As much as an eager village cricketer will turn their eyes to the pending weather forecast as early as the Monday preceding, sunny weather doesn’t always bring a whoop of inner joy. Well, seemingly not in the last few decades. Seasoned turf treaders will know that looking at the forecast too early is a sign for false hope, a bit like the fixture announcements of a pending football season. Looking too late can simply be a recipe of depressive resignation. This is made more obsessive by 24-hour weather stations and phone apps. When I was young we just used the window.
The weather of the last few days has been rather oppressive, with nights uncomfortable- especially in a country most unprepared for such climatic madness. Although perhaps 95-degree heat is very ‘meh’ these days. Even some of the media seem a little lethargic about it all. Yesterday, if anyone noticed, would have been among the hottest days Wanderers have played in during a match in England and at least on a par with many abroad. The trains might get stopped if the lines buckled, but yesterday’s match saw the wrong type of something else as Wanderers took the field after a strong first innings showing. Chasing a ball around an open country green is no fun in these conditions, so Wanderers seem little uninclined to do that after a while. There’s no blame there. Especially from those in the relative shade who even themselves must have wondered if it was all worth it.
Gemma went for the toss at the start, Luke seemingly manacled during this ceremony like Cacofonix at another of Asterix victory feasts. The result was a correct call and Wanderers went into bat. Gwyllim, the Obelix of the gaggle, strode to the wicket with Will and by the time a duodenary of runs had been passed both were back in the shade. Oft in the past, and perhaps a few times in the present, such consecutive losses would normally spell a hellish doom. Not so yesterday. In fact, the first knockings of the afternoon saw three fifty partnerships. As much as the sand timer seems to quicken at the swift opening of Wanderers lid there are a few times when a solid clump can clog the filter. Yesterday this came in different styles and aesthetics. If Wanderers batting is to be compared to a sand timer then Alum Bay must surely be its origin.
From 12-2, the third wicket partnership yielded 59 runs, Chris and Teflon Noakes representing the recovery charge. Obviously, Mr Noakes knew that such a response was needed before the sledge of not even being the best player in his family cloaks him in thoughts of spectatorship with Pimms and a cigar. Although such a thought may well have been yesterday’s preferred option regardless. Before the readers mind moves effortlessly on to thoughts of a gentle stroll to an impressive target, there was a Weeblesque mid-order wobble. Teflon failed to stick around further, and whether Gems and Scyther Styles decided the sun was too strong for hanging out in the open, or their sun cream had been forgotten in the choice of sandwich conundrum, they beelined for the air-conditioned Binary Club and Wanderers were 82-5.
Chris was Joined by Jeff at the dusty crease. Jeff, if reading this, will be pleased to see his name spelt correctly at last and now adjusted in the stats. Not that his cricketing acumen needs such adjustment. A further 64 was added. The WhatsApp reports of 107-5 at one stage gave rise of thoughts to those far from the action that exposure to the August cauldron would not wilt Wanderers for as long as anticipated, but this was, upon the dismissal of Chris, prolonged further as Ant decided to get in on the balmy action once Chris has left the crease for a fine 77. His 20 formed part of another 50 stand with Jeff and Wanderers finished on 207-5. The Burger King nearby was given custom again yesterday and a tea as unorthodox as the mid-order rally was had.
Once stomachs were filled, and wilted bodies resurrected, Wanderers took to the field as the day remained sultry, Jeff and Lord Sponge firing the opening salvos with the vector of disease. After an opening partnership of 34, opener Brasker fell to a fine catch from Chris. A stiff target had been set and Greys were keen to build a carefully constructed response with new batsman Meek playing both the anchor and cannon. Thus, it proved.
Wanderers, having carved the blade so well, were never out of the game in the first half of second knockings, but the bowling, again forgivably, lacked any real penetration. Given that the neglected wicket was throwing up its usual incendiaries this would be all the more disappointing. Gwyllim seemed to hit the deck firmly and one wonders, as said before, if he should treat his bowling capabilities as much as his splendid batting is afforded. With 2-19 he was the pick of the Wanderers bunch. At 82-3 Wanderers were still favourites.
Much credit needs to be given here to batsman Meek. Clearly an evergreen cricketing stalwart, his tempered innings provided the backbone of the Greys response. Both a firm striker and accomplished nudger, the total kept ticking over and accelerating. A stand of 76 with batsman Ashton was only broken when Teflon Noakes took a catch standing up to one of Keith’s snow droppers (catch pictured below).
But beyond this there was very little to write home about, unless you are capable of making a thousand words out of ten as indeed these reports are. Chris, a splendid find with ball and bat, looked sharp although a bit baffled about how to bowl with the wicket’s inconsistencies and perhaps within himself due to its volatile nature. Keith’s legendary skyers brought ice down from the melting realms of the atmosphere and, as ever, the sight of The Oldest Swinger in Town further warmed any cricketer hoping for esteemed longevity in their playing days. Dave talks of playing at the centenary in 7 years’ time. One can only feel that this is likely even if others are floundering before. Greys arrived home with six wickets remaining and just over three overs in hand.
As wearing as the day must have proved for some, spirits were still high, and a number ventured off to the pub for the cooling nectar. It was the princess’s birthday weekend so such occasion must be marked. Defeat soon forgotten; social normality was restored. Well, kind of, but the new normal, if you get my drift. But the new normal could become most adaptable if the middle order does it’s thing like today on a regular basis.