The freezing cold weather warmly welcomed us into the Topsham cricket club where the pitch was looking absolutely gorgeous. ‘Right, can we get some blankets from Aldi then’, I heard Gilet say, as he lit up a cigarette, to combat the cold of course. Contrary to popular belief, the best way to train for a 50 over cricket game, is with a game of football. What followed was a prestigious moment for the new talent in the team, as the skip bestowed upon us the UBCC caps. Choosing to bowl first, loud cheers could be heard all over Exeter, as Jonah Duggan grabbed the ball and prepared his run up. Accused of ‘socially distancing from the off side’ (classic bant from the skip), the tall man started off with … quite a few wides, some of which bypassed the keeper.
Our appeal for a beautiful stumping by Wilf, was dismissed, but a similar situation arose shortly, and this time the decision was in our favor. ‘He gave it because he didn’t give the last one’ Wilf asserted. ‘It was definitely more out last time than this time’ he continued. Bristol had their first wicket.
An extremely deceptive ball by Gilet left the Batsmen bewildered as the full toss ball, took out the middle stump. Giles and Gilet showcased some brilliant bowling for the next couple and managed to contain Exeter’s score to 133-3 after 23. A change in bowling occurred with the beguiling Taif stepping up. Lovely field setup as the batsman played the ball right to Anant, who attempted a direct hit and succeeded. Bristol had their 4th wicket in the 24th over, for a mere 134 runs. Realizing that we may have given more extras than actual runs, we chuckled, as the total extras stood at 45. Sixth wicket was conferred on Anant as batsmen whacked it onto mid-on, playing it right into Taif’s hands. Sufficiently pleased, Bristol walked back to the pavilion (a couple of chairs, thanks Exeter). Jonah and Elliot demonstrated lovely spells as they cleared out a total of 4 wickets for us.
While the Exeter XI could be seen having some serious discussions over the game, the Bristol XI needed their nicotine. Anant resumed bowling as tea concluded. A loud appeal was soon heard as the leg indeed came before the wicket. Not given. Peak. Some immaculate bowling by Derby and Giles constricted Exeter’s score to 302. A beautiful catch in the end, meant only one thing. We bowled them out and our happiness was intensified when we realized that almost one third of their runs were from extras. While the keen Exeter players could be seen exhibiting their bowling skills shortly after halftime was declared, a man delivering KFC, a lit cigarette and Juul rings were just some of the things witnessed in the Bristol half. While Barnes and Tommy padded up, the other players devoured their respective meal deals. Did the opening bowler socially distance much like our Jonah? He did indeed, as he gave 13 extras in 1 over! Silly goose. Barnsey could be seen placing the balls onto Deep Point, and finished his innings at 28. Tommy, a man with the bold intention of scoring a ton (mothers), refused to get off the mark. The score standing at 29 after 3 overs, was beginning to resemble that of aT20 game. Taif, all padded up, walked in at 1 down and walked back a minute later. The man unfortunately met the fate of a golden duck as he hit the ball to mid-on but was caught. The middle order brought the score up to 120, as Wilf and Felix showcased some engrossing batting. ‘We got a good chance’ asserted Gilet and Elliot as we walked towards the score box where some ambient music was heard. Gilet was forced to put out his 7th cigarette as Wilf walked back, but missed the nicotine rush a bit too much, as he walked back soon after. Had he wished, I’m sure he could have scored a ton, but nicotine addiction is real.
The skip was reassuring us of Bristol’s victory as Elliot, after his breathtaking bowling performance, made his way onto the field, but sadly walked back with a disgruntled sigh.
Anant moved into the field where he encountered Dani who was outlining the bowlers’ tactics. Leaving the first couple balls, with the aim of trying to ‘comprehend’ the bowler, a shot towards mid-off barely missed the fielders fingers, as it rushed to the boundary. His stumping that shortly followed was however extremely unusual. As he left the ball, he faced from a right arm seamer, to carry onto the keeper, this man believed that walking out of the crease was a reasonable and sensible thing to do. Evidently not, as 5 minutes later, the keeper took the bails off. Silly man. The friendly coach driver was now watching the game and looked hopeful (not really) as we were 147 – 8. After eluding his fate for some time, Daniel Karpal succumbed, as he was caught for 4 runs. With the end of Gilet and Jonah’s partnership, the game concluded as we were bowled out for 150. ‘Well Played Lads’ the skip affirmed. The bus journey back entailed a few cheeky beers from a very conveniently situated Aldi. Singing Jerusalem on the way back, and a couple games initiated by the skipper, Barnes, made the 1 hour 30-minute journey seem so short. Some could see the moon, some couldn’t. Some were radios, some weren’t. Some were good at 5s, some weren’t. The boat race concluded a lovely journey and a brilliant performance, with everyone batting 6 and below on one side, and the rest on the other. I wish I could remember who won.
Awards of the day:
Bath Ales MOTM – Wilf Brooke
WG Grace Stylish player – Mike Barnes
Nibs Nibs Perfect catch – Elliott Derby
Chai Pani DOTD – Anant Sharma
Sandwich Sandwich Wet Sandwich – Jonah Duggan