Norbury CC 147 all out (Egg 3-31, Ali 2-12, Yak 2-15) beat Quokkas 132 all out (Herc 31, Binman 19, Ali 18)
The first Australian cricket tour of England was in 1868 and was captained by an Englishman. The convicts’ struggle to put out a full side is therefore nothing new. However, these guys were extremely dedicated fellows, playing a total of 47 games and even losing a player to tuberculosis due to the heavy workload and bad weather. The weather may not have changed much, but the desire and ability to beat the English seems to have waned somewhat. In fact the 2021 Quokkas Ashes was the most one sided affair in the events’ history. Only one team turned up, literally.
The gradual, no, rapid demise of Australian cricket (I believe indoor bowls is now the national sport), Skip’s lack of attendance at Aussie watering holes to recruit new players and many of the Aussie Quokkas returning home with bar jobs becoming scarce due to COVID-19, has meant numbers have declined drastically. However, Faggie’s decision to watch the England side at the Oval, instead of leading his side to glory, summed up the commitment to retaining the Ashes. There was none. By default, the game was awarded to the mighty and glorious English and talk of the Australia being a significant cricket nation turned to ashes.
Thankfully, at the twelfth hour, Jiggar found us some actual cricketers, in the form of Norbury CC, that were keen to play the beautiful game of cricket. Our new found friends from Morden may have had an even more relaxed approach to start times than the Quokkas, but on a glorious sunny afternoon, it was just great to get a game. And what a game.
In searing heat, Seagull obviously volunteered to bowl, although to be fair, there were only two opponents to play at the time of the toss, so there wasn’t a lot of choice. There was a lack of stumps too, with Evil Dave misjudging the M25 traffic, again.
Once all the necessary players and parts were in place, Ali opened the bowling and was pretty much unplayable. Despite this, runs flowed, as Seagull decided against a backstop for Herc. For once, Ali got the wickets his bowling deserved. The look of disappointment on his face when I told him he could only bowl five overs typified the enthusiasm for the game from everyone, apart from the Australians.
Dave Toes, making his debut, came on and initially bowled like an Australian, with a wide to the left and a wide to the right, but unlike those Aussies, he wasn’t totally shite, putting the third ball right on the money. With each side having 13, there were plenty of bowling options, especially those called Dave, so two or three loose deliveries from Evil saw him removed from the attack. Another Sunday debutant, Mini the house elf Dave, came on and he bowled far fewer half trackers than Todd predicted and claimed two wickets to boot. At the other end, The Yak grabbed yet more wickets for everyone else’s fantasy side, but mine. I’m so glad I filled my team with Aussies…
One man with true Quokkas Ashes spirit is Radio John, who once again drove all the way down from Birmingham (Ed: If you lived there, you’d want to leave as often as possible) to take on the convicts. He put his disappointment at not being able to bamboozle Dac, Conan et al behind him pretty quickly and three overs of `well flighted spin helped deliver another wicket. (Ed: call that well flighted…hold my beer)
Not before time, the Egg was brought into the attack and he did what he does best, get wickets. For starters he grabbed a lovely caught and bowled, before then taking two more in two balls. Hattrick balls have become a regular occurrence in recent weeks, but yet again the vital third wicket alluded us.
Tugboat, having previously impressed in the field and almost justifying an upgrade to a Speedboat moniker, showed what a decent all round cricketer he is by giving us four overs of spin bowling that didn’t cause cricked necks. However, you can get too much of a good thing, so I brought on Binman. Thankfully, Driver cleaned up the last wicket in good time, leaving us with less than 150 to chase. Even a team full of Aussies ought to get those.
It was somewhat disconcerting to see the entire Norbury side pack up and go at tea, but thankfully it was just to pray to their god of choice. We put our faith into cake and beer, while discussing toilet training cows, the charms of Barry Island Gavin and Stacy tours and whether defecating on the neighbouring bowling green would spoil a few Australian’s day. With our chosen gods respected, it was time to knock some runs off.
And we started in true Quokkas form. Todd smashed the ball to the boundary several times before losing the mental battle to a thirteen year old lad in jogging bottoms, bowled through the gate. At the other end, the Mosquito offered stout defence against some excellent seam bowling, and also some good attacking shots when anything remotely wide came his way. Despite a hatful of byes conceded earlier, he may even have been in credit by the time he was out, caught at long on.
Binman, ready to once again take the Aussies to the cleaners, had little choice but to use his talents to send Norbury half trackers to the boundary. He hit some lovely shots too, before falling to something a little fuller. Despite this, we had made a decent start and with Irish Driver and Tugboat both looking in good nick, victory looked assured. However, both failed to hang around and with their premature demise, began a monumental collapse. The Quokkas went from 107 for 4, to 132 for 12 (all out) and we couldn’t even blame an Aussie for our failure. The Egg, Toes and Yak all got ducks. Only Ali provided any resistance, with some lusty blows that backed up his claim to be more of a batsman than a bowler. When he was out, it was left to Seagull to see us home, but a golden duck saw victory go to the jubilant Norbury side.
Perhaps the Quokkas’ meek demise was somewhat fitting on the day the Australian’s surrendered the Ashes without a fight. The 1882 Australian victory at the Oval gave birth to the Ashes, with the immediate obituary stating that `cricket had died’. Perhaps the Quokkas Ashes has reached its own nadir, but a replacement fixture with the youthful and vibrant Norbury CC creates a new chapter in the history of the Quokkas.
R.I.P. Australian cricket.