Whalers CC 94 (Yak 4/15, Evil D 2/19) lost to Quokkas CC 117 (Ches 33, Faggy 24)
I’m sure you’ve all heard of Gustave Whitehead, the German-born Connecticotian that was the first man to fly a powered plane in early 1903, right? (Ed: Ches, are you not thinking of Wilber and Orville Wright? Oh wow, 35 years on and I just realise the inspiration for Keith Harris’ dummy)
Well OK, perhaps the Wright’s claim is stronger, but is that simply because it is backed up by the Smithsonian’s, fearful of having the historic flying machine removed from their museum should they ever recognise that an alternative was `capable of carrying a man under its own power in controlled flight’ before the Wrights? Who knows, but Whitehead’s problem is not just down to the might of the Smithsonian’s PR machine, it’s more attributable to there being no creditable witnesses, no drawings, no photographs and the only reports available merely suggesting that he was a romancer and a supreme master of the gentle art of lying.
I’m inclined to tell the odd fisherman’s tale now and then myself, so in a hundred years it will be seen as fortunate that, along with The Egg, the Quokkas scorebook made a welcome return last week, otherwise there might be some doubters as to the remarkable Quokkas bowing performance on Sunday. An opposing team skittled out for 94 and The Yaks seven overs claiming four wickets for fifteen runs are the sort of pie in the sky figures that Quokkas can usually only dream of, or lie about. However, unlike Gustave’s efforts, this incredibly unimportant moment in the history of cricket has been recorded for prosperity and available for the whole world to see. Well, at least until we lose the scorebook in Bucharest during some alcohol-fuelled escape and then we will have to rely on the memories of 10 aging and very biased cricketers.
I was reminded of the Wright’s and Whitehead’s fight to conquer the skies by the seemingly endless aeronautical battle between plane and helicopter that took place above our heads all afternoon on Sunday. Airbus 319 was followed by Bell407, Boeing 747-8s by Marenco SKYe09s and MD-11 by Robinson R44. Why anyone attends the Farnborough International Air Show when the Kings House Sports ground hosts the most comprehensive display of in service aircraft is beyond me. As distracting or entertaining these aircraft might be (which depends on how devoid of a personal life you might have), the accompanying overhead conditions had a much greater impact on the match as a whole. Vast sways of stratus and cumulus nimbostratus, combined with the typical Londinium July temperatures helped create the perfect storm for medium paced swing bowlers. Which is something I quickly learned as I edged a ball straight in and out of their keepers’ hands in the very first over.
No, I’ve not missed anything out here. With only five Quokkas present at the toss and an important part of my brain located somewhere in a field in Hampshire preventing me from finding a suitable excuse, I was opening the batting for the first time since 1991. Although a team of five (two batsmen, two umpires and a scorer) is ample to get the game underway, quick wickets could seriously undermine the longevity of our innings. So, with the ashes dropped, so to speak (Ed: Don’t make me laugh), I was given free reign to demonstrate my full portfolio of leaves and blocks for an extended period. As a result, it was a painfully slow start, but in Slick and I’s defence, we were facing some decent late swing bowling. Said swing eventually did for Slick when attempting to move things along. The innings of The Yak, in at a lofty three, never really took off and he sadly fell in similar fashion to Slick. Our opponents smelt blood. Thankfully by now re-enforcements had arrived, but the scorer won’t have been unduly concerned as to whether he had packed a spare pencil sharpener as next in Skip was also quickly undone by the `swing’, or as Fruiti remarked, `playing down the wrong line’.
We seemed to be hovering on the edge of the abyss, but the one run an over scoring rate was given a shot in the arm by Faggie, dispatching several over-pitched balls through cover. This encouraged me to try to get the odd ball off the square myself and between us we added fifty with little incident.
Three dots balls in a row were more than Faggie’s patience could bear though, which led to his downfall. As skip opined that “he could get out here”, Fagster attempted a lofted drive to a ball he would have been better off blocking. After that, wickets fell at regular intervals, before a daddy day care outing provided Snoop with a rare opportunity to strut his stuff in the middle helping us propel past the hundred mark.
We eventually finished 117 all out, which DOC felt was about 117 runs short – we would have our work cut out.
Over tea, which included the finest chicken sandwiches I’ve had in a long time, we discussed the wind tunnel tests to determine the appropriate conditions for swing bowling performed by NASA aerodynamic scientist Rabi Mehta (maximum lateral force is experienced at 112kmph with seam at 200 to the bowling direction and a backspin velocity of 11 revolutions per second, if you are asking), Jarvis Cocker’s northern authenticity, the slow emergence of Pulp and whether the total volume of 100 shots of beer was greater or less than five pints. All fascinating stuff, but with Skip correctly concerned that the crows were consuming his banana left out on the pitch, we needed to get this flying circus back in the air.
Low scoring affairs are usually the most exciting games and we often play our part in creating such affairs. Ensuring our opponents also participate obviously relies on finding a Quokka able to bowl three or four consecutive balls with similar line and length. Without that at his disposal, Skip settled on Evil Dave and The Yak, who, fresh from two weeks of NTPA tractor pulling events looked keen drag us back into the match. As dog lovers the world over know, `Friends don’t make friends wait in the car’, but a thirty minute `sauna’ in the back of Skip’s Audi provided the perfect warm up for Evil. Fired up and ready to burn his foe, Dave proceeded to bowl a truly terrible first over. Thankfully that was not indicative of what was to come, which as it turned out was excellent line and length stuff that continuously troubled the openers. At the other end, The Yak took the pace off the ball, enabling him to provide the accuracy needed to pin down the batsman. As pressure built, wickets fell, first one (Ed: that’s how it usually starts), then a second, a third…you get the idea. At 21 for 4 we seemed to be in the driving seat, but keen to sniff out any quality batsman hiding down the order, the two completed their spells, eventually taking 6 for 34 from 14 overs between them. A simply marvellous display of bowling that had left us on the verge of victory.
Which was all but assured when Skip grabbed the key wicket with a super delivery caught beautifully by Faggie at first slip. Skip then showed some generosity to our opponents by bringing on Faggie, but even he managed to bowl a straight delivery which had the number 8 “plumb” in front. A late rally, including the first four of the Whaler’s reply from `Special K’, kept the Quokkas on their toes, but a wicket from the equally frugal Fruiti and the killer blow from a wonderfully flighted ball from The Egg, saw the Quokkas home to a famous victory.
The drive home would now fly by, but beforehand 7-up shandies all round gave the Quokkas the chance to discuss Qantas’ inevitable sponsorship of the Rottnest tour – the airline having recently named one of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners after us. The opportunity to host Ronnie’s attempt on David Boon’s drinking record is bound to lift them to the upper echelons of aviation world.
Aviation has come a long way since Clément Ader’s managed to gain significant distance, but not altitude, in his self-propelled aircraft in 1890 and the Quokkas seem to have progressed nicely too since being bowled out for 23 and losing by 236 runs during their first season. Three wins, one draw and a solitary defeat would normally be seen as very unQuokka-like, but in a season where Quokkas are flying so high they threaten to give NASA a fright (sorry Mr Ashcroft) maybe we have found our level. See all of you highflyers at Luton Airport…