• Letcome CC 215-3 (Fruit 1-11) beat Quokkas CC (73 all out)

    Apart from the death, suffering and misery, the worst thing about the COVID-19 pandemic has obviously been the lack of social events from which I can create interesting copy for these match reports/come diary entries. Unlike comedian Stuart Lee, I have not spent my time in lockdown watching `Scooby Doo and the Pirate Zombie Jungle Island’ 180 times, but without any possibility of foreign travel, gigs or sporting activities, like him, `I’ve got nothing’ to offer you here. The 41st best stand up was discussed during tea (you can tell the cricket was bad if I’m discussing the tea already) and in particular his propensity to take on challenging subjects like 9/11 and determination to avoid easy laughs. The opposite of Radio John really. I realise religion and politics are subjects to be avoided, but I particularly agree with Lee’s opinion that privatising the BBC would be as pernicious as the Islamic state destroying Iraq’s historic sites. I mention this only because it provides a nice segway to the next section of text.

    Watching Stuart Lee live at the Kings Theatre Southsea was perhaps the last thing I did worth a mention, unless you feel spending nine hours in the car travelling to and from Camber Sands to sunny Oxford for a game of cricket deserves its place here. I did get to see a grown man crying next to his burnt out BMW M3 in the outside lane of the M4, which threatened my attendance at Sunday’s game. As a result I sat immediately behind a lorry emblazoned with the livery `ISIS – master removers of Oxford’ for about an hour. I spent about half that time pondering if that should be `from Oxford’ rather than `of Oxford’, with the remainder wondering whether they had seen any decrease in trade since the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant had gained prominence. Fun times.

    With the River Thames called Isis at Oxford, the word is used everywhere in this neck of the woods, from neutron sources that help look at the way cosmic rays affect our modern electronic world, to korfball clubs that bring the games of basketball and handball together. There is of course even a cricket club, but with the Quokkas dropped from their schedule due to Skip’s Australian attitude to walking, maybe the less said about them the better. Filling that Oxfordshire-sized hole in our own schedule is now Lescombe Cricket Club, who, with lottery funding have a fabulous new club house to complement their delightful ground…and boy did we get to see every square inch of it as we retrieved numerous balls smashed to the boundary.

    While Lescombe batsman were dispatching a plethora of beamers into the horses field, our compensation was to receive a tremendous falconry display at close quarters. Somewhat fittingly perhaps that in ancient Egyptian mythology, the goddess Isis is said to have taken the form of a kite in various situations in order to resurrect the dead. Although we bore witness to a number of red kites circling the square in hope of tasty mouse, worm or seagull struggling for cover from the hot midday sun, our chances of victory were never brought back to life.

    I should say that the Quokkas were less than impressed with my choice of bowling first in those baking hot conditions, but (spoiler alert) getting skittled for just 73 runs did justify that decision. Faggie blamed that on tiredness, and he sure looked like a man entering middle age after his eight over spell, but shot selection and statuesque foot movement also contributed to our downfall. Either that or it was the lack of a roast option at the King Alfred’s Head. My god, which doesn’t exist by the way, what is the world coming to when you can’t get a few tatties and some topside for lunch?

    In addition to my `terrible’ decision to bowl, I supplemented that by failing to persuade the Yak of a need for a second slip only to see his next ball edged through there, not spotting that Arunav, placed at second slip, had wondered off to point, just as another ball was edged there and then later removing second slip, only to see the very next ball edged there. Three runs with the bat, a solitary over bowled at the death, costing 19, and the A34 closed due to another bar-b-q’d BMW on my way home, just added to my miserable day.

    We actually bowled really well, apart from the bad deliveries. Strangely enough, there was a lack of half trackers, with beamers now in vogue and amounting to about 27% of all deliveries. Fruit Smoothie bowled an absolutely terrific spell of eight overs for next to no runs. He also got one of the stubborn openers out LBW, but despite trying everything, he just could not get the other. The one delivery he didn’t try, was the slow full toss, which is exactly how the Professor got him out shortly after replacing Fruiti. Never has the statement `shit gets wickets’ been more adept.

    Apart from Fruiti, only Faggie avoided the beamer length and he also bowled very well once again. In the field, Todd was immaculate behind the stumps, except for dropping a regulation catch, which kept him quiet for the rest of the innings. Driver, knee held together by lolly pop sticks and sticky back plastic these days, also dropped a tricky chance at slip, but he gave us the highlight of the match with a run out from a direct hit from the boundary rope. He may have been aiming for the other set of stumps, but it was still a remarkable piece of fielding. Here’s a video of it:  The Yak was also impressive in the field, despite a skinful the night before, and as a team we certainly gave our all, but nevertheless still conceded 215 from the 40 overs.

    Over a Monster Munch and sugar coated worms-based tea, we discovered, to Drivers glee, that England had won the opening Euro 2020 game, debated the time/value relationship of cryptocurrency mining and explained to Faggie the origins of Garlic Bread’s nickname (Phoenix nights’ Brian Potter: “garlic bread, it’s the future, I’ve tasted it”), after he remarked that the lack of young Quokkas was possibly due to the terrible nick names we gave them. In Jerry `the Grey’, he may have a point.

    Our batting reply was Quokkas-esque, with wickets tumbling faster than the Coca Cola share price. Despite batting at nine, I didn’t complete ten overs of umpiring before having to come in to pad up. In summary, Todd got out to slowest ball in history, Faggie followed his century for his now favoured team with a duck, the Yak guided a ball straight to second slip, Arnunav was yorked, Radio was caught trying to get the ball off the square, Evil and Fruiti edged behind and The Professor and I were both bowled through a wide open gate. With only ten men, Evil volunteered to bat again, and he and The Driver, who batted really well and was the man not out, added 30 for the last wicket to give us the merest hint of respectability.

    Despite the resounding defeat, the arduous journey and unsuccessful captaincy, I enjoyed every single minute of it…well almost. I look forward to seeing the Quokkas and the A34 once again on Sunday.


  • Quokkas CC 182-8 (Faggie 67 n/o, The Yak 43) beat Coldharbour CC 178-6 (Skip 3-35, Smoothie 2-7)

    What could be better than Sunday lunch before a game of cricket at Coldharbour? A Sunday lunch before a game of cricket at Coldharbour without Herc. A beautiful summers day dinning on roast lamb at the Plough was only partially spoiled by Radio painting a picture of himself taking on burglars bollock naked armed only with a walking stick and small penknife. Herc completed the job, with his usual non-stop high frequency gibberish. Perhaps they should rename the Mosquito alarm (a machine used to deter loitering by emitting sound at high frequency) to a Herc alarm? Herc, you know you have found someone special when you can shut the fuck up for a minute, but just as Vincent Vegas said, `I guess we are not quite there yet’. We love you really Herc [Ed: I don’t] and besides, only the weather can ever ruin a day out to Coldharbour. 

    Can anyone else hear that buzzing?

    Having said that, the highways agency did its best, with roadworks sending Quokkas on a five mile wild goose chase. We did lose Pablo Ali, but that was something about a damaging a finger playing tennis with Herc’s mum I think. We still managed to put out a full side, thanks to Driver filling in at last minute. After a busy 18 months, Satan took the week off, which meant my fantasy league bowling attack was now decimated. 

    My loss was Shut up Herc’s gain, as he grabbed a place in the side. Such is the clamour to play for the Quokkas right now, we seem to have sent Todd to drink when he failed to make the eleven. Or was it the other way round? Whatever, it was great to welcome The Mosquito back, his phobia of uncomfortable silences has been badly missed. By the way, for Drivers effort, he got a golden and a badly bruised hand, after dropping a simple catch off my bowling. Thanks for coming. I say simple, but really it was nigh on impossible, but anything remotely in the vicinity of a fielder is counted as a drop and minus five fantasy points these days. 

    OK, what you really don’t need after failing to trouble the scorer when batting or overworking him when bowling, is me pointing it out in a Quokkas match report. What you need and what Todd wants to read about here are two different things though. So, a reminder that Driver got a duck, Herc also got a duck and went for ten from his solitary over, the Prof scored two and saw 36 taken from his three over spell and Radio went for 20 from his over. Meh, that’s pretty respectable compared to the 53 scored from two overs I conceded here back in 2016. 

    Mind you slow bowling at Coldharbour is a challenging business, which is why pacemen like Fruit Smoothie were the order of the day. He was his usual unplayable self, going for just one run an over and with Skip rolling back the ever increasing years, between them, they managed to pull our opponents back after a healthy start, especially when Skip got the opener caught behind. The odd full toss from Quokka’s bowlers did make its way deep into the bracken, but if I can score a six on this ground, anyone can. All in all, we bowled pretty damn well.

    In the field, Radio John showed every one of his 93 years, the Professor made an art out of catch avoidance and there was some nice falling over from Skip and Seagull. Skip actually had three dropped in one over. The Professor got his fingertips destroyed by a powerful straight drive, Seagull failed to swoop a low diving catch and Faggie dropped a dolly at slip, albeit making up for it later with a brilliant one handed grab in the covers. On another day Skip could have got six wickets, but that would have had to be a day when the Quokkas were supplemented by fielders that could catch.  

    Radio, what's new?

    While we are talking of dropped catches, Arunav dropped a dolly, again off my bowling, moments after I had described him as a proper cricketer. He’s a proper Quokkas, that’s for sure. Re-reading this text, it makes it appear that I could have had several wickets, and that’s true, but in reality I was as shit as Herc, well almost. 

    At the close of their innings, yeah I forgot to mention that Skip had won the toss and put them in, Coldharbour had scored 178. “Gettable”. 

    Over tea, we discussed Drivers relocation to Sunderland, Quokkas crack habits and various island tour destinations including Isle of Man, Isle of Wight and Isle of Skye. For Skip, the most important isle appeared to be at Sainsburys, with the woopsie isle raided of several black forest cheesecakes. Lovely. 

    The afternoon started badly for the Yak, discovering he was missing his Yorkshire pudding from the pre-match roast. A wicket, two catches and a tremendous batting performance improved the mood, but when Faggie successfully put Plan TTY onto action, it was like the day had gone full circle. I’m not sure what’s worse, missing a Yorkshire pudd or missing out on a half century when called to make a suicidal run. I’m still smarting that my Yorkshire was half the size of everyone else’s, so maybe the former.

    With Faggie hanging the the Yak hung out to dry, he had little choice but to redeem himself by playing a masterful innings against some bloody good seam and swing bowling. Once again he demonstrated some nice cut shots, but it was the excellent foot movement that turned good length balls into half volleys that really caught the eye. Conan and Radio provided good support, and a Seagull six off the penultimate over set it up nicely for Faggie to get the winning runs.

    Apart from Radio’s magnificent six earlier in the innings, the highlight of the day for me was the return to form of the Bow Tie Killer. A spotless display behind the stumps was followed by some cultured back foot batting, including his famed pull shot. Unfortunately his failure to find the world’s smallest middle on the `baby bat’ was his undoing, just as he started to look comfortable. We look forward to seeing more Conan Smashes as the season progresses.

    Conan Smash

    After the game we returned to the Plough for a beer to celebrate the win and have further discussions about the Welsh brexit vote, car maintenance and tugboat captains. A day out with the Quokkas has something for everyone. 

    Hope the damaged finger isn’t too bad Ali. See you all up norf next week.


    P.S. Shut up Mosquito

  • Quokkas 152-2 (Skip 57n/o, Faggie 46, Arunev 29) beat Salix 129-9 (Driver 2-18, Evil Dave 2-33) 

    Yes I am aware of the Sharknado dynasty and yes I know half the country voted for Brexshit, but when a Virgin media outage interrupted the outstanding movie `The Father’, forcing me to sample live TV for the first time in years, I didn’t expect `Eaten by an Escalator’ to be the standard of prime time TV entertainment needed to keep remote control of the masses these days. Culture may reflect society, but what the hell has happened to this country? Don’t answer that.

    I’ve completely lost touch with terrestrial TV. Multiple on demand subscriptions are enabling me to work my way through all 579 Oscar Best film nominees, which I aim to complete before the lockdown comes to an end. On the whole it has been an enjoyable experience, but I have to say, unlike Blackadder, if given the opportunity of some rest bite from the Western front, when asked `Do you like Charlie Chaplin?’ my answer would have to be `No Sir.’ I think watching Baldrick balancing a slug on his upper lip or doing bugger all might rather be more fun. Having said that, I guess Chaplin should be applauded for The Great Dictator, which helped to create advanced condemnation of Hitler, Nazis and racism. Rather than waste time on cannibalous mechanical staircases, perhaps society could learn from his acclaimed movie.

    Anyway, I turned to Simon Murray’s book `Legionnaire’, which always puts things into perspective and also stops me complaining about the wet weather during the cricket season. The desire for big macs we may be the predominant reason for losing 4000 square miles of amazon rainforest last year, but I think a fair few hectares may have been used to construct arks in readiness for the 40 days and nights of rain we’ve been having. Will it ever stop? Thankfully, in Salix CC we have an opponent that will play wind, rain or rain, thus despite the heavens opening as we arrived at Barnes Elms, our game was on.

    Before the match Evil presented Skip with a `golden’ cap to celebrate his one hundredth game for the Quokkas. When Skip made his debut, Prince Harry was wearing Nazi costumes, google maps was being launched, and Freddie Flintoff won sports personality of the year. I wonder how that occurred? Although we are talking about a guy that believes wearing novelty items of clothing performs the same function as wit, Skip certainly is the man for the big occasion. A famous century at Galle, managing to improve Anglo-Serbian relations and passing a thousand runs during the Kanjiza Cup, and now [spoiler alert] a half century and two thousand runs during his centennial match. Is there nothing this man can’t do? [Ed: Well, take a simple slip catch or bend down to stop the ball in the field seem problematic.]

    Just as we were about to start though, it chucked it down again. I made a note in my diary. Simply says: “Bugger”, but there was no chance of Skip handing the cap back, so we headed for cover and a spot of lunch. We dined on several bags of Skittles generously provided by the Salix captain due to an Amazon quantity selection error. No chance of tasting a rainbow though, with the clouds remaining for the rest of the day, but albeit on a very damp pitch, Skip did get the chance to open the batting with Arunav. 

    Like the wicket, progress was slow, with Seagull suggesting a slow hand clap, but if a proper batsman like Arunav can’t get the ball off the square, you can hardly moan at Skip for failing to lay bat on ball for 5 overs. An alternative approach to encouraging faster scoring may have been to follow the lead of Hampshire captain Lionel Tennyson, who used official telegrams to give the batsmen instructions. “I have a cunning plan. Stop. Get a bloody move on Skip. Stop. Yours, Seagull. Stop.” 

    Fortunately the heavens opened again, which allowed Skip time to rehydrate and the rest of us the opportunity stand around watching the pitch get soaked while a nice set of covers kept the boundary rope dry. The groundsman/come weatherman suggested we call it a day, but Seagull, eager to burn off the Saturday chips, and the Driver, on a sugar high from too many skittles, eventually enticed the rain to stop by belatedly pushing said covers out onto the square. Clucking bell.

    Once back out in the middle, our openers started to find their timing and the run rate escalated, especially when Skip traded the cut shot for the sweep. We did lose Arunav, but Faggie joined the fold and he soon had Skip running threes like an asthmatic ant with heavy shopping. Boom Boom boom boom, boom boom boom boom. On a pitch stickier than when sticky the stick insect got stuck on a sticky bun, and with the slowest outfield imaginable, the two combined for an impressive 85 runs from the next 11 overs. Marvellous. 

    Actually, Faggie looked in great touch immediately, which is bloody annoying to those of us that need 10 overs before we start to stop scratching around. At the other end, Skip anchored the innings brilliantly and fittingly passed 2000 runs. Faggie was out caught on the penultimate ball, allowing Seagull, padded up for the whole 30 overs to play for his average and grab five fantasy points for a not out. 

    The only other thing of note from the innings was Fruiti allowing wides to go unpunished when umpiring, and becoming more generous the more Faggie complained. Seagull’s sage response of “it’s the same for both sides’ came back to haunt him when he bowled.

    Tea, for a Seagull at least, consisted of a potted turkey, a cow in jelly, three tinned sheep, and twelve hundred chocolates, which was supplemented by a fantastic chocolate cake baked by The Egg’s supermarket supplier. The time was spent tiring the moon with our talking about everything and nothing: the war, marriage, the proposed changed to the LBW rule…no actually we discussed Sajid `Pablo’ Ali‘s bitcoin trading, the potential Quokkas sponsorship by the Rottnest Island Tourist Board, and the policing of bouncy castles. Fascinating stuff, but with no note from matron for us fat wheezy boys, we were out into the field.

    Should someone ask me what is the biggest regret in your life, I think my first answer would be drinking half bottle of Bacardi on route  to the Isle of Man for an inter-university sports (drinking) festival, but that would be quickly followed by failing to provide the world with a video recording of Binman dismantling Faggie in the Ashes. In a similar vein, it’s with deep regret that there is no footage of the run out that set us on our way to victory. I will do my very best to describe the event. 

    A legside delivery from Arunav came off the batsman’s pads and headed down towards The Egg fielding on the 45. Conan, behind the stumps, turned and ran after it. The non-facing batsman decided to take the risky run, however the playing batsman had second thoughts. The Egg reached the ball first and threw at the stumps at wicket keepers end. Conan, who was by now between the Egg and those stumps turned and ducked. The throw hit Conan, hard, ricocheting off what looked like his backside (but turned out to be his elbow and incapacitating him) straight to Skip, fielding just in front of square. The two batsman were by now at the same end. Skip, spotting this, and momentarily interrupting his laughing fit, threw calmly to the bowlers end, where Arunav collected smartly and got the run out. Outstanding. This is kind of Sunday cricket content I crave and what the term `village’ was made for. If you added some black trainers, a keeper wearing a helmet standing back to a spinner and a couple walking across the pitch carrying Sainsburys bags full of shopping, you’d have a meme that would go viral. 

    I’ve got ahead of myself here. Pablo opened the bowling and although he failed to take a wicket, went for very few runs, as usual. Evil got the first wicket, caught nicely by Arunev and saving Skips blushes, who had dropped him to a tough chance the previous delivery. Earlier, a much simple chance was put down by Radio, who complained about the weather not being cold enough or something. A few failed attempts at the claw almost saw Evil withdrawn from the attack, which would have been a mistake, as he clean bowled the other opener. Time for some spin, or slow bowling in my case and fast bowing in Fruiti’s. As per normal, Fruiti was unplayable and grabbed a wicket. Seagull was also unplayable, but only because the batsman couldn’t reach. In between overs Seagull received a telegram from Skip. ‘I have the largest collection of Charlie Chaplin films in existence available to watch on Netflix. Stop. Get this fella out or it’s twice nightly screenings with you in attendance. Stop. Oh PS, we won’t ever. Stop.’ It seemed to work, with the Driver taking a deflected catch from Seagulls next over. 

    We were making nice progress, especially when getting the first of two runs outs, but the match was wrapped up by a great spell of bowling by Alan, claiming two wickets for next to no runs. On the soft pitch, The Egg was unplayable and he added a wicket of his own, which left the final pair with too much to do. The Quokkas fist victory if the season was secured.

    They say `fail to prepare, prepare to fail’, but with Skip `racing’ to a half century and the Irish Driver grabbing wickets, catches and runs outs left right and centre, despite an evening downing Tequila in a leaky gazebo or dining a la Todd on Sambuca chasers, clearly abstemiousness is best left for lessor mortals. All bodes well for this year’s tour.

    Seagull. A wibble. Stop.


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