in with a wicket, and big Mike Brenner came on to destroy the mid-lower order and took 3 wickets. Boozer’s spinners kept the scoring down, only going for 4 off his 4 overs, but he was ready to go home so called Crispin and Lowis back into the attack to finish off the hosts.
Maladroits won by about 120 runs.
Coles – 92*
Retter – 45
Brewer – 37
Brenner – 3 – 23 of 4
Lowis – 2 – 18 off 5
Crispin – 2 – 19 off 5.4
MoM - Rich Coles
Fielder – Crispin
DoD – Matt Boland
Quote of the Day – Matt Boland