Saturday 9 July – BFCC v Wells

by | Jul 17, 2022 | Match Report

Bear Flat CC
Saturday 2XI

223 / 4 (40)
Wells CC
2nd XI

208 / All out (40)
Bear Flat CC - Saturday 2XI

And you call me up again just to break me like a promise

So casually cruel in the name of being honest

I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here

‘Cause I remember it all, all, all to Wells

All Too Well(s) – Taylor Swift

The Shoveler Duck (Anas Clypeata) – Shovelers are surface feeding ducks with huge spatula bills. Males have dark heads with white breasts and chestnut flanks. Size – allegedly often report themselves to be 44-52cm in length, but that’s debatable. Diet – Generally small insects and plant matter sifted from water, however known to be partial to B&B’s chilli chicken fries.

Back in May, a half season past, this inaugural Bear Flat 2nd XI made their debut in MSL Div 7 Blue. On that day the team arrived at a picturesque ground bathed in first-summer sunshine greeted with an equally warm welcome from the Wells 2nd XI and their Captain Tim Crow. That day Tim and team proved to be as entertaining opponents as hosts as, with the day’s play completed, drinks were shared pitchside till the sun dropped below the Mendips, the earlier skirmishes of league cricket forgotten and good yarns of matches past being shared. For some Bears where this was their first taste of league cricket, and how reassuring that the camaraderie found in friendlies past could be replicated in the subtly different environs of league competition. A benchmark of how league cricket can, and should, be.

So it was with a heavy heart that Capt Jack, mopping his damp brow with crisp white gym towel post deep sports massage allegedly delivered by Swifty herself, took a message from Tim alluding he wouldn’t personally be present Saturday. Heavy hearted as he had been looking forward to reciprocating the Wells Skippers hospitality, albeit in the slightly less calm atmosphere of the Ken Willcox Gound in PSJ.

But that wouldn’t change his Bears welcome or hospitality to the travelling Wells team, and on a day with the mid-summer sun embracing the PSJ cricket ground the Bears opposition arrived, led by their capable Captain Paul Rowland. For one of the Bears regulars the Wells squad offered a pleasant surprise. Jonny Essex had a fellow gentleman in the Wells ranks who also hailed from Essex in the shape of Perry Reeves, proudly wearing  the three Seaxes on his cap. After a short conversation where odd sounding place names were shared (Brentwood, Dunmow, High Roding, High Easter) words uttered in their strange South Eastern dialect, they completed pleasantries and made their way back to their corners remembering to start speaking a little slower and louder (utilising shorter words) so their simple Somerset teammates could understand them.

On any early Saturday afternoon the Ken Willcox Memorial ground possesses an air of calm, often belying the later social storm, and with both teams warming up on the outfield PSJ had all the appearance of a traditional chocolate box ground. Capt Jack, even with ankle still tightly strapped, glided effortlessly to the cut strip as Skippers met for the toss, and another fine avoided as the Skip won and, no surprise on a day where temperatures were bound to rise significantly in the coming hour, asked Wells to field.

The Bears opened with their recently rejuvenated pairing of Pete ‘Baking Reverend’ Wood and Si ‘Angel of the South’ Brocklebank. As initial sparring commenced the opening Wells bowlers Perry Reeves and Charles Benson were keeping things extremely tight and on occasion asking questions of the Bears batters. But the openers persisted, seeing off the opening unit and then taking on the first change of Michael Elderton and Vince Johnson. It wasn’t until just after halfway through the innings when on 33 our very own tourist attraction Si B was holed out to Elderton with the Bears on a slow but steady 73.

But there were overs in the bank and plenty of batting depth in hand, and so it came to pass that it was time for our pinch-hitting No.3, Andy ‘Shoveler’ Strange to take to the sporting stage. With a last deep draw the roll-up was flicked disdainfully towards a patch of particularly dry grass, a quick suck on Ventolin inhaler and last swig of vodka red bull from hip flask and he was ready. Out he sauntered to the crease. He was due a score, and today could well be the day.

But as so often happens 1 leads to 2, and so it did pass. Even with his new batting partner to hand, The Reverend, obviously distracted by losing his Big Friendly Giant at the other end, rather than hitting over the head of Elderton, chipped one straight back to him instead. Caught and bowled for 38, the Bears still on 73 but now for 2.

So now to partner ‘The Strange’ came the Bears’ very own Capt Jack. Still sporting the ankle brace that we’d been told Taylor S had apparently lovingly, and with surprising dexterity for a universally acclaimed singer, strapped around his still tender and swollen ankle bounced with surprising freedom of movement out to the crease. Surely a stand could be achieved?

Instead, further disaster as 2 became 3. After poking and prodding at balls around his bat like a semi-aquatic bird pecking at grain in a farmers yard, he poked at one too many, missing a straight on and was duck n plum sauce LBW. Looking up to the heavens as a flock of Mallards crossed the PSJ skyline, it was as if the cricketing Gods were laughing at him. Out for 0, and with the prospect of a very special cap presentation later in the day, the Shoveler strode back to the cool depths of the clubhouse to meditate calmly on what had passed. The Bears were treading water on 76-3.

As his team mate left the field of play Capt Jack pensively glanced towards his latest partner at the crease, the rugged and swarthy Charlie ‘Leatherman’ Samler. Having flirted with greatness on a few occasions this term only to be thwarted by team-mates trigger fingers, here was a man who was due a knock, and who better to be partnering him than the calm collected Capt Jack.

And so it did pass. The duo gradually increased the run rate with both boundaries and running frequently between the wicket. Capt Jack upped the swash-buckle and soon passed his 50. Charlie, not to be outdone by his more youthful skipper appeared to have applied a generous quantity of dubbin prior to his innings, loosening up those leathery joints playing shots with a dexterity and flourish belying his tender years. He reached his 50 to a much deserved applause from the watching Bears. No one deserved a 50 as much as Charlie this season, a stalwart of the club and legendary touring companion who’s always looking to still do well week in week out, and isn’t satisfied till he’s achieved it. It was with the penultimate ball that he finally fell, holing out  on 61 from the bowling of the returned Perry Reeves. But he hobbled off the pitch, hip joints crying out for replacement, to a hero’s welcome – and he almost smiled.

Damo ‘thrombosis’ Cull passed him to see out the last ball with Capt Jack now facing who duly dispatched a quick single to finish unbeaten on 76 n.o., Damo on a well deserved 0 n.o. and the Bears on 223, Wells set a significant but not impossible target to chase.

With individual match teas consumed the Bears took to the field while the visiting Wells set up shop to the edge of an increasingly pulsating PSJ clubhouse. Their opening pair of Adam Holliday and Casper Bridson took to the field with Nathan ‘closing tickets takes wickets’ Warren and Johnny Essex Heywood opening the proceedings. Nathan bowled precisely throughout his spell, bowling through his overs and restricting the opposition openers to a measly 19 runs. At the other end it was a slightly different story. After a tight first over of 6 balls, after the Skipper brought to Johnny’s attention that he hadn’t yet lived up to his name of ‘the Essex Wide-Boy’ the cerebral suggestion got the better of him, duly obliging his skipper with an 11 ball over. Unfortunately this was a theme of the day from all the bowling unit (bar Nathan) with a total of 46 wides and 4 no balls gracing the scorecard. Something to work on for sure. Completing his awful opening spell one thing that didn’t need working on was Johnny Essex’s left foot shot as, reaching his spot at third man after his final ball of his spell, he connected beautifully with a boundary marker sending it over the cricket clubs encompassing hedgerow and onto the Bath Road. It apparently made him feel a tiny bit better.

Thankfully Si ‘Earl of Twirl’ Briffett joined the party and soon started causing problems. First helping break the impressive opening partnership by trapping Bridson LBW for 16, then Connor Doors bowled through the gate for 0. Pingu was on fire  next teaming up with Capt Jack for a contender of catch of the season. The hard hitting Holliday didn’t quite get hold of one smacked to Jack at mid-off, who power drove forwards utilising all of his Swifty approved height, grasping the ball just inches from the turf. A hugely important wicket as Wells had been matching the required run rate there or thereabouts.

With Nathan bowled out it was Damo ‘Thrombosis’ Cull who then entered the attack and the hope was his destructive pace and accuracy could continue the Wells demise. One would have thought Damo’s super-tight below knee lady-tights would increase blood flow and oxygenation to his brain, specifically the cerebellum – the part of the brain most involved in coordinating sequences of movement – but…. no. Quite the opposite in fact as he took a leaf out of Johnny Essex’s book and bowled pretty much anywhere but line and length. It would be soon time for a change from the pavilion End, and what a change it would be.

Meantime Pingu Briffett had worn out his water-boy and subsequently was too dehydrated to continue. Finishing on a superb 8-0-38-3 he passed the baton on to Nathan’s far better half, Dani ‘don’t call me baby’ Dyer. And so began a spell of wonderful extremes. From bowling a foot in front of the crease to loopy mid-paced filth bamboozling those facing. From flicking the bird at her teasing life-partner to punching the air in aggressive recognition of another wicket gone. Dani helped to break the spine of the Wells innings, bowling Dan Vassalli (7), Aled John (2) and Charles Benson (3). But prior to this the extremely dangerous Michael Elderton was caught (11) by some scintillating fielding off Dani’s bowling.

Having spent most of the afternoon fielding as deep in the field as he was in contemplation, Andy ‘Shoveler’ Strange put earlier batting disappointments behind him. As Elderton smashed the ball 408 km skywards, a guaranteed 6 was slightly deflected by the International Space Station’s solar arrays and dropped, terminal velocity, back just inside the boundary ropes. Andy closed his eyes from the glare of the afternoon sun, summoning all his years of yogic tantric control and mindfulness training, collecting the ball in his beak like hands on second attempt…. and Dani and the team went wild (and Andy nearly cracked a smile). Dani’s spell was soon to complete with, unlike her life-partners rather boring 8-1-19-0, league topping figures of 5-0-31-4.

Even before Dani’s destructive spell, Wells had been accelerating through their required runs per over. After Cull and Heywood’s wayward spells more control was needed. Capt Jack had turned to Andy Strange, part-time batsmen and even more part-time bowler, at the Pavilion End. Keen to be remembered for something other than scoring, or not scoring, a duck, the fine catch had stirred something deep inside which he tantrically channelled, expanded, utilising the energy released intermittently, 6 times an over in fact, straight through his bowling arm. Skipper Paul Rowland and Vince Johnson had been scoring freely till Andy worked his magic first removing the dangerous Rowlan, bowled for 22 , then Johnson (31) via the safe hands of Si ‘celebrappeal’ Briffett. Andy didn’t relent keeping things as tight as a Capt Jacks ankle support and finished his spell in the 39th over with fine figures of 7-1-24-2 during which a win for Wells, so often seemingly a possibility, was taken away by his frugal economy.

Wells were 9 down as the final over arrived and Johnny Essex stepped up from the lost boundary flag end. With a chance of multiple wides at any moment it wasn’t beyond reason for a Wells to be awarded many of their required 15 runs, but he held it together, just, and managed to bowl one straight one that surprised Perry Reeves who edged onto his stumps. Wells posted 208 all out and a topsy-turvy game came to a conclusion. Incredibly important maximum points were achieved by the Bears.

Following the game, and having removed a large lump of skin from the sole of his foot in the changing room insisting all should have a look, Capt Jack made sure Wells’ previous hospitality was reciprocated to those who remained. The PSJ social club pavilion had calmed a tad from the rowdy excitement drinking all Saturday afternoon in the sun could bring, lending itself to post-match conversations and bonding between the two teams. Other than consuming Peter ‘The Baking Reverends’ flapjacks (which Andy Strange mentioned hadn’t been made with enough butter, yet still consumed half the tin), the other highlight was Johnny Essex passing on the duck hat to the newly anointed batting failure Andy ‘Shoveler’ Strange. Thanks to a superb fielding and bowling performance it was received with a sly smile.

With changing rooms locked, sun setting over the Ken Willcox Memorial ground the 2 teams had made their way to various post-match venues. Once home we caught up with Captain Jack for his views on the day. We spoke via facetime and during the interview I was pleasantly surprised to see a beautiful young woman strikingly similar to Swifty (could it be?) gently rubbing arnica into his swollen ankle and with featherlight caress apply ointment into the largely blistered sole. Jack expanded on the day ‘We needed this’ he nodded ‘Wells were a serious unit and it could have gone either way. These points put us on the way to a possible promotion, but nothing… ooh… easy love!… your microphone hand is a bit rough…… that’s better…. sorry… where was I.. but nothing can be taken for granted. Our batting is holding its own, but we have to get tighter with the bowling…. oooh that’s good…..though I don’t doubt that the bowling unit can resolve any yips it had this week….. yes… yes… that’s spot on…… anyway, we’ll take the positives and work on the negatives into next week’s game’. Wise words from the skipper.

Post Script

Sadly 35 points became 32 with our usually dependable admin guru Peter Wood having a momentary lapse of concentration usually reserved for a batting spell. Engrossed in thoughts of next week’s baking recipe whilst mentally preparing his next sermon, the Baking Reverend forgot to submit the result to the league. Capt Jack forgave him that, but would he forgive the parking ticket he received when, prior to the England Lions game at Taunton this week, The Rev didn’t use the parking meter correctly resulting in a parking ticket welcoming Jack on his return to the car. To be continued next week!

Next fixture – Sat 16th July Bear Flat 2nd XI away at Uphill Castle CC 3rd XI