Stoke Row Maharajas CC (12/07/2020)
Result: Weekenders LOST by 1 wicket (with 17 balls remaining)
STOKE ROW CELEBRATION OF LIFE APPLIES DEFIBRILLATOR TO ‘ENDERS SEASON
WCC 173 for 7 (45 overs)
Laurie 35, Husaini 6, Louckik 0, McCallum 2, Hogben 38, Brockis 45, Smee 0, Lee 6 not out, Orwell 15 not out
DNB - Douglas, Sharma, d’Inverno
T.King 4-21, M. Harper 2-29
Stoke Row 174-9 (39 overs)
C.Proudfoot 44, D.Lambert 38, M.Harper 39, M.Lambert 14 not out
Orwell 11–0-51-0, Douglas 8–2-28-2, Sharma 10–0-69-6, Louckik 8–3-26-3,
During brutal sun-baked shellackings or early season fixtures that felt like cricket in a blast freezer, some Weekenders (myself included) have questioned why we bother playing this pointless game. But the depressing sight of Hon Sec’s largely ’greyed-out’ fixture card, as our season was obliterated by Covid, left us gagging for cricket of any kind.
Skipper restored some normality by reserving an outdoor table at the Cherry Tree Inn, our usual rendezvous for this fixture. Even standing around a picnic table clutching hand-sanitiser felt intrepid. At the ground, the changing rooms were locked, so the semi-nudity on the boundary edge revealed some surprisingly sculpted physiques; honed in different ways by lockdown. Vice-captain Husaini lost the toss and the Weekenders were inserted.
Dom Laurie opened in careful fashion, joining many others in angle-grinding layers of rust from batting techniques. At the other end, wickets tumbled as Husaini, then debutant Louckik and McCallum lost their bails. Hogben joined the fray in vintage form, despite being named as ‘Hogshead’ in the opposition scorebook. After a fine 35 by Laurie, Brockis joined Hoggers, amassing a 56-run partnership. The return of teenage wrist-spinner Toby King despatched the partnership with his clever flippers and googlies, leaving Lee & Orwell to tonk and bunt twenty from the last nine balls, setting a reasonable target of 174.
Tea was a bring-your-own affair and offered an intriguing window into domestic adaptations of some players.
Back on the pitch, Skipper d’Inverno deployed Douglas and Orwell against Proudfoot Snr, one of the four adults sprinkled through the batting line-up. No-one would have known this was Duggo’s first bowl in five months as he hit his straps perfectly, bowling the coltish opener and Proudfoot Jnr in consecutive second over balls. The grown-ups continued putting on over 70 as the old ball softened and dulled. Despite regular breaks to sanitise hands & balls (!), Sharma and Louckik found good rhythm, pinging out the middle-order colts to set up a tight finish. All four results were possible as the sun began to set over the North Wessex Downs, but despite President Smee throwing himself around in the slip cordon; Toby King hit the winning runs through the covers with three overs remaining. We didn’t care, we were just so happy to be playing cricket again.