The Club's Results

FaT vs BPBC Cricket Challenge, May Term 2010


Won by 8 runs
The weather was perfect; the pitch was perfect; the players and supporters had been looking forward to this match for months. The more experienced side included several Londoners while their younger and greener opponents had a French connection. The stage was set for a cracker: and yet, these two XIs, each honed to the prime of fitness and sporting acuity, produced one of the worst matches in the memory of any of those present, and a chorus of disgusted boos greeted the end of the game.

But enough of England's pathetic draw with Algeria. BPBC were missing a number of players through unavailability or injury, including their Kiwi, Dan Holland, celebrating both his 30th birthday and New Zealand's magnificent 1-1 draw with world champions Italy; 1st & 3rd were, encouragingly, over-subscribed, with rolling fielding substitions permitted. The toss was uncontroversial and saw BPBC captain Mike Goodson elect to bat, as is customary; after all, the effects of a punishing thirty overs in the field on cannot be over-estimated*.

1st & 3rd opened with the "off-cutter from Calcutta", Dr Pradipta Biswas. Curiously, Dr Biswas doesn't appear on the 1st & 3rd Members' List - purely an administrative oversight, no doubt - but his research background involves working with the elderly and infirm. Some might consider this an advantage when playing BPBC, but the redoubtable Chris Ingram made light of this, taking two boundaries from the opening over, the second expertly guided at chest height between wicketkeeper and slip. This promising start was not to continue, however, as multiple previous match-winner Andrew Lea-Cox was bowled in the second over for a three-ball duck by Donald Tipper, who in the process became the first wicket-taker in the history of this fixture to pre-date the club's 1946 merger; this wicket must owe at least a little to Tom Woolford's quintessentially English deadpan banter ("Let's have a Donald duck" being the first of many instalments) from behind the stumps.

Buoyed by this success, Pradipta turned the screw on new batsman Richard Bullock, taking his edge twice in two balls with neither going to hand and then tempting him into a pull which landed just short of square leg. In the next over another attempted pull fell between two leg-side fielders who produced the game's first Keystone Cops moment, colliding as the ball reached them and sparing Richard's wicket. Another record was set in the fifth over when the match's 29th ball was the first to be called a wide, but despite the lack of extras Richard and Ingers now made good progress, seeing off the openers and taking the score to 67-1 after 11 overs, by which time Peter Ford and 1st & 3rd captain Graham Sills were into the attack. Ingers's one-handed flick to the fine leg boundary was the highlight of this phase but runs off the bat were few, and after a sequence of just 4 scoring shots in 14 deliveries Graham made the breakthrough, clean-bowling Richard. He followed this four balls later with a beautiful in-swinger which took Ingers' off-bail, dismissing him for an excellent 37 off 43 balls with the score at 68-3. The final delivery of this over cannoned into Dan Walker's pad and produced an animated appeal from Pradipta at slip; Graham himself gave the 'not out' decision, rightly judging that the ball, in footballing parlance, was going for a throw-in.

Graham now threw the ball to James King. His first ball was a "loosener" but Dan missed out; his second was a contender for the worst all-round cricket seen in this fixture, a short and wide long-hop that was spooned into the air and dropped by the bowler while the batsmen were arguing about whether to take a single (they did); but the third was a beauty, bowling Lilie and eliciting an enthusiastic and utterly unnecessary 'Howzat!!!' from the bowler. Dropped caught-and-bowled chances from Dan** continued to feature with Josh Nall getting his left hand to a vicious drive from his third delivery and saving four before James gave him two further lives in his next over, the second an extremely hard chance which reached the boundary despite being parried.

The acceleration from BPBC continued, and successive boundaries from Mike Goodson to end the 16th over saw the opening bowlers brought back with BPBC on 116-4. The scoring rate was now pegged back and Pradipta claimed a deserved wicket, the valuable scalp of Mike for a quick-fire 28, in the 19th over with a fine leg-cutter. This brought to the crease the one and only Mark Crawford, a man whose dedication to BPBC cricket saw him make a 600-mile round trip from Scotland for the inaugural fixture in 2002 only to be given out incorrectly first ball, and then repeat the feat the next year to make a second golden duck; small wonder, then, that his first scoring shot should be met by rapturous applause from the BPBC contingent. Mark did offer one chance, the thinnest of edges failing to carry to the wicketkeeper. This was from an excellent delivery from Sills and a less accomplished batsman would have missed the ball completely. In fact, I thought Mark had missed it until he told me he'd nicked it...

Graham's miserly spell was ably backed up by Tom O'Neill who took Mark's off-stump at the start of the 25th over (another excited 'Howzat!!!' resulted; again, the umpire was compelled by the mis-shapen stumps to raise his finger), with A Q Somers the new batsmen. Querulous? Quadragenarious? Quick-scoring, perhaps, as Graham's figures were slightly spoilt when 11 runs came from the 26th over, which included a close LBW appeal against Andy. Revenge came with the first ball of Graham's next over, however, when the "thrills and Sills" (copyright T Woolford) continued with a superb swinging delivery which Andy, having given himself room, could only watch straighten and take his leg-bail. JPD marched out confidently to replace him, adjusted his helmet (by several inches, on Dan's advice), took his guard and proceeded to stroke the second ball of the over expertly into the covers before calling through his partner for a well-judged quick single. This textbook start would have caused any objective observer to believe that JPD was a cricketing old hand; at least, until he proceeded to take strike at the non-striker's end...

With Graham now 'bowled out' (try explaining that to a foreigner), Tom Lovering was entrusted with the penultimate over and rewarded his captain splendidly, luring JPD into a chip to mid-on and then coming within a whisker of bowling Dan, BPBC's rock, while conceding just 4 runs from the bat. Dan was now forced to retire having made a belligerent 50 not out from 51 balls; Matt Byrne and Jenny Lee were the final partnership and added 11 before the innings closed on 199-9. Extras had not top-scored, having totalled just 48 to Dan's 50*, while Graham's impressive 3-21 from 6 overs in two spells had been key in restricting BPBC to fewer than 200, ably assisted by Donald (1-28 from six overs); honourable mentions also to Pradipta and Tom O'Neill who each claimed one wicket at an economy of 6 runs per over, having bowled ten between them.

Following a magnificent tea of cakes of the lemon drizzle, chocolate, carrot and ginger*** varieties from Lilie, to whom many thanks, 1st & 3rd sent out Josh Nall and their wicketkeeper-banterman Tom Woolford to take the shine off the new (well, 30-overs-old) ball. This tactic faltered in the second over following a calling mix-up and suicidal quick single as the ball was returned to the bowler who whipped off the bails; nonetheless, Josh was perhaps unfortunate to be given run out with his bat in mid-air and the umpire would like to record his regret at not awarding the benefit of the doubt to the batsman in this case.

This early wicket shook 1st & 3rd and Andy Somers and Dan Walker combined well to concede just 5 runs from the first three overs before number 3 James King cut loose, carving Dan for three consecutive boundaries before surviving a leg-side LBW shout, followed by another in the next over from Andy. Mark Crawford bowled first change and immediately enticed Tom to sky towards Matt Byrne at mid-on who spilt the chance to extend the list of 'Blue Nun moment' nominations. Mark then passed James's bat with Ingers smartly breaking the wicket only for the square leg umpire to judge that the batsman was in (or at least, he gave him 'not out') before creating another catching opportunity off the final delivery, spurned by Dan Walker, to complete a searching first over. Andrew Lea-Cox continued the examination, recovering from conceding 5 wides with his second ball to strike James on the pad (given not out either for being down the leg side**** or too high#) and then bowl him for 19 with his sixth legitimate delivery (his tenth in total - clearly those extras were a cunning plan), leaving 1st & 3rd behind the asking rate at 40-2 from nine overs but with dangerman Graham Sills now at the crease.

This new partnership steadied the ship and kept the scoreboard ticking over impressively. Mark Crawford bowled through but could not repeat his outstanding performance of 2002 (7-3-5-2), finishing with a creditable 6-0-43-0 but with his figures suffering from several dropped catches, some of them dollies (the last earning Dan an official warning for industrial language), and not representing the difficulties he had caused Graham in particular with his combination of spin and medium pace; indeed, one LBW appeal was given 'not out' only very reluctantly by the cautious umpire who felt that with the ball already 'on the way down' there was just too much doubt to raise the finger. Mike brought himself into the attack and produced an edge from Tom which just evaded the right hand of Lilie at slip, and also brought on Richard Bullock (to replace Mark) who was immediately clubbed for two fours by Graham, taking him to 51* (off just 25 balls) and enforced retirement with his team on 120-2 after 20.2 overs and well set.

Mike continued and was rewarded when one of the balls of the day, a beautiful leg-cutter, brought another nick from Tom and a superb one-handed catch from Ingers; Tom departed for a disciplined and dogged 33 which had kept his side right in the game, with 57 needed from the final 8 overs. Richard now recovered from two expensive overs to swing the game back towards Black Prince with two wickets in three balls: first Tom McTiernan picked out Matt Byrne at point who atoned for his earlier drop, then a swing and a miss from C Jenkins (another strange omission from the 1st & 3rd Members' Directory) got its just reward with middle stump knocked back. This brought in French all-rounder Paul Masset but another niggardly over from Mike left 1st & 3rd on 149-6 with just five overs remaining; the balance, however, was to swing back to the undergrads when Jenny Lee followed a recent BPBC trend of completing forgetting how to bowl by delivering an 18-ball over, having been so impressive in earlier fixtures.

Mike now turned the screw, bowling Donald and Tom O'Neill with the first and third## balls of his final over to finish with an excellent return of 6-0-24-3, before giving Lilie the 28th from which strong hitting from Paul and Pradipta brought 14 runs. Andy Somers returned to stem the flow, taking an edge from his third ball and regretting the lack of a slip, before an extraordinary switch-hit from Pradipta found the boundary and reduced the requirement to ten runs from nine balls. Unfortunately, after blocking the next delivery, Pradipta drove Andy back over his head to a waiting Mike who showed his butter-fingered colleagues how to do it with a solid catch. With nine wickets down, the previously retired Graham returned for the last 7 balls, but with the batsmen having crossed it would be Paul to face the final ball from Andy (who was to finish with outstanding figures of 5-0-12-1).

The match was now on a knife-edge, and such pivotal moments can cause even the most experienced of players to make inexplicable decisions: thus it was that Graham, with a century and Cuppers win as College captain in his locker, on seeing both batsman and wicketkeeper miss the ball, called his Gallic partner through for a bye when a second was never on, so leaving himself stranded at the non-striker's end for the final over, to be bowled by Andrew Lea-Cox. Nine runs required from one over is an equation previously seen in the 1999 World Cup semi-final between South Africa and Australia###; on that occasion, Lance Klusener struck two brutal off-side boundaries before contriving a farcical run-out with Allan Donald to send Australia through with just one more run needed. Appropriately it was rumoured that Paul grew up in South Africa: the parallels could therefore hardly have been stronger#### as Paul pushed to point, Graham set off, the fielder threw sharply to Ingers and the wicket was broken. Another 'not out' decision brought an 'Ingers' from Ingers but fortunately his teammates were more level-headed, pointing out that with both batsmen at one end a simple throw to the bowler would end the game, and so it proved. BPBC won the game by just 8 runs, with the overall score now 5-3 in 1st & 3rd's favour.

Man of the match for 1st & 3rd was awarded to Graham for his rapid unbeaten half-century and excellent bowling, while Dan Walker won the BPBC award for a 50 of his own (and for keeping the game alive with a series of dropped catches). Pradipta's switch-hit was the Champagne Moment just ahead of the authentic 'caught behind' of Tom by the Goodson/Ingram combo and some jaffas from Graham, and JPD's hilarious decision to take guard at the wrong end the Blue Nun equivalent, just pipping various Laurel-and-Hardy moments from both sides in the field. Aspiring Bill Frindalls may wish to observe that both sides conceded precisely 48 extras and also ran one short run each; truly, impartiality is in the eye of the beholder.

The umpire would like to express his thanks to those who scored so impeccably both in book and on board (Mike Goodson, Chris Ingram, Richard Sworder, Katie Poseidon and possibly others), to both captains (Mike Goodson and Graham Sills) for their organisation, to Lilie for the tea, to both sides for accepting a medley of eccentric and ill-informed decisions with traditional good humour and to all who played for making this game a pleasure to watch.

"Dickie" Knee, Jun '10

* this isn't 20-20, you know

** ironically; see later

*** the author accepts no responsibility for the accurary of his notoriously fickle tastebuds, or for the gratuitous inclusion of 'ginger' and 'Lilie' in the same sentence

**** according to the umpire

# according to the 'keeper

## see what I did there?

### kudos to Ingers for correctly remembering that Damien Fleming was Australia's bowler on that occasion

#### admittedly, there were no boundaries in 1st & 3rd's case (Neil T)
"## see what I did there?"

You cleverly inserted a footnote, thus avoiding the possibility of arriving at this page having searched for "First and Third balls". A masterful achievement, dampened only slightly by the fact that I have ruined it. Oops. (RTT)

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