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  • Quokkas CC 167 for 6 (Girish 64 n/o, Prateek 26, Todd 19) beat Wantage CC 65 all out (Faggie 3-105, Egg 3-18, Yak 2-15)

    It’s gripped, it’s sorted. It’s the Quokkas annual fixture at the wonderful Wantage Cricket Club.

    Cricket matches are brilliant, aren’t they? They last five days, or one if you want, or even just an hour or two, it don’t matter. The whole point of ’em is you don’t have to do ‘ouse work, if you got a ‘ouse that is. And you can play in foreign countries, any of ’em you like, like France or that other one. And you get to go on a plane, planes are brilliant aren’t they? Imagine what holidays must be like without ’em, to get to France would take like years and years and you would’ve had to swim the Channel with your suitcases and your pyjamas would’ve got all wet. But you can get on a plane, which is brilliant, and some of ’em now go faster than the speed of sound, which is really brilliant. ‘Cause that means, before you went, you could shout ‘hello’ and when you got there, if you really really listened, you could probably hear yourself, like far-off and distant, like ‘hello’, like an echo, ‘hello’.

    It wasn’t exactly scorchio on Sunday, and there were no signs of Chrissy Waddle, but it certainly was a fast show, with the Quokkas bowling out the home side for 65 in just 25 overs and reaching an enhanced total in well under 30 overs. (Ed: That’s amazing mate).

    Despite this success, for some, specifically me, cricket, has become the ‘ardest game in the world. I used to be a cricketer, thirty years, man and boy, yeah, but I’m more of a specialist stand in captain in the Mike Brearley mould these days as I can’t bat, can’t bowl and the fielding leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately, like Mike, I’ve got some half decent cricketers in the same side that can make me look good. Ali, The Yak and Faggie for starters, who combined for six wickets from 17 overs for just thirty runs. Which was nice. The support bowling wasn’t too bad either, with Prateek going for just five runs from his three overs, Radio 10 and The Egg 18, with the latter pair cleaning up the tail extremely efficiently. Great.

    It wasn’t totally straight forward. On a pitch offering no bounce at all, those bowlers preferring the `hand grenade’ trajectory found that anything less than a full length produced a multi bouncing delivery. Egg cleaned bowled several players, only for deliveries to be called no balls. It mattered little. As was the case last season, I did my best impression of Tommy trying to lose at pool to Begbie, but every time I tried to miss, I pot a ball. It’s not often you can say the Quokkas were just too good, this would be the first and probably last, but when Faggie and The Egg both take two wickets in an over, this is as good as it gets. Actually, for all the great bowling, the highlight of the innings for me was seeing Radio John protecting his famous big toe from a fierce Ali run out attempt by stopping the ball with his shins. Great.

    If you like cheese and you like peas, you’ll love Wantage teas…or the array of Mr Kipling’s cakes brought by Radio and the Yak as teas are obviously not permitted during the current cough, cough, cough, pandemic, arse. This week I will mostly be eating fondant fancies whilst Swiss Todd explains to me that “cricket is very much like making love to a beautiful lady. You can spend an eternity awaiting for your chance, and then out of nowhere you’re in and you need to both hold an end up and impress with your bat, but if you get overexcited, it can be all over so quickly and then everyone is disappointed…” If I’m honest I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, but I’m afraid of course, he was very, very drunk.

    With either side able to win or it could be a draw, I sent in the debutant Girish along with The Irish Driver. Girish was welcomed to the crease with a beamer that almost decapitated him. Suit you sir? Once a helmet was retrieved from the car, he played himself in nicely, before going through the gears and playing some wonderful shots. Radiant sir, radiant. At the other end, the Irish Driver fell afoul to not only the varied bounce, but also the uneven umpiring, as the `double bounce’ no ball rule was instantly forgotten by Radio. The shot may have been on the ugly side of horrible, but there isn’t much you can do with a Trevor Chappell daisy cutter. I never comment on umpires, and I am not going to break a habit of a lifetime for that prat (Ed: is that a Ron manager quote Seagull? Jumpers for wickets…beans on toast, aye? It’s all about the two b’s, bowling and catching…). When Herc’s stumps were turned into kindling by a more orthodox delivery, our enhanced target of 165 (I added the 100 runs to your bowling figures Faggies by the way) looked a long way off.

    Todd, still moaning about a dropped catch from his bowling five games previous and me giving him out leg before wicket 18 months ago, was next in and used that angst to get the scoreboard quickly moving. So much so that Herc tried to prove that he is more useful than a chocolate fireguard in the field by blocking a certain Girish four whilst umpiring at square leg. When Todd departed, fellow debutant Prateek, who had impressed with the ball, provided excellent support to Girish, and the pair dispatched anything short to the boundary. Just as it looked like they would see us home, one held up and Prateek was out caught and bowled. Buggar. Faggie, keen to get to KFC, came in and scratched around initially before eventually smashing anything loose to the boundary. Run. Run. When he was out, I looked good for one of the three deliveries faced, before leaving it to Yak and Garish to get the winning runs. Nice.

    Afterwards we took four cardboard tubes and then proceeded to place them on the floor. Making four columns, equidistantly thus. We wanted to test if these cardboard tubes would support the average body-weight of a human man. No.

    Actually what we did do, as we shared a beer with our opponents, was help the Yak introduce Sofia to the wonderful game of cricket and from what I saw it won’t be long before the second generation of Quokkas are replacing…does anyone fancy a pint? [Ed: very nicely done Seagull)

    See you at Hartfield, where extra cakes may be required.

    Seagull

  • Quokkas CC 252 for 9 (Todd 67, Danny Hercules Zuko 66, Fruiti 41 n/o, Driver 38) beat Coldharbour CC 154 all out (Yak 4-29, Baggy 2-7, Fruiti 2-17)

    As I left Sunny Southsea™ to the sound of “men are rats, they’re fleas on rats, worse than that, they’re amoebas on fleas on rats. I mean they’re too low for even the dogs to bite…you’re a fake and a phoney and I wish I never paid eyes on you”, I wondered whether I had made the right decision to play cricket on Mrs Seagulls birthday. However, with a thousand piece jigsaw of dogs dressed as famous people on the go and Grease on the tele, I am not sure she even noticed that I’d left.

    With Skip now scouring Europe for new types of cake, I was looking to avoid a hattrick of defeats as stand in skipper in our annual fixture in the beautiful surrounds of Coldharbour. I know it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s what you do with your dancin’ shoes, but a headless Euro coin helped me win the toss, and get a well fed (I’m not hungry, just the double Polar Burger with everything and a cherry soda with chocolate ice cream) and raring to go quorum of Quokkas into bat on a decent track.

    I am not sure if Herc met Sandra Dee during his hiatus, but our very own Danny Zuko seemed a different guy on his return. He certainly shaped up with the bat, taking advantage of the best of the conditions and dispatching anything ugly to the boundary like grease lightnin’ [Ed: tell me more tell more]. The Driver seemed to have got his timing back too, playing some lovely on-drives, before proving that you can just walk out of a drive-in. [Ed: You’ve taken this Grease thing too far now Seagull]. Despite the run out, 88 runs for the first wicket was an excellent start, but there would be no respite for our opponents.

    With “Herc is a wanker” echoing around the ground, Todd joined him in the middle. As you will be aware, Todd plays every innings as though he has left a pint warming in the sun, but he showed much more patience here, waiting until his second ball before hitting his first six. That was one of 14 maximums from the Quokkas, which tested our opponents ball finding skills to the max, not helped by the Driver, who had earlier taken out a helpful golden retriever with a hook shot.

    Rain stops playOnly the weather could stop us now, and a torrential downfall did just that, just as we reached a hundred without further loss. We took an early tea consisting of Bassets Fizzy Fish and Drumstick Squashies and discussed the poor start to the Cincinnati Reds season, the disappearance of Tickets and the virtues of a Shaggarrama. Just as Type-2 Diabetes beckoned, the sun came out and the T-birds were back out to a much stickier wicket than before, although it didn’t stop both Danny Zuko and Todd reaching half centuries. Danny Zuko was eventually bowled as a century partnership beckoned. One wicket brought two, with Todd out caught and bowled with the damp pitch holding up a delivery.

    Conan, in his first game of the season, provided us with his trade mark smash through the offside and looked in fine form until a leaping googly forced him to play on. Baggy, The Yak, Ali and Radio all quickly came and went, giving the leg spinner a well-deserved five wicket haul for his efforts. Prof, no beauty school dropout, then steadied the ship and added to his growing list of red ink innings, while Fruiti, batting at ten, and once again repaying the lack of faith shown in him by his captain, almost reached his half century in the process of steering the Quokkas to over 250 from our 35 overs.

    Having told Ali he was the `one that I want’ to open, the batsman got chills as he beat them all ends up, time after time and the dot balls were multiplying, oh yes indeed. [Ed: absolutely seamless Seagull, no one will even notice] Whilst at the other end, the Yak was electrifying, and there was no chance of losing control. He and Baggy, who was lethal and had to be taken off after a couple of brilliant overs [Ed: you seem almost hopefully devoted to him Seagull], decimated our opponents top order, taking six wickets between them. The only negative being the Yaks hattrick ball, which almost took leg slip out. [Faggie: tell me about it, stud].

    Conan then went for just four runs from his four overs. Radio John, Prof and Danny Zuko all bowled equally well. Only Todd received any tap, as a solid Coldharbour batsman hiding down the order made good use of the short boundary. Fruiti soon restored order, pinning down him down with his usual excellent array of spin disguised as fast bowling, or is it fast bowling disguised as spin? We did discover his weakness though, with line and length going completely out the window when asked to toss the ball up to a youngster. Tossing the ball up is not something I have a problem with, but getting it to land somewhere near the wicket is, so after a few wicketless overs I turned to Radio once more and he claimed the last wicket.

    So, at long last the Quokkas win their first game of the season. High fives and hand jives all round. If truth be told, this game had everything, except cake and pork pies. Runs, wickets, catches, run outs, Conan smashes, batting collapses, rain, fog, sun, sea, sand…it has the making of a Hollywood movie. A musical even. I’ve got the lyrics sorted for the first song already:

    Quokka lovin’ a T20 blast
    Quokka lovin’ bowling so fast
    I met a girl crazy for faggie
    He’s a boy cute as can be
    Quokka bails flying away
    Uh-oh those Quokkas are shite

    See you at Wantage. Shut up Herc.
    Seagull

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  • Leigh CC 252 all out (Prof 3-11, Faggie 3-44) beat Quokkas CC 131 all out (Prof 29 n/o, Fruiti 22)

    I’m just catching up on this year’s contenders for the Darwin awards. Who the hell approaches a wild bear to get a selfie? I know it’s completely heartless, but for the sake of humanity, I can’t help but think we might better off without Mr Bhatara. The narrator of the film Idiocracy put it best:

    “As the 21st century began, human evolution was at a turning point. Natural selection, the process by which the strongest, the smartest, the fastest, reproduced in greater numbers than the rest, a process which had once favoured the noblest traits of man, now began to favour different traits. Most science fiction of the day predicted a future that was more civilised and more intelligent. But as time went on, things seemed to be heading in the opposite direction. A dumbing down. How did this happen? Evolution does not necessarily reward intelligence. With no natural predators to thin the herd, it began to simply reward those who reproduced the most, and left the intelligent to become an endangered species.”

    Reality appears to be mirroring fiction. I am Private Joe Bauers waking up from a five hundred year hibernation to find that society is so dumbed down that I am easily the most intelligent person alive. Common sense is no longer common and the ability to repeat `person, woman, man, camera, TV’  is seemingly enough to grant you access to the codes for the US nuclear deterrent. Jeez. Where do I sign up for Who Wants To Be A Zillionaire?

    OK, so maybe I’m not the most intelligent bloke in the world, but put me in a room with the dinkles running things on both sides of the pond at the moment and I’d probably be `in the top one’ as one rather famous Yorkshireman once said (Ed: vote Seagull). As they say, you can always tell a Yorkshireman, but you can’t tell him much. Actually, I might be as tight as a Scotsman with the generosity squeezed out of him, but I’m not a Yorkie. My Mum refused to be driven 250 miles north whilst nine months pregnant to ensure that I could play cricket for the white rose county. Despite this, I am definitely of Yorkshire stock as partakers of my Yorkshire puddings will testify. I’m not much of a ferret-legger, but there is plenty of nous and common sense. The latter certainly came in handy on Sunday when choosing to ignore my satnav’s instructions that would have taken me 250 miles north to `Leigh’. As someone that lives a Conan Smash from the Solent, I regard pretty much everywhere as `up norf’, but we were after the tranquil Surrey countryside, not the only place appearing twice in the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu’s `It’s Grim Up North’ .

    Unlike most of Greater Manchester, there is nothing grim about Leigh Cricket Club. Unfortunately, we missed out on retrieving countless boundaries from their thorn bushes last year due to a lack of numbers, but thanks to the ever growing Birmingham branch of the Quokkas, and Binman finding a backbone as well as his leathers, we pulled a half decent team together this year. Kanna even turned up to score for the day and boy did he do well to fit all of Radio’s dots into the scorebook. With Skip scouring the country for tour destinations, I took the helm again, and made a host of schoolboy errors, starting with putting them in, allowing them to take full advantage of a road, and then not providing a counter offer to their Skippers’ “40 overs, alright?” which meant we had an extra-long look at that road, with the blazing sun for company.

    With no change to our casual approach to timekeeping, we took to the field with nine players, who became well versed at finding balls in the bracken, as the Leigh batsman seemed to hit every other delivery for six. Debutant Ali, who looked like an actual cricketer, bowled their opening batsman and beat the bat numerous times. Faggie, looking more like a man that pretends to own a waterfront flat for a living, tended to find the middle of the bat, but added three more excellent wickets to the season’s haul, somehow.

    Runs continued to flow throughout the Leigh innings, mostly from Uwei, who decided not to play for us this year. He raced to his fifty before mercilessly getting himself out attempting a reverse sweep to a Fruiti straight one as a century beckoned. That provided some much needed respite, but when Arunav lost his rhythm, something about a broken hand, another swashbuckling batsman hiding down the order smashed a rapid half century including many more of those pesky sixes. “Just a bit deeper Radio, yep that’s it, behind the pavilion”. With discretion the better part of valour, I kept my bowling in reserve for another day.

    The Yak and Scott didn’t have that luxury, and to their credit they bowled one or two sublime deliveries, but also a few that required the use of a thesaurus. I think I will settle on `ghastly’. (ED: I am sure that will come in handy for that `other day’ you mentioned) To be fair, anything short, full, wide or on any kind of length headed for the hills. I brought Ali back on to stem the flow, along with the Professor, who claimed three wickets from three ugly deliveries. He surrounded those with many dot balls, helping him attain some excellent figures. The percentage of Quokkas wickets taken from half trackers now sits at 75% for the season. The innings ended with a swooping catch by Seagull, but a score of 252 looked sizeable.

    With COVID completely ruining the best part of the game, it was fortunate that we had our very own Deliveroo rider to hunt and gather suitable refreshments. During tea, we discussed whether a full Saints kit with `Ings’ emblazoned on the back is a suitable birthday present for your nephew when you brother in law is a die-hard Forrest fan (it was) and what Kiwis do when they are not drinking. Fascinating stuff, but we have ten wickets to give away, so let’s get on with it shall we?

    Radio and The Irish Driver got us off to a tremendous start, seeing out four maidens. With the required run rate growing exponentially, The Driver tried to push things along, which brought his downfall. I’m not certain, but I think Radio was trying to communicate to the boundary by way of Morse code. DotDotDot DotDotDotDot DotDot Dash DotDotDot. Too much curry perhaps? Shortly after, he was bowled, thus preventing any potential accident.

    Scott and Faggie picked up the pace, but both were soon out, with Faggie confirming that he is a true Australian, by refusing to walk when bowled. To be fair…(Ed: there really is no need Seagull). Ali and Binman continued the `run chase’, hitting a number of fine boundaries, before eventually both being caught going for one too many extravagant shots. At eighty odd for seven, it looked an uphill battle, but Prof and Fruiti demonstrated patience and a range of shots to see us home. When, I say home, I mean well beyond a hundred so as to look respectable.

    Fruiti was eventually out, and with 130 needed common sense should have prevailed, but Arunav decided to do his best Malcom Marshall impression by batting one handed. He looked far more comfortable in the middle than the rest of us and has set a high bar for this years’ bravery award me thinks (Ed: see you at the Annual Dinner Arunav). A one handed ramp shot may have been the wrong shot selection though, and this brought his and our valiant, if limited innings to a close.

    As we shared a beer after the game with a modicum of social distancing, I was pleased to find that it’s not just Yorkshireman and their descendants that speak good sense. Maybe we need a few more cricketers showing us the way? For some reason Freddie Flintoff’s pedalo escapade has suddenly come to mind, so on second thoughts maybe not. However, if you will allow this particular `cricketer’ to share one final pearl of wisdom, it would be a recommendation to watch the Australian Dream.  With a few more like Adam Goodes, the future will be that little bit brighter.

    See you in Coldharbour.

    Seagull

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  • Acme CC 147 for 9 (Faggie 4-19, Radio John 1-14, Egg 1-15) beat Quokkas CC 142 all out (Irish Driver 36, Seagull 33)

    When interviewing several candidates for a job in 2015 I asked all of them where they saw themselves in five years. Not a single one predicted correctly. With no end in sight to this pandemic, finding nuggets like this on my timeline have been important to my raise spirits. OK, so some extremely boozy Zoom conference calls have been enjoyable, but other than that the only real highlight of the last five months of lockdown has been when a Wardy Joubert III image was randomly posted by an unnamed member (pardon the pun) of my street’s WhatsApp group. There was absolutely no acknowledgement of this totally inappropriate post from the mostly mothers, previously chatting about VE Day celebratory bunting and a lack of car parking, but then again maybe some things are best left unsaid.

    That was certainly the case when Matt dropped an absolute dolly at Harpenden last week with the batsman at the early stages of his century and the less said about The Irish Driver’s impersonation of Dom Sibley this week the better. I am being harsh here. We didn’t quite get our timing right on our reply, but a run chase was only made possible by his outstanding effort to anchor the innings, ensuring we were always in the hunt. Mind you, after 30 overs at the crease he looked like he had been carrying that anchor.

    One thing that is well worth mentioning, is the quality of sausage rolls available at Westcott Cricket Club. When complemented by covers, trifle and Bercow whiskey, this fixture is certainly not one to miss out on, so I must congratulate The Yak on convincing them to have us back again, despite our very Quokka-esque performance last season.

    Preparation is important for such fixtures, but a Sunday roast served twenty minutes before the game was to commence, at a ground 25 minutes away, perhaps wasn’t the best approach. Anyone drive up in a DeLorean? The Acme chaps weren’t too bothered by our casual approach, and seemed more concerned about apologising for the lack of trifle due to COVID. That pinched a bit, but I’m sure we’ll make up for it next year.

    With Skip swallowing Dorset knobs, I won the toss and put them in.

    When half your bowling attack struggle to achieve the desired one bounce delivery, it’s good to be informed that your debutant Quokkas is a `fast opening bowler’. What’s more, despite suffering with a katzenjammer, Guy was pretty much unplayable, beating the bat time after time, although it was Faggie that claimed all four opening wickets. It really is just as well that shit gets wickets, otherwise we wouldn’t get many.

    Actually, both bowled fantastically well against the same players that smashed us for well over 250 from just 30 overs last season. Their combined 14 overs went for only 35 runs, giving us a tremendous platform to fall from. But The Yak and Prof maintained the pressure, with the former grabbing a wicket and helping Faggie to secure the first of two decent run outs. Then the two `Kings of Spain’, also known as Radio John and The Egg, not only battled it out for the most flighted ball, but turned the screws completely. Scott did his best to offset that with his one over of Bertie Bassets, but otherwise it was a flawless display of bowling.

    I say bowling, but in the case of Adrian Ze German, our second debutant, we are very much in Malinga territory, but considering he hadn’t seen a game of cricket before, never mind play it, you had to be impressed with his fielding. Cushioning a well driven ball with your chest plate may be unorthodox, but he saved numerous boundaries over the course of the afternoon. That application didn’t extend to everyone in the field, with Faggie dropping a dolly from Adrian’s `bowling’. Just as Humble Herc was preparing to remind him about it all throughout tea, he watched one whistle past his ear at first slip. To be fair, Faggie did run out two batsmen, one with a fantastic direct hit, which left us well positioned at the break.

    During tea Faggie unveiled a shiny brand-new bat, which gleamed even brighter than his new pads. Ensuring he didn’t get to use it was the new plan F, which consisted of him umpiring and completely ignoring his requests for relief. That was working brilliantly until it became completely impossible to pretend that I couldn’t hear him from the boundary.

    Along with The Driver, Humble did an excellent job of seeing off the opening bowlers. Unfortunately, as both were to return later to win the game for our opponents, it was actually more of a bodged job that you wife tells people about at dinner parties to embarrass you. I digress. Basically, if we can add the scoring of runs to the equation, we now have a decent opening pair that we can rely on.

    With Humble out, Scott injected some much-needed urgency into the innings. I followed suit and did my best to ruin relations with the neighbours by hitting straight into the aerodrome. Neither of us remained at the crease long enough though and with Prof, Adrian and Guy joining us in the hutch, it fell to Faggie to see us home. However, on this occasion it wasn’t to be, although The Egg and Radio John took it to the very last ball.

    So, that’s three defeats from three for the Quokkas. You didn’t have to be a psychic to predict that, but I am not sure anyone really cares. It’s just great to be playing at all and that’s definitely worth talking about. Oh, and if you need cheering up, I’m sure The Yak will send you a Wardy Joubert III meme.

    Keep Safe Quokkas.

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