• Whalers CC 94 (Yak 4/15, Evil D 2/19) lost to Quokkas CC 117 (Ches 33, Faggy 24)

    I’m sure you’ve all heard of Gustave Whitehead, the German-born Connecticotian that was the first man to fly a powered plane in early 1903, right?  (Ed: Ches, are you not thinking of Wilber and Orville Wright?  Oh wow, 35 years on and I just realise the inspiration for Keith Harris’ dummy)

    Well OK, perhaps the Wright’s claim is stronger, but is that simply because it is backed up by the Smithsonian’s, fearful of having the historic flying machine removed from their museum should they ever recognise that an alternative was `capable of carrying a man under its own power in controlled flight’ before the Wrights? Who knows, but Whitehead’s problem is not just down to the might of the Smithsonian’s PR machine, it’s more attributable to there being no creditable witnesses, no drawings, no photographs and the only reports available merely suggesting that he was a romancer and a supreme master of the gentle art of lying.

    I’m inclined to tell the odd fisherman’s tale now and then myself, so in a hundred years it will be seen as fortunate that, along with The Egg, the Quokkas scorebook made a welcome return last week, otherwise there might be some doubters as to the remarkable Quokkas bowing performance on Sunday. An opposing team skittled out for 94 and The Yaks seven overs claiming four wickets for fifteen runs are the sort of pie in the sky figures that Quokkas can usually only dream of, or lie about. However, unlike Gustave’s efforts, this incredibly unimportant moment in the history of cricket has been recorded for prosperity and available for the whole world to see. Well, at least until we lose the scorebook in Bucharest during some alcohol-fuelled escape and then we will have to rely on the memories of 10 aging and very biased cricketers.

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    This ball is not round

    I was reminded of the Wright’s and Whitehead’s fight to conquer the skies by the seemingly endless aeronautical battle between plane and helicopter that took place above our heads all afternoon on Sunday. Airbus 319 was followed by Bell407, Boeing 747-8s by Marenco SKYe09s and MD-11 by Robinson R44. Why anyone attends the Farnborough International Air Show when the Kings House Sports ground hosts the most comprehensive display of in service aircraft is beyond me. As distracting or entertaining these aircraft might be (which depends on how devoid of a personal life you might have), the accompanying overhead conditions had a much greater impact on the match as a whole. Vast sways of stratus and cumulus nimbostratus, combined with the typical Londinium July temperatures helped create the perfect storm for medium paced swing bowlers. Which is something I quickly learned as I edged a ball straight in and out of their keepers’ hands in the very first over.

    No, I’ve not missed anything out here. With only five Quokkas present at the toss and an important part of my brain located somewhere in a field in Hampshire preventing me from finding a suitable excuse, I was opening the batting for the first time since 1991. Although a team of five (two batsmen, two umpires and a scorer) is ample to get the game underway, quick wickets could seriously undermine the longevity of our innings. So, with the ashes dropped, so to speak (Ed: Don’t make me laugh), I was given free reign to demonstrate my full portfolio of leaves and blocks for an extended period. As a result, it was a painfully slow start, but in Slick and I’s defence, we were facing some decent late swing bowling. Said swing eventually did for Slick when attempting to move things along. The innings of The Yak, in at a lofty three, never really took off and he sadly fell in similar fashion to Slick. Our opponents smelt blood. Thankfully by now re-enforcements had arrived, but the scorer won’t have been unduly concerned as to whether he had packed a spare pencil sharpener as next in Skip was also quickly undone by the `swing’, or as Fruiti remarked, `playing down the wrong line’.

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    Quokka daycare opens for business

    We seemed to be hovering on the edge of the abyss, but the one run an over scoring rate was given a shot in the arm by Faggie, dispatching several over-pitched balls through cover. This encouraged me to try to get the odd ball off the square myself and between us we added fifty with little incident.

    Three dots balls in a row were more than Faggie’s patience could bear though, which led to his downfall. As skip opined that “he could get out here”,  Fagster attempted a lofted drive to a ball he would have been better off blocking. After that, wickets fell at regular intervals, before a daddy day care outing provided Snoop with a rare opportunity to strut his stuff in the middle helping us propel past the hundred mark.

    We eventually finished 117 all out, which DOC felt was about 117 runs short – we would have our work cut out.

    banana

    food for crows

    Over tea, which included the finest chicken sandwiches I’ve had in a long time, we discussed the wind tunnel tests to determine the appropriate conditions for swing bowling performed by NASA aerodynamic scientist Rabi Mehta (maximum lateral force is experienced at 112kmph with seam at 200 to the bowling direction and a backspin velocity of 11 revolutions per second, if you are asking), Jarvis Cocker’s northern authenticity, the slow emergence of Pulp and whether the total volume of 100 shots of beer was greater or less than five pints. All fascinating stuff, but with Skip correctly concerned that the crows were consuming his banana left out on the pitch, we needed to get this flying circus back in the air.

    Low scoring affairs are usually the most exciting games and we often play our part in creating such affairs. Ensuring our opponents also participate obviously relies on finding a Quokka able to bowl three or four consecutive balls with similar line and length. Without that at his disposal, Skip settled on Evil Dave and The Yak, who, fresh from two weeks of NTPA tractor pulling events looked keen drag us back into the match. As dog lovers the world over know, `Friends don’t make friends wait in the car’, but a thirty minute `sauna’ in the back of Skip’s Audi provided the perfect warm up for Evil. Fired up and ready to burn his foe, Dave proceeded to bowl a truly terrible first over. Thankfully that was not indicative of what was to come, which as it turned out was excellent line and length stuff that continuously troubled the openers. At the other end, The Yak took the pace off the ball, enabling him to provide the accuracy needed to pin down the batsman. As pressure built, wickets fell, first one (Ed: that’s how it usually starts), then a second, a third…you get the idea. At 21 for 4 we seemed to be in the driving seat, but keen to sniff out any quality batsman hiding down the order, the two completed their spells, eventually taking 6 for 34 from 14 overs between them. A simply marvellous display of bowling that had left us on the verge of victory.

    Which was all but assured when Skip grabbed the key wicket with a super delivery caught beautifully by Faggie at first slip. Skip then showed some generosity to our opponents by bringing on Faggie, but even he managed to bowl a straight delivery which had the number 8 “plumb” in front. A late rally, including the first four of the Whaler’s reply from `Special K’, kept the Quokkas on their toes, but a wicket from the equally frugal Fruiti and the killer blow from a wonderfully flighted ball from The Egg, saw the Quokkas home to a famous victory.

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    Giant Quokka seen rampaging at Heathrow!

    The drive home would now fly by, but beforehand 7-up shandies all round gave the Quokkas the chance to discuss Qantas’ inevitable sponsorship of the Rottnest tour – the airline having recently named one of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners after us. The opportunity to host Ronnie’s attempt on David Boon’s drinking record is bound to lift them to the upper echelons of aviation world.

    Aviation has come a long way since Clément Ader’s managed to gain significant distance, but not altitude, in his self-propelled aircraft in 1890 and the Quokkas seem to have progressed nicely too since being bowled out for 23 and losing by 236 runs during their first season. Three wins, one draw and a solitary defeat would normally be seen as very unQuokka-like, but in a season where Quokkas are flying so high they threaten to give NASA a fright (sorry Mr Ashcroft) maybe we have found our level. See all of you highflyers at Luton Airport…

  • Hartfield 182 for 9 (Evil Dave 3-26, Faggie 3-51) drew with Quokkas 176 for 5 (Doc 34, Evil 36, Ches 46)

    It’s only a few weeks until this year’s Victorious festival, which is Southsea’s answer to Glastonbury but with the added bonus of sea views and a short walk back to my house. Because I stopped reading the NME in around 1997, I generally need to do a little research about the bands appearing on the line up, so as to be `down with the kids’ and ensure that I have an alternative to watching Mrs Ches breakdance with two glasses of fizzy wine in her hands whilst in the silent disco tent.

    Whilst doing this research, one of the groups that has definitely caught my ear is a proper old-school punk band called the Slaves. I have somewhat of an obsessive personality and if I find a tune I like I tend to play it on loop. The Slaves `Sugar coated bitter truth’ has been that song for the last two weeks and as a consequence the line `Don’t trust the flies, they are government spies’ has become somewhat of a mantra for me. To find myself with 50 or so flies circling immediately above my head for the entire game on Sunday was therefore somewhat of a surreal experience.

    I’d like to think of myself as anti-establishment and somewhat rebellious, but having completed my online tax self-assessment during the week, I couldn’t think of any reason the government would want to take a close interest in my fielding ability or woeful leg spin bowling. It was with some relief then that Bow Tie Killer informed me that I probably wasn’t on the governments radar or indeed rotting or dead as all the Quokkas were facing this, slightly uncomfortable phenomena.

    They are just not crickets

    For the convicts reading this out there in the colonies, still struggling to get fire out of two sticks to help warm you through the long winter months, let me tell you that it was hot on Sunday in the UK, very hot. It was the type of weather that induces `flying ant day’, or for those non-entomologists amongst you, when winged virgin young queens release pheromones attracting single-purpose sexual missile males during a nuptial flight (an important phase in the reproduction). But these weren’t those lovable rogues, busy breeding their way to a brighter future, it was the much maligned, mobile headed, compound eyed diptera circling just above our heads.

    Someone keep a close eye on Faggie during the next few days

    Someone keep a close eye on Faggie during the next few days

    At times like these, your first thought is probably `why the f*** do these bloody horrible things exist at all’? If not to provide important information about the Quokkas back to GCHQ, then what? What exactly is their purpose other than to annoy us humans? The simple and possibly surprising answer is that diptera are important pollinators, second only to the bees and their hymenopteran relatives. They are also used as model organisms in research of disease when human experimentation would be unfeasible or unethical. These `bastard things’ will probably end up saving our lives one day, so perhaps the minor inconvenience I faced whilst fielding in the deep was one worth the suffering.

    But it wasn’t all suffering, there was some absolutely fantastic cricket to enjoy here too at Hartfield. Despite only having eight Quokkas available on the day, it was a `talented’ bunch with very little baggage and buoyed by the knowledge that Egg would (when he eventually arrived) be captaining the side. The statistically most successful captain in Quokkas history promptly lost the toss and we were asked to field, but with our tail starting at four, this was probably all part of his master plan, besides we looked to have strength in depth in the bowling department. Well, we had the two Garlic Bread’s anyway.

    Whether Evil Dave had anything to do with the plague of insects I’m not too sure, but it was he that grabbed the cherry and with his shirt unbuttoned to the navel he had the air of 1970’s fast bowler as he came streaming in. Not so much like LiIlee, more Max Walker, although `fast’ is perhaps a misrepresentation, especially if describing his first delivery, which took one Mississippi…two Mississippi…three Mississippi…yep, about 3 seconds to travel the full 22 yards. But as Faggie rightly pointed out, “a slow ball first up is good thinking Dave” and his subsequent variation in line, length and pace seemed to cause plenty of problems for the two openers.

    At the other end Garlic bowled his usual raft of unplayable just outside off stump deliveries, but as everyone knows, it’s the sh*t that gets wickets (Ed: Ches can definitely offer some advice in that area Garlic) or at least balls bowled directly at the three wooden things. A very tight opening spell from both bowlers was eventually rewarded when Evil clean bowled one of the openers.

    It was a bright start, with good containment, despite a few gaps in the field, but Egg is not as draft as he looks (Ed: what do you mean draft?) and noticed that the batting order may have been reversed, so he decided to save Garlic for later. His replacement, Garlic Bread 2, aka Jerry the Grey seemed to have miscounted his run up and looked as graceful as Paul Adams as he approached the popping crease. When his third ball rose off a length almost taking the batsman’s head off, this seemed to settle his nerves, but at the same time it had Quokkas `batsman’ (Ed: Are they Quokkas who own bats?) wondering if anyone had brought a helmet. Evil Dave, with a tan of a man choosing to spend every spare second catching up on missed sleep, showed no signs of tiredness and continued to bowl out his best spell of the season.

    I try not to blow my own trumpet too much within these match reports, which is not a particularly tough task considering that I write better than I play, and I don’t write too well (Ed: a case in point right there). However, in the previous game I was pretty damn pleased with my own bowling performance, maintaining a relatively consistent line and length and beating the bat maybe 8 or 9 times (Ed: I find that very hard to believe sir), albeit without reward. This week, a couple of decent balls apart (one grabbing a wicket) I chucked down perhaps the worst collection of deliveries since Scott Boswell forgot how to bowl in the 2001 C&G Trophy final (Ed: that I can confirm).

    As with Boswell my action isn’t a biomechanical dream, but there is no excuse, other than I’m not very good, for serving up that kind of tripe (my thanks to The D.O.C. for preventing several wides from going to the boundary). Despite this I walked away with a brace of wickets, thanks largely to a terrific running, diving catch on the boundary by Conan. As Greavsie so rightly put it (all be it about a totally different sport) “it’s a funny old game Saint”. But as Faggie suggested so helpfully as I ran in to deliver the last ball of my over, it was perhaps time to “bring on the Egg”. However, the Egg decided to bring Garlic Bread back on instead, but with their best bat coming in well down the order (I told you there were no flies on Egg) and now well set, he conceded the odd boundary or two himself.

    No matter, “a few extra runs will make it interesting” suggested Faggie (which was obviously going to come back to haunt us), but he himself bowled well, the highlight of his spell being a tremendous one-handed catch of his own bowling that Corey Anderson would have been proud of. He even bowled a few straight ones, no honest, which, as suggested earlier, tend to get wickets at this level and did so here. Completing the attack was Conan, who, still struggling to find a cricket trouser of a suitable length, bowled a beautiful tight line helping to not only slow the run rate down, but also to add to our wickets haul before their innings came to a close at 182 for 9.

    The sandwiches contained far too much sweetcorn for my liking and is it just me or is everyone bitterly disappointed when they bite into a perceived sausage roll only to find its full of cheese? A fine chocolate cake, slowly melting in the late afternoon heat more than made up for that though. Over tea we discussed the lack of youth participation in sport and subsequent health consequences, the trustworthiness of car main dealers and the recent Lego Batman movie. Fascinating stuff, but with a relatively late start to proceedings we needed to make inroads otherwise we wouldn’t get to see the sun going down over the South Downs on the way home.

    D.O.C. Martin and Conan the Bow Tie Killer makes a brilliant jazz combo name and pretty decent opening partnership too, which is just as well as they had to face some angled probing deliveries from one end, and a fair amount of swing for t’other. Stout defence and great patience was rewarded with runs, especially for the D.O.C through the covers, which helped us make a good start. Not to be outdone the Bow Tie Killer delivered a trade mark Conan Smash™, dispatching a short ball to the legside boundary. All seemed well, but having survived one very decent shout for LBW, Conan couldn’t repeat the escape to the next, thereby becoming the first wicket to fall. Faggie joined the fold and followed the D.O.C.s lead by playing a few elegant shots through the covers. All was going swimmingly until D.O.C. was out, which brought me to the crease (as I said, the tail started at four) with a fair bit of work to be done.

    I was clean bowled for a duck by a part time bowler nicknamed Carebear last year, immediately proceeding The Yak smashing 22 off him in the remainder of the over. I wasn’t going to let that happen again, so I made the decision to actually watch where the ball was going this time. Having seen off the opening bowlers, Faggie and I played sensibly, nudging it around and dispatching the rank bad ball when it came along. The scoreboard ticked over nicely and we seemed to be just about keeping up with the run rate. It couldn’t last forever, Faggie’s T20 instincts taking over and according to Conan (who was umpiring at the time) he somehow played over a full pitched delivery.

    Evil has been described as a supernatural force. Dave’s natural hitting through the on side had a fair amount of force behind it too, which is just as well as my leaves, tickles and defensive prods were not going to see us home. That said I did keep rotating the strike, allowing Dave to see just enough deliveries to get some much-needed boundaries. Eventually I managed to get a few of my own and we looked firm favourites at this point. I spoke too soon as Dave chased a wide one and was caught behind off the faintest edge. There were only a few overs left when Garlic Bread joined me in the middle, but with the ball being delivered quite literally straight out of the sun from one end, it was a tough task to see it, never mind get it off the square. The flies didn’t help matters, by now at eye level as well and with the game slipping through our fingers I did absolutely nothing to help by running myself out (again) like a lemming.

    With the sun setting and the flies running out of time to do whatever it was they were trying to do all day, there were just two overs left and 18 needed to win. Could the Egg and Garlic Bread swat us home this year? You may recall we were in a very similar predicament last year and there was certainly a sense of déjà vu when the opening bowlers were brought back on to try and prevent us getting there. With just two wickets needed could they possibly steal victory for themselves? It was a close thing, but despite some gallant hits from the Egg and some adventurous running from Garlic Bread, sadly it wasn’t to be falling just 6 runs short. Having repelled their opponent’s best efforts, the game ended in a draw, which was a fitting result for a wonderful day’s cricket.

    Our thanks to Hartfield for welcoming us, despite being short-handed and we look forward to battle with bat, ball and nature next year.

    This week’s match report wasn’t sponsored by Raid, but if they want to send me some fly spray or catcher units I would be more than happy to accept them.

    Ches

  • For the uninitiated, I quite like statistics and I quite like Cricket. I know that this is a pairing as unbelievable as Gum and Nuts, but here you have them, together at last.

    250px-Nuts_and_Gum

    I also like The Simpsons

    What I have attempted to do here is look at the data from the games the Quokkas have played using the Yarra Pub Cricket Association (YPCA) rules to identify trends and consistencies to get a better understanding of changes in the games. None of the statistics analyzed include wins, as this is not recorded and not the point of the Quokkas at all. The data includes results from the last 6 seasons, as this is the most accurate and comprehensive data available.

    It should be noted that YPCA rules include; no LBW, no wides, retirement in the over you get to 30 runs, free hit on the first ball, dangerous balls etc.

    Coming out to Bat

    The Quokkas Cricket Club played its first game of Pub Cricket in the Summer of 2009/10 and have gone on to play over 50 Pub League games since then, as well as Big Day Not Out matches, T20 tour matches, Blind Cricket matches and even two 35-over games in Sri Lanka.

    We shouldn’t talk too much about the statistics from Sri Lanka.

    It should also be noted that the Quokkas have played games using YPCA rules against non-YPCA teams, so the number of games played and quality of opponents has varied. The YPCA games played over the last 6 seasons are as follows:

    Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 10.03.27 am

    The Dream Team

    In its time, the Quokkas have had 67 different players represent the side, with the Big Dog on most appearances (51) and twenty one different players having appeared in 1 game only.

    pic 1

    This indicates at least two things; the level of consistency and improvement may be lower with a more varied and inexperienced team, and that players who appear more regularly really is a celebration of availability over ability (thanks to G Haigh for that one).

    Ticking like a clock, a fast clock

    One of the easiest things to look at to show performance and change over time is runs scored and runs conceded over time.

    A look at the graph below tells a story of fairly close games (excluding 2013/14), which can be self-explanatory when explained by the team chasing a score. Also impressive are the wild swings in runs for and against make our fresh air attempts look positively elegant.

    pic 2

    Again, the relative closeness of the runs for and runs against totals are probably better explained through the nature of a game in which one team chases a score, apart from our old friend 2013/14, but it does show an overall upward curve in the number of runs being scored in YPCA games.

    I would be very interested to track this against cans sold if anyone has that data.

    Looking at the average of runs scored and runs conceded per over argues this point even more starkly.

    pic 3

    So how are these runs being scored? An analysis of the % of runs scored as boundaries and the average number of boundaries hits per game tells a different story (below).

    pic 4

    The % of runs scored as boundaries has remained pretty consistent over the 6 years, sitting somewhere between 50% and 57%, despite the total number of runs scored.

    What this indicates is that The Quokkas have found ways to score more often per ball, other than just smashing it. Not very pub like.

    Like the Budget, its all about the Economy

    But hitting runs is only half the game, there is also that pesky issue of needing to bowl or stand in the field and smash cans under the sun, rather than the shade or back in the opponents pub.

    No, that has to wait.

    We’ve already had a look into the number of runs scored against and conceded per over, so understand that opposition teams are scoring more and scoring more quickly. But what does this mean in regards to wickets and the old adage about ‘putting pressure on the batsmen’? A look at the number of wickets taken per season against bowling average and the average number of wickets per match also tells an interesting story.

    pic 5

    There appears to be a direct correlation between the increase in wickets and wickets per match, which is expected. This chart also shows that where the bowling average increases, the number of wickets decreases, which is also expected.

    Perhaps the most interesting piece of data from this chart though, is that the average number of wickets per match has not really changed over time. This can be easily explained in that there are only 10 wickets that can be taken, but this doesn’t take into the retirement rule in YPCA games.

    It does suggest, though, that it doesn’t matter who bowls; wickets will fall.

    In all, the data does support the basic tenets of the game; if you bowl well, you will get wickets and go for less runs.

    Summary

    Success, if that is what you are chasing in YPCA games seems to be reliant on the ability to score more often off more balls; post a high score and put pressure on the other team.  It doesn’t matter who bowls, wickets will fall.

    Scoring more doesn’t have to be through boundaries, but minimizing dot balls.

    The ability to score more often and more quickly is increasing in the league, and it seems to be a more equal distribution of scoring among teams, given that they are all scoring more with the same number of wickets conceded. There appears to be less weak (conservative) players in the league, or perhaps they are all just wearing maroon.

    Taking wickets does not seem to be a priority in the game, though economy rates do. Getting a batsman who is struggling out to be replaced by a hitter can end up hurting you, this is particularly pertinent in regards to the return of retiring batsmen.

    It is, though, against the spirit of the game and the league.

    Scoring quickly and fielding economically, is easier said than done; particularly when you have a team made up of ring-ins who are unfamiliar with the game. Or perhaps lack of expectation and emphasis on enjoyment does help? That being said, the whole point of the Pub League is not to win games but have a go, and possibly feed a borderline unhealthy obsession with statistics.

    Play up, play up and play the game

  • Leigh CC 266  (Kanna 3-38, Jordan 2-45) beat Quokkas 209-9 (Jordan 101no, Evil 29) by 57 runs

    Cricket fans in Leigh, Lancashire, take to every vantage point possible to see the Quokkas.

    Cricket fans in Leigh, Lancashire, take to every vantage point possible to see the Quokkas.

    Whilst Ed Sheeran was preparing for the most underwhelming Glastonbury headline performance since Shakespear’s Sister were unbelievably given top bill on the Pyramid stage ahead of The Breeders in 1992, the Quokkas were offering their own brand of mediocrity (Ed: Jordan apart) in the form of batting, bowling and fielding against Leigh Cricket Club. Like me, you are probably all aware that Leigh is the only town mentioned twice in KLF’s song `Grim up North’, so you will have been somewhat surprised to see the venue listed on a Quokkas fixture list. Fortunately, we gave Wigan’s ugly neighbour a miss and ventured into the Surrey countryside instead. And what a cracking cricket club it is too, not that having a fully functional bar-b-q and beer on tap would sway my assessment in any way.

    I’ve often wondered how the Quokkas T20 side had become the 63rd best in the world and now I know why. The Quokkas are evidently bolstered by a smattering of some of the best Leigh Cricket Club players. Or to put it another way, there is just enough Quokkas representation to ensure that the Leigh T20 side don’t have to travel to Champions league games abroad…yet. Whichever way you want to describe it, there is a fair degree of crossover between the Quokkas and Leigh, which we were thankful for on Sunday, as we failed to muster 11 players again, with Kanna and friend Euwie supplementing the eight Quokkas on duty.

    Fully knowing the task at hand, and with the loss of Garlic Bread from our bowling attack due to illness (all be it offset by Faggie being unavailable) Skip lost the toss for the 88th time in a row and we were out in the field. We opened the bowling with Euwie (or EU as I mistakenly called him all afternoon) and Evil Dave, fresh from 33 minutes sleep, in support down the hill. With 34 runs conceded from our first four overs (Ed: Just the 2 runs coming from the EU overs. Just saying Evil. Don’t hung draw, quarter, burn and terrorise the messenger), Skip quickly turned to The Mouth, who helped to reign the batsman in, with some proper spin bowling.

    The highlight of a decent first spell was to eventually dislodge Alex via an Anthony Rizzo-David Ross type juggling extravaganza from the D.O.C. After blazing his way to 69 in short time, there was genuine fear in Skip’s eyes at the thought of another 20 overs of Alex hitting. So much so he seriously considered a `pile on’ to help prevent any video ref from identifying a potential drop. Thankfully it stuck, in the knee roll of his pad, just.

    Skip himself then came on to bowl and continued his good form by clean bowling the other opening bat. One had become two, but it didn’t become three until the 31st over, whereupon early `bestest and fairest’ contender, Jordan, grabbed two wickets in four balls. By then the score had moved on to 196 for 4, but the 40 over format meant the home side still had time to pile on the runs. Thankfully a returning Kanna and Evil, refreshed from chasing balls to the boundary from my spell, claimed four wickets between them to ensure the score didn’t accumulate to Sri Lanka Tour-like proportions. A rare spell from Bow Tie also helped `restrict’ the home side, but chasing down 266 would be `challenging’.  

    In the field, we offered our usual array of enthusiasm, determination and obvious lack of talent. Conan seemed naked without the gloves, blaming the wind for his failure to catch a skier. Shub blamed his `inability to catch’ for his inability to catch a dolly. Actually, Shub seemed to be like some sort of ball magnet, albeit not a very strong one, perhaps something more akin to one of those novelty items you buy on holiday that you can barely use to pin a takeaway menu to the fridge (and with that a nickname is born: Fridge Magnet).

    Unlike most of us old-timers, Jordan seemed keen to put his body on the line, helping to prevent a series of long hops from me being smashed for four. Needless to say, Locky’s bloodhound ability to find a lost ball came in very useful throughout the afternoon. Satan really liked the Berberis Thunbergii Atropurpurea hedgerows surrounding the boundary that encouraged fielders to stop the ball or risk being ripped to shreds retrieving it. Evil.

    A vast tea, without the merest hint of fruit or vegetable, perhaps lacked the je ne sais quoi of a Wantage spread, but more than made up for it in terms quantity of pork pie. As a frequent visitor to the top table for seconds and thirds I have only one word to describe it: tremendous.

    The Guy Jones Library, Leigh CC

    The Guy Jones Library, Leigh CC

    During the break in play we tried to establish what the initials `SP’ stood for that were embossed on an old bat taking pride of place in The Guy Jones Library.  We also discussed IBM’s secret nuclear bunkers and the US’ decision to land on the moon having realised that nuking it would be too complicated, questioned how someone that doesn’t like pork pie can be allowed to captain a cricket club and briefly pondered the merits of writing for Plastics and Rubber Weekly magazine. Fascinating stuff, but we needed to knock those runs off quickly to ensure that we could catch at least one or two of Ed’s songs about Lego and the A-team (god, give me strength. George Formby has more stage presence).

    Jordan and Locky strode out confidently to the middle, but the Aussie openers were to have differing days with the bat. Three balls into the innings and our task became somewhat harder when Locky was caught out having top edged a climbing delivery as he looked to pull. The Bow Tie Barbarian was next in, fresh from his dazzling display on the main stage, but both openers were pinned down by some high-class bowling.

    One run scored from the first five overs gives you an idea of what we were up against, but both batsman showed great patience and fortitude. The runs eventually came. Five of them to be precise, before Conan’s desire to smash became too much to bear, edging a decent delivery though to the keeper. A hard task had therefore escalated into one comparable with deciphering what Tom Yorke was mumbling on about on Friday. The D.O.C. soon followed, whereupon Kanna was welcomed to the square with the kind of respect a deserting captain is normally offered. The shouts of `rabbit’ were still heard echoing across the ground as he sent an uppish drive straight to mid-on, who promptly `dropped the ashes’. His reprieve was not to last long, as he was “triggered” by D.O.C. when caught in front of all three stumps. The innings of Shub, EU and Skip also came and went too quickly, the latter not seeing his first ball of the season go through the gap and take off peg.

    Only Evil hung around, showing a total lack of respect for anything short, slightly short, just behind a length, on a length and indeed full, but was eventually out and when I was run out at the non-strikers end a few overs later it looked like all was lost. Fortunately, as we were a man short, Skip was given a second chance, which was to prove crucial. Not in attempting to win the match, I must point out, by now that ship had sailed, but in ensuring that Jordan had enough partners to see him home to his century.

    What I like about Wikipedia is its comprehensiveness. Take for example its description of `one hundred’: “100 or one hundred, is the natural number following 99 and preceding 101.” Thanks Wiki. I can’t wait to expand the Quokkas knowledge by shoehorning that nugget into my match report.

    Of course, I needed to research the word `century’ because it’s not something someone like me, with an average of less than 10 thinks about much and of course due to a wonderful innings from Jordan, our latest Australian `recruit’. Which gives me the perfect opportunity to impart onto those unfamiliar and yet to use it, the Quokkas the impressment programme. It’s not part of the official Quokkas cricketing handbook, but when tendering for a possible new player it goes something along the lines of:

    Don’t argue, you are going to Bucharest on tour, whether you like it or not

    Don’t argue, you are going to Bucharest on tour, whether you like it or not

    Current Quokka: “Where ya from mate?”

    Future Quokka: “Sydney, stralia”

    Quokka: “Nice. Play cricket?”

    Future Quokka: “Well, not since…”

    Quokka: “Great. You’re in.”

    Future Quokka: “Oh…er, righto mate.”

    Quokka: “Bat?”

    Future Quokka: “Well…er, I guess I used to bat a little…’’

    Quokka: “Great you can open. Bowl an ‘all?”

    Future Quokka: “Well, er, I’m more of a ba…”

    Quokka: “Nice. We need a good strike bowler. See you tomorrow at 12.”

    Future Quokka: “Er, righto mate…”

    It’s not often you get to witness a Quokka century, (from the latin centum and the roman numeral C, by the way). Skip of course found some bowling he liked in Sri Lanka, but before that it was Mantis, probably against some under 11s side, and you’d have to be as old as Binman to remember that.

    What was most impressive was his ability to not just pick the bad ball (frequent any Quokka net and you can learn pretty much everything you will ever need to know about shit bowling there), but to spot the good ball when it came. There were quite a few of those early doors, with the openers being of a high standard. As the bowlers were rotated there were a few more opportunities to score, but the art to a long innings, so Binman tells me, is being able to defend the good ball when it comes along.

    (Ed: Sorry, I need to pause here whilst I regain my composure. Just the thought of Smithers providing batting advice has me laughing.)

    “Yeah, I batted a bit at school.”

    “Yeah, I batted a bit at school.”

    That’s not to say that the Quokkas and I didn’t appreciate the fine stroke play both through the on and offside. There were some fine hits and even a spread field was unable to prevent 14 fours. I can’t recall him ever looking in much trouble or offering more than the hint of a chance, except when he played too bloody straight leading to my run out. I think the only concern was whether he would run out of partners and then overs, with Skip doing his best to steal the strike towards the end.  

    He didn’t and having scored 40 not out in the first game and now 101 not out, his infinity batting average is going to make him a tough card to beat within Quokkas Top Trumps (not sure `Buzz Lightyear’ is going to stick Skip, but a third not out in a row and who knows). Thankfully, he only has a 1% chance of being able to play next week, so see you at Imperial Sports Ground on Sunday. You’re opening the batting and bowling.

    Oh, before I forget, let me allow Tony Greig to provide you with the answer to our earlier cricket bat brand quiz:

    tonyGreig

    My thanks to Leigh CC and Kanna for arranging the game. The drive back over the South Downs was fantastic and I look forward to the fixture next year.

    Ches

    Tags:

  • Wantage&Gove CC 133 (Skip 4/12, Ches 3/35) lose to Quokkas CC 134 for 0 (Faggy 78no, Yak 28no) by 10 wickets

    starwars2

    Despite the tremendous victory for the Quokkas in the opening game of the season, my mind wasn’t really on cricket last week. Instead it was focused on creating a fancy dress costume for my nephews Star Wars-themed 7th birthday party. In all honesty, I’m not one for fancy dress. All that effort for a two second acknowledgement that you indeed are dressed something like a famous person or character is not for me. However, a few years ago I did seriously consider entering the birdman challenge dressed as Wedge Antilles and jumping off the end of the Worthing pier in a Papiermâché X-wing fighter. I came to my senses of course, but not before Mrs Ches [who as I recall seemed very keen to see me to risk my neck for her amusement] had acquired an orange boiler suit and motorcycle helmet from ebay, which would form the basis for that costume. Thus, I was already half way there with an outfit, just the chest box, strapping, flight vest and helmet decals to focus my attention on.

    Pull out wedge, you're not doing any good back there

    Pull out wedge, you’re not doing any good back there

    As you can see I looked a right plumb, but having been run ragged by a bunch of seven-year old Jar Jar Binks, the movie was still very much on my mind as I travelled up north (as us members of the Peoples Republic of Southsea refer to Oxford) for the second match of the season. My car doesn’t quite make the leap to hyperspace these days, so on the long journey to Wantage I started to ponder whether there were any similarities between the Star Wars characters and the current Quokkas – I know I moan like C3PO and take your pick which sith Evil Dave best mirrors.

    I also wondered if the match themselves ever bore any resemblance to the original storyline. I’m not convinced, but some of the exchanges during matches do resonate. You be the judge.

     

    Anyway, I’ve got ahead of myself here. The night before the game Skip was still desperately trying to put a team together. Having scored 40 not out last week and looking like a Jedi with the bat, Jordan was his first target.

    Skip: You must learn the ways of the Quokkas and come with me to Wantage.

    Jordan: Wantage? I’m not going to Wantage. I’ve got to go home. It’s late, I’m in for it as it is.

    Skip: I need your help, Jordan. We need your help. I’m getting too old for this sort of thing.

    Jordan: I can’t get involved! I’ve got work to do! It’s not that I like Londinium. I hate it! But there’s nothing I can do about it right now. It’s such a long way from here.

    Skip: That’s Binman talking. Learn about the Quokkas, Jordan.

    Jordan: Look, I can go as far as Oxford. You can get a lift there to Wantage or wherever you’re going.

    Skip: You must do what you feel is right, of course.

    After some reflection and on learning that he had missed the family bar-b-q, Jordan gave Skip some good news.

    Jordan: OK, I want to come with you to Wantage. There’s nothing here for me now. I want to learn the ways of the Quokkas.

    Buoyed by this success, Skip then tried to add to his numbers, but could only get voicemail. Unfortunately, he also seemed to have got the wrong number.

    Skip: Help me Adrian Chesney. You’re my only hope.

    Tom: What is that?

    Belinda: Skip says he’s after Adrian Chesney, a resident of these parts. And it’s a private message for him. Quite frankly, sir I don’t know what he’s talking about.

    Tom: Well, I don’t know anyone named Adrian, but Ches lives out beyond Southsea dunes. He’s kind of a strange old hermit.

    Tom thought it wise to mention the call to Ches, in case the message was for him.

    Tom: Ches, I found this message. It for an Adrian Chesney. Is he a relative of yours? Do you know who he’s talking about?

    Ches: Adrian Chesney… Adrian? Now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time… a long time.

    Tom: I think Skip knew him. He said he was dead.

    Ches: Oh, he’s not dead, not… not yet.

    Tom: You know him!

    Ches: Well of course, of course I know him. He’s me. I haven’t gone by the name Adrian since oh, before you were born.

    Tom: Then the message does belong to you.

    Ches: Don’t seem to remember ever owning a message. Very interesting…

    On hearing that Skip was chasing players, Tom decided to call him and let him know that he might not be available in the coming weeks.

    Tom: Skip, I think those new Quokkas you have found are going to work out fine. In fact, I, uh, was also thinking about our agreement about me playing another season. And if these new players do work out, I want to transmit my application to the US this year.

    Skip: You mean the next tour before the Quokka Ashes?

    Tom: Sure, there’re more than enough players.

    Skip: The Quokka Ashes is when I need you the most. Only one more season. Your Dad will make enough on the harvest, so will be able to hire some more hands. And then you can go back to the US next year.

    Skip: You must understand I need you here, Tom.

    Tom: But it’s a whole ‘nother year.

    Skip: Look, it’s only one more season.

    Belinda: Where you off to Tom?

    Tom: It looks like I’m going nowhere. I have to finish cleaning those whites.

    With time running out, Skip’s recruitment drive for the game required some tough bargaining, so he took Evil Dave with him to the Mos Eisley cantina to try and get a bowler.

    Skip: Australia. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

    Dave: Do you really think we’re going to find a bowler here that’ll bowl out Wantage?

    Skip: Well, most of the best bowlers can be found here. Only watch your step. This place can be a little rough.

    Faggie: I’m `Millennium’ Fagberg. Dave here tells me you’re looking for a bowler to take to Wantage.

    Skip: Yes, indeed. If you’re a fast bowler.

    Faggie: Fast bowler? You’ve never heard of Millenium Fagberg?

    Skip: Should I have?

    Faggie: I’m a left armer that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs! I’ve outpaced T20 batsman, not the local bulk-cruisers, like Kanna mind you. I’m talking about the Special K’s now. I’m fast enough for you, old man. What’s our team like?

    Skip: Only passengers. Myself, Evil Dave, two bats, and no questions asked.

    Faggie: What is it? Some kind of local team?

    Skip: Let’s just say we’d like to avoid an innings defeat.

    Faggie: Well, that’s the trick, isn’t it? And it’s going to cost you something extra. I want to open the batting and bowling.

    Skip: Batting and bowling? We could almost hire our own team for that!

    Faggie: But who’s going to captain it, kid! You?

    Dave: You bet I could. I’m not such a bad all-rounder myself! We don’t have to sit here and listen…

    Skip: We can give you five overs, plus a decision on opening the batting when we reach Wantage.

    Faggie: Okay. You guys got yourself a player.

    Faggie: Batting and bowling. Those guys must really be desperate. This could really save my neck after two T20 golden ducks in a row.

    Kanna: Going somewhere, Faggie?

    Faggie: Yes, Kanna. As a matter of fact, I was just going to see Locky. Tell him I’ll get his runs.

    Kanna: It’s too late. You should have scored some runs when you had the chance. Every bowler in Londinium will be looking for you now. I’m lucky I found you first.

    Faggie: Yeah, but this time I’ll get the runs.

    Kanna: Locky’s through with you. He has no time for all-rounders who give up their wicket the first ball from an octopus bowler.

    Faggie: Even I get out sometimes. Do you think I had a choice?

    Kanna: You can tell that to Locky. He may only take your place.

    Faggie: Over my dead body.

    Kanna: That’s the idea. I’ve been looking forward to bowling you out you for a long time.

    Faggie: Yes, I’ll bet you have…

    On the day of the match Skip, Evil Dave and Faggie were travelling to the ground together, but Dave was having a few problems with his old R2D2GPS system.

    Dave: “Where are you going? Well, I’m not going that way. It’s much too rocky. This way is much easier. What makes you think the ground is over there? Don’t get technical with me. No more adventures. I’m not going that way. That malfunctioning little twerp. This is all his fault! He tricked me into going this way, but he’ll do no better. I should have known better than to trust the logic of a half-sized thermocapsulary dehousing assister…”

    In fact, they were not only running late, but they were lost.

    Dave: What the…? Aw, we’ve come off the motorway into a contraflow. Some kind of diversion. It’s not on any of the charts.

    Skip: What’s going on?

    Dave: Our position is correct, except… no, Wantage!

    Skip: What do you mean? Where is it?

    Dave: That’s what I’m trying to tell you, kid. It ain’t there.

    Dave decided to call the Wantage captain Pirate Steve, to see if he could get some directions. However, the thought of three Quokka bowlers being removed from the attack meant he was slightly hesitant.

    Dave: Don’t play games with me Pirate Steve. I want to know where your ground is. I’ve lost the directions. Now you are my only link to find the ground.

    Skip: Steve will die before he tells you anything.

    Dave: Leave that to me.

    Faggie: Evil Dave, the directions are not aboard this car.        

    Skip: Pirate Steve must have hidden the directions. Call Ches. See to it personally Evil Dave. There’ll be no one to stop us this time.

    Dave: Until the Quokkas are fully operational we are vulnerable. Wantage are too well equipped. They’re more dangerous than you realise. And what of Pirate Steve? If he has obtained a complete technical readout of our batting line up, it is possible, however unlikely, that they might find a weakness and exploit it.

    Skip: Any attack made by Wantage against the Quokkas would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they’ve obtained. This team is now the ultimate power in the universe. I suggest we use it!

    Dave: Don’t be too proud of this team you’ve constructed. The ability to get opening batsman out is insignificant next to the power of the Wantage’s bowling attack.

    Skip: Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerer’s ways, Evil Dave. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up a five-wicket haul, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Wantage ground…

    Dave: I find your lack of faith disturbing.

    Unlike the guys from Harpenden, I found the ground easily and just as I arrived Tom pulled up next to me in his old Peugeot with Conan and Jordan.

     Ches: You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought.

    Tom mentioned that my attendance must mean that I received Skips message. I hadn’t, but when I checked my phone I found it:

    Skip: Ches, years ago you played well in the Quokkas Ashes. Now I beg you to help us in his struggle against Wantage. I have placed information vital to the survival of the Quokkas batsman into the kit bag. You must see this bag safely delivered to Wantage. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Adrian Chesney, you’re my only hope.

    Whilst waiting for the others to arrive, I did my best to keep the true identity of the Quokkas hidden from our latest recruit Jordan. After somehow winning a game last week, we didn’t want to ruin that façade.

    Jordan: How long have you had those whites?

    Tom: About four or five seasons.

    Ches: They’re for sale if you want them.

    Jordan: Let me see the Quokkas scorebook.

    Ches: You don’t need to see the Quokkas scorebook.

    Jordan: I don’t need to see the Quokkas scorebook.

    Ches: These are not the Quokkas ties you’re voting for.

    Jordan: These are not the Quokkas ties I’m voting for.

    Ches: He can go mark his run up.

    Jordan: You can go mark your run up.

    As you recall it was a very hot day on Sunday, so Conan and Tom decided to wet their whistles in the Wantage clubhouse whilst we waited.

    Wantage bartender: We don’t serve their kind here!

    Tom: What?

    Wantage bartender: Your Australians. They’ll have to wait outside. We don’t want them here.

    Tom: Listen Conan, why don’t you wait outside. We don’t want any trouble.

    Wantage man at the bar: He doesn’t like you. I don’t like you either. We’re wanted men. I have the death sentence in five counties.

    Conan: I’ll be careful.

    Wantage bartender: You’ll be dead.

    Tom: This little Bow Tie Killer isn’t worth the effort. Come let me buy you something…

    With the match start time rapidly approaching, only myself, Matt, Tom, Jordan and Conan had arrived at the ground. Somewhat shorthanded, we wondered if we should get changed and go out and do the toss.

    Jordan: Is there anything we can do?

    Tom: Well, not unless you can alter time, speed up the harvest, or bowl at both ends

    Jordan: I don’t think so, sir. I’m only a batsman and not very knowledgeable about such things. Not in this country, anyway. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure which country I’m in.

    Conan: Well, if there’s a bright centre to the World, you’re in the country that it’s farthest from.

    Jordan: I see, sir.

    Their skipper popped his round the dressing room door. We suggested Tom do the toss, but we had to decide if we would bat or field first if he won it.

    Tom: Can you open the batting? We’ve got to get out there before the Wantage return.

    Matt: I don’t think I can make it. It’s too hot. You go on, Master Tom. There’s no sense in you risking yourself on my account. I’m done for.

    Tom: No, you’re not. What kind of talk is that?

    Ches: Robin. Robin Bradley. Boy, am I glad to see you!

    The Harpenden party had arrived, just I the nick of time.

    Skip: Where’s the toilet:toilet

    Matt: Head for that small moon.

    Skip: That’s no moon…It’s an air vent.

    Ches: I have a very bad feeling about this.

    Skip: Pirate Steve, before we beat you today I would like you to be my guest in the middle at a tossing ceremony that will make this game operational.

    Pirate Steve: The more you tighten your grip, Skip, the more chances will slip through your fingers.

    Skip: Not after we demonstrate the power of this team. In a way, you have determined the choice of the batsman that’ll be destroyed first. Since you are reluctant to provide us with a batting line up, I have chosen to test this teams destructive power… on your opening partnership.

    Pirate Steve: No! We have no regular opening batsman. You can’t possibly…

    Skip: You would prefer another target? A middle order batsman perhaps? Then name the openers.

    Dave: I grow tired of asking this. So, it’ll be the last time. What is your batting line up?

    Pirate Steve: Fazal and Porter to open, with Bramley in at 3…

    Dave: There. You see Skip, Steve can be reasonable.

    Dave:  Continue with the game. You may open the bowling when ready.

    Pirate Steve: What?

    Dave: You’re far too trusting. Your openers are too good to make an effective demonstration. But don’t worry. We will deal with your tail end soon enough.

    Before starting we get some quick fielding practice in and Matt turns his arm over a few times watched by fellow `spinner’ Ches.

    Faggie: Hokey religions and ancient spin bowlers are no match for a good fast bowler in your side, kid.

    Matt: You don’t believe in Legspinners, do you?

    Faggie: Kid, I’ve bowled from one side of this galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful legspinner controlling everything. There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny. It’s all a lot of Googlies and nonsense.

    Faggie: I call it luck.

    Ches: In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck, apart from when you take a wicket.

    Faggie: Look, practicing in the nets is one thing. Going up against real batsman in the middle? That’s something else.

    Matt: You know, I did feel something. I could almost get some spin.

    Ches: That’s good. You have taken your first step into the larger world of legspin.

    Just before we went out to bowl Skip provided the perfect team talk.

    Skip: The run up will not be easy. You are required to manoeuvre the ball straight down the corridor of uncertainty and skim the surface on a decent length. The target area is just outside off stump. A precise delivery will start a chain reaction which should destroy their entire batting line up. Only a precise delivery will set up the chain reaction. The batsman has a ray-shield-like defence, so you’ll have to use a googlie.

    Tom: That’s an impossible delivery, even for a Quokka.

    Ches: It’s not impossible. I used to bull’s-eye womp rats in my T-sixteen back home. They’re not much bigger than a stump.

    Skip decided to open the bowling with Evil Dave and Faggie, who both charged in under a blazing hot sun.

    Dave: I’ve been waiting for you, Pirate Steve. We meet again, at last. The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the batsman; now I am the master bowler.

    Pirate Steve: Only a master of evil, Dave.

    Dave: Your powers are weak, old man.

    Pirate Steve: You can’t win, Evil Dave. If you bowl me out, we shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

    Pirate Steve to Conan: Aren’t you a little short to be a Quokkas?

    As is so often the case Faggie beat the bat often, but invariably was nowhere near the stumps.

    Skip: If he bowls as fast as he’s boasting, we ought to do well.

    Tom: What a piece of junk. Pitch it up.

    Faggie: I may not look like much, but I’ve got it where it counts, kid.

    Skip: Listen Faggie. I don’t know who you are, or where you came from, but from now on, you need to bowl straight. Okay?

    Faggie: Look, your worshipfulness, let’s get one thing straight. I take orders from one person. Me.

    Matt: Why don’t you outpace them? I thought you said you were fast.

    Faggie: Watch your mouth, kid, or you’re going to find yourself walking home.

    Ches: How long before we can take you off?

    Faggie: It’ll take a few overs before the batsmen start coordinating the ball to the boundary.

    Tom: Are you kidding? At the rate they’re scoring?

    Faggie: Bowling fast isn’t like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations the ball could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova and that’d end your trip to Wantage real quick, wouldn’t it?

    Tom: What’s the problem?

    Faggie: We’re losing our ring of steel. Go strap yourself in, I’m about to be taken off and Ches is first change!

    Both Quokkas toil away in the searing heat, Faggie eventually getting his reward with a couple of wickets, but as their number 4 made his way to 50, Dave started to tire.

    Dave: This is ridiculous. Even if I could get some bounce, I’d never get past the outside edge.

    Skip: Leave that to me.

    Faggie: Damn fool. I knew that you were going to say that.

    Skip: Who’s the more foolish… the fool or the fool who follows him?

    Ches: The number 4 bat has a lot of force with him.

    Skip: You’re right, he must not be allowed to get away.

    Ches: Escape is not his plan. I must face him alone.

    Skip: OK next over this end Ches?

    Ches: This is not going to work.

    Skip: Why didn’t you say so before?

    Ches: I did say so before. I have a very bad feeling about this.

    As the batsman start to get away and we labour in the field, mercilessly its drinks, whereupon Conan makes an important discovery.

    Conan: We found the score book, sir.

    Skip: Take a look. We should be able to see their entire season showing us their strengths and weaknesses.

    Conan: I’ve found the main batsman that’s holding their team together. I’ll try to make the precise location in the batting line up. Their number 4 has every shot in the book hitting the ball to seven locations. A slower ball with turn bowled just outside off stump will allow the batsman to leave.

    Skip decided to make a double change, bringing both me and himself on. After I was hit for a few fours and a six, the ball starts to turn a little and a double bounce yorker has the batter in all sorts of trouble.

    Faggie: What the hell are you doing?

    Ches: Somebody has to save our skins.

    An appeal for no reason whatsoever is followed by a ball tossed up that the number 4 bat fails to read. Although the ball disappears high into the sky, Jordan makes a terrific diving catch. A pivotal wicket perhaps.

    Faggie: If we can just avoid any more of Skip’s advice, we ought to be able to get them out here.

    As is so often the case, one wicket brings another and Skips full and straight deliveries rip through our opponents’ middle order. With seven wickets taken by Skip and myself the damage has been done and Matt and Jordan are brought on to clean up the tail.

    Jordan: I’ve analysed their attack sir and there is a danger. Should I remove the slip?

    Skip: Evacuate? In out moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances!

    wantage_teaAfter one or two looseners, Jordan then found his range enabling him to grab the last wicket with a straight full pitched delivery. Our opponents have managed to score 133.  Possibly the finest tea this side of Totooine (pavlova, mozzarella and cherry tomatoes on sticks, vodka jellies and the best chocolate cake ever tasted) gives us the time to discuss boat trips to Rottnest Island, Romanian `discotheques’ and inadequate father days. Fascinating stuff, but with the alcoholic punch all but gone we must get out to the middle to bat.

    Skip: “Tom, open the batting will you. I want those runs knocked off before dinner.”

    Tom: “Awww Skip, but I was going into Toshi Station to pick up some power converters…”

    Jordan: Tom’s just not a cricketer Skip. He has too much of a farmer in him. 

    Tom is joined in the middle by Faggie, both resplendent in the new man-size Quokka baggy caps. They both start well against some very accurate spin bowling and pacey cutters. Tom keeps out several Yorkers, whilst Faggie plays a measured game, by his standards, offering only the odd half chance. Eventually as the bowlers tire, Faggie starts to open up his shoulders, carving the ball to all parts of the ground.

    Faggie: “Not a bad bit of batting, huh? You know, sometimes I even amaze myself.”

    Tom: “Nice kid, but don’t get cocky”

    Having seen off the opening bowlers with a series of fine cuts and drives, the Wantage skipper turned to his slower bowlers. A young lady at the far end was immediately underestimated by Faggie, who, having failed to get to the pitch of the ball, looped an aimless shot high into the midwicket area. Fortunately, it fell just out of reach of any fielder. 

    Faggie: “Everything is under control. Situation normal.

    Tom: “What happened”

    Faggie: “Uh… had a slight bat malfunction. But, uh, everything’s perfectly all right now. I’m fine. We’re all fine here, now, thank you. How are you?”

    Tom: “Conan’s padding up”

    Faggie: “Uh, uh, negative. We had a talent leak here now. Give us a few minutes to lock it down. Large leak… very dangerous.

    That minor scare apart, the home side failed to trouble either batsman and Faggie continued to pile on the runs, breaking the clubhouse TV arial with a six. Several well-timed fours through midwicket see the scoreboard race along, with Tom adding to the home team’s woes with a brilliantly timed four to the third man boundary. Two further bowling changes fail to break up the partnership, which now threatens to smash all Quokka records. With just 3 needed it fell to Faggie to hit the winning boundary.

    WantagepitchWe had reached out target in just 18.1 overs without losing a wicket. The successful batsman were of course met with the usual Quokkas congratulations as they left the field.

    Skip: Batting paradise. It’s the only explanation for the ease of our victory.

    Faggie: Easy… you call that easy?

    So, two games into the season and having won both handsomely the Quokkas can feel pretty content with their efforts. On the long drive home, I reflected on the day’s action, but struggled to find any correlation with the Star Wars film. Perhaps Quokkas matches have more in common with the Raiders of the lost ark, Airplane or Goodfellas. I’m not sure. Certainly, some food for thought there. Until the next episode…

    Ches

    Tags: ,

  • Harpenden Dolphins 89 all out (Garlic Bread 2-17, Ray 2-7, Jerry 2-12) lost to Quokkas 92 for 3 (Jordan 40 n.o. )

    Uncertainty analysis

    In quantum mechanics, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is any of a variety of mathematical inequalities asserting a fundamental limit to the precision with which certain pairs of physical properties of a particle, known as complementary variables, such as position x and momentum p, can be known. What is certain about a Quokka match that is proceeded by an evening with Skip, is that I will have similar levels of tiredness to that of a parent coping with teething or a cattle class traveller making his way to New Zealand. And this, the first game of the 2017 season, was no different. The Saturday started with a few beers in the glorious sunshine listening to the Aussies being taken to the absolute cleaners, before rolling smoothly into Sunday morning drinking Glayva and watching Lee Griffith become famous for something other than his ludicrous hairline. Luckily though, a gaggle of young children keen to learn the fine art of leg spin ensured that my lie in was brief. After three showers to remove the smell of smoke, from Skips fire-pit, from my pores, we are ready to rock and roll.

    Normally, when it comes to the fundamental limits of the Quokkas bowling a cork particle covered in leather, there doesn’t tend to be much precision, but there is a hell of a lot of complementary variables. But this wasn’t you average opening day of the season type affair, with us chasing the ball to the boundary all day before showing we are unsure which end of the bat to hold. It was different, a complete role reverse in fact, and felt something akin to one of those films where there is a lightning storm overnight and you wake up in the body of another person. Actually, never mind Freaky Friday, this was more along the lines of Skip finding a Zoltar machine, pulling the power lead out and wishing for an opening game victory. The result of that wish was the Quokkas following the Nerdlucks lead by purloining talent from somewhere (perhaps the Aussie ODI side, if their display on Saturday was anything to go by), which enabled us to bowl the opposition out for 89 before knocking them off with ease within 18 overs.

    It was as an assured display and comprehensive a victory as you will ever likely to witness in the history of the Quokkas…of that I am certain. Think England destroying the Aussies in the ICC Trophy in June 2017 (I had better mention that here in case you missed the reference to it in the previous paragraph. And if you missed the match itself, here’s some Aggers commentary: “Smash…oh I say, that one has gone into outer space…it’s actually into the third tier…the Aussies are getting some tremendous tap here from the English batsman). Quite simply the Quokkas were like, well, the Quokkas T:20 team, only longer in the tooth, better looking (in my case) and slightly more interested in the type of cake being served at tea (Mr Kipling’s Country Slices made a rare outing if you were interested).

    On a pitch offering a little pace and varying bounce, Garlic Bread prospered early on, beating the bat continuously, but without success until Bow Tie Killer provided the complementary variable to the pair. When you think of Quokka reactions in the field, the formation of rust springs to mind, but fuelled by a bar-b-q hosted by our very own Al `Skip’ Czervik, Conan showed the reaction time of an explosion to snaffle one of the finest catches you will see (or miss if you blinked) all summer. Not to be outdone Skip grabbed an absolute beauty at first slip, thankful at completely ignoring Roger-Roger’s observation, from his dreadful position at long on, that the slip cordon was too deep.

    At the other end, Tom the Yak delighted Skip with an almost metronomic display of precision bowling that kept the opponents star batsman away from the strike and the run rate below two an over. We’ve been here before though, well maybe not the less than two an over part, the opening spell is decent, but with a change of bowling the accuracy, velocity and certainty then emulates the Seneca Effect. Jerry, one of several debutants and the latest Quokka to be born this side of the millennium had other ideas, overcoming his initial struggle with the 1-in-3 climb to the crease to keep up the momentum. Having accepted some words of wisdom from Skip, hopefully on the merits of avoiding leaving black socks in washing machine rather than tips on fashion or how to bowl, he claimed a pair of wickets, thanks in part, to a remarkable grab, at the second attempt, by Hairdresser.

    At the other end, Ray (another debutant) came thundering down the hill to put the fear of god into the Harpenden batsman. As you all know, the quality of a Quokka is not measured in talent alone, which is just as well as we don’t have anyone that knows how to use a micrometer, but here we are graced with one of the most self-effacing cricketers you are ever likely to meet. “I used to bowl the odd over” proved to be somewhat of an understatement. A lack of whites often lulls you into a false sense of security, but as anyone familiar with the Lagrange–d’Alembert principle will know, when you have acceleration and a small mass bowled with huge force, you get a delivery that whistles past a batsman’s ear. As you can guess, his efforts didn’t go unrewarded, taking a brace before Skip offered his opponents some much needed respite.

    It wasn’t all about velocity I might add. There is no finer compliment for a slow bowler than being described as “a spinner” by your opponent, even one so obviously unqualified to make that distinction. But filling in for The Egg, Matt offered some excellent flight and a certain degree of uncertainty to trouble both batsman and grab a wicket of his own. The last time we saw Hairdresser he was performing post-modern expressionist dance routines with a black leather belt tied round his neck (Ed: thanks Ches, it’s taken me until now to get that terrible picture out of my head), but having spent the morning bowling beamers at his three young daughters, he instantly reaped the benefit by clean bowling their number 9 with his first delivery. Roger-Roger, resplendent in half mast trousers and secret service sunglasses, presumably to prevent blindness from his colourful footware, cleaned up the tail, leaving the home team with just 89 to defend.

    We spent tea arguing the merits of emu burgers, mulling over leylandii arboriculture and discussing the need for soundproofing in caravan toilet walls. Fascinating stuff, but as some of us are losing hair by the hour these days, we need to press on. Jordan our debutant Aussie (they’re the ones that lost to England on Saturday) and Hairdresser are thrust into the middle to see us home. And it was looking very much that way until the fine opening stand was broken by Hairdressers’ inability to ground his bat, or run fast, or call, or make a half decent decision about when to run or not. It did little to stop the flow of runs as Jordan hit the ball repetitively to the boundary with some genuine cricket shots (probably got some tips from the England batsman on Saturday). We did wander whether the playing down of his ability during the pre-game meat fest was a ruse. “Not played cricket since school”, doesn’t quite have the same meaning if, as we discovered, you are employed as a school teacher (probably of cricket).

    For a New York Second, I did manage to make it look like Jordan wasn’t a ringer, but, so excited at getting the ball off the square, I decided to dance down the wicket like a man that knew what he was doing, only to discover he was mistaken. It mattered not, as Conan emulated his English ODI batting heroes (did I mention the crushing defeat of the Aussies the previous day?) by smashing inferior bowling to the boundary, shortly before emulating the South African’s running between the wickets. It therefore fell to Roger-Roger, who promised not to leave anything in the dressing room, to see us home. And he did just that, demonstrating a fantastic eye and some unorthodox footwork when carving the bowling through midwicket and hitting the winning runs via a lofted drive over long on.

    A great start to the season and a terrific weekend in Harpenden, which is perhaps why I am struggling this morning to write an article for my client about `uncertainty analysis’, but I’m sure, no, I’m certain I will find some inspiration from somewhere.

    Ches

  • May 27th is not only the 147th day of the year, for this year it also hosted the Gasometer Quokkas Best & Fairest Night; The Gownlows. While the night might not get the same media attention as other sporting awards nights, not that any come to mind, but it certainly allows us to celebrate all things Quokka cricket.

    This years night started with the MC of the night, The Big Dog, giving a detailed explanation of what went on in our Tour to Sri Lanka last season, making several of the players wish for less painful memories; a visit to the Dentist perhaps?

    With the overview done, MC Dog launched into the season review, sensibly starting with Round 1 and moving chronologically from there. Where match Captains were present, they were given the opportunity to read out their votes for each game, so long as The Rev had agreed to the votes allocated.

    MC Dog took an early lead in the votes and, much like his beloved Hawthorn Hawks, managed to hold on to win his first B&F despite late challenges from J Rod and Ed. Ed did take some consolation by winning the Most Runs award, while MC Dog also took out the Most Wickets award by pipping The Rev. Its no wonder the club only won 2 games with The Rev and Dog being the leading wicket takers.

    Other notable award winners included:

    • Best Match Report (awarded by Local): Local, Someone
    • Darragh O’Donovan Bravery Award: Nickname AW
    • Best on Tour: MC Dog (his wheelbarrow was pretty full by the end of the night)
    • Best at the Big Day Not Out: Snipper
    • Worst at the Big Day Not Out: Bowl’en and his 10 litre bag of goon
    • Biggest 6: Tuesday (scored), Ed (conceded)

    Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to everyone present and otherwise for a great season. Here’s looking forward to 2017/18!

  • The hairdresser’s annual contribution to Quokkadom has resulted in the following set of anticipated fixtures. Perhaps he might turn out and play this year!

    • 11/6/2017 Dolphins – Harpenden 14:00 start
    • 18/6/2017 Wantage – Wantage 12:00 start
    • 25/6/2017 Leigh – Leigh 14:00 start
    • 2/7/2017 Salix –
    • 9/7/2017 Hartfield – Hartfield 14:00 start
    • 16/7/2017 Whalers – Chiswick
    • 28-31/7/2017   Tour to Romania
    • 3/9/2017 Coldharbour – Coldharbour 13:30 start

    Plus the Ashes are being planned for MAY . Exact Date TBD

  • The reeling rhythms of a Riverdance céilí pulsated over the turf of the Alfred Crescent oval to set a cheerful tempo for the inaugural mixed pub league game between The Old Bar and the Quokkas. Even before a ball was bowled, there was a victory for diversity in pub league cricket with 6 females participating for the Quokkas and 7 for the Old Bar.

    Though it was offensively hot, the Quokkas innings was even-tempered with a credible opening partnership between Vibs and Ren. Vibs powered her way to 25 before retiring and Ren played a smart innings, displaying varied stroke-play for her highest Quokkas score of 17.

    Karly was unlucky to get stumped and Cat also went cheaply getting herself run out backing up (in order to give others a go). Eliza cracked 8 singles – also a career best score.

    Next in was the resilient Fiona who, despite being virtually blind after an operation on both eyes two days earlier, defied medical advice in order to play her first match in a decade or so.

    Our opposition fielded many female first timers, many just learning the art of bowling. Dutchy poked a few singles with the near sightless Fiona, heroically holding up an end until lunch.

    At the break the Quokkas totalled 4-95 off 20, and both teams were treated to “a delicious range of food with amazing salad” – Big Dog. Jigs and folk tunes continued to throb out of the adjacent Irish Festival and in the much less Irish heat the beer esky needed replenishing to keep up with the collective thirst of the players.

    It took a bit of motivation to get going again but then the Old Bar innings was hectic. Vibs opened the bowling and swung the new ball more than a taped tennis ball, and then had to be removed from the attack because she was unplayable.

    There was a moment of romance when Rev celebrated with Ren after taking a fine catch off her bowling. This caused some distress to Vibs, who needed reassurance that pashing was not a team custom.

    Another highlight was Rens spectacular overhead running catch, or more accurately, a footy-style mark to the chest –slightly more painful with a cricket ball but effective nonetheless.

    There was a respectful pause in play to mark the occasion of the naked cyclists’ procession through Edinburgh gardens, after which early drinks were called with the Old Bar on just 18. The Old Bar opted to let their female players bat twice allowing for an unequivocal victory for mixed cricket.

  • Match Facts: Sunday, March 19 2017, Alfred Crescent Oval, North Fitzroy

    Time: 1pm Start

    The Big Picture:

    This weeks game is pure Quokka, designed to ensure those that want to play some social cricket (though don’t want the rigors of club cricket).

    This game follows on from last years intra-club mixed game, which was considered a success & even drew the praise of Cricket Victoria for providing a bridge to Cricket to women that doesn’t necessarily otherwise exist.

    The rules for this game have been somewhat modified to ensure everyone gets a go:

    • 25 over game
    • No LBWs
    • No Wides (just rebowl)
    • Cant go out first ball
    • Retirement in the over the batsman gets to 20
    • Female players to bat / bowl first
    • Any excess overs (e.g. 22-25) are to be bowled by female players
    • Male players bowling to female players only to go off 3 step run-up
    • Female players can bowl from forward of the crease if needed

    The Old Bar have been good enough to agree to a game and we hope it becomes a regular thing, not just with the Old Bar, but other pubs too.

    Form Guide:

    While the Quokkas YPCA team has had a fairly ordinary season, with only one win from nine games, the female players have been in pretty impressive form. Cat and Ren both played in our games in Sri Lanka, and have both played a number of games this season too, scoring runs and taking wickets.

    The Quokkas had a warm-up mixed game last Sunday, where we saw some typically strong batting from Rosemary, Cat and Ren, as well as fast bowling from Karly and all-round dominance from Eliza.

    Here’s hoping everyone can have a go and some fun Sunday.

    In The Spotlight:

    Karly has been an enthusiastic new starter to the group, attending several training sessions, and playing the VBCA game before this, her first Pub League match. She has impressed in the nets and in the recent inter-club mixed game with her pace bowling, which is surely linked to the energy gained from eating tofu as part of a vegan diet. Promises to be a real handful against The Old Bar if she gets her radar right.

    Team News:

    It’s always a distressing moment at QHQ when the selection committee comes forward and says there are more than enough numbers for the next week, it almost always means that half the team will drop out by the time you’ve had time to throw your cup of Earl Grey at them.

    It often resembles the Boston tea party at QHQ

    It often resembles the Boston tea party at QHQ

    I’m happy to report that, at the time of writing, there are 14 listed as available for this weeks game and my tea is yet to stain the walls. Happier still, the Quokkas have up to 6 girls available for this game, which will go a long way towards giving interested punters a chance at a game.

    1. Cat (c)
    2. Ren
    3. Karly
    4. Eliza
    5. Vibeke
    6. Rosemary
    7. Don
    8. Jay
    9. J Rod
    10. Bowl’en
    11. Big Dog
    12. Snipper
    13. Local
    14. Dutch

    Pitch and Conditions:

    Alfred Crescent oval is the friend of Pub Cricketing batsmen, whichever pub they heil from. With its short & inviting boundaries, conveniently located loos, and ample shade provided by the trees that line it; it’s a great place to watch deliveries get belted into people having an otherwise enjoyable picnic.

    Maybe aim for this guy

    Maybe aim for this guy

    While the Australian mens cricket team is in India, the Indian summer has arrived in Melbourne and we are expecting a sunny day with a top of 32 degrees on Sunday. Make sure to slip, slop, slap and drink plenty of water.

    Stats and Trivia:

    • Cat is the most capped female Quokka, with 7 YPCA appearances and 14 overall. Cat has scored 44 YPCA runs at 11 and is yet to bowl a ball in the league – quite an achievement!
    • Ren is the second most capped, with 2 YPCA appearances and 7 overall. While she only has 7 YPCA runs against her name, she did hit more 4s on the Sri Lanka tour than the Rev.
    • Eliza is making her 4th Quokka appearance and looks like she is ready for a break-out game after some excellent efforts in the warm up game & recent VBCA match
    • The “Ice Man” (J Rod, the bloke who brings the ice) is making his 40th Quokka appearance this weekend, which is the 5th most of anyone to wear the saggy maroon. The Plod has hit 346 YPCA runs at 14.42 with a top score of 41 not out. He has also taken 19 wickets at 22 at a RPO of 5.78. There is no statistic for his catches held.

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Recent Comments

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