What the Butler(s) Saw

It was a day for heartaches and hangovers. The former being the home ground of that notable cricketing outfit captained by Sir Tim Rice and our venue of play, Aston Rowant CC. The latter, what a few of the Scotties brought with them to the ground. Young Master K. Pack mumbled something unhappily about reliving his (quite recent) University days and pints of wine, whilst Reilly (J) arrived with what could only be described an elephantine hangover, kindly donated by that cruellest of mistresses – red wine. The skipper meanwhile, determined to break free from the chains of his reputation for lateness, arrived early once again (three in a row!!), with 46% of the team, about one tree’s worth of willow, several mattresses of pads, and a child’s bike in the boot. However, the Butlers being similar in style and temperament to the Scotties, the curtain was not lifted on any sporting endeavours until around 1400 anyway. The toss proved not to be ours on the day, and we were sent in to field.

First up – Messrs Pack and Thickett to opening the Scotties attack. Kyle managed to beat the bat early and out went their number two with scoreboard reading 20-1. Ant laboured hard in the sun but his efforts were to go unrewarded, harsh returns for a fine effort that regularly asked questions of the batsmen. Luckily, Justin and Brett had definitely had their Biltong and Boerwors that morning, and were hungry for wickets. Justin turned the screw and ended up with three wickets early on as unsettled from the other end, and soon the scoreboard was more tragedy than farce, at 90-6. However, like every good play, a hero arrived. Messrs Jones and Bullen, we salute you. What can only be described as Oxfordshire’s version of the Battle of Thermopylae followed as they bravely withstood everything the Scotties had to throw (or maybe bowl) at them, and by the end of the Butler XI innings the scoreboard read 214-6. The game was on.

Tea was delicious, a fabulous assorted collection of carbs made all the sweeter (or more savoury?) by the fact that the fielding bit was done, and cold refreshments could be enjoyed in the sunshine. Perhaps one more than planned in the author’s case, but no-one would begrudge him the indulgence – the services of his bat were not to be required. Brett decided that some runs was the order of the day and headed to a controlled 43 as a few unlucky wickets were going down at the other end, but no-one (least of all himself) was ready for the virtuoso performance of Watson, D(avid). In keeping with the arts theme of the day, the newly formed Captain Scott Invitation XI cheerleading outfit “C**ty and The Hat-Tricks” struck up with their favourite one-word song “shoooooooot!”. Davey drove, pulled, smote, struck and lofted his way to a wonderful 77* as the brothers Reilly each contributed at the other end with a quick and tidy 24 (Reilly, S) and 22 not-out (Reilly, J). Davey, that would have been a century if you had needed it. The victory was sweet, and the Butlers XI as ever an excellent group of opponents and long-standing friends. We look forwards to seeing you next year chaps!

Kew Guard-and-swing

Kew Gardens. A civilised place for civilised people. Even the local clientele of the pub opposite (enjoying a few botanicals of their own) were impressed by the punctuality of the Captain Scott XI on this fine occasion – yes, including the skipper. As if to dazzle the assembled punters, the skipper even saw fit to add to his ‘streak’ of winning tosses (one so far, last week against Englefield Green). Naturally, he chose to bat. Once more into the breach dear friends, rode Dan ‘Jockey’ Vale. Riding high of the Tsunami of high-quality champagne consumed the night before in honour of his birthday, he was accompanied by the most welcome sight of a Mr J. Slatter, both knees positively glowing in their newfound functionality. The harem of Brazilian ladies accompanying Jockey got the fireworks, cheerleading outfits and pom-poms prepared…or rather, buttoned up their jackets against the chill wind ripping across the ground and wondered if the English were truly mad.

What followed looked, well just like…Cricket. Actual, sensible cricket. Shock. The opening pair blocked, shouldered arms and executed their shots with more judicious decision-making than the Scotties have shown in some while (and one or two of the members actually are judges). There was barely a shaolin slice or false shot played. To the extent that when Jimmy Slatts fell, we had a more than solid start of 88 runs for the first wicket (58 from his bat). Heads were scratching off the field (Scotties wondering if we could all play like this) and on it (how they were going to get the other batsmen out). 

Following a delicious liquid lunch of finest ales in The Cricketers (across the road), the day had all started rather well for Mr Prateek Shah of King’s Hill, Kent. So well in fact, that he decided to try out his new bat. Sauntering in to the crease, he too waited for the bad ball, and sent it scuttling over the boundary for 4. And again. And again. 50 runs appeared in barely an hour in the middle, keeping a fine head on him (must have been the ale) Mr Shah peppered the boundary with 4s, not going aerial much unless lofting outside the circle. Through the 70s and 80s he strode, some beautifully timed shots absolutely rocketing across the field, almost as beautiful as some of his replies to the grumbling bowlers. The nervous 90s descended a little for half an hour, but ultimately he raised his bat with the grace that the occasion demanded as 100 runs were clocked up. Desperately thirsty by this point, (and keen to give everyone else a go) Prateek allowed the opposition to clean bowl him with a massive attempted drive, and returned to the bar. Chapeau sir.

Did I mention that a nice little Scotties collapse was going on at the other end whilst Prateek cut, drove and pulled his way to a century? Messrs Campbell-Smith, Sandhu and (rather unusually) Watson, David were bowled LBW, playing through the shot to a bowler who turned one delivery every ten. So naturally he took three wickets. No matter though, high on the nectar of last week’s performance, in strolled the Skipper to continue his return to form. Civilised might not be the word, but the windows of the Greenhouses nearby were under threat with some almightily powerful hitting and well chosen balls to notch up 33 from 38 balls to finish the innings off in the time remaining, and allow Prateek to reach his 100. Rather unbelievably though, no one on the team scored a 6 through the whole innings. Restraint was the order of the day and we were in a good position of 254-8. Prateek himself said this was “definitely a par score”. How true this would prove.

Tea – Delicious. (Particularly as Kew have a bar). Extra marks for the falafel wraps here. The prospect of 40 overs in the wind? Not quite so delicious. Luckily for us, we had some sunshine arrive. Some of the Brazilian ladies had even taken off their skiing jackets, jumpers, woolly hats and scarves, and taken the hot water bottles and handwarmers out too. Or they’d gone home, bored and slightly bewildered. The first thirty overs were cat-and mouse. The opening pair for Kew had a solid start as despite the fine efforts of Ant and Kyle opening up, they either could not penetrate some obviously decent batsmen, or got unlucky with dropped catches. Scotties recovered and the pressure was back on towards over thirty as Jockey, Kyle, Ant, Ben A and David W all chipped in. Particular note for Kyle here, taking a beauty in from the boundary on the run. Particular black marks to the author, shouting for a catch and the dropping it, when it turned out to be falling down the throat of the skipper. Lesson – always look where you’re going…

With five overs left it was really starting to get interesting. Creeping through the 230 mark, the field was set defensive and the team were made to work for their post-match pints, and admirable efforts were made to stop the single or save the boundary by everyone involved.  The final over…adrenaline really starting to get going with the opposition in need of 10 from six and… A no-ball is called in error by our stalwart Umpire and swiftly pointed out (every ball counts at this stage). Fair enough, decision reversed. Get on with the game. In the end, a tie!! Who would have thought it?! Well in the end, cricket was the winner as both teams shook hands and agreed it had been a jolly occasion – in fact, quite fun to be involved in a tie! Prateek’s ‘par-score’ prediction had never been truer. 

No hard feelings on the Umpire from either side either, lots of people can’t do it anyway. Except, tiresomely, there is often one who has to take exception. Quite literally foaming at the mouth with fury that the decision was reversed, one would have thought someone had just ripped up his winning lottery-ticket by mistake. One or two spicy exchanges were had but luckily this attitude amongst his team did not proliferate. A reminder dear reader, that perspective is a highly important element to an enjoyable life. If one is to get this wound-up over a reversed decision, in a game of friendly cricket on a Sunday (non-league), where you didn’t even lose, I shudder to think of the reaction to something as terribly serious as spilt milk. The box with fewer stones in it always rattles the loudest. Nonetheless, Gentlemen and Ladies of Kew – most of you – we salute you. What a fine part of the world you occupy, and excellent hospitality you offer. We hope that our long-running friendship will continue, for it’s a pleasure to play against you.

Spring Clean(ing-Up)

Ah the joys of spring. Freshly cut grass, cuckoos singing…the sound of calf muscles tearing. Enter stage left, James West. Roguishly leaning in to dispatch the first ball of the Scotties 2019 season for four, his foot enjoyed being back at the crease so much it decided to stay. To the cost of his calf muscle unfortunately. Westy, we wish you a speedy recovery!

Rewind twenty minutes and the assembled members of the Scotties were placing bottom jaws back in sockets as the skipper arrived early. (Yes, dear reader – EARLY). Good thing too, as he had approximately 45% of the team in his car. For perhaps the first time in the history of the team, the start of play was 30 minutes late because of the opposition. Anyway, with our 1300 start time appropriately arriving at 1330, the skipper won the toss (this was quickly becoming a day of firsts) and Scotties set out with bat in hand.

It was quickly apparent that early season vigour had us in thrall, to the power of trying to steal ‘the cheeky single’. The problem is that this requires the legs for the job as well as the mind-set. Sadly, our communications officer fell to a very good direct hit early on. His time with the ball would come. Thankfully East London, South Africa (or somewhere like that)’s own Justin King had decided today was time to show the stuffy English a bit of Protea Fire. The ball quickly became an object of some interest to the local bird population, so much time did it spend sailing over the boundary. A brilliant 65 off of 34 balls to set us off. This was backed up by noteworthy additions from Messrs Van der Horst (37), Shah (26) and Reilly (27), accompanied by the usual assortment of run-outs and classic collapse of the tail. What was undoubtedly the best ball of the century (swinging a mile, decapitated off stump, at least 90mph) undid the author for a first ball duck. Enough said. Still, we had 181 on the board and a hungry battery of bowlers.

Tea (the usual excellent assortment of carbohydrates and ale) was washed down with gusto. Not enough gusto it would appear, to stop the likes of opening bowlers Ant Thickett and KP (Kyle Pack, in case you were wondering) opening with a very tidy spell indeed. Kyle’s raw, skidding pace was enough to unsettle the openers from one end, whilst Ant’s probing line and length induced some serious King Of The Swingers action with about a million near-edges. It was a fine performance. The fact they only walked away with two wickets each does not reflect the control and pressure they exerted over the top of the opposition’s batting order. No-one however, expected what was to come next. A very bushy (but otherwise rather slim looking) South-African beard appeared, hungry to redeem the disappointment of his earlier run-out. Behind the beard was our club stalwart and comms sec, Mr Brett Hawson. With cunning slight of hand our magician proceeded to conjure a variety of slower balls, spinners, zooters, flippers, all-other form of mammalian sounding similes. The batsmen were well and truly bamboozled. 5-17. An early birthday present, justly earned. On the other end was a certain Aiden Naude, making a welcome reappearance to the Scotties and keeping a miserly bowling length whilst Brett worked his magic from the other end. A special mention also goes to young Zac Naude making his first appearance for the team, and what a pleasure to see two generations taking the field together. After the start given to us and with Aiden and Brett bowling some very tight lines it was enough to take us across the line comfortably, winning by 77 runs with 7 overs to spare.

All-in-all an excellent opening match of the season, against an equally excellent bunch of chaps. The usual refreshments were enjoyed with some post-match analysis and general good humour. Gentlemen of Englefield Green, our thanks for a wonderful day!

We went, we played, we returned victorious

Last season we managed to play out a 20/20 in the pouring rain. This year the picturesque Windsor Great Park ground was all azure blue sky and golden fire. Our scorer Laurie called for a sun-shade and dispensed sunscreen. The skipper was as always horizontally tardy, (a hard crack to case?), however he made up for this by winning the toss and doing the right thing.

On a dry, dusty, lively track Westie and Vidishka gave us a good start. This momentum was maintained by the team with the stand out contribution coming from Prateek who was severe on anything short. Billy didn’t die thinking about it at the end of the innings and 168 looked pretty good.

The Windsor Great Park groundsman opened the reply and standing more than a yard outside his crease (in order to nullify the bounce), smote the ball all over the place. His innings had us all reeling until Ant did for him via a played-on inside edge. Galvanised, Ant then took a further three wickets (in five balls) including that of their skipper and a caught and bowled that looked like the first CGI dismissal. Billy took a wicket with his first delivery that looked like a bit of a ripper, Langley chipped in with a couple and Sunny polished off the tail. All told, a good performance and a happy return to winning ways.

Windsor Great Park boast the best showers anywhere, ever, the power of the water knocking you to the other side of the room and having finished early we supped a few pints and for the benefit of the skipper discussed the merits of early starts. Should it be 1.00pm or 1.30pm? No-one was sure. Except for the skipper who felt he was increasingly over-worked on Saturday nights. Should we play more 30 over games because 40s too long? Ant, who brokered the subjects, sat limpet-like to the fence, musing that 1.15pm and 35 overs would be best. The beshorted Langley won the bad behaviour award but the skipper’s one handed dropped catch was considered shabby when two is always better than one.

A series of unfortunate events…

Nestled in the comfortable surroundings of Eastergate Cricket Club in the South Downs, any casually interested passers-by on Sunday (around two ‘o’clock) would notice an extraordinary sight. With the mercury topping 30 degrees and most fielders under threat of passing out under the sun, the opening batsman was still wearing a full knitted jumper. To any Scotties arriving late, this simply meant Rupert was opening the batting. The extraordinary thing to them would be that we had started roughly on time. The opposition had sportingly agreed to let us bat first whilst the skipper was held up in traffic, due to the apparently spontaneous combustion of an Audi Q7 somewhere up the A3.

Rupert and Grant set off the Scotties innings at a steady pace. The scoreboard was ticking along slowly until Grant was undone by a young lad who was getting more bounce than the pitch belied. In fact, this was turning out to be not the easiest scoring pitch, with a little uneven bounce, anything in the corridor of uncertainly threatened to clip the top off-stump. Mr Van Der Horst was undone in similar fashion, driving forwards to a ball that danced a little off the seam.

From there on came something of a procession as Rupert held an end, and the opposition unleashed their most dangerous weapon; a leg spin bowler so slow that it would have been advisable to steal Jimmy’s copy of The Saturday Times Magazine and catch up with Giles Coren’s latest meal as he was running in, tuck it neatly under the arm as he released and then, and only then, shape up to bat. You would still be forgiven for playing through the shot. Which is exactly what Prateek, David Watson, Uncle James and Roop all did, resulting in a variety of clean bowled, LBW and dollies to the assembled fielders. Francis Ward, the bowler, was having quite the day.

On came the Skipper, ready (or so he thought) to feast upon the delicious pies being served up by Mr Ward. A number of well timed drives and a few almighty slogs meant that he quickly got the scoreboard moving once again with a number of boundaries and a few gentle strolls between the wicket. Unfortunately however, during one almighty heave with an aim to smash the ball through a conservatory a hundred metres away, he also managed to throw all of the tendons in his arm towards the conservatory. Needless to say, the ball went through to the wicket keeper for no run. A short time later, our skip was on one of his gentle strolls between the wickets when he must have stopped to admire a particularly interesting beetle, for it appeared that he had stopped altogether. Unfortunately for him, the ball had not crossed the boundary and in the midst of his beetle admiration, he was run out. By this time the ‘Goose’ Campbell–Smith was at the wicket and shortly before the skipper’s dismissal, played one or two slices and a scored a streaky four and a few singles before having a massive flap at something that could so easily have been simply blocked. Through the ball went to middle stump.

With this, Messrs ‘Head Boy’ Cooke and Thickett were left, in vain to score a few. The total result was all out for 136 off 39 overs. A few too short, some said over tea.

It did indeed turn out to be a few too short. A fine effort was put in by Ant who was unlucky not to take a few more wickets, and special mention must go to Uncle James for a top effort. He was rewarded with three fine wickets and could rightly be pleased with the days efforts. Prateek and Roop backed this up with some nice lines and a decent bit of turn, but alas we were outdone as their top order ticked off the runs with 6 overs to spare. Another 40 runs was the consensus to make it a more competitive match, but as all retired to the pavilion for liquid refreshment, it had been a decent day out against a bunch, on a lovely day. One cannot complain too much. The match teas weren’t bad either.

Saturday league conditions on a Sunday?!

Coming from all parts and congregating in Wembley, proved more difficult for some and believe it or not the Skipper was early, as were the opposition, who, all of Asian decent, were more interested in warming up and practicing slips catches than getting involved in England’s football team thrashing of Panama.

With regular service restored the Skipper lost the toss and Captain Scott were inserted into the field. Starting only 35 minutes later than scheduled. The opposition started confidently, losing their first wickets for 51 in the 11th over.

While mentioning overs, it’s worth noting, while this is a Sunday friendly game, the over rate, after the first eight overs, was mentioned to the Skipper by one of the umpires. This definitely endeared the opposition to Sean, who gracefully accepted the rebuke (though never quite running from mid-off to mid-off between overs), continued with his game plan.

After the first wicket fell, the others fell regularly and we had them all out for a questionable 172, by questionable, I mean we’re not sure how they got from 130-odd with three overs to go to 172 all out, without anyone quite going at 9s or 10s an over. The scorebook was sparse to say the least, with the bare minimum having been filled out.

I have to quickly mention the great catch Dan Cooke took out on the boundary, which resulted in him completing the catch with a little celebratory jig, which all happened to be in vain, as Ant had overstepped and a no-ball had been signalled. It was a great catch, alas it was not meant to be and Dan has to continue to persevere to achieve his first Captain Scott catch.

The innings was complete, two balls short of a full innings, by 16:25. 35 overs bowled in 2 hours and 20 minutes – let the record reflect 15 overs an hour is not a bad over rate.

Tea was taken and Scotty’s two openers took the field and the game resumed shortly after 5:00pm. This was after the scorebook had been interrogated and it was “calculated” that we required 173 to win.

The Skipper and myself also took to the field, but under the guise of umpires to cover for Xanthe who was in Barcelona (with god-knows how may ex boyfriends – much to Dan’s chargrin) on a photography and art class trip, while Ant did his best to replicate our wonderful scorer’s work, who was living it large at the Hickstead Show jumping in Sussex. When I say replicate, I simply mean record what’s going on in the outfield while hoping it all balances as the end.

It takes persons of strong character and iron will to umpire a game like this. The appealing for LBWs when the ball was merely in the pad’s vicinity or the incredulity that a wide be called when the ball passed the batsman, though in a different post code, was amusing. Let’s not even mention the outcome of a close run out chance. You’d swear this was the final game of a league season and a win was required to clinch the silverware.

Still smarting from being denied the run out chance, it was too much to bear for the keeper and the skipper when one of the bowlers was called for a wide. From my vantage point at square leg, it was very amusing to watch their skipper, all 4’7″ of him, run up to Sean, from fielding in the covers, indignant that a wide be called as the wicketkeeper hadn’t moved while taking the ball (it didn’t matter that the keeper was standing a foot outside off stump and had taken the ball on his right hip and then brought his hands back in from of him) . It looked like a Rumpelstiltskin-lookalike having a mini fit because his circus bear wouldn’t do as instructed and climb upon his little bicycle. This all before we’d reached 30 runs.

Ayman fell with the score on 29, David Watson and Langley put on a 67 run partnership before Chris edged one to the keeper. Rishi and David both fell at 115 and when Prateek fell with the score on 125/5, Sean strode to the crease, with a steely glint in his eye, to set the record straight and add another mark in the win column. Accused of a slow over rate, of not giving a run out and being being further abused by a tall dwarf for calling a wide. Enough was enough!

Sean and Jock added 42 runs, before Jock fell with six runs still required. Jamo-Love then ably assisted his older sibling in seeing the win home. The pièce de résistance, with us only requiring a single to win from six balls, was the skipper deciding he should bowl the final over. He then proceeded to bowl the first ball for a wide, assisting Captain Scott in reaching their target of 173 after three hours and 25 minutes in the middle. 10 overs an hour, no wonder over rate is so closely monitored.

It turns out the cricketing gods do have a wry sense of humour after all.

The detailed scorecard can be found here.

Enough time for a curry?

The Skipper regained his mojo and was back to adding winning notches to his belt. In what is a perennial low scoring affair, the Skipper marshalled the troops to claim a convincing win.

Losing the toss and being asked to bat, at 34-4, plans were being made, by certain Scotties, to book a curry, for 6:00pm, somewhere nearby. Uncle and Langley settled things down for a while, but they both fell after the drinks break for 61-5 and 70-6, respectfully. The skipper batting at seven fell soon after and at 78-7, no one quite sure if it was a good ball or the thought of a good curry that was the Skipper’s downfall. It seemed the bowling was going to have to be impeccable, if we couldn’t post a 130 plus runs.

Enter Dan “Jock” Vale who was playing his first Sunday game in the 2018 season. Those hoping for the 6:00pm curry had forgotten to involve Jock in the plans, so Jock proceeded to work with the wagging tail and see out the 40 overs, he himself adding a red-inked 40 to his name and allowing the team to post a 144-9. The highest batting total by either team from this and the all the other games from past seasons.

After tea, some tight opening bowling by Ant and Jock, forced Sandhurst into playing shots and great rotation of the bowlers, by the Skipper, saw wickets falling regularly. Though, I think it was Uncle’s right-handed snaffle, at the extreme reach of his outstretched right hand, which broke Sandhurst’s spirit, who happened to be sitting comfortably at 75-4. Spirit broken, Sandhurst stumbled to 114 all out. A 30 run win in a low scoring affair is a virtual chasm and a great win.

Walking off the pitch at 7:40pm, celebrating the win, the aforementioned curry long forgotten.

The detailed scorecard can be found here

Scotties show their strength in depth to make it 4 and 1

Temporary Captain James Reilly has entrusted me with the responsibility of commiting this week’s game to the annals.

I must say, that when Dan and myself rocked up to Chipstead and Coulsdon CC at 1.45pm, there was a general sense of foreboding among the Scotties with both Our Glorious Leader and our Glorious Communications Officer declaring themselves unable to take the field on the morning of battle.

Many wondered, what kind of beating would the Scotties receive without these cumulative decades of experience, skills and general athleticism around the park? Some wondered, when was the last time the Scotties had overcome Chipstead and Coulsdon – if ever? One or two wondered (J Reilly), would the Scotties in fact do better??

There was certainly one unusual feature, which was that all 11 Scotties had arrived and were ready for action at least 5 mins before the official start time!

We lost the toss and the oppo decided to bat, understandable given the road-like nature of the track and the c 27 degree temperatures.

I admit to thinking, ‘well, at least we’ll all get a bat when they hit 300’. Happily, Ant and Ayman had other ideas and kept it superbly tight, with the oppo on around 80 after 18 overs. Tight bowling increased the pressure on their openers and Jim took our first wicket at 80-1 as they looked to accelerate. Chipstead’s danger man had clearly got the instruction to get a move on as he skipped down the wicket to hit Ayman for four to bring his score to 71 and the team to 136-3. Ayman was unamused – middle stump removed from the ground next ball.

Doc’s left arm orthodox then came into play, with both their no 4 and no 5 holing out to long on and deep mid wicket respectively, leaving Chipstead at 165-5. Dan’s catch at deep mid wicket was a decent one for a rapidly aging guy. I note, however, he did shell their danger man at first slip off Ayman (presumably incurring a significant fine).

Chipstead reached 175-8 before, generously, declaring after 38 overs. We would probably have batted a bit longer in the circumstances. We would have about 45 mins plus 20 overs to bat, chasing 176 to win.

Ultimately, Chipstead missed their main bat from last year, who recently signed a contract with Harlequins rugby team.

Jim and Dan opened up with their 22 year opener showing some decent nip. Unfortunately for Chipstead, an archilles issue kept him to 4 overs. Jim and Dan laid a solid platform with some nice driving and cutting, Jim eventually falling on 49-1. Chris picked up the baton with the two going strong until Chris was bowled by their off spinner when we on 96-2. Dan continued to rack up 105, clattering the ball to all parts until he was caught (playing his favourite game of trying to hit the tree which is inside the pitch at deep midwicket) when we were 172-3. Ayman and I got the rest, featuring some classic glory hunting by Ayman at the end.

As far as Sunday games go, that brings us to 4 wins, 1 loss!

Full Scorecard can be found here

Long may the run continue

It was an action packed game, with centuries on both teams, a hat-trick and a thrilling final over.

Pitching up at Stratfield Brake Sports Ground, there wasn’t a pitch ready and waiting, instead there was one field with a lush green square, another field with the covers still on and an assistant manager who knew sweet fanny-adams and kept asking us to wait until his manager arrived, who was right round the corner at the local Sainsbury and would be here very soon. Yeah right!

David and Jim (Copeman – Scottie debutant) took the initiative and decided to remove the covers from the square and see if we could get a game started. The opposition captain was eager to get going and obviously had a strong batting line-up as he asked if each bowler could bowl eight overs in a 35 over game – it’s a friendly, so why not… “Sure thing Dave, eight per bowler”. Seeing people removing the covers Dave then asked if we could toss. We headed out and Dave didn’t even look at the square and said, “Ready?”. I wasn’t sure what we should do, but tossed and Dave called tails, tails it was. “We’ll bowl!”, no hesitation or deliberation. Well at least I didn’t need to decide…

The mysterious manager turned up and it appeared that there were no boundary markers or stumps. Kidlington CC had everything locked up and even though you can hire a square, that’s all you’re hiring. To be fair, our awesome President and Tea-Maker had warned me to bring stumps, but a couple of eager beavers packed the car and I forgot the stumps – doh! I did have bails in my bag, as did the umpire. At least it wasn’t 100% village!

With two pairs of plastic stumps found in the nets (one set were buggered) play started while I rushed down the A34 to a Sports Direct, I was assured contained stumps on sale. I arrived and managed to find two pairs of spring stumps (no normal stumps available)… not great, but better than the classy plastic stumps we had.

Two pairs of spring stumps purchased, I then careened back the the ground, only to get there to find the idiotic salesperson had sold me one set of adult stumps and one set of youth stumps… FFS!! And to top it off, the youth stumps didn’t contain any bails. Double FFS!!

Unbeknownst to me, the one plastic set were so rubbish, they were rotating the decent plastic stumps every over. Now at least we had a decent pair of spring stumps and a decent [enough] pair of plastic stumps – rotation was no longer needed.

Most surprising, after all my toing and froing, was the opening pair of Mr Hunt and Mr Daniels were still going strong and shortly after I arrived back passed a century partnership, but it was not to last as one of the Butler fielders held a catch and Jim was gone for 42.

While I was stump shopping, Lisa had quickly [and quietly] arrived and delivered a top-class tea and then did a runner… something about her family being more important than the needs of 22 willow and leather obsessed blokes.

Dan Mitchell, a Sunday game debutant (not a complete debutant, as he has toured with Scotts this year) was in at three and looked to settle in on pitch that took a little getting used too. While Dan was trying to get to grips with the pitch, Paul Daniels was taking the bowling apart and brought up his century in style. Dan, while on 7, hit a great shot that the mid-wicket unfortunately managed to somehow get a paw under while falling over. It was an incredible catch and one that no one should ever feel bad getting out to…

Next debutant Jim Copeman, who’d looked great in the nets, and received a sound piece of advice from centurion Daniels, about having a look first. His first ball was an awful ball down the leg-side that should have been called a wide (umpiring, I’d begun to signal the wide, before I realised he’d hit it), however Jim somehow managed to get bat on it and send it straight down the neck of fine leg. Suddenly the bowler, T Wilson, was on a hat-trick.

In strode Prateek, and Butler’s skipper put all the men round the bat. In ran the bowler and tried a bouncer which bounced and was on it’s way down when Prateek attempted a pull and proceeded to knick it to McCormack behind the stumps who juggled it and almost, put it down, almost, but not quite. The Butler XI were cock-a-hoop. 162 for 1 was 162 for 4 and Wilson had a hat-trick. Wilson, having not yet conceded a run, proceeded to bowl two wides and took no further wickets. The skipper then immediately pulled T Wilson from the attack, stating he was protecting his average.

Mr Stoddart (from Mr Daniel’s Alma Mater) took to the middle and a sense of normality resumed… by normality, I mean the Butler boys dropping catches and allowing Stoddart to continue adding runs. It looked like Paul and David had spent years batting together. The opening bowler returned and Paul managed to play round a straight one and was out LBW for 124. Great innings and one that gave the team impetus.

Jimmy CS and his bat, which had been made from a willow tree in his village, that, one, WG Grace once urinated against just before it was struck by lightening, strode to the middle, proceeded to score a run and then hit it to a fielder. 210 for 6 and only a few more overs to go. Tommy “Panther” Mac looking to up the scoring rate, hit two great fours off sequential overs and then also got caught with nine balls of the innings remaining. Final over and hat-trick boy Wilson is brought back, deciding to bowl spin, instead of his medium pace… first ball and Stoddart edged an innocuous ball onto his stumps, gone for a respectable 28.

Enter Tomlinscote School and Sixth Form College’s newest head-boy, Dan “Cookerooni” Cooke for his second season at Captain Scott. He blocked the first ball, knocked his second for to mid-wicket for a single and then proceeded to tell the umpire at the non-striker’s end, Jim Copeman, that he’d just scored his first ever run! Dan was off the mark in more ways than one. Another single and Dan was back on strike. Dan then hit another ball to mid-wicket and scampered his second run on the final ball of the final over. Two not out, twice the amount of runs scored in four innings last season. Well done Dan, and I hope your cricket career is long and enjoyable. We at Captain Scott look forward to watching you grow in the coming years!

That was tea and the Butler XI had to chase 229 in 35 overs for the win. It was a great tea and I have to admit, I completely over indulged on the prawn mayo sandwiches. They were mighty fine!! Thanks Lisa!!

We started brightly enough with T Wilson, the bowling hero, going for a duck on the fourth ball of the first over. 1 for 1. Enter their dark horse and ringer, a Saffa with an Aidan-esque build, who apparently had his sense of humour removed by immigration when he arrived on these shores.

The game proceeded to ebb and flow, a few tight overs and then the release. We eventually removed Steve McCormack for 56 and it was 122-2, enter their big-hitter who’d pulled his groin while fielding, so was accompanied by a runner. His first scoring shot was a large six over cow, after he’d sashayed (groin and all) down the pitch. Pulled his groin you say… not just a lumber-some cart-horse, who needs a runner to turn singles into quick twos? A single and then a four and then bowled, their big-hitter could rest his injury. 140-3 and in strode Tom Cruise from Risky Business wearing a cricket helmet. A partnership of nine and Tommy Mac was in the wickets again, a large hoick, slick glove work, a foot stuck in the pitch and Prateek had an actual stumping to his name. 149-4.

At this stage I could turn to Magic and asking him their required rate, I was then fed, runs required, balls remaining and their required rate… Who would hold their nerve?

Batsman number six, not very long in the legs, joined the party and after adding two to his name, decided a second run to put the surly Saffa back on strike, was a good idea, obviously hadn’t heard that you don’t run on a misfield. Dan Mitchell grabbed the ball, fired and hit the stumps… stumpy was out and unhappy about it. 156-5.

In strode, the silver fox, David Price QC, of Fleet Street. Tom and Dan were bowling well and bringing a halt to the runs and causing the run rate to increase. At this point there was a load going on and I think it got to a point that they needed 34 from 4 overs. seven runs off the 32nd over and eight from the 33rd over and they needed 19 from the last 12 balls.

My final over, dot, dot, dot, single, dot, wide (doh) and a four, three metre’s from Paulie on the short boundary, but difficult to stop. We were still in with a  chance…

They needed 13 from the last six balls. Dan Mitchell entrusted with the final over… He ran up and delivered the first ball to the Saffa, who’d now passed his hundred but due to his team-mates poor scoring had him on 91, he hit it straight and long, six runs. Seven from five balls. Squeaky. Bum. Time!


Seven from four balls.

They could only manage a single and David was on strike. Six from three.

Dan ran in and David cut it to deep backward point on the boundary, two was the shout. I chased the ball as it rushed towards the boundary, Tommy Mac fielded on the boundary and pushed the ball towards me. I grabbed it and cannoned it back to Prateek who whipped off the bails, David was short of his ground. He was out and they’d only scored a single, 224-6.

Five from two balls and the new batsman was on strike, with the Saffa stranded down the other end, his sense of humour being closely watched by Sajid Javid’s staff. The field was brought up to stop a single or a suicide run.

Dot. Straight into Prateek’s gloves. No chance of a single. It wasn’t over, but we were in the driving seat.

Five from one (a four to tie or a six to win)


The Captain Scott Invitation XI had won by four runs and still had a 100% record for Sunday Friendlies in 2018. The Butler XI were both physically and mentally beaten, they’d snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Bet David Price now wished they had batted first.

Great game and well done to the match day XI. All round great performance…

The scorecard can be found here