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Match Report vs Monkswood 18 June 2014 @ Monkswood (Skipper Kim, report Jesus)

The Casuals arrived at Monkswood on a blistering Sunday in mid-June. The setting was picturesque, the pitch ‘gently’ sloping down to a tree-lined boundary on the far-side, offering welcome shade from the mid-summer sun (more on the shade later). Unfortunately, for this Casual at least, the ground is located behind a pub, the last thing the author of this report wanted to be reminded of following his excesses of the previous night…

The Casuals were greeted by the site of many of the Monkswood players not only braving the heat, but playing football, and worst of all, topless!!! Of most concern to the Casuals was the fact that almost all of the Monkswood players managed to pull of the topless look with minimal embarrassment (a feat the Casuals would almost definitely struggle to match) – was the svelte, athletic appearance of the Monkswood team an indication of the quality of their cricketing abilities? On learning that they had a number of first team players in the side, we began to suspect that it was…

Kim, captaining the side, strode to the middle with all hopes of winning the toss and sparing the Casuals from a sapping afternoon in the field... Goffy opened the bowling from the pavilion end with Winky bowling from the other. The fears of the Casuals were confirmed when Monkswood’s openers (weighing barely 15stone between them) began immediately laying into the Casuals bowling. Both batted with class and increasing confidence, dispatching the Casuals bowling to all parts of the ground. The score was racing along at ten and over with neither batsmen looking likely to give his wicket away. With the score at 84 after 8 overs Captain Kim produced his second tactical masterstroke of the day. An audacious bowling change saw Steve-O replace Goffy at the pavilion end.

The Casuals wanted a wicket, needed a wicket and, with Steve-O bowling, expected the run rate to jump to fifteen an over. Always one to defy expectations, Steve-O came up with the goods, producing a delivery that, in bowlers terms, ‘got big’ on the batsmen, cramping him and catching the glove before nestling in the grateful gloves of Ash, who had moved smartly down the leg side to take the catch. Steve-O, however, didn’t seem to realise he had done any of this as only Ash and the author (fielding at midwicket) appealed, Jesus with particular and prolonged gusto, ready to turn and complain to umpire who had not signalled anything, only to realise that the batsmen had walked – obviously last night’s beer had yet to fully leave the system – 95-1 after 9 overs.

For those readers interested, Kim’s first tactical masterstroke of the day was handing the gloves to Ash and letting the author field at midwicket on the tree-lined side. Due to the high run rate, and much to his relief, Jesus was soon deployed along the shaded boundary, where last night’s beer was less insistent on interrupting the day’s cricket…

Steve-O’s breakthrough was quickly followed by another piece of good fortune for the Casuals. The other opener, after reaching fifty, decided that he’d had enough of slogging the Casuals bowling around the park and retired – there was some confusion as to whether he could return to the crease at a later stage if required, but as he departed with the score above 100 after 10 overs, he could feel confident that this wouldn’t be necessary…

With the two openers removed (one way or another) a more even sided game of cricket began to emerge and it wasn’t long before the Casuals were ripping into the now exposed Monkswood middle order. Pablo, replacing Winky from the far end, claimed the scalps of the Monkswood 3 and 4 for 2 and 1 respectively, in back to back wicket maidens. The number 3 guided a full toss expertly into the hands of Tesh at midwicket whilst the number four was (according to the book) caught by Pete Obee in a moment that escaped my attention completely (hangover + shade = dosey Jesus). Steve-O continued from the pavilion end and he soon claimed his second wicket of the day.

Captain Kim, smelling blood, had brought the field in in an attempt to induce the Monkswood lower middle order to hit over the top. Extricating Jesus from the shade and installing him at short mid-wicket did the trick, with the Monkswood number 5 slapping a flat pull shot for what he must have imagined was his fifth boundary only for Jesus to intercept, leaping majestically a full three inches above the turf and clasping the ball high above his head (at least that’s how I imagined it)...Monkswood 122-4 in the 15th with The Casz creeping back into the game.

Wickets continued to fall at a steady rate with the run rate significantly slowed. Pete Obee replaced Steve-O at the pavilion end and produced a wicket-maiden first up, removing the Monskwood no. 6 for 12, caught Kimbo. He followed this up with another maiden, and with the first ball of his third over took the wicket of the Monkswood no. 7 bowled for 1, to (briefly) show figures of 2.1-2-0-2. Pablo, bowling his 8 on the spin, kept it tight at the other end (and discounting his first two overs bowled at the good batsmen which went for 19) returned figures of 6-2-21-2. With Pablo bowled out at the end of the 22nd, Monkswood found themselves 149-6 with the Casuals firmly back in the game, in need of just three wickets to reduce Monkswood to an improbably low total given the start they had made.

In search of these last 3 wickets, Captain Kim turned to an unlikely choice of strike bowler – Jesus. Replacing Pablo at the far end, and with his praises being sung to the rafters by those gathered there that day (mostly Goffy on the 45), Jesus immediately repaid his Captains faith in him by claiming a wicket with his fourth ball. Resurrecting new life from a dead pitch, He induced the Monkswood no. 8 batsmen to loft a ball heavenward, and before it had a chance to fall upon the stony ground he had clutched it to his bosom, lo, and there was much rejoicing. Amen….

A run out three overs later (not sure who got it as it doesn’t say in the book – I think it was Winky) reduced Monkswood to 168-8 (effectively 168-9 after Captain Kim declared in no uncertain terms that the retired batsmen could not return to the crease as no-one had consulted Kim about it when he retired) at the end of the 27th. Needing just one wicket to finish Monkswood off Kim continued with Jesus from the far end but he was unable to produce any further miracles, finishing with figures of 5-0-1-15. He was then replaced by Steve-O, but he was similarly out of luck. The Casuals threw everything at the partnership of 10 and 11 but both batsmen batted well, defending staunchly and punishing the occasionally errant bowling. Goffy returned from the pavilion end but couldn’t find a breakthrough, though he did recover his figures nicely with his second spell of 4 overs going for only 11 after his first 4 went for 39. The last pair batted out the overs, putting on over 70 in the process to take Monkswood to 239-9, nothing less than they would have expected given their quick start, but slightly more than the Casuals had hoped for given Monkswood’s middle-order collapse.

G Day 8 – 0 – 50 – 0
A Hood 3 – 0 – 32 – 0
P Stephens 8 – 2 – 41 – 2
S Riley 8 – 0 – 61 – 2
P Obee 8 – 2 – 31 – 2
W Mason-Wilkes 5 – 0 – 15 – 1

Tea was an indifferent affair, good quality bread rolls but a lack of variety in the filling (some muttered complaints about corned beef). There wasn’t a huge amount of it either – a possible explanation for the build of the Monkswood players. A couple of Casuals were also deeply offended by the presence of a fruit bowl on the tea table, though some Casuals did enjoy a piece – probably won’t be featuring in the end of seasons awards. One bright spot for a number of Casuals was Cheese’s cool bag of glass bottled diet coke, which caused much hilarity later in the innings…

The Casuals opened up with Tesh and Cheese, looking to get off to what was fast becoming a trademark quick start. The Monkswood bowlers looked like they might have a bit about them, pacing out genuine run ups and genuinely running in to bowl. Tesh and Cheese were up to the task however, hitting frequent boundaries and running the ones and two’s hard. Tesh played a number of elegant drives, one particularly attractive one through mid-off up towards the club house, with Cheese at the other end latching on to anything dropped short (sorry) by the opening ‘quicks’ and punishing it appropriately – his second scoring shot a 6 which I think was pulled over into the trees. The pair brought up the 50 partnership in the 8th over laying the perfect foundation for a famous Casuals run chase…

The Monkswood skipper, having had enough of watching Tesh and Cheese dine out on his opening bowlers, decided to shake things up. The first change bought the desired effect, the new bowler from the far end removing Tesh caught for a stylish 31, 56-1 after 10. Shakes, up the order at 3, advanced to the middle…he was soon returning, bowled for 0 off 1 by the new bowler at the pavilion end. This brought Jesus to wicket, still not yet recovered from his formidable hangover – evidenced by the fact that it took him 12 balls to play a scoring shot. Monkswood continued bowling with quality and good pace, and it was a ball of that kind that took the next wicket – Cheese playing forward to a full, swinging delivery that left him just enough to find the edge and the keeper’s gloves, caught behind for 21. 71-3 after 16, with the Casual’s chase faltering. Captain Kim came to the wicket next and set about building a partnership with the ailing Jesus. The run rate remained at a steady 6 an over for the next 10, with Kim looking comfortable picking off the bad ball down to the short boundary and Jesus gradually sweating out the last of the beer, his vision clearing to the extent that he began to be able to see the ball and even occasionally hit it to the rope. Confidence began to rise in the middle, with both batsmen beginning to play their natural game and the runs continuing to flow.

Obviously feeling the effect of this rising confidence (or possibly the last evil hurrah of the beer) Jesus’s recently regained concentration flagged and he was caught on the crease playing (and missing) across the line to a straight one, leaving Tesh no option but to give him out LBW for 27. Ash replaced Jesus but quickly followed him back to the pavilion, bowled for 0. 130-5 after 25. Out strode Winky, ready to steady the ship and bat for his Captain, a role he accomplished ably until his captain forgot to bat for himself, holing out at mid-wicket off a wide full toss for 45, the kind of ball that everyone expected Kim to deposit deep into the trees. This was of particular annoyance to Steve-O (and great entertainment to everyone else) who, having achieved victory in an epic struggle with the lid of one of Cheese’s diet cokes and a pair of pliers, was unable to take that first cool refreshing sip as he was summoned to the middle to bat.

At this point we were 162-6 after 31 with hopes fading fast, requiring 78 from the last 9 overs and running out of recognised batsmen... Steve-O briefly kept the Casuals hopes alive with a couple of lusty (thirsty) blows, all set to take the Casuals run chase down to the wire before he was cruelly run out for 12 with a direct hit, 170-8. Pablo joined Winky in the middle, and both batsmen continued to plug away but the game was slipping away from the Casuals and when Andy was bowled for a determined 20, the fat lady could be heard gargling in her dressing room. In came Goffy to join Pablo, who was out next for 10, bringing Pete Obee in at number 11. The 8th Monkswood bowler took just 2 balls to finish the game, Goffy taking him for 2 off his first ball before being bowled by his second. The Casuals all out for 192, with Pete Obee the man not out on 0, losing by 47 runs.

Hirani, ct, bwl James – 31
Stewart, ct behind, bwl Molsen – 21
M Stephens, bowled, Simons – 0
W Mason-Wilkes, LBW, Brooks – 27
K Swain, ct, bwl Molsen – 45
A Akbari, bowled, Brooks – 0
A Hood, bowled, Simons – 20
S O’Reilly, run out – 12
P Stephens, ct, bwl Cavalli – 10
G Day, bowled, Kilminster – 2
P Obee, not out – 0

A decent effort from the Casuals who may have gotten a bit closer if one of the top 4 or 5 could have turned their start into a big score. Post-game beers were enjoyed by some of the Casuals while Jesus slunk off to nurse the remnants of his hangover…



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