2015 Match reports
Longstowe II Vs Fen Ditton II
Saturday 2nd July
Longstowe II Vs Fen Ditton II
It had been, as the headline writers say, a tumultuous fortnight since we last played. 52% of a small island decided to leave Europe. Then England as a whole decided to leave Europe, persuaded to do so by a small island. Northern Ireland said they wanted to stay in Europe but were made to leave by the French: Wales said they wanted to leave but they were allowed to remain by the Belgians. Scotland said they wanted to stay, realised they were not there anyway but asked to stay nevertheless. The nice, posh man who runs the country stood aside for, we all expected, an even posher but less nice man but it then turned out it could be a rather dull but polite man or, more likely, a woman who owns a lot of shoes who will soon run the country. The nice but bewildered-looking bearded man who runs the Labour Party was asked to leave but said he wanted to remain which no-one much seemed to think was a good idea so they all left him anyway and hoped he’d get fed up and leave too. And Fowler got a grandson called Harry and an as yet unnamed Great Nephew.
Team-wise it was all change too. The Gardners were not available but George Colwell was back from thrashing the GCSE examiners. Ed was back from being poorly. Gav was back from tending to the poorly. Photos of MVS had been seen in the last fortnight, taken in the company of an attractive young woman and against the backdrop of the Avon Bridge, but there was no sight of the man himself, despite it being July. Giles was away at another society wedding – the senior players in our team put the senior members of the Tory Party to shame in terms of their connections – so in came Alan, father of Amelia, Edwards for his debut.
Mind you, we were coming off the back of a couple of heavy, consecutive defeats and were now away to Longstowe, who were unbeaten so far this season. So the form book suggested that all this change was, well, likely to prove about as fruitful as the work of the attendant in charge of deckchairs on the RMS Titanic: he probably spent the evening of 14th April, 1912 going round packing them away because he’d ‘heard it could get a bit choppy at night in mid Atlantic’.
However, 100 years ago this weekend, tightly knit groups of Pals were obeying orders and going out into unknown territory, despite by then being well aware of the odds stacked against them – so, for all we were each almost certainly mentally resigned to our fates, we were not going to fold. Time for grim resolve in the dressing room and cheery ‘bant’. After all, much like Haig in 1916, we had a plan! Like Haig were going to try something different. Haig planned a week-long bombardment and to then surprise the enemy: back at Fen Ditton GHQ, the plan devised by General Wilson was that we would bat first for a change and so surprise the enemy. Haig assumed there would be no opposition once the guns lifted but sadly found his artillery was not as effective as he hoped. We were probably under no such illusions about the effectiveness of our batting ‘artillery’: we simply hoped that by batting first everyone would get a go (highly likely) and that it’d be less depressing being beaten by several wickets failing to defend 100 than it would not even getting stated chasing something closer to 300.
Fowler took the toss, won and The Plan (which had by now had grown in importance and acquired a capitalised title) was put into action. Longstowe were certainly surprised that we asked to bat: they’d bowled their last 4 opponents out for well under 100 and no doubt fancied their chances.
Sadly, just like the Pals in 1916, we didn’t get very far. Indeed, all out for 30 was the cricket equivalent of being hit by machine gun fire the moment we left the trenches – which happened to many in 1916 too. No-one – not even our regular ‘high scorer’ Mr Extras - reached double figures. Longstowe bowled straight, got movement and we got out. Jason hung around for a bit but the rest of us didn’t. We happily agreed to ignore tea, went straight back out, bowled those who’d got ducks and the Longstowe tail enders reached the required 31 for the loss of 1 wicket in 3 overs.
And that was that. It was all over by 3.15pm, we then had tea, played an impromptu 10 over ‘thrash’, lost that by miles too and went home without a single point. Longstowe’s ground is nice: their team were all very good humoured about it. We’re giving lots of new people a chance to play, which is what this is all about. But, that said, just once it’d be nice to play in a contest worthy of the name.