As Sunday dawned, the Whalers made the long trek up to somewhere in Middlesex off the A-Z to play Salix. All seemed set fair: the fixture had seen two close games last season, the track looked full of runs, no one had got lost on the way to the ground, the capacity crowd were already slapping on the Factor 30 sunblock, and the Whalers’ expert slip cordon were honing their bisection skills on the cradle (when they actually managed to hit the 2 yard by 3 yard target, that is).
As captain Al Dickenson strode to the middle for the toss on this, the hottest day of the year by far, the team was already mentally preparing themselves for a hard 35 overs fielding in the blazing heat, which would stretch them to the limits of their endurance and their shirts. But it was not to be: as news filtered through that Lord Lucan had recently been sighted in a fashionable Guernsey nightclub with Osama bin Laden, and that Ian Paisley had been elected Pope, the opposition failed to call correctly (earning the big guy a fine for being a smug tosser) and we were batting.
Despite some early catching practice, Paul Osbourn and Will Van Der Pump pushed the score along at a healthy rate, before Will played on from his elbow/pad/bat (delete as applicable) for 25. This brought in Stuart Terrell, who hit a towering six to the delight of his personal fan club before spooning one to gully for 26.
At the other end, Oz had already moved serenely past 50: having batted for the previous 100 overs of Whalers’ innings for some 300-odd runs without getting out, his biggest threat was probably being arrested for GBH on the small child on the boundary edge he kept peppering with extravagant on-drives. However, no Whalers match would be complete without the traditional middle-order collapse [Note to Ed: best check that phrase hasn’t already been used this season]. Having posted his 3rd consecutive ton, Oz eventually decided to give the rest of us a bat and got out for 117, and Duncs, Al, and Piers Morgan (for a duck) quickly followed. But some lusty smiting and comedy running from Adrian Cave, Ads Hanmer and Dan Osgood ensured the Whalers reached an impressive 234 for 7 from their 35 overs.
In contrast, Salix started slowly and never really looked like getting anywhere the required total. Perhaps this was down to the tight Whalers bowling, with wickets for Chris Sherratt and Ads, and a particularly accurate Andy Clipsham wreaking havoc on their top order with figures of 4 for 15 from 7 overs. Perhaps it was because their tea-time drinks weren’t quite at the right temperature, after the ice-making machine developed a mysterious fault. It certainly wasn’t because of the Whalers’ catching – on another Teflon day, Duncs was one of the few to keep his cool and most the team were guilty, with the first of Ady’s two drops being particularly deserving of that muppet-moment accolade (where he had time to sight the ball, get in position, wave to the crowd, smile at the camera, check his swooshes were displayed prominently, and practise his celebratory dance before spilling the world’s easiest dolly – a crime made even worse by the fact that it ultimately deprived Andy of a 5-wicket haul and the rest of us of another jug).
Either way, needing 140-odd off the last 10 overs with over half their wickets down, there was only one man who could win the game for Salix. Sure enough, the skipper sportingly brought himself on to bowl, ignoring Oz’s extensive warming-up routines. However, even this couldn’t make a close game of it, and we were instead treated to the ludicrous sight of Dickenson and Van Der Pump (combined speed less than that of an English sprinter in the closing stages of the 100 metres) bowling to two batsmen wearing helmets! Clearly the fame of the Whalers’ trademark orbit ball goes before us…
Two wickets for each of the spin twins later and it was all over, with the Whalers triumphant by an emphatic 111 runs. Our winning streak of, errrr, 3 continues!!
|Man of the Match:||Johnny Fartpants a.k.a. Andy Clipsham|
|Champagne moment:||Stuart’s towering six|
|Muppet moment:||Ady’s droppings|