Saturday 2XI 99 / 2 (20.1)
2nd XI 95 / 6 (40.0)
Who were they? Where do their roots lie? Where will they be 20 weeks from now? Will Damo ever play for the Bears again?
These were the existential questions Captain Jack and Jonny Essex bounced between each other as Jack’s hot-hatch rolled along the A367 to PSJ, sun glinting from the tarmac-crystals, Harry Styles pumping from the cars sound system.
Though unsure of all the answers, as they approached the Ken Willcox memorial ground car park they were sure of one thing. Taylor Swift for sure would taste like strawberries on a summer evening, and with their sharing of one breath would result in a watermelon sugar high.
Sliding into the car park the first surprise of the day met them – Mad-Dog Charlie Samler owns a car! Once this startling news was digested, the ground was made ready for the ensuing game as the Bear Flat 2nd XI assembled. With the Churchill CC 2nd XI welcomed to their base-camp for the day, a second surprise for the Bears was glaringly apparent. All senior vibes-masters had failed in bringing a single blue-tooth speaker between them. Bereft of the Bears exhilarating and intimidating playlist to warm-up the soul, the Bears instead did something that comes quite natural to them – they playfully abused each other relentlessly. This, it must be said, had an extremely positive vibe-ing effect on the team, the pinnacle of said vibes being Oily Cox, determined to be the focus of multiple fines on a weekly basis, pulled out a pair of blue armlets that would have made Bears 1st XI wunderkid, Master De Souza, front-relieve himself in ecstacy.
The obligatory pre-warm up match huddle in the circle of trust was the opportunity for 2nd XI debutants, Gorgeous George Ellis and our senior krieketspeler the Groot Tony DeFreitis, to receive their caps from Captain Jack and a very smiley Samuel Vesey. The fact the 2’s have welcomed at least one debutant a week into it’s squad exhibiting a depth of club player numbers that many teams would be envious to replicate. Following cap presentations and warm Bear hugs, and in the absence of usual task-master Si Briffett (pronounced with silent ‘t’ like his ex-mother in law, Hyacinth Bucket) Happy Sam got the lads hands and arms warm, as bowlers warmed Mad-Dog Samlers gloves pitchside. With Senior Cox settled in to his pitchside scoring position, the Bears were ready.
The third surprise of the day arrived with Captain Jack losing his first toss of the season. That said the outcome wasn’t too disappointing with Churchill electing to bat.
The Bears stuck by their opening bowling partnership of Jonny Essex and Oily Cox – the pair being so successful last week, and both nibbled away for their first spell keeping runs down to a minimum. That said the Essex wide-boy, though managing to reduce his normal wide per over tally down significantly, he did manage to bowl a wide so wide had it been possible for the umpire to do so it would have been a 5. The consistency in line and length that was missing from Jonny Essex’s game was certainly not from our blue-armed wonder, Oily C. Bowling without doubt his best ever spell in a Bears shirt, Oily picked up a deserved wicket, kept consistency going and with an appreciative nod from the skip, continued to bowl through his 8 overs – a reflection of the respect he gained from senior Bears that day. Essex was off by the time he completed his spell (8-2-20-1) with Gorgeous George having entered the fray. Facing a pitch slower than he’s used to and opposition less inclined to take the risks in shot selection, Gorgie-Georgie toiled through his 8 over spell, delivered effortlessly. Slightly disappointing was the loss of his second guaranteed wicket, as Chuchill’s fine opener, at the time on a barely double figured score (and who went on to make an unbeaten 52) nicked him off, but the simple dolly catch to our usually unflappable keeper was, somehow, spilled. Gor-Gor inhaled sharply, hands to head, before looking to Jonny Essex at mid-off, exhaling ‘there could be some Karma in that drop later’…. and indeed there was.
By now Groot Tony DeF was in the mix, steaming in and putting the fear of the almighty into the Churchill batters. As Gorgie-Georgie completed his metronomic spell (8-2-16-1), Groot T started to take Churchiull apart. Rolling back the years, grunting every effort into the ball as it left hand, Groot T showed the young Bears what destructive impact pace attack bowling was (while the oppo’s square-leg umpire had explained to our blue-armed wonder, Oily C, what a metronome was). By the time Happy Sam was halfway through his spell, Groot T had bowled right through his with superb man of the match figures of 8-2-12-4.
Churchill had lost wickets regularly, struggled to put on a score and had pretty much shut up shop, hoping to see out the overs.
With Happy Sam (the best bowling, batting wicket-keeper in the south of England currently not wicket-keeping because of injury), ankle strapped as tightly as a Yorkshireman with all the generosity kicked out of him, hobbled through his spell, back came Jonny Essex. A far better sell this time without a wide in sight, but still frustrated not to collect essential wickets to see Churchill off the field completed with a respectable 8-1-16-0 . And with Captain Jack not quite getting his maths right, Happy Sam finished with a tight as his ankle-strapping 7-3-24-0.
1 Over to go with Churchill on 94-6 and in steps Captain Jack determined to get the last wickets in this final over. He gave it a fine go, but no joy and with quite binary figures of 1-0-1-0. Churchill finished on 95-6 off their 40 overs and the chase was set.
Once again, the score that the Bears had to chase was as much testament to the intensity in the field as it was with the bowling attack. Smiley Sam set the tone from the off with his enthusiastic clapping, cajoling, encouragement. It’s been noted by many Sam is so obviously enjoying his cricket more so now than many a season past. Could it be the excitement and anticipation of his upcoming nuptials? Possibly the relinquishing of previous seasons responsibility? Maybe the taught ankle-strapping is pumping vast volumes of oxygenated blood to previously unused pleasure areas of the brain stimulating a vast neural system of pleasure? Whatever, all the Bears will say is, watch out Zoe!…. An even more youthful, rejuvenated Sam has been released and this Bear is ready!….. ‘GRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrr.’
Infected with his enthusiasm (though not that he needs much encouragement) Bears legend Mike Colby-Cities gates were slammed shut, prowling at silly mid-on right in the face of the batters, picking balls on the half volley for fun. Andy ‘lucky not to be out for a duck last week’ Strange meandered dreamily from slip to slip, dryly bantering with Mad-Dog and the batters, never quite sure if he was winding them up, or not. We know the answer. And our very own tourist attraction and Bath Shard – Si Brocklebank-mountain, lowering himself from the heavens to snuffle ground balls, chase incessantly and, once again, show he can play the big part when needed. Club Man!
Lunch consumed and Pete (Holly)woods absolutely fantastic ‘better than British bake-off’ cookies on board, the aforementioned opener strode. Alongside him, his ying to his yang, age to his beauty, Charlie M-D. Both desired to get the Bears if not to the finish line, damn close. Both flirted with calamity as they gradually kept the board ticking over, chipping identically up to mid-off from the Churchill opening bowlers stock IPL-esque full toss, thankfully both weren’t held. After the initial scares, both settled in and started to score more freely, particularly when remembering the basics of ‘Yes!, No!, Wait!’. Maybe a couple of weeks assisting the All Stars on a Saturday morning are in order.
But then disaster struck. Along came a full circle of cause and effect, the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, deciding their fate in future existences. Clearly caught on the pads in front of his stumps by a slow, straight ball, the Umpire had a momentary lapse of hearing missing Mad-Dog middleing the ball, and as Charlie rotated away from his crease in readiness to take his guard again, was faced by the finger of fate – Out.. LBW… travesty. As he wandered off the park for his 9 runs, the Bears 18 for 1 it was reported someone thought they possibly heard, but may be wrong, Gorgeous George whispering, with a subtle shake of the head, the word ‘Karma’ under his breath.
Out came Happy Sam with bat in hand, who happily batted with patience and guile putting smiles on the faces of the supporting Bears and stimulating the Ken Willcox Memorial massive to get involved emitting frequent jovial cries of the well known cricketing phrases of ‘Howzat’ and ‘Four’. Runs followed runs, the scoreboard ticked down, the Bears were close, then Mr Holly-Woods himself somehow lost concentration for a moment and holed out on 42 – so close to another deserved 50.
But all was well – The Bears were 78-2 and scenting victory as in strolled Captain Jack in his 7 league boots. Just 3 strides and he was at the stumps, guard taken and ready for action. Determined this season to be in a position not to get an average, he again didn’t disappoint. As Happy Sam played the field, pulling out an attempted reverse sweep just to keep the crowd entertained, Captain Jack did what Captain Jack does – he saw the Bears home with a beautifully struck 4. 99-2 0ff 20.1 overs. Unbeaten in 4, team buzzing it was time to shower, cider and fine…. and fine they did.
Catching up with Man of the Match Tony D’Olivera after the game, a pensive moment was found. As he gave his wife a smile and lifted his daughter high into the air, he reflected on his destructive bowling debut 2’s appearance. “Without trying to be stereotypical, the crocodile and rhino wrestling I did when I was this one’s age (glancing lovingly at his daughter) was what set me up for days like today. My body may be a little more worn, muscles a bit taughter, but I know how to push through the pain, focus on the job at hand…. and deliver!” And, by the lord, deliver he did!
The team packed down with a smile as broad as Sam’s. Existential questions are gradually being answered.
Who are we? The Bears 2nd XI.
Where do we come from? Our new home, fortress Ken Willcox Memorial, PSJ.
Where do we go? Let’s keep calm for now and ask Cotton Eye Joe again at the end of the season, eh!
Next weekend – Bears 2nd XI vs Wedmore 2nd XI (Away)