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Match Report vs Penarth 20th August 2023 @ Penarth (Skipper Luvvers, report Jesus)

Penarth Cricket Club in warm late-August sunshine was the setting for one of the final Sunday friendlies of what has been an extremely successful Casuals season – cup-runners up, fourth in the league and 18 wins for the season – could the Casuals make it 19?

The long, hard season had taken its toll on the Casuals’, with various aches, pains, knocks and niggles – some of them even cricket related – depleting the ranks, with overnight only 8 Casuals on the team sheet. Thankfully Rob has a wellspring of cricketing talent to draw from, otherwise known as Cardiff Cricket Club, so in stepped twin brothers Moeen and Saqlain and dad Riaz to make up the numbers, in the case of Moeen and Saqlain significantly reducing the Casuals’ average age/weight/girth – though Riaz was more Casual in appearance…

Skipper Luvvers lost the toss and we were having a bowl on what looked a very decent wicket, with the slope at one end on the approach making it look like it could be a hard day for half the bowlers at least. Dan opened up the hill, with Moeen coming down the hill at the other end. Dan, after a beamerish loosener was as accurate as ever (NB: an early LBW shout was turned down, and over post-match pints in the Merry Harrier Dan was at great pains to explain that after the game their captain had apologised to him for not giving it – I put this in assuming that Dan would have added it himself if I hadn’t). Moeen from the other end however looked a class above the rest of us, lovely and smooth into the crease and bowling accurate and probing away swing at a good clip. He made the first breakthrough in his first over, enticing a drive which swung away from the opener, who could only spoon it to Rob at backward point. He could have had another very next ball, a carbon copy of the first wicket apart from the fact that Rob dropped the catch (it did go a bit harder than the first one to be fair).

Moeen and Dan rattled through to 10 overs, giving nothing away, with Moeen looking dangerous throughout. Dan created the next chance, the number 3 cutting to Will at slip, but he couldn’t hold on to a low one that burst through his hands (tut tut tut). Saqlain replaced Moeen, and Pabs came on for Dan, but this did little to ease the pressure on Penarth. Saqlain, with a slightly higher action but similarly prodigious swing – though this time in, to the right-hander – picked up a wicket, inducing the big number 3 into a drive that did enough to catch the inside edge before cannoning on to the stumps. Pabs saw off the other opener not long later, who after being thoroughly bamboozled by Saqlain’s swingers was rattled enough to think Pabs was actually bowling leg spin – either way, a big hoik across the line hit him straight in front and he was given his marching orders.

At drinks, which were reached after just and hour and five minutes of play, Penarth were 40-something for 3, and unfortunately things didn’t get much better for them from there. Tim replaced Saqlain, and after a watchful first over the youthful number 4 could restrain himself no longer, swatting a Bluff long-hop over cover – or at least almost over cover, as the well-stationed Will managed to heave himself off the turf to take a one-hander high above his head. The batsmen looked suitably shocked at the agility on display – though it may have been the shockwave caused on landing that had shaken him up. Cheese replaced Pabs at the other end, with quick, dipping spin, and he was soon in the wickets, again Will in the action, this time at slip taking a sharp one to his right to remove the number 6 (sorry Steve-O!!). The number 5 showed some resistance, but wickets kept falling at the other end. After a couple of big swipes, Tim picked up the left-handed number 7, LBW to a triggering Billy the Kid would be proud of (Pabs comment ‘The umpires finger was already on the way down before I had a chance to look up’).

Cheese then got the number 8, bowled (the book and I disagree on these two wickets, giving Tim the bowled and Cheese the LBW, but I’m pretty sure I’m right). Some kamikaze running led to the demise of the number 9, wanged in by Rob with Luvvers energetically removing the bails, stumps and a small chunk of the Penarth turf in completing the run out. Will and Bryn were bowling at this point, with Will finally seeing off the number 5, stumped, again by the agile Luvvers (sorry Jim, I think your days behind the sticks are numbered) before Brynn competed the job a couple of overs later, bowling the number 10. This meant that Penarth were all out for about 80 in the 31st or 32nd over. Sensibly, Luvvers offered the opportunity for them to bat the overs, which their skipper, batting at 11, sensibly accepted. The number 7 came back in, but his luck didn’t change much, Bryn bowling him with some legside trash that clipped his heel and deflected on the stumps. Some lusty blows from the Skipper took Penarth past 100, before the returning Pabs, bowling his 8th and the innings 40th, picked up the returning number 6, looping a catch to Tim at mid-wicket. Penarth finishing on 117-12 from 39.3 (good luck with that Shakey!)

Casuals Bowling
D. Lewis 6-1-12-0
Moeen 5-2-11-1
Saqlain 5-0-18-1
P. Stephens 7.3-2-18-2
T. Bluff 6-0-27-2
E. Stuart 3-0-8-2
B. Wilkes 4-1-7-2
W. Mason-Wilkes 3-0-16-1

1 run out & 1 catch R. Owens, 2 catches W. Mason-Wilkes, 1 Catch T. Bluff, 1 stumping G. Loveridge

BYOT – I had a massive donut that Cheese was clearly very jealous of ??

Bryn and Riaz opened the batting. Not long into the innings the game was briefly interrupted by a very friendly Labrador entering the field of play and doing a great big turd on around square leg. Perhaps this was the latest development in Just Stop Oil’s protest tactics? Or maybe it was merely a comment on the cricket, which admittedly hadn’t been exactly vintage to that point, in any case, and after the now relieved doggo’s rather embarrassed elderly owner had removed the offending article, it was back to the cricket – would this intervention set the tone for rest of the innings? Let’s find out!

Well, in contrast to the furry interloper, the start of Brynn’s innings consisted of a series of “separate hard lumps” – or dot balls – 16 in all, which consulting the Bristol Stool Chart ... opped).png suggests he may be in need of a bit more fibre. Riaz at the other end was much more free flowing – and I didn’t notice any ‘ragged’ or indeed ‘clear-cut edges’, so clearly Brynn could have done with a bit of whatever Riaz had had for tea. On further viewing, Riaz’s “(s)hit out or get out” approach, was coupled with some very unhurried running, which really did show him up as a true Casual in disguise. Brynn eventually got under way (deep breaths, relax, don’t force it or you’ll do yourself a mischief) and after 10 the Casuals were a t(h)urd of the way there at 39-1. The 10th had seen the dismissal of Riaz, LBW for 17 – a decision that left a couple of Cazh, Riaz included, scratching their heads, but hey, shit happens…(ED - confirmed by umpire Tim as a definate lbw - no bat involved)

Will was next in, and after a watchful start soon got things going with a couple of boundaries. Bryn and Will kept the score ticking along, putting away the occasional bad balls and taking very few risks. At drinks the Cazh were 79-1, needing 39 and coasting towards victory. Bryn and Will upped the rate as Penarth varied their bowlers, and with less than 15 required the game became could we get Brynn, edging into the 40s at the time, to his 50? Will rotated the strike and Bryn hit a lovely lofted off-drive to take him to 46, and the score to 114, 4 required to win and to take Bryn to his maiden Casuals half-century. Alas, it was not to be as next ball he tried to go over extra-cover, but could only find the fielder who took the catch. This brought Cheese to the wicket, who after his long drive up from Somerset, and 3 overs of bowling, was no doubt ecstatic to wander out with just 4 required. He looked less than ecstatic a ball later, top edging a wide one to backward point for a golden duck (thanks for coming, Cheese). Saqlain joined Will and survived the hat-trick ball, and all that remained was for Will to mercilessly farm the strike, walk a couple of singles and fail to hit a boundary to win the game in the next over. The winning runs did finally come in the one after that, Casuals 118-3 from 27.1.

A very comfortable win, but a game played in good spirit, and made even more enjoyable by the inclusion of some talented young cricketers in a Casuals side – though I may change my tune next weekend when they turn out for Cardiff against us…

Casuals Batting
B. Wilkes, caught, 46 (63)
Riaz, LBW, 17 (26)
W. Mason-Wilkes, not out, 38 (36)
E. Stuart, caught, 0 (1)
Saqlain, not out, 1 (5)

Merry Harrier, pints, crisps, mini-cheddars, and discussion of the psychology of opening the bowling all followed.



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