Bury 169-6 dec.
Commitment phobia took a heavy toll of the squad last week leaving match-manager Freeman in despair and the side three short.
Despite being born in plenty of time for the two o’clock start Saskia Hargroves failed to make herself available, compounding the disappointing performances of other recent signings Joseph Chiari (aged 37 days) and Neve Husaini who has now had nearly two months to get herself into nick and will surely have to deliver sooner rather than later.
So just nine Weekenders plus two borrowed Bury men prepared to take the field at the historic Suffolk county ground. The time-honoured ritual of the toss was observed, in which the two captains walk to the middle and the Weekenders skipper says ‘It’s probably safer if you bat first’, and a game that nearly didn’t happen was underway.
Confirmation that the Weekenders youth policy is in disarray came when Dunne and Douglas resumed a new-ball partnership begun in 1983. Captain Simmonds had limited resources after Stewart Coulson pulled up with a crotch niggle in his first over, although the WCC bowling was bolstered by the lively seam-up and excellent catching of borrowed John.
Bury St Edmunds (or ‘BSE’ as it says on everything from their scoreboard to their crockery) belied their acronym with a sane and cautious start. After early setbacks, including a smart Hajela slip-catch, a partnership developed between a small boy and a bigger one. The home team closed at tea in a torrential downpour on 169, having never quite managed to capitalise on the five dropped catches offered by the visitors.
The skies cleared and the weather gods smiled on a magnificent partnership of 115 between classics scholar Laurence Emmett and the Weekenders’ own Apollo Graham Hogben. With 94 needed off the last 20, Weekenders were approaching the foothills of Mount Olympus. With 39 needed of the last 5 the ambrosia was on ice. But Woods proved just too difficult to get away and Hogben fell on his sword with the score 132.
Emmett was joined by Hajela, the pair having previously bonded over a substantial pre-match roast lunch which included an entire chicken. Each. Hajela tempted the fates by running an outrageously hubristic sequence of byes, and doing so, what’s more, in a pair cricket boots for the first time. With three overs left Emmett proved that those whom the gods love get run out by Vijay.
Meanwhile in Saskia Hargroves’ maternity ward, commentary on the closing overs was being clandestinely received on a mobile phone by the proud father, fellow distinguished physician Dr Tim Chiari and Professor Mark d’Inverno of Westminster University, who also managed the notably dextrous treble of smoking, drinking champagne and encouraging the boys down the blower.
The tension was unbearable. With 28 needed off the last 3 Hajela was bowled. But Chris Johnstone came in to put us back in the hunt with a lightning 14 including two blazing boundaries. With 5 needed off the last ball Johnstone was bowled leaving the match drawn and honours even.
BSE 169-6 dec off 41 overs
Douglas 11-2-34-1, Coulson 1-0-1-0, Dunne 12-0-36-2, J. Hayes 11-1-49-2, Simmonds 6-0-47-1,
Catches: Hajela, Wilson, Hayes 2, Johnstone.
WCC 165-5 off 44 overs
Hogben 59 (126 mins, 108 balls), Harvey 2 (26 mins 25 balls), Emmett 63 (108 mins 127 balls), Hajela 3 (16 mins 8 balls), Johnstone 14 (14 mins 9 balls), Wilson 3* (5 mins 4 balls)
Debuts: Brian Wilson
John Hayes (mob. 07986-484-332)
The meteoric rise of Laurence Emmett richly justifies the selectors’ decision to pick him ahead of Gus Fraser and Dennis so-called Lillee that night at the Café Royal. More enlightened recruitment is urgently needed. Proposition people in the street if necessary. We must support our match-manager. Kirtling this Sunday – make it happen.