• Coldharbour CC 238/9 (Evil dave 3/15) defeated Quokkas CC 158 (Slick & Ches 27)

    It’s good to lose yourself in a game of cricket. I was therefore delighted to discover that the long trek up to Wantage was instead to be replaced by a short trip up the motorway to  Coldharbour Cricket Club enabling me to play. Not only was my journey time cut in half, but we would get the chance to play on a ground within an area of outstanding beauty. However, little did I know that the pitch was located within a GPS Bermuda triangle and my 1976 map of Great Britain would fail to provide the level of detail required to find a small circle of grass hidden deep within the rolling Surrey hills. Having severely underestimated the journey time, I was faced not only with the prospect of being late, but also with the possibility of not finding the ground at all.

    As funny as it is to have BA Baracus tell you to take the “next left sucker”, Mr T. can start to get on your tits when he has told you that you have “no GPS signal…fool” for the 87th time. Having driven round in circles for well over an hour I finally decide all is lost and I must switch off my sat nav and go against my most manly of instincts by asking a hiker for directions. Like a mechanic about to give you some bad news about the cost of your forthcoming repair, she sucked in a huge breath of air through pursed lips before proclaiming that “I am not sure your car will make it up there, but…” before giving me a list of directions that would have had Edmund Kennedy wishing he had stayed on the coast.

    Alfa Gullietta’s aren’t the first choice of vehicle for the Paris Dakar rally for a reason, nor are they popular for offroading, which is a shame given the 1:2 approach up a deeply potholed muddy track to the ground. But somehow the old girl managed to make its way up `Mount Coldharbour’ to find what can only be described as a cricketing oasis set within the forest. Sadly the Quokkas were already out in the field, but at least I had made it.

    The good news is both my fielding and bowling weren’t missed. The home side were a wicket down thanks to a tidy bit of bowling from Fudger, who had put his pink dress back in the wardrobe having recovered from his Field Day jaunt. I join the fold, bringing our numbers up to ten, although the small boundaries on all four sides hide this fact well, or at least they did until I came on to bowl. More of that a little later.

    For now it’s the Quokkas very much on top as we continue our good opening bowling form, taking advantage of a sticky pitch. Evil and Fudger prove very difficult to get away in an excellent spell of bowling that had the home side three down, with not a great deal on the board. The decent bowling continued through Fruiti, once again providing spin, guile and talent previously unseen in a Quokkas shirt (Egg …ahem). At the other end Tickets provided ample pace, ample height, ample bounce and ample opportunity for us get a closer look at the fauna and flora whilst retrieving balls from the Surrey hills. Perhaps it was the high altitude, but boy did the ball fly through the air.

    After the slow start Coldharbour found themselves with two men well set and the field was pushed as far back as it could go, which incidentally was not remotely far enough. Having taken an earlier dolly of a catch I almost add to it with a running effort above my head that was hit flat straight for six. As two fingers turn a nice shade of purple, Skip kindly informed me that a fine was coming my way. An over later I returned the favour as Camp dropped the simplest of efforts from a skied pull from a Tickets bouncer.

    These dropped catches, of which there were a few, enabled the batsman to get his fifty. Never mind, he will only add another 55 runs afterwards.

    Inevitably most of those runs seem to come off my bowling, as my `take candy from a baby snowballs’ seem to be very easy to spot and smash into Sussex. Thankfully we have added a Golden Retriever and owner to our fielding ranks and they prove to be far more adept at finding cricket balls from the deep undergrowth, which is handy as that’s where they spend most of the afternoon.

    Luckily Camp manages to claim a wicket from a particularly ugly delivery and this enables us to get stuck into their tail. As with the dog this seems to wag a lot, but Guru turned his arm over to good effect and took a nice wicket. Egg provided able support, helping restrain the home side ever so slightly. There was some Evil fielding from Evil, but this was undermined by some pretty shoddy stuff, especially from our Kiwi contingent (I’m looking at you `it’s my position Fagburn’) contributing to the significant 230 total we were given to chase.

    Guru and I show our mathematical failings in trying to calculate the run rate, but we put thoughts of England ODI style chasing on hold at tea as we indulge in some wonderful homemade sponge and rock cakes. Officially it’s the best tea of the season so far, by a country mile, but with batsman chomping at the bit to chase these runs down, we don’t want to weigh ourselves down with too much cake.

    Satan, aided by another of our Kiwis, Slick, grabbed the bull by the horns, setting off at a blistering pace that sees us actually above the challenging run rate. It doesn’t last though, with Evil playing inside one that angled in. This brings Blue Steel to the crease and he looks comfortable on a drying wicket, but a growing cordon is rewarded for its patience as he glanced one tamely to second slip. This provides the perfect opportunity for me to find out why Guru got his nickname as he offers the Quokkas an absolute masterclass in batting, effortlessly driving through the covers off both front and back foot. It’s a delight to watch for five or six overs, complimented beautifully by Slick’s wonderfully robust straight hitting.

    IMG_0996Unfortunately both fall on their swords in a glorious effort to maintain the chase and they are far too quickly followed back into the hutch by Skip. I join Bow Tie Killer in the middle and he immediately sees off the first change bowlers. I scratch around for a bit before putting some plan F into practice, running Conan out with some poor calling from me and slow running from the Kiwi. His replacement, Tickets, the tallest of our Kiwis, takes the attack to the home side, dispatching the cherry with ease beyond the rope and for the first time in a while the boundary starts to look quite short again…the chase is momentarily on before Ticket’s wicket falls.

    Fruiti comes and goes too quickly leaving The Egg and myself to knock the 90 or so off in the last 10 overs. I’m encouraged by Egg’s confidence: “we should get these no problem”, so we set about our rear guard attack.  In between cow corner hits and a Conan smash of my own, Egg looks as solid as a rock and once again I am looking at the scoreboard and thinking about the win, no matter how far off it is. A straight drive for six raises confidence further, too far in fact as I am caught in the (not so) deep pulling a woeful half tracker. Blast. “Sorry Egg”.

    It feels like a defeat and it should do because we have lost, but having entertained, not eaten too much of the home side’s cake, and offered both wickets and runs aplenty we are invited back, so in reality this is a magnificent victory for the Quokkas.

    As you can tell we enjoyed the day greatly and look forward to coming back next year, but after a cool beer or two it was time to borrow a compass and try to make our way back to civilisation. Sadly I won’t have to wait until next year as I left my cricket bag behind so l get to try and find the ground all over again next week. I pity the fool!

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  • Many thanks to everyone that made it to the Awards night last Saturday, a particular thanks to those that really made the effort with their attire on the night.

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    The happiest B&F winner of all time

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    Clowns

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    Robbo and his ladies taking a break from presenting ‘The Price is Right’

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    Nick, Snipper and a guy dressed like Luther Vandross’  bedroom

    Congratulations to all the winners – particularly Snipper for taking out the B&F, Dutchy for Most Runs, Chef for Most Wickets and Saul for the Bravery award (for agreeing to a second game against Seymours on Lydiard!).

    Other Award winners included:

    • Champagne Moment – The Rev (for leaving the field of play, missing a catch and refusing to field the ball while drinking prosecco with some spectators)
    • Dwayne Leverock Award for Best Hands – Tuesday
    • Ryan Mitchell Award for Worst Player at the Big Day Not Out – Ryan Mitchell
    • Best Player at the Big Day Not Out – Dutchy (not for his 1 run, but for his sledging)
    • Best Player on Tour – Mo (for getting our bond back)

    A great night was had by all and here’s looking forward to next season!

  • A welcome return to my favourite category of post, “Good Injury”, Martin playing onto his face during a T20 match and requiring 4 stitches in A&E. If only there was a Doctor around to fix him up….

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    Never fear victory was still achieved with only 6 fit Quokkas in the field!

  • Salix CC 168 (Yak 4/12) defeated Quokkas CC 143 (Ches 43, Skip 33)

    Summer is not summer without cricket and cricket is not cricket without summer. With eight whole continuous hours of sun and Quokkas finally able to emerge from their four jumper hibernation, the annual Salix fixture could officially claim to be the start of the English summer. As for the cricket, well a truly enjoyable game requires two closely matched teams competing hard, with the result in doubt right until the end (at this point you’re no doubt expecting me to say “and this was not one of those occasions” but to my sarcastic chagrin, this actually was one of those occasions) so, with the Quokkas needing 28 runs from the last four overs… we have a summer on our hands.

    There is something unnerving about parking in the Manager‘s allocated space at the Queens Park Rangers training ground. It’s not that you are worried about the manager turning up and being annoyed to find his slot taken, it’s more a case of worrying that your car will be towed away because someone mistakes it for a dumped car since a six hour waiting period often exceeds the usual stay for one of Tony Fernandez’s muppets. I decided on a first team space instead, risking stray balls from a youth team game being held next to it. I arrive typically late, having missed the morning memo about the start time being brought forward from 2pm to 1.30pm, but the rest of the Quokkas notoriously poor timekeeping saves my blushes. A 2pm start it is then.

    Having squeezed my way into a slightly tighter pair of whites than last season (yet another item of clothing that has somehow shrunk since last summer) I find the Quokkas are in the field already. And what a fine looking side it is; with The Professor elegant as ever behind the stumps, Evil Dave and Varesh running in like gazelles and mixture of old hands, waifs and strays providing the usual ring of steel.

    It’s one of those strays (a Salix sub fielder to be accurate) who helps us take the first wicket, taking a routine catch at gully from a truly evil delivery. Another description might be: the sort of delivery Botham used to take wickets with in his later years. You know the sort, a slow, half tracker, but with a touch of something you can’t quite put your finger on that makes the batsman miscue straight to a fielder to make him look like a genius. One back in the hutch quickly becomes two as our very own Courtney and Curtly opening bowling duo make significant inroads in a very unQuokkas like way.

    But hang on, we’ve been here before. These Salix chaps usually have an ace or two up there sleeve and we quickly deduce (the number of boundaries kind of gives it away) that the two century makers from the last couple of seasons have only now come to the crease. To stem the tide Fruiti is brought into the `attack’ and England’s search for a spinner appears to be over (talk about damning a man with faint praise) as he has both batsman in a spot of bother. I take a dolly of a catch of my own, the partnership is broken and the Quokkas are momentarily back on top.

    The next few batsman come and go, but not before they have smashed balls to the boundary, Ralf doing especially well to not be decapitated by one powerful cut. Bow Tie Killer, unleashed from his usual keeping responsibilities takes the somewhat undersized and now egg shape cherry. He is joined by our very own Michael Pitt look-a-like, who participates in some of his own fun and games. Movie buffs might see what I did there.

    Tom the Yak enjoys the smaller ball used in the first innings

    Tom is marginally more successful of the two, offering his usual lovely line and varying length, and today taking wickets at regular intervals. With four under his belt, he has one ball left of his spell to get himself on some imaginary Lords style Quokka wooden board, but it was not to be. However, the damage has been done, allowing the tail to be mopped up by Matt and myself, but not before Ralf has offered us some Egg style flight. The home side make 168 all out, which seems `gettable’ on a decent but rewarding track.

    Having established that we have the numbers for this year’s Quokkas touring party over tea (no excuses Binman, you’re coming), we set about the task in hand. Two wickets in the first over sets us back a fraction, and a third not so long after starts to make the target look a tad tricky, but Skip knows how to navigate a ball through a slip cordon and he and Fruiti get us to 50 without too many scares. Just as I praise Fruiti’s Gower-esque laid back batting style he is gone, with Skip not too far behind, done by one of those bloody straight ones.

    Conan takes the reigns, leaving particularly well and smashing the odd bad ball into the M4. By now I’ve joined him and the 10 minutes I spent watching Ricky Pontin’s (these Kiwis know a thing or two about cricket) tips on how to play the ball on the offside videos on YouTube seems to be paying off, with the best back foot and front drives I’ve ever played. No seriously, they were that good I’ve decided to mention them in my own match report, which I’d never do, but these were things of beauty I tell ye. Shots I can take to my grave having bored people to death with them on my way there. Add the odd edge through the slips (that’s a bit more self-bloody deprecatingly like it) and the scoreboard keeps turning over.

    We are a little behind the run rate, but without further loss of wickets and the fielding side is starting to get edgy. I can see us doing this. Unfortunately Conan leaves one too many and is out lbw, leaving our tail exposed.

    Sadly Matt doesn’t unduly trouble the scorer on this occasion, but Ralf manages to overtake the Verger in runs scored on his debut (something to remember for the next game of Quokkas top trumps) with a lovely cut/edge through the slips. Footwork is at an all-time premium towards the back end of our batting line up and having frustrated several fast bowlers for far too long, a full one hits all three stumps. Tom the Yak, confidence brimming after runs last week and now wickets, strikes the ball cleanly, but another of those annoying straight full ones has his name on it.

    With four overs left I take the obvious option of nudging the first ball for a single and making my way to the non-strikers end, leaving the Professor to not only get his eye in, but to also see us home. Tough ask. Full length bowling continues to be the order of the day claiming the Professor’s wicket too. Last up is Paul the Wealdstone Raider, who blocks the final two balls of the over, so it’s now 27 needed off three overs.  Yet another beamer puts the bowler at serious risk of damnation from umpire Evil Dave. I expect him to burst into flames, but it’s just a ticking off for now. 26 needed. For the next delivery he uses the track, gets a little extra bounce and the earlier slip catching practice comes in handy. Blast.

    And that’s that. It’s all over and memories of failing to see us home against the teachers XI in my final year at school come flooding back. That time I allowed child acting `star’ Jeremy Sweatland to carry the burden in the final over as I protected my average safely from the non-strikers end. He predictably was bowled out, got two dead arms for his troubles and I was left with thoughts of what might have been.

    No dead arms this time, but I’m equally gutted as a win was within our grasp. We finish on 143 all out and it’s another defeat for the Quokkas, but hey, what would the summer be without one or two of those?

    Ches

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  • The Quokkas Cricket Club plays social games for the enjoyment of the sport against various friendly teams in the UK and Australia.

    The UK side is currently looking for new members who are interested in playing some social cricket, having some laughs and enjoying the sport.  Cricketing ability is purely optional.

    Seen here, lack of cricketing ability

    Seen here, lack of cricketing ability

    We don’t really “do” training but “do” enjoy the social side of the game and travelling the UK (and Europe) for friendly games.

    Please contact us via our Facebook page if you want to find out more.

   

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