Wilburton II Vs Fen Ditton II
Saturday 14th May
Wilburton II Vs Fen Ditton II
Last week, warm sunshine and an all too easy win. This week, a 3 sweater day thanks to a biting North wind (‘UK colder than Russia’ screamed one headline – Wilburton definitely resembled Novosibirsk at 1pm) and we got a damn good thrashing.
Captain Vaughan Shaw was away on international duty in Belgium but kindly sent his good wishes via text. Giles, his deputy, was not in contact, too busy polishing his halo somewhere after last week’s performance no doubt. So it fell to Mr ‘I’ve only got one working leg’ Fowler to (reluctantly) captain the team away at picturesque Wilburton. The ground is overlooked by a large, red brick manor house on one side and a field of cows on another: several of our fielders got to visit both frequently as the Wilburton batsmen cheerfully used them as targets.
Asked to bowl, we began steadily enough and 39 for 1 (another smart catch behind square by Phil off Mike’s bowling) off the first 10 overs seemed manageable. The next 10 overs saw 58 runs conceded and, at drinks, at 97 for 2 (a debut wicket for Sameer) it was already clear we were being dismantled by a Wilburton XI who, it transpired, contained a number of 1st XI standard players. Some had transferred from Littleport – a team our 1sts played only last season several leagues above us! Maybe, due to the influx of new faces, Wilburton don’t know what their best XI is as, back at Ditton, their 1sts were being beaten all too easily by ours? Certainly Messrs Steel and Shipp, their numbers 4 and 5 on this day, were far too good for our second change bowlers: some lovely straight hitting by them between the 20th and 30th overs not only put the poor cows in danger of becoming premature stewing steak but brought them 100 runs. Even when we managed to break that partnership thanks to a first wicket for Phil, yet another ex-1st teamer, Mr Horlock, came out and continued the assault. Mick’s late flurry of wickets (he ended with 4 for 54 off 9) was a consolation but we were chasing 261 for 7.
‘Chasing’ is not the right word.
None of us had batted before for any length of time this season but that wasn’t the problem. Unsurprisingly, Wilburton had some useful bowlers too – between them their openers bowled 19 overs and took 4 wickets for just 29 – so as soon as the gun on our innings was fired we found ourselves limping (in Fowler’s case, literally) out of the starting gate. The first 5 overs of our reply yielded just 7 runs but 2 wickets: the first 10 overs saw us ‘rack up’ 17 and 3 wickets fall. In such a crisis there is no man better than Fowler to make you wish you had a wall of fresh emulsion you urgently need to keep a close eye on as an alternative. Earlier in the day, one of the 1st XI had reminded him of the importance of keeping his personal run total ahead of the overs he’d batted: mathematically logical advice but it did not allow for the quality of their bowling or the paucity of his talent. Ably ‘assisted’ by Gav, the latter making his highest ever Ditton score of 27, these 2 put on a ‘titanic’ 31 for the 4th wicket – in a ‘sparkling’ 12 overs of what can only be described as the antithesis of calypso cricket. Given the temperature (Manni umpired in a parka and scarf, looking more like a Bedouin tribesman on a cold desert night than a cricket official) one could only feel for those watching, but at least the cows could now relax: even if they’d been allowed to hit it twice, neither Fowler nor Gav seemed at all capable of reaching their field. To be fair, it wasn’t quite as dull as it all sounds as there were any number of plays and misses (at times, Gav looked like he’d never seen leg spin before) and a handful of sharp chances dropped: as Fowler was continually explaining to the close fielders, they were ‘trying to hit the damn thing’, they just weren’t good enough to do so. The innings dragged on to the 37th over and then died peacefully on 85 all out with just 3 batsmen having reached double figures (the other being Darren on 10).
Looking back on it, did we bowl badly? Well 41 extras, the 3rd highest scorer for Wilburton, wasn’t impressive but at the time it didn’t feel like we did. And our batting was as good as it could have been against that attack. In short, we were lambs (or should that be ‘calves’?) to the slaughter: the fact is that they were just so much better than us. The near-death of the bovine spectators aside, other notable events of the day included watching the Wilburton number 7 top edge a ball from Mick which slowly went straight up a good 10 feet, looped gently back over his head, landed right behind him and then rolled back onto his stumps. And there was the sight of one of our junior players (he is just 15!), sitting on the pavement outside the KH in Ditton at 12.40 looking rather green, surrounded by only half his kit, having been up until the early hours drinking apparently. And they sing ‘children are our future’: God help us! In as much as we all learned a lesson today, surely he learned the hardest one?
So, we’ve now played 2, won 1 easily and lost 1 heavily. Hopefully we’ve played the best and worst in the league. We’re still feeling our way into this 2nd XI lark, getting to know one another, etc. Happily, we all had a bat and we used 7 bowlers but, as I said last week, results and performances are all rather secondary: it’s about having fun and perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the afternoon was we carried on to the (bitterly cold) end and got on well with the nice chaps from Wilburton. We should be proud of ourselves for that, even if there wasn’t much else to shout about in terms of our cricket.