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Saturday 21st May

Fen Ditton II Vs Whittlesford II

Fen Ditton lost to Whittlesford II by 134 Runs

SCORECARD

Do you remember the first time?

I’m not sure what Jarvis Cocker was singing about here but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t cricket. Cocker continues to croon “I can’t remember a worse time”. I can only hope that the five members of today’s team making their league debuts (David Shah, Daniel Sanchez-Pombrol, Mark Benn, James McCann and Alan Edwards) have happier memories of their maiden performance.

James had been thrust into action as cover for son Edward who, once again, was looking distinctly peaky as we assembled at the rec. Unlike last week, it was apparently a bout of food-poisoning which rendered him unable to do little more than rotate between lying down outside the pavilion and sitting with his head in his hands. So, in came James, with Jason standing in behind the stumps.
Thanks to the help of some first teamers, the ground was set up by 12.30, meaning that we could engage in some fielding practice as the opposition turned up. Their skip won the toss and decided to bat. This was probably a good call since, at this point, only about 5 of their players had showed up.
As with the last two games, we had very little idea of what to expect as we strode out to the middle. Gav and Mick started with 6 overs each and both kept things nice and tight. Gav conceded 17 from his opening burst and Mick made the first breakthrough with an LBW in the sixth over. MVS then brought himself on and surprised everyone (not least himself) by bowling their number three with his very first ball. The unfortunate bat remarked later to a team mate that he had been expecting a “quicker delivery”. His teammates watching on apparently questioned the legality of MVS’ action, with one wag joking that he was “a poor man’s Malinga”. From the other end, Sam bowled some decent deliveries but the odd short ball was punished as Whittlesford reached drinks at 89-2.

It all got a bit musical chairs after drinks, with Mani replacing MVS, MVS replacing Jason and Jason replacing Sam. Mani claimed his first league wicket – cue enthusiastic celebrations. This unfortunately brought their number 5 to the crease who, even from the way he walked out to the middle, looked like he “could bat a bit”. At the other end, Whittlesford’s opener Baker played a serene and chanceless innings which came to an end with Jason finding a bottom edge – he departed for 78. By this point, their number 5 Russen was merrily swatting even decent balls to all parts of the ground (and beyond) – it was a powerful display (he ended on 74 no) and, whilst our bowlers’ figures suffered, this was no reflection on them. Following a brief cameo from James McCann “Oh go on, give me a bowl. I can’t be any worse than the rest of them” (1 over 0-11), Gav and Mick returned. Mick picked up his second wicket and Gav continued to bowl tightly, conceding just 30 runs from his 9 overs out of a total of 239 accumulated by the visitors.

There were some long faces as we left the field but all players should be proud of the way they’d chased, dived, got shins in the way etc. in the name of fielding. Sure, there were a few misfields, fumbles and drops but there was a marked improvement in standards as the match progressed which bodes well for future games. And so to the chase. With last week’s performance in mind, Gav and MVS opened up, intent on soaking up the early pressure from their openers (one of whom was Russen – “quite handy with the ball as well” according to Wayne Clements who had popped by). It probably wasn’t thrilling viewing as the pair blocked, nudged and nurdled with Gav letting loose every now and then with a couple of lusty blows. MVS’ patience/technique failed in the 12th over and Sam Gardner fell soon after to a similar swinging delivery. Mark Benn strode out to join Gav who was soon kicking himself as, having played the openers so well, missed a straight one as he tried to land the ball in the graveyard. Mick joined Mark in the middle and showed from the off what an asset he is to the team, getting right behind the good balls and hitting proper cricket shots whenever possible. The pair ran well in the drizzle although spike-less Mark adopted more of a shuffle as he turned to avoid the ignominy of a muddy, soggy bottom. Mark holed out playing an attacking shot which brought Jason to the crease.

Jason matched Mick for quality, hitting sweet fours and drawing the applause from the fielders for his range of shots. The pair put on 57 together, taking us past the bonus point threshold and last week’s total. It took the returning openers to remove Jason for an excellent 28. His departure brought Mani to the crease but he got a good one first up leaving Dethridge on a hat-trick for the second time in the match. With the sodden ball becoming increasingly difficult to control, he sent down a high full toss which David hit back to him, only for no ball to be called (by some Whittlesford fielders as well as the umpire). David scored his first runs for the club and was bowled by Russen (no shame there) and replaced by Alan who, before batting (top old school bat – check it out) put his arm around Russen’s shoulder and pointed out that “Now, I’m old enough to be your dad!” – it was a fowleresque gesture and ensured that Alan hung around for long enough to score a single, eliciting huge applause from the pavilion. Daniel came out for Alan and went for a little stroll out of his crease following his second delivery meaning that James McCann, number 11 bat, arrived in the middle for the last over or so, playing a couple of cracking defensive shots, scoring a couple and providing much entertainment.

We ended up on 110-9, ten short of another bonus point but happy that we’d all had a go with the bat and had lasted the full forty overs. All eleven played their part but special mentions must go to Jason, Mick and Gav for their contributions. We retired to the Kings Head to watch 22 over-paid professionals kick a football around being watched by millions of other people. But I for one really wasn’t that bothered. You can keep your FA cups, your diamanté watches and your Range Rovers with blacked out windows. Watching your team play in the drizzle with pride, enthusiasm and enjoyment is enough for me any day. I hope it will be for everyone else too as we carry on our seconds adventure. We’ll go again next week. They can’t all be as good as Wilburton and Whittlesford. Can they?


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