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!