A man beckoned us over from across the courtyard. A strange mix of semi-rural and light industrial buildings were the order of the day. We felt somewhat dirty as we sauntered towards him like delinquent teenagers who discover their first whore house. And such was our first experience of the LMSCC bar. Hidden in plain sight at the far end of the pitch. Inside it held all of the requisites for a bar, including fine velour seating and we were delighted to sit down and take the weight off our haggard, socialist limbs. Time to talk about the match.
It felt like a good solid SCC team. We had all of the ingredients: comedy, competitiveness, youth, aggressive seniority, idolatry [sic] and ostentatious enthusiasm. And what’s more, we were batting first. WE WERE BATTING FIRST! Yeah! That’s how we hang. We just do that stuff. We find boundaries where before there were trees and grass and sheep playing. We hit the ball at it and where it lands is roses and poppies. The openers were Vlad the Exhaler and Hodderoff. Both strode out like heroes. But only Vlad was destined to settle, sadly Hodderoff was soon Walkingoff. Caught abruptly early off Mason.
Unused to be early in the order, I threw down my pencil and girded my loins. Walked out for a swift double and then strode in. Of course, by now, Captain Cobramovich would have been fearing an SCC landslide. But stand aside all comrades of little faith and behold the glory of Soldya. He cuts a great figure and put forward a commendable 6 before being bowled. Now it’s easy to pooh-pooh a sub 10 score but the comrades who can tap out such scores add to a run tally and that can’t be bad. Look back a few years comrades and there are score cards which cascade with individual run scores of less that 3.
Our treasurer was ruefully removed before he could cough out an “Excuse me”. But then came Sewelski, for a super 6 – great 4 boundary as I recall. Then let’s say a big hello to New-blood, Analitch (Pronounced Ann-Knee-Al-Itch), aka Russell Townley. Now I have seen new bloods come and impress, but this comrade arrived with the a powerful weapon we can all admire – A cheerful countenance! He then also set about ‘not-being-out’ with a bravado and stamina that is needed in depth. 7 scored off 28 balls. Good on ya!
We had maintained a hefty silence beyond the boundary as Vlad patted up into his forties. Was it going to come, was a half century tapping at the car window like a delightful Dogging spectator? No. Run out for 45. But what a game making score and a great knock. It was paced carefully, he partnered magnanimously and as he walked on he was assured of a match making contribution. So Nib-Nib-Nib to Chipmunkski who now set about the defence of the Alamo. 6 scored off a decent bowl count. Dorothy when required is a saving grace.
Let me send another shout out to Lallingrad, aka Vikram Lall. New-blood and with the look of a dynamite comrade. He got his head down and to the roar of many a “Huzzah” he was eventually caught with 8 scored but again, it all adds up and I think we see some new and shining lights amongst us. Much like sparkler sparkles that land on your trousers and for a few seconds you wonder if maybe, just maybe, you’re on fire.
Our innings finished with the passage of Yankheroff and captain Cobramovich. The latter choosing to wait to the end so he could guide our batting throng. As we sat in the bar, we mused over the innings and I think we have to put a great thank-you out to Vlad who was far from Boringski and who gave us some sort of a score to beat. Thank you comrade Vlad.
The egg mayonnaise sandwich needs to be deep, unctuous and slippery with eggyness. And at the tea, they were. So I was happy. The tea needs to be served hot, dark brown and inappropriately accompanying a savoury panoply of sausages, chicken drum sticks and cake. And it was. So the tea was perfect and we were now suitably weighted down and ready to slump across the pitch in an attempt to field.
When you take the field, there is always a gentle to and throw of positions and an expectation of testing thwacks from the bats. A bold captain strides into a locals’ pub and shouts “Drambuie and cola for me and all of you pig-swill smelling locals” – Cobramovich did this but took the swing doors off their hinges as he kicked them in. “Guard the ones and twos, comrades”. A close field was set. A close, fierce, determined and capable field. Openers in the bowling were Yankerhoff and new blood, Lallingrad. Yankers said he was unsteady, but the figures show otherwise. A maiden in his first and no more than 26 off 7 overs.
Next is a dream making moment. Lallingrad, new-blood, intimidated by the fierce oversight of his communist fellows, stirred his loins, felt for his manhood and with swift abandon he ran into bowl against B.Griffin. Good delivery producing a dot. Again he sweats up, another dot. Then denying his feelings and with ruthless ardour, his third delivery was pitched up by Griffin and securely caught by Cobramovich at silly mid-on. Lallingrad’s 3rd ball on his SCC debut. So much more to come and we welcome you, comrade!
What followed then was a superb series of overs where the field tightened up. Our fears of a ball in the nads were overtaken by stunning team spirit. Cobramovich pulling us ever so slowly inwards, tighter, until we could smell the scent of greatness, or at least, goodness.
A.Smoker [sic] was offering himself up and leaving himself open to prying bowling from both openers. But somehow he seemed to stay in and in must be said, slowly notched his way along to a respectable total. But first and second change bowlers came in and set about the bats.
Chipmunkski loves to pitch it in medium slow and with good line. Yuri spits his medium paced bowl to the off or straight. And by the score of 37, Yuri produced an unexpected bounce that resulted in Parnell being caught by Hodderoff. It was catch or lose your head and Hodderoff being still young and not ugly, decided that catching was a good idea. A real blast of shot and a smashing catch – top work. Hodders spent a good portion of the fielding stopping, running and throwing excellently.
Let me take a small sojourn to talk about new-blood number two at the match, Analitch (pronounced Anne-Yall-Itch) – also known as Russell Townley. He said he was up for some wicket keeping, he said it had been decades, probably will be a bit crap? Self effacing and a down-right fibber – he was great. He doused his gloves in LYNX for balls, as they couldn’t resist sticking to them. Great find and what a super new addition to the SCC.
On came Chowdry who is known to be punishing when warmed up. So we switched the kettle off by a stunning running catch by Vlad at long on, off Yuri’s bowl. It looked by a Yuri collision, as the great Soldya/Yuri collision of Kent, but I knew Vlad was a safer pair of hands and happily took the wicket off his well spotted and held catch.
Nib Nib Nib went the chipmunk, a maiden, single overs, accurate and economic. This is what was required as we were aware of their encroaching run total. Keep it down, field tight. When I ended my innings I was delighted with 6 overs for 5 and 4 maidens including 2 wicket maidens. Somewhat of an anomaly but I will take it!
Hodderoff and Soldya finished up the bowling but it was always going to be tight as LMS edged up their runs. Despite a great field and economic bowling, unfortunately they edged passed our result with 4.5 overs to go. A smashing game of cricket! All parties loved it and we look forward to the next. Great captaincy by Cobramovich, good decision making. Fantastic fielding too.
A final word in respect to John Foster who we met serving us at the bar. John is an astounding bowler taking three wickets in four balls during Sort CC versus Harlow Vets, in 2012 at the age of 79. Now nothing says more about the health virtues of cricket other than that. We salute you, John!
Semper sodales, fors et victores.