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Monday, 2 September 2013

Two tonnes, two Brewers and one leg... 

Maladroits, 35 Overs, 367-5
Footballers, 17.1 Overs, 74 all out

Maladroits win by 293 runs.

If their general attire didn’t give it away, their first delivery certainly did. We were not dealing with cricketers here.

An pie of the highest (and widest) order served up outside leg and well above it with mash, gravy and all the trimmings. Dispatched for 4 and the tone was set for the next 35 overs. The Maladroits had an average-increasing, confidence building batting practice session on their hands…and practice they did.

A steady opening partnership developed quickly but the lure of the game’s first 6 proved too much for Staffy who attempted to heave what must have been the first straight delivery of the match over his shoulder and apparently (given the swing) over the adjacent Richmond Park and onto the nearby A3. Unfortunately all the Maladroits opener managed to heave was the warm summer air of East Sheen cricket ground. Bowled.

Debutant Appleton marched in at 3 and hit a quick fire 38 off 19 balls before the 43rd full toss of the match landed on his right foot and he was controversially sent on his way by stand in umpire Nick Dearman. I’ve been told that if anyone ever did a sense of injustice better than Kevin Pietersen we would probably have to go back to the Maid of Orleans when they lit the flame or Anne Boleyn just before the blade came down, but Appleton certainly gave it his best shot as he trudged off to the clubhouse and away from what he was certain would have been the first half century of his limited cricketing career.

Suffice to say the decision made for a somewhat frosty car journey home with Appleton continuing to protest the delivery was sliding it’s way past his leg stump. Dearman has since declined to comment after allegations that should it have been hitting middle the stand-in umpire had therefore given the wrong guard position in the first place. Awkward.

Next up, Henry Fray. The dusty cricket baseball cap. The custom Newbury bat. The newest pads in the locker. All the gear. But literally no idea. No idea how he ended up walking back to the pavilion on zero that is. Another tame delivery swatted away by opener Tom this time back in the bowler’s general direction…the fielding being of a similar quality to the bowling the attempted catch was inevitably dropped but quite incredibly deflected onto the stumps before Henry had managed to make his way back to the crease from a generous backing up position virtually in his partner crease. Run out in quite spectacular fashion and simply devastated, though he hid it well.

Next up, 3rd debutant Harry. This time is appeared that all the gear meant every idea as he swatted away boundaries with consummate ease reaching the 50 mark in no time whilst Tom kept anchor at the other end gently cruising his way to what must surely be the most straightforward century of his young career. This is not to take anything away from opener, it is important to note that there is no such thing as a straightforward century.

As the bowler’s began to tire and those on the boundary were only kept awake with the regular rattling of boundary benches as yet another delivery of the lowest quality was dispatched by an ever increasingly confident partnership, both gentlemen at the crease reached said 100’s and were gracefully retired, the former ignoring the original request to retire and feeling it necessary to smash 4 off 1 final ball for 105 to give himself some breathing space should it be found that not every ball had been recorded accurately in the Maladroits scoring book. If he’d been at the boundary as said book was passed from one scoring virgin to one mathematical dyslexic to another he’d probably realised he’d made the right decision.

The duo trundled off to a polite applause and were replaced by final debutant Joshua and Dearman, still reeling with guilt after his dreadful LBW decision just an hour earlier. Josh’s walk to the crease was not a march of Kevin Pietersen like confidence, indeed it was more one of the night-watchmen as he realises during the walk-on that the opposing team have just requested the extra 10 overs at the end of the day, realising he’ll be walking back this way rather shortly. And walking back he was after hoisting a straightforward catch down the throat of deep midwicket which remarkably remained held and the self-professed bowler was back to the pavilion in record time.

The final overs approached and it was fellow bowler and ex-hockey player Paddy Milburn who took it on his (remarkable underdeveloped) shoulders to finish the innings with partner in crime Dearman. The 2 batted with ease, flair and outstanding athleticism (much to Dearman’s disgust as Milburn called for the 3rd 3 in succession) against the weary and quite remarkably untalented bowling attack to close the 35 over innings out at a mammoth total of 367.

Tea was served. An interesting and eclectic mixture of cheese and ham sandwiches, Percy PigsTM (all varieties), chicken drumsticks, but ultimately, no malt loaf. There’s just no pleasing some people.

The second innings approached. A record run chase was required. The over rate set at a daunting 10.51 was surely out of reach for the football-come-cricket (but should of stayed with football) XI. Milburn was handed the gleaming cherry and proceeded to fire down 6 of his finest outswingers much to the disgust of the opening Footballers batsmen who, having painfully watched from the field for the past 2 hours was now of the confident view that batting in cricket is very easy.

A hugely fortunate 4 top edged to the third man boundary and a scampered single off Josh’s corresponding first over provided the only runs from an otherwise excellent opening 2 overs, whilst the 3rd over brought what most had expected sometime earlier…wicket #1. And what a wicket. With Milburn hooping the ball on his imaginary strings from the bowler’s end the Footballers opener simply couldn’t resist a nibble outside off stuff attempting a lusty cover drive/slash towards the pavilion but only managing a thick top edge sent flying of the bat. 1st slip Staffy sensed his glory moment and took an absolute crackerjack catch diving full length to his right. The team crowded round to celebrate what must have been for all and sundry the best catch they had witnessed live, and one which will surely live long in the memory.

Not to be outdone, 2nd bowler Josh fizzed another unplayable delivery past off stump the very next over, the very same nibble, and well, not quite the very same catch with Appleton employing the old ‘deflect upwards and pouch the rebound’ method at second slip, but it was a second wicket all the same and a very welcome one at that. Surely now they were going to drop the big guns on us, surely now the real cricketers would come out swinging, surely now…OH HE’S GONNNNNNNE! FIRST BALL! The timbers are everywhere, the batsmen castled, the stumps are splattered, the bails are battered…and Josh is on a hatrick. 6 slips, a short leg and an awful lot of pressure, but the batsmen number 4 survives and plays out the rest of the over.

Time for some leg spin from resident finger roller Stevo…after getting his bearings with a couple of opening wides Stevo produced some absolute rippers snorting off of the line and over leg stump one after another. Josh continued peddling his trade from the other end and was devastated not to pick up another wicket due to the inept fielding of Henry Fray who appeared to have forgotten to wash the butter of his hands from lunch and spilled a straight forward looper at mid off. Sometimes you’ve got to sit back and admit it won’t be your day. And that day, Henry Fray, was today.

Stevo picked up where he left off from the pavilion end and it only took until his second over before he picked up a deserved wicket, batsman number 4 swiping the slower ball and top edging a comfortable take for Boozer behind the stumps. Appleton was thrown the ball by JC after an impressive 3 over spell by Josh and decided that bowling at (or anywhere near) the stumps was hugely overrated. After 3 wides (and multiple opportunities to practice his ‘no justice’ face at the umpire upon signal of said wides) Appleton finally managed a few on line but was batted for 2 boundaries in what was the first time in the match the opposition had managed the original over rate, an over rate which had now crept its way into the unobtainable early 20s.

Appleton persisted and whilst marginally improving showed no danger of snaffling a wicket of his own which Stevo began to pick up for fun from the opposing end as the opposition were whittled down to a quite startlingly poor 45-8. Harry took up where Appleton had left off with some improved line, length and pace but the lower order had their eye in now and it was surely time to turn back to opener Milburn to depose of this final stand and wrap things up in time for the imminently starting USPGA Open final afternoon. Wrap it up he did with another fine spell finally earning him a stump shattering 2nd wicket and the team’s 9th of the afternoon.

A twist at the tail saw the opposition march in their final batsman (with one leg) for a flourish, and with 293 runs to spare the bowlers offered the chap the chance to enjoy his time in the limelight looping down a couple of gentle rollers on the leg side, a lovely sight which most would agree encapsulated everything cricket stands for and one enjoyed by not only those in the field but those that had gathered round the square on what had turned out to be sun drenched Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, no-one told Tom. Nick Dearman’s first ball finally struck by the plucky chap up towards an empty space at mid off and surely runs were on the card. As his runner set off on what would surely be a historical landmark in the young man’s recovery from what was clearly a serious and life-changing operation Tom sensed an opportunity to close the match off on his own terms and leaped in the space snaffling the low flying ball before gravity had finished its job, cruelly sending their final batsman back to the hutch run-less. A brutal, cruel twist of fate the rest of his team could scarcely believe. And a well deserved Dick of the Day.

Man of the Match – Harry
Fielder of the Match – Staffy
Dick of the Day – Tom
Teas – below average. 37%

Match Report by Apple

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