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  • 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.

    Seagull

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  • Quokkas 98-4 (Skip 34 n/o Charan 28 n/o) beat ACME 97 all out (Seagull 3-11, Charan 2-5)

    It’s been well over month since we played this game. As a result, I’ve pretty much forgotten what happened, so the report will be somewhat sparse of cricketing details. No change there I guess. The important stuff first. Tea was served and consisted of French bread, cheese board, home-made quiche, cream scones with strawberries, a baby-tomatoe-salad and grapes. It’s been a long wait, but it was well worth waiting for. Nice cup of tea too. Actually, it was a good weekend for food, as the outlaws in Worthing treated Mrs Seagull and I to a cowboy-themed cookout on Saturday. The chilli was hot, as was the weather, which had me thinking about Glasgow inventor Dr William Cullon, father of seven, who conceived the refrigerator on a hot day in 1785 as he realised he needed somewhere to stick his children’s terrible artwork. [Ed: do we need to pay royalties to Jack Dee for using his jokes?]

    When it comes to inventions, ACME surely lead the way with their rocket powered rollerskates, giant rubber bands and jet propelled pogo sticks, but despite the name, the team from Westcott are no looney tunes. In fact, in previous encounters they have performed closer to the Greek origins of the word `acme’ (highest point). After two defeats, albeit one self-inflicted by Seagull’s over generous captaincy, we meant business this time, with Skip opening the bowling with Radio John.

    There was tremendous excitement. Radio was on a hattrick after taking the final two wickets in the previous game, but sadly it wasn’t to be. You are probably thinking that some of the rhythm may have been lost over the course of a week or the opening batsman was of a better standard than the Hollybush tail. In reality, the opening delivery was so short and wide, the batsman simply couldn’t reach it, never mind get out to it. “Thanks Radio. Good spell mate.”  Evil Dave had more luck with the short wide delivery, with the opening batsman offering a simple catch to Seagull to get us on our way. He can get wickets with decent balls too, clean bowling another ACME batsman during a fine spell.

    It was great to welcome T20 stalwart, Charan, dubbed Sharon [Ed: these nicknames just get more inventive every year], to the Sunday side for the first time. We were running short of options at keeper. Skip decided to bowl him instead, which was wise, as he was pretty unplayable. He replaced Radio and his extra speed, accuracy and all round talent contributed to dislodging the other opener. The pitch helped a little. One delivery just short of a length almost took the batman’s head off. The next pitched half way down and barely made it to ankle height. When they did lay bat on ball, a shot guided down to third man that went straight into Arunav’s gloves strangely didn’t stir the umpire into action. It mattered little, as Shazza sent stumps spawling three balls later. He grabbed a second wicket soon after, but with help from the pitch, he also threatened to dislodge a batsman’s head, so Skip took him off.

    Although slightly less life threatening, Yak was just as difficult to get away and he grabbed a brace of wickets himself, helped by another of Skips great slip catches. The fine catching wasn’t er catching. The Mosquito dropped an absolute dolly. Fortunately, a huge offside boundary provided the opportunity to lose him in the outfield, but sadly we could still hear his gibberish.

    Despite this, we were seriously on top. Perfect time to bring on lessor bowlers like Fruit Smoothie and he seemed to struggle, going for a whole run from three overs, and only adding one wicket. Plenty of room for improvement there. Egg is probably not the person to receive that much needed coaching from though. He went for a few, mostly due to a lack of flight, which was a complete waste of low lying cloud. Seagull doesn’t usually have a problem giving the ball some air, but he appears to have been practicing, keeping the ball below head height and as a result got numbers nine and ten out, before bamboozling a stubborn number four when coming down the wicket looking for a repeat six. Impressive stuff from Seagull, who earlier had blamed a flock of nesting gulls on his neighbours roof waking him up every morning at 3.30am for looking somewhat jaded.

    With our opponents 97 all out, we could enjoy our first cricket tea of the season and discuss London’s rising water table, finding Egg a bedfellow for a Nine Inch Nail concert in France and importantly, this year’s Ashes venue. Having suggested we spend £1.2m on a new ground, Evil put forward the £5000 a match (no refund if it rains) London’s Armoury House. Unless Evil has won the lottery, I am thinking someone maybe ought to audit his company accounts as his taste for the high life seems to hold no bounds. Enough frivolity, we have 98 runs to knock off.

    Herc and Arunav opened the batting and accounted for the first 8 runs before both were bowled. That brought Skip and Driver to the middle. Both dug in nicely and they knocked off another 30 runs before The Driver was out. The lack of the usual plane landings at the neighbouring runway might have been due to the low lying cloud, but more likely they were concerned at the flight of some deliveries. Egg eat your heart out. Actually, The Egg clearly fancied the bowling, as he was in next and he looked extremely solid, but was out when looking to be more expansive. That brought Charan to the crease and the bowling was very much to his liking, as he plundered runs to all parts. Not much else to report here really, as Skip played himself into form and between them they saw us home.

    Next up is the Ashes. Should be a formality for the English this year. Probably not even worth the Aussies turning up. 

    Get well soon Zulu.

    Seagull.

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