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Match Report vs Cavaliers 11 June 2023 @ Pontcanna (Skipper Jim, report Steveo)

"When something is festering in your memory or your imagination, laws of silence don't work, it's just like shutting a door and locking it on a house on fire in hope of forgetting the house is burning. But not facing a fire doesn't put it out. Silence about a thing just magnifies it. It grows and festers in silence, becomes malignant...”
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Match reports are an inaccurate science, and rely partly on fallible recall, invention and cold ( or hot?) statistics. In truth, you simply had to be there, but, for those who were not, and for the record, let us retrace our steps.

"And so tonight we're going to make the lie true, and when that's done, I'll bring the liquor back here and we'll get drunk together, here, tonight, in this place …”
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

It was hot on the savannah that is pontcanna fields; Steamy hot, with the sun hidden by a blanket of cloud and the heat of that sun trapped between the scorched earth and those oppressive woven skies.

Your Author approached the arena of sporting endeavour to find two bands of men, one fit, ready and preparing for battle. The other, less fit, preparing for sitting comfortably out of the heat and already contemplating tea. Two magnificent structures were almost in place, the Gazebos shading a range of folding chairs and tables which told a tale of how seriously these boys took their comfort.

Arriving quietly, as is my way, on my sturdy 2 wheeled steed, almost unnoticed, I began to prepare myself. I briefly mentioned to a fellow casual nearby that the game was advertised as a 1:30 start, so I was early (at 1:20) and how peculiar that the oppo had been there for nearly an hour already. I'm not sure he, or anyone, heard me as I mumbled my observation, so I simply focussed again on cricketing matters.

"We mustn't scream at each other, the walls in this house have ears...”
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Our Skipper’s usual military organisation seemed already somewhat absent in the bewildering chaos of activity, and so it became apparent that junior Skip was ‘in charge’

"Big Daddy: What makes you so restless, have you got ants in your britches?
Brick: Yes, sir...
Big Daddy: Why?
Brick: - Something - Hasn't - Happened...
Big Daddy: Yeah? What is that?"
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

After some time the toss was finally made, out in the oppressive tumble weed dry gulch of a wicket, where once green life had been, but now was only dust. The Cavaliers were the victors here (it appears), and chose to field, perhaps aware that a storm was brooding.

And so we settled in to our chairs. Our opening batters preparations were as slow as the movement of the clouds across the sky, the foreboding heat perhaps already draining their vigour. Brick finally clambered into his armoured suit of polyester, foam, metal and plastic and at last, a little past 1:30, the game was about to commence. HERE WE GO!

"- Well, they say nature hates a vacuum.
- That's what they say, but sometimes I think that a vacuum is a hell of a lot better than some of the stuff that nature replaces it with.”
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

junior Skip / little skip ( medium skip? ed) chose to wear the mantle of responsibility ( on top of all his kit) and took the number one slot. Alex the other end. Clearly the conditions favoured the bowlers, as our excellent pair could barely get willow to meet leather, and over after over passed with nary a run to be had. Maidens made an appearance (the unwelcome type) and in the fifth the paltry 3 runs scored created pressure, leading to Junior skip to lash out wildly at a wide (*citation needed) and offering up his wicket to a caught behind for 1 off Deeppan / Dear Dan/ Deardan ( book penmanship not always clear- ed).
3 for 1 off 5

More entertainingly we welcomed the arrival of Winky and Mrs Winky ( sorry, Dr Mrs Winky), come to pass an hour idly with the old gang. Lovely to see Andrew and Kerenza, catch up and ignore the ‘cricket’. The overqualified household ( Winky also collected academic qualifications before ‘seeing the light’ and taking up self-employment as a candle and soap entrepreneur) are soon to sell up in Cardiff and make mid-wales their permanent home, so this was a rare visit. Don’t be strangers both – and Winks, always welcome back if you fancy a game!

Back to the sultry heat of the park as Big Daddy now joined less big Alex at the crease. Surely now the shackles would be thrown off, as the ball had hit the dirt for a few overs… or maybe not. Their range of bowlers, from the diminutive to the heavy set, managed to use the brutal dry wicket to affect a variety of responses, from the pea shooter to the nose twitcher. No-one seemed to know what the next bounce would be, least of all the batters facing. So it was, that dot after dot came and went, with the odd single and occasional 4.

By the twelfth over we had scratched our way to 41 before valiant Alex went the way of his predecessor and was caught behind off Duffy for a hard earned 17.
41 for 2 off 12.

The next five overs saw runs as Batter No 3, Ninja Cheese, started with a 4 and hoped to show the way. Weapons of Mass Wilkes (WMW) did his best to concentrate and not keep one eye out for the tea arrival, with some 4’s and singles occasionally coming. Sadly, Ed succumbed to a Caught & Bowled, spooning it up to Hilleard. Partnership of 18, Ed with a total of 7. Ed had promised that all of the top 4 could contribute, a claim that was looking about as accurate as the weather forecast, as the storm was still yet to break,
56 for 3 off 17

Yours truly next, and having watched a few wide-ish ones pass the blue line ( not given) he decided to have a go; 4,1,4 , things were ticking along ( Ed was later kind enough to suggest the single was a ‘your best shot’).

"I envy you--you cool son of a bitch.”
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

WMW posited that we just needed to stick in, and so inevitably O’Reilly immediatly got out. Having adjusted his feet towards middle stump after a series of deliberate wide of off-stump balls were bowled, the bowler chucked a low one at said middle, which bounced all of 7 millimetres ‘high’ and Steve’o was undone by the straight one; bowled Hilleard for 9, partnership of 13.
67 for 4 off 19

“- You know what I like to hear the most?
- What?
- Solid quiet. Perfect unbroken quiet.”
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Now. We all know that O’Reilly is an exuberant fellow and he is well loved for this trait. Having struck the middle of the bat a couple of times he was, understandably, dejected to be so cheaply out, and decided without malice-aforethought to pluck out the middle stump, askew as it now was, and spear it pointy end back into the ground again in mild self-flagellation. The ground being mainly igneous rock, it didn’t penetrate but rather ricocheted, and off he jolly well toddled. Behind him could be heard some bleating intonation along the lines of ‘you’ve broken our stump’ to which he retorted – “I don’t think so, the bowler shouldn’t have hit it so hard with the ball”

It later transpired that ‘a stump’ had ‘a crack’ in the blunt end; not the same stump O’Reilly had traduced, and not the pointy end which had struck rock. An enquiry will be held of course, a senior figure is being selected to lead (Foxy?), the findings will be reported in 2024/25 at the earliest, and if found against, a stump will be sent to the Cav’s in recompense. Case adjourned.

Meanwhile, we had to somehow double the score at least.
Dave ‘2nd flush’ White strode manfully out to middle. He had only just been stopped from going out to umpire, distracted somewhat by the appearance of his latest wife, and dog, and one of his many children. They left him to it even though he promised he ‘wouldn’t be long’.

Surely now ‘Weapons’ would open up and start swishing? A much-needed drinks break refreshed him, but the visit to the gazebo merely reminded him again of the impending tea and his concentration was ruined. A wild charge down the wicket, a swipe and a miss and the wicky took the bails off McAvoy’s bowling. WMW stumped for 31, inc. 5x 4’s.

“Oh, you weak, beautiful people who give up with such grace."
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

At end of the over we were 79 for 5 off 21

Patrick up next and ably supported Dave in what turned out to be a good partnership ( tho’ Pat got only 1 of the next 20 runs). Pat caught in the deep off McAvoy for 1.
96 for 6 off 27.

Goffy came and went but looked briefly like he knew what he was doing. Various opinions about him not being ‘nearly as bad as he thinks he is’ and ‘it’s all in his head’ were to be heard in the shady sleepy warmth of the gazebo lounge. He scored a couple of 4’s before knocking one up for an easy catch in the standard manner; caught off Burnell for 13, but in a partnership of 26.
123 f0r 7 off 34

El Pablo knew he had little time to make an impact and after facing a few dots tried to stylishly twat a couple, but failed. Paul bowled off Rao for nought.
124 for 8 off 35

But don’t worry, with 6 overs left and the unsung hero Dave White holding up his end valiantly, we had young Liam to bat next. Surely these final half dozen would bring riches!

Sadly, ‘legs-akimbo Liam’ couldn’t hit a barn door and Dave white was running out of oxygen. Despite- or due to – his energetic family commitments, he was a spent force. After facing nearly 60 deliveries and with little meaningful support he finally swished once too often and was bowled for a splendid 27 (inc three 4’s) by Roa in the 39th.
137 for 9 off 39

Dave W had done a great job of holding up his end, although as a result he never quite looked right for the rest of the day. So it was all over, bar the fun of seeing Dave T Score 1 and not out! Liam also not out on 3.

Total 140 off 40
J Hodkinson ct wk 1
A Heath ct Wk 17
W M Wilkes stumped 31
E Stewart Ct & Bwld 7
S O’Reilly Bwld 9
D White bwld 27
P Dean ct 1
G Day ct 13
P Stephens Bwld 0
L Warren N/O 3
D Thomas N/O 1

And so to TEA! A separate report will be required here, but suffice to say that Mrs Rob made a damn good effort and all were pleased, despite lack of actual ‘liquid tea’. Clearly Rob is punching up, as Mrs Rob made a very good all-round impression and would be a very welcome return visitor. With or without Mr Rob.
But congrats are indeed due to the latter as the self-sacrifice of marking the entire game, provision of gazebo and tasty hot stuff for the interval were all greatly appreciated by the players.

The interval provided for a scene of two halves; the haves and the have nots. The indolent casuals under their gazebos, in their luxury folding chairs, filling their faces on all manner of Mrs Rob’s home-made delicacies ( not to forget DW’s Asian delights) as the rain began to finally descend. The opposition were, in contrast, huddled beneath the trees, munching on the contents of various tupperwares and shop bought sandwiches. One wonders if such Casual luxury was wise; the green eyed look of the cavaliers may have given them an edge, just as the lemon drizzle smeared stickiness of the casuals may have blunted theirs.

The rain was easing but no doubt had some impact on the wicket, softening it slightly, just as the ball also softened in the wet grass, often times due to Wills inability to throw it five yards to the hands of any player, particularly Pat who took a while to get used to the errant throwing.

“I’m not good. I don’t know why people have to pretend to be good, nobody’s good.”
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

And so it began. Goff to start, followed by Dave White ( or Dave Puce, as he was increasingly looking) and second change Liam. All three managed to open with a Maiden, as the oppo eyed up the pitch. DT, Ed and Pablo also bowled a maiden each later on, so good efforts made all round.
The rain had pushed things in the batters favour and they did start to make inroads.
But the breakthrough came in over 5 as Mr G Day took the opener Roy for a measly single.
Our joy turned to delirium when in the same over Goff took his second wicket! Bat No 3, Lawton-Taylor, facing only his second ball went for a duck.
Cavs 11 for 2 off 5 overs.

What wonders were these?! And Day was not yet done, as Batter No 4, Deardon, fell during a wicket maiden in Goff’s fifth over, having struck a couple of fours and a single.
Cavs 26 for 3 off 9 overs.

( nearly forgot to mention this was a result of a frankly fantastic instinctive catch, moving to the right, both hands to the ball in classic fashion, taken by our leading catch taker, who was roundly congratulated by all, despite his modest protestations that it was nothing really …. Ed’s incredulity was duly noted )

Now: at this stage our military disciplinarian might have pushed the heel down, but medium skipper decided to take off the demon-bowler-Day and ‘save him for later’. Plenty of good bowling to come of course, and Liam was unlucky not to get anything for his good line and length, including one that took off and passed both the Wicky and ‘supposed’ slip WMW; neither of whom quite managed to shake off the torpor of the huge tea and cover themselves in glory (This may have been the ball that hit the helmet for a five, it was all too hideous to watch!)

Unlike Liam, Dave T was very lucky, and after the usual utterly rank first ball, his second ball got the No. 5 caught well by the dependable Alex Heath. Burnell scored only 5. At the end of the 12th over Cavs were 40 for 4 of 12

So far so good. If we could keep this up we were in with a good chance… if we could just stay on it ….

“What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?—I wish I knew... Just staying on it, I guess, as long as she can...”
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

And maybe this was the problem. We were hot, tired, full of tea, lacking some killer instinct, or luck if you will. Pat ‘the Destroyer’ stepped up but the pressure of his recent glorious midweek bowling attack, and our resultant expectations, may have affected him, as he was left somewhat short of the length required. Pat got no help from the thirsty pitch and his three went for 25, when Jim finally hoiked him off. Paul in contrast was miserly at the other end, going for only 8 off his five, ending strongly on a maiden.

But the problem was that Duffy and Smith, 2 and 6, batted very sensibly; cautious when required, taking the dots, running very well when able, punishing the bad balls. Not many chances, any that lobbed up tended to fall into the gaps. Yes it was noticed that Will wasn’t quite his usual sharp self, especially after taking on board extra sandwiches at drinks. Yes, the odd ball was kicked over the boundary. Yes, a few fielders had to be shouted at loudly to alert them that the ball was near them, Dave, DAVE. Yes, Dave White, the stalwart of the batting pre-tea, looked like he would pass out any moment. Maybe a storm would have been a deliverance. But it never came.

“How long does it have to go on? This punishment? Haven't I done time enough, haven't I served my term? can't I apply for a pardon?”
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

It was a relief to see Ed take the leather and Goff return to finish his eight, but by now the ball and wicket were softer, the runs were coming, and there were plenty of wickets and overs to play with. Ed bowled well going for 14 off his 4 overs, including a maiden and a wicket, finally getting Duffy ( No. 2 bat) in the 32nd over, on 44, with a partnership of 86.

The damage was done. Incoming Rao scored a quick 13 (no singles) including clunking a 2 and a 4 of Alex’s hapless 3 balls, and with smith on 44 not out it was all done with 6 overs and batters to spare.

O – M – R-W
8 – 2 -19 – 3 G DAY
5 - 1 – 24 -0 D WHITE
4 – 1 – 13 – 0 L WARREN
5 – 1 – 19 – 1 D THOMAS
5 – 1 – 8 – 0 P. STEPHENS
3 – 0 – 25–0 P. DEAN
4 – 1 – 14 –1 E STEWART
.3 –0 – 6 – 0 A. HEATH

“Of course you always had that detached quality as if you were playing a game without much concern over whether you won or lost, and now that you've lost the game, not lost but just quit playing, you have that rare sort of charm that usually only happens in very old or hopelessly sick people, the charm of the defeated.”
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

As is often the case, we were a merry enough bunch as we slowly packed away. The Cavs headed off to the halfway garden, as did we to the lounge, slightly slower due to the enormity of the caravan the itinerant players had to dismantle.

“A drinking man's someone who wants to forget he isn't still young and believing”
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

In the pub we wittered on, Goff eating a turd of a ‘sausage’ drowning in ‘gravy’, Pat buying Steveo a pint so expensive he had to have the same in return even though he didn’t want it in order to get over the shock of the price ( £6+)! Golfers drivelled on about the golf. The rest of us drivelled on about tour hotels. It was quite loud, hot, and echoey, and nothing of note was recorded.

“Why is it so damn hard for people to talk?”
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

The end.



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