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Match 12 (19th scheduled), 2016: August 14

Chippenham CC vs Pimlico Strollers CC

Chippenham steal win from Strollers in stunning low scorer
posted: August 17, 2016

Chippenham CCAnd so to Chippenham, for our annual high summer pilgrimage to this English pastoral idyll. The weather was, for once, suitably idyllic as well and for most of the day golden sunshine cascaded upon our efforts.

Glorious venue though this undoubtedly is, it has to be said that games against Chippenham tend to follow a somewhat unchanging and depressingly predictable pattern. It goes like this: Chippenham bat first ( there's no room at all for variety here. If they win the toss, they bat; if we win the toss we put them in). They then amass somewhere around 240 for the loss of three or maybe four wickets and declare. A stupendous tea, lovingly prepared by the good ladies of Chippenham, is then consumed. Strollers go out to bat fortified by sausage rolls and Victoria sponge. We make a token effort of going for the runs, lose wickets rapidly, and then, some way through the final 20 overs, decide to hold out for the draw. We either manage that or not. That's the only possible note of variation. Only once in the memory of this writer have we managed a win. In that glorious summer of cricketing victory of 2005, not the least significant result was that the Strollers beat Chippers. It hadn't happened before and it hasn't happened since.

But, in 2016, we threw the playbook right out of the window. Chippers opened the batting with Brown and Ward. The Strollers opened the bowling with Simon and Tom, and both were quickly into their rhythm. In the second over, after being driven for four, Simon bowled a beauty which pitched just outside off and jagged back through the gate to hit middle and leg. The old trooper bowls one of these about once a season; this wasn't a bad time to do it. In the next over a shorter bowl got big on the dangerous looking Ward where Tom, positioned at backward point specifically for that shot, took a smart catch. Tom himself then got in on the act and bowled a total jaffa to the even more dangerous looking Gough and Davey took the catch behind. Three down in the first six overs; normally we wait the entire innings for that.

With Byatt and Al Wright at the crease the runs dried up completely. Some six overs passed without a single run being scored. Byatt batted somewhat unambitiously, flirting outside the off stump from time to time and edging into the ground, while Tom bowled an immaculate line against Al.
Replacing Simon, who bowled eight overs straight for the first time since, oh, about 2001, David G soon removed Al who played on for only seven. Most Strollers don't ever remember Al getting out before. He must average about 276 against us. Harry replaced Tom and quickly found the way to remove the obdurate Byatt: a full toss straight into the stumps at a pace that had the batsman edging towards square leg.

At drinks Chippers were 57-5; veteran Strollers were exchanging disbelieving glances. We were in unchartered territory.

It continued. Sam Adamson started a devastating spell by getting rid of Holmes, who flicked the ball behind square where Harry took a fine running catch. J van der Peer began to find the boundary a few times, but all around him it was carnage. Young H Grant was removed in somewhat unorthodox fashion as he played all around a ball that might generously have been described as a slow bouncer, but R Ward was expertly run out by Davey G and the coup de grace was delivered by Davey C as he took a quite brilliant running one handed catch. Sam finished with 4-28 off less than four overs. Chippers all out for 123. Blimey.

We had every reason to feel very pleased with ourselves, but lest we should get carried away before the job was done skipper Gav called a huddle and exhorted us not to screw it up. Stern, but, wise and far seeing captaincy, one thought. We nodded sagely and dutifully took heed.

In fact, though we had done well, it could have been even better. One or two of the edges could, and perhaps should have been taken. There were 30 extras, mainly byes and wides. The highest score by a Chippers batsman was 29. Still, this wouldn't matter. Would it.....?

Chippers realized they were in a game and Mr Nice Guy was discarded forthwith. Young Sean Ward, who opens the bowling for the league first team and hadn't expected to bowl against us, opened from the top end. His run up began somewhere close to the sight screen, aka DK Lillee, and Al was standing back a good 17 or 18 yards. On top of that he was swinging it away from the right hander. This was quality bowling and in the first over Gav was bowled by a very good one (a late swinging yorker described afterwards by wicketkeeper Al as 'unplayable' — just for the record — Ed). Georgie fell to the same bowler shortly after, caught at point, and Sam Bardsley was bowled by Holmes, another first teamer. Three down for 11.

Dickie flicked one round the corner for three runs, and then waved the bat appreciatively at a number of Ward's deliveries as they sailed past and smacked into Al's gloves. He then made good contact with one ball from Holmes, and, feeling that the shot was worth a run whether a fielder was in the way or not, set off for the other end. Unfortunately a rather athletic fielder was in the way and unsportingly threw the wickets down with a direct hit while Dickie was still in a different post code.
Davey C was bowled round his legs, and it looked all over. Annoyingly, there then followed a period of hope. It's the hope that does for you.

Tom batted superbly, driving magnificently up the ground, while Melvyn Palmer, subbing for us from Chippers, looked in command. Even when Mel was out LBW, Harry came in and started smacking it round in fine style. The scores crept closer. It could go to the wire. Numbers 10 and jack, Simon and Davey G, sat twitchily in their pads and kept their spirits up by reciting apposite and stirring Victorian imperial poetry (Vitai Lampada by Henry Newbolt, seeing as you ask: 'There's a breathless hush in the Close tonight/Ten to make and the match to win...." etc.).

Well it wasn't quite 10 but it wasn't far off. Alas, we didn't get closer than 28 runs. Davey, despite the inspiring words of Sir Henry ringing in his ears, was stumped for a duck and then Harry swung round a straight ball from young Grant to be last out.

So, it was not to be. We contrived to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Alas. But the bowling was very good and we perhaps lacked one dominant batsman. A Viral or a Spencer might have made the difference.

Nonetheless it was a great game. Chippers looked a picture, and, as ever, our hosts were unfailingly charming and sporting.

Those of you who know this writer well know it has been a very stressful and painful two weeks for him. This day was the perfect tonic. Thanks to all.

Simon Boughey


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