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Match Report vs Hedge End JAMS 3 September 2011@ Hedge End, Hampshire - Tour (Skipper Muff, report Shakey)

Skipper Muff had a dilemma on his hands come Saturday morning of tour – all 14 Casuals reported themselves fit for selection! The words ‘fit’ and ‘Casuals’ are seldom aligned so how true could that be? After an honourable draw with the locals at golf no backs were put out, Richie failed to kill or maim with his dubious buggy-driving skills and the night in Winchester…… but what goes on tour stays on tour.

It’s true that ‘Emma’ (for that’s the name we will give the mad blonde lady called Emma with the staggering physique who danced with anybody and everybody in O’Neill’s - including the local tramp) had been a distraction for some, that vocal chords were stretched by ‘Brown Sugar’, that we were lucky England’s footie opponents hadn’t scored which may have prompted some strangled and unacceptable cheers from the Welsh minority in a busy Winchester bar, and the homage at the local kebab shop had tested our ability to withstand food poisoning (what was that fish stuff all about?). But everyone was back in the hotel by 3.30. So fit we were.

After the now customary draw we found ourselves without our leading wicket-taker this year (Paul), a hard-hitting opening batsman (Tesh) and someone who just can’t catch (sorry Dan ) how would we cope?

Hedge End Jams looked a young team with a couple of experienced players and they bowled first on a green pitch. Our own Jam and Cheese looked to give us a steady start against some erratic bowling which was actually getting some considerable bounce, seam and swing. Jam was the first to fall for 13 in the 9th over with the score on 30 – not his most fluent innings but the onset of gout can do that to anyone!

Kim entered the fray [with Tour virgin vest] and the Casuals score continued to mount, slowly but surely. At the end of the 19th over we were 72-1. What happened next will keep changing in the telling but suffice to say that it could have been a bad call, someone may not have heard, there could have been a slip, perhaps it could have been the kebab. But Ed was inexplicably run out after a determined and precious knock of 34 with just four boundaries – scoring was that challenging. Richie followed soon after but Lovers [in very fetching pink Tour vigin outfit - looking far too comfortable wearing it...] and Ash hung around awhile as Kim continued to accumulate his runs.

Kim’s dismissal for 47 in the 32nd over (138-5) came as a bit of a shock as the fifty seemed on so the pressure mounted on the lower middle order. Yes the pitch was doing a bit but the outfield was like lightning and if someone could get in a big score was possible – we needed more runs. Ash and Winkie kept moving us forward but with two overs left we were on 164-8 with Ash, Goff and Muff all back in the hutch.

After 12 more balls the Casuals innings ended on 184-8, Shakes contributing a ‘vital’ 0* and running everything as hard as he could, but with Winkie rightly stealing all the plaudits for a terrific little knock at the end of the innings. His 28* featured four boundaries and in hindsight his stay at the wicket was the most fluent of the day.

The Casuals had set a reasonable target, helped by 34 extras, and rather enjoyed the delicious cakes on offer at Tea. Could any of the youngsters get their head down and have a bat?

After 3.3 overs everything seemed fine for the batting team against the respectable bowling of Lovers and Muff. Hedge End had moved to 18-0 and young Spiers had just played a lovely shot for four off Muff through midwicket. Next ball he played exactly the same exquisite looking shot, but to a very different ball. In disbelief he turned around to see the bails on the floor and his off stump pegged back a fraction thanks to Muff’s fuller, wider and even slower ball. (This shouldn’t be confused with Muff’s deathly slow ball that hovers seemingly motionless in mid-air, in open defiance of modern physics – it’s due for testing at CERN when they’ve sorted out how new trainers can go at the speed of light).

The Hedge End batting order then took it upon itself to implode with some decidedly ill-judged and careless cricket. Lovers claimed a wicket, Muff another, Cheese pulled off an excellent run out with a quick chase and bullet-like accurate throw from square leg, and then he got another one who took his arm on! The youngsters weren’t learning.

The older players arrived and tried to defend although half their team were now gone for 45. Goff, DT and Shakes toiled away respectably and it seemed that a long afternoon lay ahead with the result in little doubt. Then just before drinks Shakes made a breakthrough, bowling their top scorer for 16 and their captain first ball to set up the hat-trick ball. It wasn’t to be but the Casuals were now firmly on top and a drink and leftover cakes were well received. Lovers came back on and induced the batsman to miscue a pull towards mid-off. There was a cry of catch it!

It has to be said that over many years Shakes has consumed vast quantities of food on the field of play to no ill effect on the outcome of the game. Be it a twix, sausage roll, penguin, doughnut, kit kat, sarnie or even a choc ice at Caerleon - nothing has distracted his attention while in the field. But where do you put a half-eaten white chocolate fairy cake? It surely must go on the grass in front of you at mid-off!

So, as the ball sailed into the air, rather than running full pelt Shakes lloked down to check where his cake was, moved round it with care, and finished just a little short of where the ball came safely to earth. Shakes calmly ate his cake and posed the ultimate philosophical conundrum for any true Casual “cake or cricket ball – you decide?”

Lovers deservedly picked up his wicket a few balls later and another after that to finish with 3-19. Winkie bowled with no luck and the innings ended fittingly with Cheese running yet another Hedge End Jam out as they subsided for 64. After a quick shower it was back to Winchester for a well deserved curry.


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