Game 7: Cranbourne CC versus Crossbats CC 2nd XI
Venue: Home Park, Windsor
With pre-match preparations completed at the pub for some, Crossbats took to the field in Windsor under the shadow of the Castle. With the losing streak at 2, Captain Collier was clearly keen to stop the rot. Successfully losing the toss, Crossbats were put in to bat, and it was Collier and Wright that strode to the middle.
Building on the pre-match wisdom of Ross, the opening pair began to lay the foundations of the innings cautiously. Indeed, Collier had reached 0 before mis-timing a pulled full-toss to mid-on. As the Cranbourne players celebrated the Crossbats’ prize wicket, the square leg umpire (Spiro) stood motionless with his right arm outstretched, signalling a no-ball. With celebrations carrying on regardless, and Collier half way back to the chipboard pavilion, Spiro was eventually noticed and Collier re-called. In a moment of potential controversy, the Carnbourne players took it very well and with little complaint. With order restored, the opening pair continued cautiously until Wright was unlucky to get a straight one that kept low, out lbw for 13.
Next in was Nicholls, fresh from his early season holiday, and slightly less fresh from his pre-match diet. Runs continued to trickle along irregularly at both ends for a while, until Nicholls swung at a straight loopy delivery and was predictably bowled, again for 13. With the score at a sedate 57 for 2 from 18 overs, watching paint dry was becoming an attractive proposition to anyone unfortunate enough to be onlooking. New man in Carter, to his credit, injected renewed urgency to the innings. Employing his trademark sweep, leg glance, leg cut and slog to leg, there was finally some brief entertainment from the Crossbats. At the other end, grinding away, was Collier. Punctuating brief glimpses of fluency with long, barren stretches of sloth-like activity, the demons in his mind were clearly having a good day. Eventually, on 40, he could stand no more and was caught swishing.
With the score on 101 for 3 from many overs, the platform had clearly been set for Crossbats’ free-scoring lower order to cash in. First up was Spiro, showing signs of intent by leaving his helmet behind and shuffling around his crease with electric ease. Carter meanwhile was unfortunate to be caught at square leg off a well-timed clip off the pads. What followed was a procession of forgettable, and indeed forgotten, efforts at hitting a cricket ball with a cricket bat. Van Vuuuuuuuuuren missed first, followed quickly by Thompson, Smith, Spiro and Reeve. The last pair of Ross and new boy Crockford plundered an enjoyable few runs from the last overs, before Crockford demonstrated de-skilling way ahead of schedule by suicidally running himself out for 7. Ross stood undefeated on his platform with a sturdy 6, the team dismissed for a below par 137 from 40 overs.
With runs at a premium, Crossbats came out all guns blazing after tea and hinted for a while at great things to come. With Van Vuuuuuuuuren belying his years from one end, and Thompson bowling quick and straight at the other, it appeared that a contest was about to break out afterall. Thompson clean-bowled Dainty for 4, before next over Van Vuuuuuuuuren had Johnson well caught by Carter for 5. Thompson’s short-pitched deliveries then started to pay dividends, with Stuart caught behind fending off an ugly ball, and then Goodwin popping up a straightforward catch to Spiro stood at short-leg. In a profound moment, Collier (clearly remembering the reputedly dreadful, awful and frankly diabolical drop which Spiro had performed the previous week in Cambridge) charged at speed from behind the stumps like it was last orders at the Strawpeedo Happy Hour Waa Waa Bar. Screaming “keeper’s”, he plucked the ball from Spiro’s grasp and the Crossbats were cock-a-hoop, and Cranbourne wobbling on 20 for 4.
It was now very much “game-on”, with Crossbats’ premier swing bowler Smith replacing Van Vuuuuuren at the top end. In his first over, he drew a false shot from the dangerous looking Infan, with the ball looping high in the air straight to Nicholls at gully. In a profound moment, Collier (clearly forgetting that this was Crossbats’ premier fielder under the ball) charged at speed from behind the stumps like it was last orders at the Strawpeedo Happy Hour Waa Waa Bar. Screaming what sounded like “me me”, he plucked the ball from Nicholls grasp. He then performed a dreadful, awful and frankly diabolical drop of which even Spiro would have been ashamed. The Crossbats were not cock-a-hoop, Infan went on to score 73 and the game was lost. With Chalmes slogging an unfeasibly fortunate 38 at the other end, Cranbourne coasted home in 25 overs to win by 5 wickets.
This was a disappointing performance all-round for Crossbats, with the notable exceptions of Carter and Thompson. Three losses in a row now, but it’s all to play for next week as the Vultures visit the Wick for a 1pm start in this rollercoaster season. Will Collier find some form? Can Wright re-discover his early season fluency? And will Van Vuuuuuren finally bite the bullet and apply some Just For Men? There’s only one way to find out, be there or be a polygon.
Author: Clive Nicholls