Sides who are strong on paper are not unknown to fail and there was a sense of foreboding as, one after another, some of the gayest blades in Weekenders history arrived at the pub on as glorious an early summer's day as you could wish for.


In the thirty or so years this fixture has been going the 'Enders have all too often been undone by the hosts' deep understanding of their slowish pitch and a general all-round wiliness, often enhanced (though not today) by no-nonsense facial hair. They put us in, and when two of the grizzliest-looking trundlers marked out their runs it seemed as if history might repeat itself. But it never quite happened. We started steadily and continued that way with occasional flares of the nostrils, notably from Laurie, Brockis and Twigg. 139 felt about twenty short but it also looked defendable provided our bowlers could apply some wily grizzle of their own.


They couldn't; not the senior one anyway. And after about 10 overs the Hit were comfortably placed at 67-1. Captain d'Inverno, encouraged perhaps by his impressive performance on Radio 3's Private Passions ( [29' 10" in]), introduced a touch of showbiz to proceedings, flapping his arms and urging us to believe in ourselves, as though directing the kids from Fame. A little surprisingly perhaps, it was Steve Dunne who responded most willingly; pulling on his metaphorical pink leggings and spangly headband, he took a bowled hat-trick with his sixth, seventh and eighth deliveries.


The master of crime was to nab a further three, but it needed a piece of brilliance from Cooper in the field to snuff out a late fightback by the home side's batsmen. Some of the credit for Sparkles' astounding finger-tip catch - leaping backwards at mid-off - ought perhaps to go to his parents. Whether or not the cricketing gods were appeased by Mr and Mrs Cooper's decision to leave early, the fact is the crucial catch was taken only seconds after they drove out of the car park.


Worthy contenders as Jackie and John were for joint player of the match award, the day belonged to Steve who sent down as deadly a spell as any - and there were many - in the years when we played on council recs and changed in the bushes, when we marked our run-ups with dried dog poo and still tucked our shirts inside our trousers...      


WCC 139 (40.4 overs)

Leal 10, Husaini 7, Laurie 41, Brockis 23, Cooper 8, Twigg 19, Shimoga 12, Dunne 4, Douglas 15 not out, Dibley 0, Siva 0.


Hit or Miss 106 (29.3 overs)

Williams 50

Douglas 4-0-23-1, Dibley 9-0-19-1, Siva 5-0-27-0, Dunne 8.3-3-16-6, Shimoga 3-0-12-0


Catch: Cooper.

Run out: Dibley/Brockis

Books Published: 'Death Us Do Part' by Steve Dunne (Headline)

Awards: Husaini (see below - he doesn't drop these then)