The fixture list designers were relatively kind this bank holiday by giving us a short trip down the A38 to play Churchill 1st XI. Keen geographers will know that any ground set at the bottom of hill is likely to have fairly heavy going during the early season.
The weather was as good as it is ever likely to be for the first Saturday in May, but this did not help the pitch to be anything other than a proper ‘sticky dog’. Captain White watched opposition captain Olly toss the shiny £2 coin. It went up into the air, glinting in the sun and landed, proudly showing the monarch’s profile. Sadly, ‘tails’ had been the away captain’s call so, to a degree, Temple’s fate did feel sealed – there and then – or was it?
Comer and White opened and the wet pitch made it fairly hard to score. Alex (3) played down the central line whilst the ball was on the Bakerloo and made his way back to the hutch looking disbelievingly at the pitch. Haydon’s love affair with spin continued as he nonchalantly chipped the left arm bowler back for an easy caught and bowled.
This brought Toby Ingram to the wicket. Toby is a cricketer as rare as hen’s teeth. 1) He is Scottish, 2) He travels an inordinate distance to play and 3) for a bloke in his 40s he can bat, bowl and field very well. He even dives for lost causes in the field. Toby was belligerent at times and gave the occasional ball a good slap but had to return to the Rupert Everett Pavilion for 5 after chancing his arm on the damp track once too often.
White returned for a ‘careful’ (synonym for slow) 13 and Temple were 40 for 4. A very nice episode then followed with Wilton, Appleyard Snr and Mann bringing some solidity and important runs. Howie hit the ball nicely and reacquainted himself with his former Avon Schools’ partner Richard Mann. Some elegant drives and occasional edges followed, to take Temple to 112 which, in the circumstances, probably put us at least ‘in the frame’ at tea time.
Churchill played the sneaky ploy of bringing out an exceptional tea at this point with at least 5 different types of homemade cake. For the tea critics out there, I spotted rocky road (white and milk chocolate), lemon drizzle, chocolate gateaux and Victoria sponge – all top class.
Temple lumbered into the outfield feeling bitter and resentful to have to leave the tea behind but were quickly cheered by a tidy opening spell by Roy Gardner and our Scottish all-rounder. Regular wickets fell to Garder, Ingram and the former Iranian president who bowled accurately and well having prepared by bowling on his tennis court for some weeks and months previously.
At the mid-point Nick Campbell swapped gloves with Liam Raisbeck. Cat was feeling a little light headed due to the confusion felt by not having to worry about Bristol Rovers being relegated as we approach the end of the season. This understandable change in the normal order of things left Cat feeling dazed and confused. Liam did a great job standing in for the former BGS fag.
Churchill made inroads into the Temple score but every time it felt that the home side might pull away, Temple grabbed a wicket. Churchill were 60-6 and then 80-8. Drama ensued in the final over of the game with Churchill needing 6 to win. Appleyard, showing no sign of nerve floated a looping off-spinner, the Churchill number eleven strode down the wicket missed it and was bowled. Some confusion followed as to the application of the law. Counsel was sought from the touchline. The batsman was given not out.
For those who love a bit of controversy, the actual law reads: “If the ball does not touch the ground in its flight between the wickets and reaches the batsman on the full over waist height. The judgement of height is for the batsman standing upright at the popping crease.” The all-important final clause here can be discussed and debated next week.
Appleyard repeated the feat some balls later and Temple were triumphant.
When trying to find the opposition’s pub, Richard Mann who ‘knew where it was’ took us to the Burrington Inn where it was Western night. This massive culture shock left our west London Scottish all-rounder in a state of bemusement, 1) because this was not the pub where Churchill have a drink after the game and 2) The gathered masses of north Somerset country folk had come in elegant attire more likely to be found in Nashville. You don’t find that on the King’s Road! I know this brief visit has left him hungry for more.
Next week we host Cheddar at the Field of Dreams.