• With the BBC’s Test Match Special failing to secure the rights to England’s winter tour of the West Indies, it’s been a long old winter having to listen to Rob Key’s monotone voice on Talkshite. This then has given me plenty of time to play Championship Manager Season 96/97, listen to the FEWS new album Into Red, and trawl through Youtube unearthing all manner of strange and wonderful things. I don’t know what’s more surprising, discovering that George Best appeared on Bullseye, scoring a not too shabby 187 with his 9 darts, or finding out that there was a US gameshow of the same name.

    I guess on reflection, it’s not terribly surprising that a man, famed for Verger-like drinking prowess, was reasonably good at a traditional pub game. Equally, you probably won’t be all that surprised to learn that the American Bullseye didn’t feature any darts. I know what you’re thinking – the darts were replaced by guns, right? And yes, that would probably have made great TV, but sadly not. Instead it was simply a set of quiz questions selected by the stopping of three spinning circular windows, by a contestant hitting a plunger. Hmmm…
    Bullseye returned to my attention yesterday as a host of `look what you could have won’ type memes were found filling my timeline – celebrating the bin dippers failure to witness the Premier League title being won for the second time at Anfield, with Blackburn securing the first, of course. Classic twitter humour! And this gave me the perfect opportunity to post some of Tony Green’s prize board one liners, such as “stitched up – a fabulous automatic knitting machine”, “what the clock – a timeless classic, a gold effect carriage clock” and “hit the skids – practice wheelies with this pair of roller skates”.

    I may have digressed here slightly, [Ed: it wouldn’t be the first time] but what I am trying to say is that seeing photo-shopped images of the former bin man, Jim Bowen, holding the Premiership trophy aloft, was pretty apt, because our very own Binman was to play a central role in [Ed: Arya kills the Night King-type spoiler alert] the English lifting the 2019 Quokkas Ashes on Sunday. First, we had basketball legend Larry Bird, then Welsh pie eater Neville Southall and now we have a star cricketer that is equally comfortable collecting our refuse.

    Yes, in a week when football has totally dominated the sporting conversation, the Quokkas Ashes almost went under the radar. And with The Egg coming off second best in a game of chicken with a London bus (bringing the transport network to a grinding halt) it looked like we would struggle to get a game at all. In the end we were one or two short, but 8-a-side cricket seems to be `in vogue’ these days, so without further ado, Skip put the world’s sixth largest country, by area, into bat.

    The key to these affairs in my opinion is to:

    1. eat lots of cake,
    2. wind the Aussies up as much as possible
    3. go for the jugular immediately.

    So, on the back of three straight Ashes defeats, and faced with openers Slick and Nick (nickname still to be assigned), Skip brought Binman, fresh from his London marathon stroll, straight into the attack.

    You may be excused for wondering if those 26.2 miles had taken a little zip out of his bowling. If there had been any zip prior to his charity jog, then you would have been absolutely correct. Despite this, he promptly claimed two wickets in the first over and three in total, which put the tourists very much on the back foot.

    Tom the Yak, representing another one of our former minor colonies and quite rightly playing for Queen and her wonderful country, provided excellent support at the other end. The sum of which was the first 6 overs going for just 40 runs. With three wickets lost (-5 for each wicket) the net total was 25. We had the convicts in trouble early.

    The next two felons out in the middle were Ian (nickname also to be assigned) and The Attack, who demonstrated every possible agricultural heave against England’s very finest and bravest young tommies, The Egg and Snoop. A devious switch hit by Dac in the opposite direction to a packed leg side field showed a complete lack of respect for the traditions of the game and the underhandedness of these jailbirds. Sadly, runs began to flow, which called for some ingenuity.

    Not known for his kamikaze fielding, or fielding in general, Skip, donning the gloves for the first time, decided to put his finely tuned body on the line by literally throwing himself in front of another ugly shot from Dac. He regretted that decision instantly, taking the full force of the shot on his knee. Although this prevented an almost certain single, it also forced him to the sidelines to recover. Being able to reside in very close proximity to the pending tea was a small consolation. “Yeah, great effort…but next time just catch it”. Banter.

    Bludgeoning his way, in typical Aussie fashion, to a respectable 48, in a reasonable, OK, fairly decent partnership of 71, Dac did give up his wicket a grand total of three times. With his partner Ian being out once, that thankfully meant another 20 runs were removed from the total.

    History was made during this set of six overs, with three generations of the Bradleys representing the Quokkas in the same match. Young Harry took a fabulous catch on the boundary (which had absolutely nothing to do with coaching from Dad prior to the innings), grandfather gave the wicket (and then later bowled a tidy over) and Skip had absolutely no involvement whatsoever, as he was busy cutting another wedge of coffee cake to “help ease the pain from his knee”.

    Rent-a-Australian Fruiti (How could you? Why would you?) and Micky were the next batsman pairing, with a Bradley-father-and-son bowling tandem doing their best to keep them in check. Despite a first wicket for the only mobile Bradley on the field, some measured batting from Fruiti and some lusty blows [Question from Mrs Ches: is that some sort of pornographic term?] from Micky, kept the scoreboard ticking over. A total of 55 runs were added, minus just five for the solitary wicket.

    Talking of lusty blows, I had the best seat in the house to see multiple, as 2018 Bestest and Fairest Winner, Faggie, took advantage of my slow, looping, non-turning, non-spinning buffet bowling. When you bowl perhaps your best delivery of the season, and it still ends up in the next field, you know you are in trouble. My only hope was that he’d put his back out smashing yet another into next week. He didn’t. Fortunately, Bow Tie Killer didn’t get the chance to get his eye in and Evil Dave was far less generous than I, so this kept things reasonably tight at the other end. Despite this, 76 more runs were added, enabling the Aussies to set us a very gettable 206 to win

    A Quokkas tea (thank you Mrs Bradley) consisting of fizzy pop, beer, cake, cake and more cake, provided amble refreshment and plenty of time to work our way through the Indianapolis Colts 2019 draft picks, the merits of kaiseki dining in Kyoto and the limited appeal of the Portsmouth historic dockyard to a six year old. Fascinating stuff, I’m sure you will all agree, but with a cream sponge demolished and an Ashes to reclaim, it was time to put these Aussies to the sword.

    Evil Dave and The Yak, both fine upstanding, salt of the earth Englishmen, strode confidently out into the middle. Perhaps heeding Tony Green’s words of wisdom for contestants at the oche: “settle in, take your time”, they got us off to a wonderful start, methodically scoring 69 runs without offering even the remotest chance of the loss of a wicket. In contrast, every possible chance was taken to tempt some Australian fielders with some tasty verbal bait, which snagged the odd medium slow bowler in the outfield.

    You may have been impressed by the viral video showing fathers saving kids from impending injury with great catches and removal from the path of runaway vehicles , but none of them did so whilst batting out in the middle, did they? Snoop, on the other hand, has such a good eye, that he could not only pick the bad ball and brilliantly time it through the onside fielding cordon on his way to 49, but could also ensure that Binman was fulfilling his child-minding duties. Now that’s impressive.

    In total, 68 runs (net 58) were added by Skip and Snoop, despite some excellent bowling from Fruiti and Locky, who personally claimed two wickets. The Egg and Harry then continued our path to glory with a mix of solid defence, incisive attacking shots and great running, this despite a potential matching winning bowling partnership from Conan and Nick.

    65 runs were needed from the last six over series as Binman and myself entered the fray to face Micky and Faggie. A net score of 29 from the first three overs meant we were right on track, but just 14 from the next two left us requiring 22 from the final Faggie over.

    Binman enquired as to the plan. I replied, “You’ve got the time it takes for them to revolve the field to decide what to do” and his reply was “We’re gonna gamble Ches, we’re gonna gamble” and with that an Ashes legend was made. Take it away Tony and Jim:

    In one: a clubbed ball by Binman through the leg side for four runs

    In two: another clubbed ball by Binman through the leg side for four runs

    In three: you’ve guessed it, a clubbed ball by Binman through the leg side for four runs

    In four: yet another clubbed ball by Binman through the leg side for four more runs

    In five: one more clubbed ball by Binman through the leg side for four runs

    In six: we are mixing it up, a scrambled single and a no ball

    In seven: a dot ball and the avoidance of a wicket. No minus five here.

    And bully’s special prize: the Ashes returning home to their rightful owners – the world’s 80th largest nation, by area, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    And of course, for our Australian Quokkas, just the bus fare home. You’re welcome.

    For balance I had a quick chat with one of the Aussies after the game:

    “Where’s the nearest milk bar mate?”

    I have no idea.

    “OK mate, hooroo.”

    Footnote: Only one Bradley was hurt during the making of this match.



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