• Leigh CC 266  (Kanna 3-38, Jordan 2-45) beat Quokkas 209-9 (Jordan 101no, Evil 29) by 57 runs

    Cricket fans in Leigh, Lancashire, take to every vantage point possible to see the Quokkas.

    Cricket fans in Leigh, Lancashire, take to every vantage point possible to see the Quokkas.

    Whilst Ed Sheeran was preparing for the most underwhelming Glastonbury headline performance since Shakespear’s Sister were unbelievably given top bill on the Pyramid stage ahead of The Breeders in 1992, the Quokkas were offering their own brand of mediocrity (Ed: Jordan apart) in the form of batting, bowling and fielding against Leigh Cricket Club. Like me, you are probably all aware that Leigh is the only town mentioned twice in KLF’s song `Grim up North’, so you will have been somewhat surprised to see the venue listed on a Quokkas fixture list. Fortunately, we gave Wigan’s ugly neighbour a miss and ventured into the Surrey countryside instead. And what a cracking cricket club it is too, not that having a fully functional bar-b-q and beer on tap would sway my assessment in any way.

    I’ve often wondered how the Quokkas T20 side had become the 63rd best in the world and now I know why. The Quokkas are evidently bolstered by a smattering of some of the best Leigh Cricket Club players. Or to put it another way, there is just enough Quokkas representation to ensure that the Leigh T20 side don’t have to travel to Champions league games abroad…yet. Whichever way you want to describe it, there is a fair degree of crossover between the Quokkas and Leigh, which we were thankful for on Sunday, as we failed to muster 11 players again, with Kanna and friend Euwie supplementing the eight Quokkas on duty.

    Fully knowing the task at hand, and with the loss of Garlic Bread from our bowling attack due to illness (all be it offset by Faggie being unavailable) Skip lost the toss for the 88th time in a row and we were out in the field. We opened the bowling with Euwie (or EU as I mistakenly called him all afternoon) and Evil Dave, fresh from 33 minutes sleep, in support down the hill. With 34 runs conceded from our first four overs (Ed: Just the 2 runs coming from the EU overs. Just saying Evil. Don’t hung draw, quarter, burn and terrorise the messenger), Skip quickly turned to The Mouth, who helped to reign the batsman in, with some proper spin bowling.

    The highlight of a decent first spell was to eventually dislodge Alex via an Anthony Rizzo-David Ross type juggling extravaganza from the D.O.C. After blazing his way to 69 in short time, there was genuine fear in Skip’s eyes at the thought of another 20 overs of Alex hitting. So much so he seriously considered a `pile on’ to help prevent any video ref from identifying a potential drop. Thankfully it stuck, in the knee roll of his pad, just.

    Skip himself then came on to bowl and continued his good form by clean bowling the other opening bat. One had become two, but it didn’t become three until the 31st over, whereupon early `bestest and fairest’ contender, Jordan, grabbed two wickets in four balls. By then the score had moved on to 196 for 4, but the 40 over format meant the home side still had time to pile on the runs. Thankfully a returning Kanna and Evil, refreshed from chasing balls to the boundary from my spell, claimed four wickets between them to ensure the score didn’t accumulate to Sri Lanka Tour-like proportions. A rare spell from Bow Tie also helped `restrict’ the home side, but chasing down 266 would be `challenging’.  

    In the field, we offered our usual array of enthusiasm, determination and obvious lack of talent. Conan seemed naked without the gloves, blaming the wind for his failure to catch a skier. Shub blamed his `inability to catch’ for his inability to catch a dolly. Actually, Shub seemed to be like some sort of ball magnet, albeit not a very strong one, perhaps something more akin to one of those novelty items you buy on holiday that you can barely use to pin a takeaway menu to the fridge (and with that a nickname is born: Fridge Magnet).

    Unlike most of us old-timers, Jordan seemed keen to put his body on the line, helping to prevent a series of long hops from me being smashed for four. Needless to say, Locky’s bloodhound ability to find a lost ball came in very useful throughout the afternoon. Satan really liked the Berberis Thunbergii Atropurpurea hedgerows surrounding the boundary that encouraged fielders to stop the ball or risk being ripped to shreds retrieving it. Evil.

    A vast tea, without the merest hint of fruit or vegetable, perhaps lacked the je ne sais quoi of a Wantage spread, but more than made up for it in terms quantity of pork pie. As a frequent visitor to the top table for seconds and thirds I have only one word to describe it: tremendous.

    The Guy Jones Library, Leigh CC

    The Guy Jones Library, Leigh CC

    During the break in play we tried to establish what the initials `SP’ stood for that were embossed on an old bat taking pride of place in The Guy Jones Library.  We also discussed IBM’s secret nuclear bunkers and the US’ decision to land on the moon having realised that nuking it would be too complicated, questioned how someone that doesn’t like pork pie can be allowed to captain a cricket club and briefly pondered the merits of writing for Plastics and Rubber Weekly magazine. Fascinating stuff, but we needed to knock those runs off quickly to ensure that we could catch at least one or two of Ed’s songs about Lego and the A-team (god, give me strength. George Formby has more stage presence).

    Jordan and Locky strode out confidently to the middle, but the Aussie openers were to have differing days with the bat. Three balls into the innings and our task became somewhat harder when Locky was caught out having top edged a climbing delivery as he looked to pull. The Bow Tie Barbarian was next in, fresh from his dazzling display on the main stage, but both openers were pinned down by some high-class bowling.

    One run scored from the first five overs gives you an idea of what we were up against, but both batsman showed great patience and fortitude. The runs eventually came. Five of them to be precise, before Conan’s desire to smash became too much to bear, edging a decent delivery though to the keeper. A hard task had therefore escalated into one comparable with deciphering what Tom Yorke was mumbling on about on Friday. The D.O.C. soon followed, whereupon Kanna was welcomed to the square with the kind of respect a deserting captain is normally offered. The shouts of `rabbit’ were still heard echoing across the ground as he sent an uppish drive straight to mid-on, who promptly `dropped the ashes’. His reprieve was not to last long, as he was “triggered” by D.O.C. when caught in front of all three stumps. The innings of Shub, EU and Skip also came and went too quickly, the latter not seeing his first ball of the season go through the gap and take off peg.

    Only Evil hung around, showing a total lack of respect for anything short, slightly short, just behind a length, on a length and indeed full, but was eventually out and when I was run out at the non-strikers end a few overs later it looked like all was lost. Fortunately, as we were a man short, Skip was given a second chance, which was to prove crucial. Not in attempting to win the match, I must point out, by now that ship had sailed, but in ensuring that Jordan had enough partners to see him home to his century.

    What I like about Wikipedia is its comprehensiveness. Take for example its description of `one hundred’: “100 or one hundred, is the natural number following 99 and preceding 101.” Thanks Wiki. I can’t wait to expand the Quokkas knowledge by shoehorning that nugget into my match report.

    Of course, I needed to research the word `century’ because it’s not something someone like me, with an average of less than 10 thinks about much and of course due to a wonderful innings from Jordan, our latest Australian `recruit’. Which gives me the perfect opportunity to impart onto those unfamiliar and yet to use it, the Quokkas the impressment programme. It’s not part of the official Quokkas cricketing handbook, but when tendering for a possible new player it goes something along the lines of:

    Don’t argue, you are going to Bucharest on tour, whether you like it or not

    Don’t argue, you are going to Bucharest on tour, whether you like it or not

    Current Quokka: “Where ya from mate?”

    Future Quokka: “Sydney, stralia”

    Quokka: “Nice. Play cricket?”

    Future Quokka: “Well, not since…”

    Quokka: “Great. You’re in.”

    Future Quokka: “Oh…er, righto mate.”

    Quokka: “Bat?”

    Future Quokka: “Well…er, I guess I used to bat a little…’’

    Quokka: “Great you can open. Bowl an ‘all?”

    Future Quokka: “Well, er, I’m more of a ba…”

    Quokka: “Nice. We need a good strike bowler. See you tomorrow at 12.”

    Future Quokka: “Er, righto mate…”

    It’s not often you get to witness a Quokka century, (from the latin centum and the roman numeral C, by the way). Skip of course found some bowling he liked in Sri Lanka, but before that it was Mantis, probably against some under 11s side, and you’d have to be as old as Binman to remember that.

    What was most impressive was his ability to not just pick the bad ball (frequent any Quokka net and you can learn pretty much everything you will ever need to know about shit bowling there), but to spot the good ball when it came. There were quite a few of those early doors, with the openers being of a high standard. As the bowlers were rotated there were a few more opportunities to score, but the art to a long innings, so Binman tells me, is being able to defend the good ball when it comes along.

    (Ed: Sorry, I need to pause here whilst I regain my composure. Just the thought of Smithers providing batting advice has me laughing.)

    “Yeah, I batted a bit at school.”

    “Yeah, I batted a bit at school.”

    That’s not to say that the Quokkas and I didn’t appreciate the fine stroke play both through the on and offside. There were some fine hits and even a spread field was unable to prevent 14 fours. I can’t recall him ever looking in much trouble or offering more than the hint of a chance, except when he played too bloody straight leading to my run out. I think the only concern was whether he would run out of partners and then overs, with Skip doing his best to steal the strike towards the end.  

    He didn’t and having scored 40 not out in the first game and now 101 not out, his infinity batting average is going to make him a tough card to beat within Quokkas Top Trumps (not sure `Buzz Lightyear’ is going to stick Skip, but a third not out in a row and who knows). Thankfully, he only has a 1% chance of being able to play next week, so see you at Imperial Sports Ground on Sunday. You’re opening the batting and bowling.

    Oh, before I forget, let me allow Tony Greig to provide you with the answer to our earlier cricket bat brand quiz:

    tonyGreig

    My thanks to Leigh CC and Kanna for arranging the game. The drive back over the South Downs was fantastic and I look forward to the fixture next year.

    Ches

    Tags:

  • Wantage&Gove CC 133 (Skip 4/12, Ches 3/35) lose to Quokkas CC 134 for 0 (Faggy 78no, Yak 28no) by 10 wickets

    starwars2

    Despite the tremendous victory for the Quokkas in the opening game of the season, my mind wasn’t really on cricket last week. Instead it was focused on creating a fancy dress costume for my nephews Star Wars-themed 7th birthday party. In all honesty, I’m not one for fancy dress. All that effort for a two second acknowledgement that you indeed are dressed something like a famous person or character is not for me. However, a few years ago I did seriously consider entering the birdman challenge dressed as Wedge Antilles and jumping off the end of the Worthing pier in a Papiermâché X-wing fighter. I came to my senses of course, but not before Mrs Ches [who as I recall seemed very keen to see me to risk my neck for her amusement] had acquired an orange boiler suit and motorcycle helmet from ebay, which would form the basis for that costume. Thus, I was already half way there with an outfit, just the chest box, strapping, flight vest and helmet decals to focus my attention on.

    Pull out wedge, you're not doing any good back there

    Pull out wedge, you’re not doing any good back there

    As you can see I looked a right plumb, but having been run ragged by a bunch of seven-year old Jar Jar Binks, the movie was still very much on my mind as I travelled up north (as us members of the Peoples Republic of Southsea refer to Oxford) for the second match of the season. My car doesn’t quite make the leap to hyperspace these days, so on the long journey to Wantage I started to ponder whether there were any similarities between the Star Wars characters and the current Quokkas – I know I moan like C3PO and take your pick which sith Evil Dave best mirrors.

    I also wondered if the match themselves ever bore any resemblance to the original storyline. I’m not convinced, but some of the exchanges during matches do resonate. You be the judge.

     

    Anyway, I’ve got ahead of myself here. The night before the game Skip was still desperately trying to put a team together. Having scored 40 not out last week and looking like a Jedi with the bat, Jordan was his first target.

    Skip: You must learn the ways of the Quokkas and come with me to Wantage.

    Jordan: Wantage? I’m not going to Wantage. I’ve got to go home. It’s late, I’m in for it as it is.

    Skip: I need your help, Jordan. We need your help. I’m getting too old for this sort of thing.

    Jordan: I can’t get involved! I’ve got work to do! It’s not that I like Londinium. I hate it! But there’s nothing I can do about it right now. It’s such a long way from here.

    Skip: That’s Binman talking. Learn about the Quokkas, Jordan.

    Jordan: Look, I can go as far as Oxford. You can get a lift there to Wantage or wherever you’re going.

    Skip: You must do what you feel is right, of course.

    After some reflection and on learning that he had missed the family bar-b-q, Jordan gave Skip some good news.

    Jordan: OK, I want to come with you to Wantage. There’s nothing here for me now. I want to learn the ways of the Quokkas.

    Buoyed by this success, Skip then tried to add to his numbers, but could only get voicemail. Unfortunately, he also seemed to have got the wrong number.

    Skip: Help me Adrian Chesney. You’re my only hope.

    Tom: What is that?

    Belinda: Skip says he’s after Adrian Chesney, a resident of these parts. And it’s a private message for him. Quite frankly, sir I don’t know what he’s talking about.

    Tom: Well, I don’t know anyone named Adrian, but Ches lives out beyond Southsea dunes. He’s kind of a strange old hermit.

    Tom thought it wise to mention the call to Ches, in case the message was for him.

    Tom: Ches, I found this message. It for an Adrian Chesney. Is he a relative of yours? Do you know who he’s talking about?

    Ches: Adrian Chesney… Adrian? Now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time… a long time.

    Tom: I think Skip knew him. He said he was dead.

    Ches: Oh, he’s not dead, not… not yet.

    Tom: You know him!

    Ches: Well of course, of course I know him. He’s me. I haven’t gone by the name Adrian since oh, before you were born.

    Tom: Then the message does belong to you.

    Ches: Don’t seem to remember ever owning a message. Very interesting…

    On hearing that Skip was chasing players, Tom decided to call him and let him know that he might not be available in the coming weeks.

    Tom: Skip, I think those new Quokkas you have found are going to work out fine. In fact, I, uh, was also thinking about our agreement about me playing another season. And if these new players do work out, I want to transmit my application to the US this year.

    Skip: You mean the next tour before the Quokka Ashes?

    Tom: Sure, there’re more than enough players.

    Skip: The Quokka Ashes is when I need you the most. Only one more season. Your Dad will make enough on the harvest, so will be able to hire some more hands. And then you can go back to the US next year.

    Skip: You must understand I need you here, Tom.

    Tom: But it’s a whole ‘nother year.

    Skip: Look, it’s only one more season.

    Belinda: Where you off to Tom?

    Tom: It looks like I’m going nowhere. I have to finish cleaning those whites.

    With time running out, Skip’s recruitment drive for the game required some tough bargaining, so he took Evil Dave with him to the Mos Eisley cantina to try and get a bowler.

    Skip: Australia. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

    Dave: Do you really think we’re going to find a bowler here that’ll bowl out Wantage?

    Skip: Well, most of the best bowlers can be found here. Only watch your step. This place can be a little rough.

    Faggie: I’m `Millennium’ Fagberg. Dave here tells me you’re looking for a bowler to take to Wantage.

    Skip: Yes, indeed. If you’re a fast bowler.

    Faggie: Fast bowler? You’ve never heard of Millenium Fagberg?

    Skip: Should I have?

    Faggie: I’m a left armer that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs! I’ve outpaced T20 batsman, not the local bulk-cruisers, like Kanna mind you. I’m talking about the Special K’s now. I’m fast enough for you, old man. What’s our team like?

    Skip: Only passengers. Myself, Evil Dave, two bats, and no questions asked.

    Faggie: What is it? Some kind of local team?

    Skip: Let’s just say we’d like to avoid an innings defeat.

    Faggie: Well, that’s the trick, isn’t it? And it’s going to cost you something extra. I want to open the batting and bowling.

    Skip: Batting and bowling? We could almost hire our own team for that!

    Faggie: But who’s going to captain it, kid! You?

    Dave: You bet I could. I’m not such a bad all-rounder myself! We don’t have to sit here and listen…

    Skip: We can give you five overs, plus a decision on opening the batting when we reach Wantage.

    Faggie: Okay. You guys got yourself a player.

    Faggie: Batting and bowling. Those guys must really be desperate. This could really save my neck after two T20 golden ducks in a row.

    Kanna: Going somewhere, Faggie?

    Faggie: Yes, Kanna. As a matter of fact, I was just going to see Locky. Tell him I’ll get his runs.

    Kanna: It’s too late. You should have scored some runs when you had the chance. Every bowler in Londinium will be looking for you now. I’m lucky I found you first.

    Faggie: Yeah, but this time I’ll get the runs.

    Kanna: Locky’s through with you. He has no time for all-rounders who give up their wicket the first ball from an octopus bowler.

    Faggie: Even I get out sometimes. Do you think I had a choice?

    Kanna: You can tell that to Locky. He may only take your place.

    Faggie: Over my dead body.

    Kanna: That’s the idea. I’ve been looking forward to bowling you out you for a long time.

    Faggie: Yes, I’ll bet you have…

    On the day of the match Skip, Evil Dave and Faggie were travelling to the ground together, but Dave was having a few problems with his old R2D2GPS system.

    Dave: “Where are you going? Well, I’m not going that way. It’s much too rocky. This way is much easier. What makes you think the ground is over there? Don’t get technical with me. No more adventures. I’m not going that way. That malfunctioning little twerp. This is all his fault! He tricked me into going this way, but he’ll do no better. I should have known better than to trust the logic of a half-sized thermocapsulary dehousing assister…”

    In fact, they were not only running late, but they were lost.

    Dave: What the…? Aw, we’ve come off the motorway into a contraflow. Some kind of diversion. It’s not on any of the charts.

    Skip: What’s going on?

    Dave: Our position is correct, except… no, Wantage!

    Skip: What do you mean? Where is it?

    Dave: That’s what I’m trying to tell you, kid. It ain’t there.

    Dave decided to call the Wantage captain Pirate Steve, to see if he could get some directions. However, the thought of three Quokka bowlers being removed from the attack meant he was slightly hesitant.

    Dave: Don’t play games with me Pirate Steve. I want to know where your ground is. I’ve lost the directions. Now you are my only link to find the ground.

    Skip: Steve will die before he tells you anything.

    Dave: Leave that to me.

    Faggie: Evil Dave, the directions are not aboard this car.        

    Skip: Pirate Steve must have hidden the directions. Call Ches. See to it personally Evil Dave. There’ll be no one to stop us this time.

    Dave: Until the Quokkas are fully operational we are vulnerable. Wantage are too well equipped. They’re more dangerous than you realise. And what of Pirate Steve? If he has obtained a complete technical readout of our batting line up, it is possible, however unlikely, that they might find a weakness and exploit it.

    Skip: Any attack made by Wantage against the Quokkas would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they’ve obtained. This team is now the ultimate power in the universe. I suggest we use it!

    Dave: Don’t be too proud of this team you’ve constructed. The ability to get opening batsman out is insignificant next to the power of the Wantage’s bowling attack.

    Skip: Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerer’s ways, Evil Dave. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up a five-wicket haul, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Wantage ground…

    Dave: I find your lack of faith disturbing.

    Unlike the guys from Harpenden, I found the ground easily and just as I arrived Tom pulled up next to me in his old Peugeot with Conan and Jordan.

     Ches: You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought.

    Tom mentioned that my attendance must mean that I received Skips message. I hadn’t, but when I checked my phone I found it:

    Skip: Ches, years ago you played well in the Quokkas Ashes. Now I beg you to help us in his struggle against Wantage. I have placed information vital to the survival of the Quokkas batsman into the kit bag. You must see this bag safely delivered to Wantage. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Adrian Chesney, you’re my only hope.

    Whilst waiting for the others to arrive, I did my best to keep the true identity of the Quokkas hidden from our latest recruit Jordan. After somehow winning a game last week, we didn’t want to ruin that façade.

    Jordan: How long have you had those whites?

    Tom: About four or five seasons.

    Ches: They’re for sale if you want them.

    Jordan: Let me see the Quokkas scorebook.

    Ches: You don’t need to see the Quokkas scorebook.

    Jordan: I don’t need to see the Quokkas scorebook.

    Ches: These are not the Quokkas ties you’re voting for.

    Jordan: These are not the Quokkas ties I’m voting for.

    Ches: He can go mark his run up.

    Jordan: You can go mark your run up.

    As you recall it was a very hot day on Sunday, so Conan and Tom decided to wet their whistles in the Wantage clubhouse whilst we waited.

    Wantage bartender: We don’t serve their kind here!

    Tom: What?

    Wantage bartender: Your Australians. They’ll have to wait outside. We don’t want them here.

    Tom: Listen Conan, why don’t you wait outside. We don’t want any trouble.

    Wantage man at the bar: He doesn’t like you. I don’t like you either. We’re wanted men. I have the death sentence in five counties.

    Conan: I’ll be careful.

    Wantage bartender: You’ll be dead.

    Tom: This little Bow Tie Killer isn’t worth the effort. Come let me buy you something…

    With the match start time rapidly approaching, only myself, Matt, Tom, Jordan and Conan had arrived at the ground. Somewhat shorthanded, we wondered if we should get changed and go out and do the toss.

    Jordan: Is there anything we can do?

    Tom: Well, not unless you can alter time, speed up the harvest, or bowl at both ends

    Jordan: I don’t think so, sir. I’m only a batsman and not very knowledgeable about such things. Not in this country, anyway. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure which country I’m in.

    Conan: Well, if there’s a bright centre to the World, you’re in the country that it’s farthest from.

    Jordan: I see, sir.

    Their skipper popped his round the dressing room door. We suggested Tom do the toss, but we had to decide if we would bat or field first if he won it.

    Tom: Can you open the batting? We’ve got to get out there before the Wantage return.

    Matt: I don’t think I can make it. It’s too hot. You go on, Master Tom. There’s no sense in you risking yourself on my account. I’m done for.

    Tom: No, you’re not. What kind of talk is that?

    Ches: Robin. Robin Bradley. Boy, am I glad to see you!

    The Harpenden party had arrived, just I the nick of time.

    Skip: Where’s the toilet:toilet

    Matt: Head for that small moon.

    Skip: That’s no moon…It’s an air vent.

    Ches: I have a very bad feeling about this.

    Skip: Pirate Steve, before we beat you today I would like you to be my guest in the middle at a tossing ceremony that will make this game operational.

    Pirate Steve: The more you tighten your grip, Skip, the more chances will slip through your fingers.

    Skip: Not after we demonstrate the power of this team. In a way, you have determined the choice of the batsman that’ll be destroyed first. Since you are reluctant to provide us with a batting line up, I have chosen to test this teams destructive power… on your opening partnership.

    Pirate Steve: No! We have no regular opening batsman. You can’t possibly…

    Skip: You would prefer another target? A middle order batsman perhaps? Then name the openers.

    Dave: I grow tired of asking this. So, it’ll be the last time. What is your batting line up?

    Pirate Steve: Fazal and Porter to open, with Bramley in at 3…

    Dave: There. You see Skip, Steve can be reasonable.

    Dave:  Continue with the game. You may open the bowling when ready.

    Pirate Steve: What?

    Dave: You’re far too trusting. Your openers are too good to make an effective demonstration. But don’t worry. We will deal with your tail end soon enough.

    Before starting we get some quick fielding practice in and Matt turns his arm over a few times watched by fellow `spinner’ Ches.

    Faggie: Hokey religions and ancient spin bowlers are no match for a good fast bowler in your side, kid.

    Matt: You don’t believe in Legspinners, do you?

    Faggie: Kid, I’ve bowled from one side of this galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful legspinner controlling everything. There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny. It’s all a lot of Googlies and nonsense.

    Faggie: I call it luck.

    Ches: In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck, apart from when you take a wicket.

    Faggie: Look, practicing in the nets is one thing. Going up against real batsman in the middle? That’s something else.

    Matt: You know, I did feel something. I could almost get some spin.

    Ches: That’s good. You have taken your first step into the larger world of legspin.

    Just before we went out to bowl Skip provided the perfect team talk.

    Skip: The run up will not be easy. You are required to manoeuvre the ball straight down the corridor of uncertainty and skim the surface on a decent length. The target area is just outside off stump. A precise delivery will start a chain reaction which should destroy their entire batting line up. Only a precise delivery will set up the chain reaction. The batsman has a ray-shield-like defence, so you’ll have to use a googlie.

    Tom: That’s an impossible delivery, even for a Quokka.

    Ches: It’s not impossible. I used to bull’s-eye womp rats in my T-sixteen back home. They’re not much bigger than a stump.

    Skip decided to open the bowling with Evil Dave and Faggie, who both charged in under a blazing hot sun.

    Dave: I’ve been waiting for you, Pirate Steve. We meet again, at last. The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the batsman; now I am the master bowler.

    Pirate Steve: Only a master of evil, Dave.

    Dave: Your powers are weak, old man.

    Pirate Steve: You can’t win, Evil Dave. If you bowl me out, we shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

    Pirate Steve to Conan: Aren’t you a little short to be a Quokkas?

    As is so often the case Faggie beat the bat often, but invariably was nowhere near the stumps.

    Skip: If he bowls as fast as he’s boasting, we ought to do well.

    Tom: What a piece of junk. Pitch it up.

    Faggie: I may not look like much, but I’ve got it where it counts, kid.

    Skip: Listen Faggie. I don’t know who you are, or where you came from, but from now on, you need to bowl straight. Okay?

    Faggie: Look, your worshipfulness, let’s get one thing straight. I take orders from one person. Me.

    Matt: Why don’t you outpace them? I thought you said you were fast.

    Faggie: Watch your mouth, kid, or you’re going to find yourself walking home.

    Ches: How long before we can take you off?

    Faggie: It’ll take a few overs before the batsmen start coordinating the ball to the boundary.

    Tom: Are you kidding? At the rate they’re scoring?

    Faggie: Bowling fast isn’t like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations the ball could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova and that’d end your trip to Wantage real quick, wouldn’t it?

    Tom: What’s the problem?

    Faggie: We’re losing our ring of steel. Go strap yourself in, I’m about to be taken off and Ches is first change!

    Both Quokkas toil away in the searing heat, Faggie eventually getting his reward with a couple of wickets, but as their number 4 made his way to 50, Dave started to tire.

    Dave: This is ridiculous. Even if I could get some bounce, I’d never get past the outside edge.

    Skip: Leave that to me.

    Faggie: Damn fool. I knew that you were going to say that.

    Skip: Who’s the more foolish… the fool or the fool who follows him?

    Ches: The number 4 bat has a lot of force with him.

    Skip: You’re right, he must not be allowed to get away.

    Ches: Escape is not his plan. I must face him alone.

    Skip: OK next over this end Ches?

    Ches: This is not going to work.

    Skip: Why didn’t you say so before?

    Ches: I did say so before. I have a very bad feeling about this.

    As the batsman start to get away and we labour in the field, mercilessly its drinks, whereupon Conan makes an important discovery.

    Conan: We found the score book, sir.

    Skip: Take a look. We should be able to see their entire season showing us their strengths and weaknesses.

    Conan: I’ve found the main batsman that’s holding their team together. I’ll try to make the precise location in the batting line up. Their number 4 has every shot in the book hitting the ball to seven locations. A slower ball with turn bowled just outside off stump will allow the batsman to leave.

    Skip decided to make a double change, bringing both me and himself on. After I was hit for a few fours and a six, the ball starts to turn a little and a double bounce yorker has the batter in all sorts of trouble.

    Faggie: What the hell are you doing?

    Ches: Somebody has to save our skins.

    An appeal for no reason whatsoever is followed by a ball tossed up that the number 4 bat fails to read. Although the ball disappears high into the sky, Jordan makes a terrific diving catch. A pivotal wicket perhaps.

    Faggie: If we can just avoid any more of Skip’s advice, we ought to be able to get them out here.

    As is so often the case, one wicket brings another and Skips full and straight deliveries rip through our opponents’ middle order. With seven wickets taken by Skip and myself the damage has been done and Matt and Jordan are brought on to clean up the tail.

    Jordan: I’ve analysed their attack sir and there is a danger. Should I remove the slip?

    Skip: Evacuate? In out moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances!

    wantage_teaAfter one or two looseners, Jordan then found his range enabling him to grab the last wicket with a straight full pitched delivery. Our opponents have managed to score 133.  Possibly the finest tea this side of Totooine (pavlova, mozzarella and cherry tomatoes on sticks, vodka jellies and the best chocolate cake ever tasted) gives us the time to discuss boat trips to Rottnest Island, Romanian `discotheques’ and inadequate father days. Fascinating stuff, but with the alcoholic punch all but gone we must get out to the middle to bat.

    Skip: “Tom, open the batting will you. I want those runs knocked off before dinner.”

    Tom: “Awww Skip, but I was going into Toshi Station to pick up some power converters…”

    Jordan: Tom’s just not a cricketer Skip. He has too much of a farmer in him. 

    Tom is joined in the middle by Faggie, both resplendent in the new man-size Quokka baggy caps. They both start well against some very accurate spin bowling and pacey cutters. Tom keeps out several Yorkers, whilst Faggie plays a measured game, by his standards, offering only the odd half chance. Eventually as the bowlers tire, Faggie starts to open up his shoulders, carving the ball to all parts of the ground.

    Faggie: “Not a bad bit of batting, huh? You know, sometimes I even amaze myself.”

    Tom: “Nice kid, but don’t get cocky”

    Having seen off the opening bowlers with a series of fine cuts and drives, the Wantage skipper turned to his slower bowlers. A young lady at the far end was immediately underestimated by Faggie, who, having failed to get to the pitch of the ball, looped an aimless shot high into the midwicket area. Fortunately, it fell just out of reach of any fielder. 

    Faggie: “Everything is under control. Situation normal.

    Tom: “What happened”

    Faggie: “Uh… had a slight bat malfunction. But, uh, everything’s perfectly all right now. I’m fine. We’re all fine here, now, thank you. How are you?”

    Tom: “Conan’s padding up”

    Faggie: “Uh, uh, negative. We had a talent leak here now. Give us a few minutes to lock it down. Large leak… very dangerous.

    That minor scare apart, the home side failed to trouble either batsman and Faggie continued to pile on the runs, breaking the clubhouse TV arial with a six. Several well-timed fours through midwicket see the scoreboard race along, with Tom adding to the home team’s woes with a brilliantly timed four to the third man boundary. Two further bowling changes fail to break up the partnership, which now threatens to smash all Quokka records. With just 3 needed it fell to Faggie to hit the winning boundary.

    WantagepitchWe had reached out target in just 18.1 overs without losing a wicket. The successful batsman were of course met with the usual Quokkas congratulations as they left the field.

    Skip: Batting paradise. It’s the only explanation for the ease of our victory.

    Faggie: Easy… you call that easy?

    So, two games into the season and having won both handsomely the Quokkas can feel pretty content with their efforts. On the long drive home, I reflected on the day’s action, but struggled to find any correlation with the Star Wars film. Perhaps Quokkas matches have more in common with the Raiders of the lost ark, Airplane or Goodfellas. I’m not sure. Certainly, some food for thought there. Until the next episode…

    Ches

    Tags: ,

  • Harpenden Dolphins 89 all out (Garlic Bread 2-17, Ray 2-7, Jerry 2-12) lost to Quokkas 92 for 3 (Jordan 40 n.o. )

    Uncertainty analysis

    In quantum mechanics, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is any of a variety of mathematical inequalities asserting a fundamental limit to the precision with which certain pairs of physical properties of a particle, known as complementary variables, such as position x and momentum p, can be known. What is certain about a Quokka match that is proceeded by an evening with Skip, is that I will have similar levels of tiredness to that of a parent coping with teething or a cattle class traveller making his way to New Zealand. And this, the first game of the 2017 season, was no different. The Saturday started with a few beers in the glorious sunshine listening to the Aussies being taken to the absolute cleaners, before rolling smoothly into Sunday morning drinking Glayva and watching Lee Griffith become famous for something other than his ludicrous hairline. Luckily though, a gaggle of young children keen to learn the fine art of leg spin ensured that my lie in was brief. After three showers to remove the smell of smoke, from Skips fire-pit, from my pores, we are ready to rock and roll.

    Normally, when it comes to the fundamental limits of the Quokkas bowling a cork particle covered in leather, there doesn’t tend to be much precision, but there is a hell of a lot of complementary variables. But this wasn’t you average opening day of the season type affair, with us chasing the ball to the boundary all day before showing we are unsure which end of the bat to hold. It was different, a complete role reverse in fact, and felt something akin to one of those films where there is a lightning storm overnight and you wake up in the body of another person. Actually, never mind Freaky Friday, this was more along the lines of Skip finding a Zoltar machine, pulling the power lead out and wishing for an opening game victory. The result of that wish was the Quokkas following the Nerdlucks lead by purloining talent from somewhere (perhaps the Aussie ODI side, if their display on Saturday was anything to go by), which enabled us to bowl the opposition out for 89 before knocking them off with ease within 18 overs.

    It was as an assured display and comprehensive a victory as you will ever likely to witness in the history of the Quokkas…of that I am certain. Think England destroying the Aussies in the ICC Trophy in June 2017 (I had better mention that here in case you missed the reference to it in the previous paragraph. And if you missed the match itself, here’s some Aggers commentary: “Smash…oh I say, that one has gone into outer space…it’s actually into the third tier…the Aussies are getting some tremendous tap here from the English batsman). Quite simply the Quokkas were like, well, the Quokkas T:20 team, only longer in the tooth, better looking (in my case) and slightly more interested in the type of cake being served at tea (Mr Kipling’s Country Slices made a rare outing if you were interested).

    On a pitch offering a little pace and varying bounce, Garlic Bread prospered early on, beating the bat continuously, but without success until Bow Tie Killer provided the complementary variable to the pair. When you think of Quokka reactions in the field, the formation of rust springs to mind, but fuelled by a bar-b-q hosted by our very own Al `Skip’ Czervik, Conan showed the reaction time of an explosion to snaffle one of the finest catches you will see (or miss if you blinked) all summer. Not to be outdone Skip grabbed an absolute beauty at first slip, thankful at completely ignoring Roger-Roger’s observation, from his dreadful position at long on, that the slip cordon was too deep.

    At the other end, Tom the Yak delighted Skip with an almost metronomic display of precision bowling that kept the opponents star batsman away from the strike and the run rate below two an over. We’ve been here before though, well maybe not the less than two an over part, the opening spell is decent, but with a change of bowling the accuracy, velocity and certainty then emulates the Seneca Effect. Jerry, one of several debutants and the latest Quokka to be born this side of the millennium had other ideas, overcoming his initial struggle with the 1-in-3 climb to the crease to keep up the momentum. Having accepted some words of wisdom from Skip, hopefully on the merits of avoiding leaving black socks in washing machine rather than tips on fashion or how to bowl, he claimed a pair of wickets, thanks in part, to a remarkable grab, at the second attempt, by Hairdresser.

    At the other end, Ray (another debutant) came thundering down the hill to put the fear of god into the Harpenden batsman. As you all know, the quality of a Quokka is not measured in talent alone, which is just as well as we don’t have anyone that knows how to use a micrometer, but here we are graced with one of the most self-effacing cricketers you are ever likely to meet. “I used to bowl the odd over” proved to be somewhat of an understatement. A lack of whites often lulls you into a false sense of security, but as anyone familiar with the Lagrange–d’Alembert principle will know, when you have acceleration and a small mass bowled with huge force, you get a delivery that whistles past a batsman’s ear. As you can guess, his efforts didn’t go unrewarded, taking a brace before Skip offered his opponents some much needed respite.

    It wasn’t all about velocity I might add. There is no finer compliment for a slow bowler than being described as “a spinner” by your opponent, even one so obviously unqualified to make that distinction. But filling in for The Egg, Matt offered some excellent flight and a certain degree of uncertainty to trouble both batsman and grab a wicket of his own. The last time we saw Hairdresser he was performing post-modern expressionist dance routines with a black leather belt tied round his neck (Ed: thanks Ches, it’s taken me until now to get that terrible picture out of my head), but having spent the morning bowling beamers at his three young daughters, he instantly reaped the benefit by clean bowling their number 9 with his first delivery. Roger-Roger, resplendent in half mast trousers and secret service sunglasses, presumably to prevent blindness from his colourful footware, cleaned up the tail, leaving the home team with just 89 to defend.

    We spent tea arguing the merits of emu burgers, mulling over leylandii arboriculture and discussing the need for soundproofing in caravan toilet walls. Fascinating stuff, but as some of us are losing hair by the hour these days, we need to press on. Jordan our debutant Aussie (they’re the ones that lost to England on Saturday) and Hairdresser are thrust into the middle to see us home. And it was looking very much that way until the fine opening stand was broken by Hairdressers’ inability to ground his bat, or run fast, or call, or make a half decent decision about when to run or not. It did little to stop the flow of runs as Jordan hit the ball repetitively to the boundary with some genuine cricket shots (probably got some tips from the England batsman on Saturday). We did wander whether the playing down of his ability during the pre-game meat fest was a ruse. “Not played cricket since school”, doesn’t quite have the same meaning if, as we discovered, you are employed as a school teacher (probably of cricket).

    For a New York Second, I did manage to make it look like Jordan wasn’t a ringer, but, so excited at getting the ball off the square, I decided to dance down the wicket like a man that knew what he was doing, only to discover he was mistaken. It mattered not, as Conan emulated his English ODI batting heroes (did I mention the crushing defeat of the Aussies the previous day?) by smashing inferior bowling to the boundary, shortly before emulating the South African’s running between the wickets. It therefore fell to Roger-Roger, who promised not to leave anything in the dressing room, to see us home. And he did just that, demonstrating a fantastic eye and some unorthodox footwork when carving the bowling through midwicket and hitting the winning runs via a lofted drive over long on.

    A great start to the season and a terrific weekend in Harpenden, which is perhaps why I am struggling this morning to write an article for my client about `uncertainty analysis’, but I’m sure, no, I’m certain I will find some inspiration from somewhere.

    Ches

   

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