• Hartfield 184-8 (Seagull 2-13, Skip 2-35) beat Quokkas 165 all out (The D.O.C. 54, Fudger 39)

    Engineering and cricket are probably the two most important parts of my life right now [Ed: not forgetting Mrs Seagull of course Chez………Chez?], so with a champagne super over helping England’s secure the Cricket World Cup (never in doubt), I took a great interest in the BBC’s coverage of the 50thanniversary of the moon landing this week. Whether you think the event was faked or indeed the moon is made of Wensleydale, you can’t deny that space travel, with only a Commodore VIC-20 for navigation, is the single most impressive feat of engineering in our history. Come the 30th century, it will perhaps be the only thing we care to remember about the 20th century at all.

    Personally, despite the strange shadows in the photos and the apparent fluttering of the stars and stripes flag, I choose to believe Neil Armstrong’s small steps for mankind took place 384,400km away from the earth and not deep within Area 51. Seeing conspiracy theorist Bart Sibrel, being punched by a 72-year old Buzz Aldrin was enough to convince me that those incredibly brave pilots made it all the way to the moon back in 1969. Unless you think the unfortunate deaths of Roger Chaffee, Ed White and Virgil Grissom were also faked, then it’s clear as to the extreme lengths the US and NASA went to be the first to land on the moon.

    Although it was almost entirely a US success story, to achieve their goal NASA were keen to cherry-pick some of Britain’s best minds to help them beat the Russians. A dozen British aeronautical engineers brought their knowledge of fly-by-wire technology to the Apollo missions and a Welshman called Roberts, who studied just down the road from me at Southampton University, oversaw the data communications, fundamental to the landings.

    Some people, even more negative than I, like to point out that the only thing we got from space travel was non-stick frying pans, Sky Sports and GPS, but that’s not entirely true. Without the Apollo missions that brought the British engineers to Langley, NASA would never have been introduced to the beautiful game of cricket. This may have been a crucial turning point in the whole space programme. Indeed, if the British hadn’t formed the NASA cricket team, playing a host of local sides, the NASA engineers involved may not have used their time out in the field to consider the best way of landing that Apollo Lunar Module Eagle. Just think, without cricket we may have had a Russian cosmonaut leaping out of a LK-3 lunar lander instead of Armstrong and Aldrin.

    OK, so cricket wasn’t the reason why the US got to the moon first, but a NASA cricket team is pretty cool, and my understanding is that they were somewhat Quokka-esque too – no one could ever remember them winning either. Not completely surprising I suppose. When you have great minds focused on an incredibly important a job at hand, the cricket can often suffer. Whether that explains why the Quokkas are so terrible, I am not so sure. It may have not been 1969 when the Quokkas last won a game, but with fixtures few and far between this summer, our last victory does seem light years ago. With an always competitive fixture at Hartfield coming up fast on the horizon, we hoped to end the drought. We didn’t and here’s how.

    5-4-3-2-1…we have lift off and having lost the toss, we were asked to bowl. Evil Dave, taking time out from fronting the Idles, opened the bowling and came in off his Michael Holding-length run up. Unlike Whispering Death, Evil chucked in the odd slower ball to bamboozle his opponent amidst a terrific nine over spell of deceptively medium fast-medium bowling. Whatever the pace, a beauty of a ball was the downfall of one of the openers. At the other end, Jerry the Grey, in his last game before starting a sentence down under, struggled to dislodge the other.

    In the field we lacked spatial awareness and were our usual comical selves, epitomised when Skip enquired as to “what was up with Doc?” and suggesting he field “somewhere between Tom & Jerry”. A bowling change was in order and that brought Faggie, fresh from his stint at Glastonbury, probably behind a bar, into the attack. He was joined by Skip, dubbed the `medium paced egg’, who, despite ever eroding body parts was very effective, taking two lovely wickets, including clean bowling the stoic opener. Faggie, donning a new Merv Hughes look [Ed: he used to get some tap too] claimed an excellent wicket of his own, but with their combined 11 overs going for 70 runs, it was time for a bit of Chezampa.

    And for once I don’t need to regal tales of balls heading into neighbouring tennis courts, counties or orbit. Well, the first delivery was launched towards the outer atmosphere, but after that slight blemish it was some half decent slow bowling thanks to some completely unrequested tutoring from Milind. Hang on a second while I find the mouthpiece for this trumpet. The Seagull’s appearance in the bowling highlights at the top of the page is a rare sight, but the four over spell included turn, edges, the ball not being hit to all parts, a wicket from a wrong un and even a handily placed divot to help claim a second. Every dog has his day I tell thee and to protect a never-seen-anything-quite-like-it-before-bowling-average, I retired swiftly to the outfield, allowing The Yak to clean up the tail.

    You can only man the church fete tombola for so long, which meant The Professor joined the mission. Still donning his Dolph Lundgren He-man haircut, Prof grabbed the eighth wicket before losing his line and length, due to ‘a noisy playground swing’. A wicket from Tom the Yak ended proceedings, but by then Hartfield had somehow amassed 184 runs.

    Over a tea that, although not out-of-this-world, hardly touched the sides, we discussed the dark web, dark matter and the dark side of the moon, the issue of charging electric cars, the statistical nightmare of home runs scored at the Olympic stadium and whether Gay Pride had become an excuse for a bevy. All fascinating stuff, but with only so much time to perform another batting collapse, we needed to get suited up and out into the middle.

    Our two star batsman [Ed: a bit harsh, but possibly fair], The Minder and Faggie opened the batting. As I joined them out in the middle to umpire, I was grateful to Milind for explaining that should the ball hit his pad, it can’t be given out because it wouldn’t be in line with the stumps. Excellent advice, but not exactly requested. Both openers had to wait a while before a ball even came near them, as a series of wides got us off to a decent, but gentle start. Some canny bowling and a slow pitch caught Milind out, meaning I didn’t get the chance to ignore his pearls of wisdom. For the next hour it was just a steady jet-stream of beautiful drives rocketing their way to the boundary, as The D.O.C. showed us exactly what we have been missing while he has been messing about in Brighton…something about fathering a child or suchlike.

    Fudger, donning glitter eyeliner after a day out discussing docking at length in London, attacked with gusto and threatened to take us to our target in rapid time. That was until he gloved a bouncer to their keeper. Half asleep, after a long Hacienda revival evening at the Royal Albert Hall, I wasn’t sure if it had hit arm or glove, so decided to give our Australian batsman the opportunity to demonstrate the country’s new-found honesty. But rather than walk, he equated the loud noise to that of his Quokka cloth cap crashing down to the earth, and thus stood his ground. Why I allowed an Aussie to determine his own destiny, I will never know, but are after allowing him time to search his soul, too much time had passed for me to give him out. I let karma come to my aid, with him caught an over or so later, but that was only after he had plundered a number of boundaries, much to my chagrin.

    The Professor, in next, played round a straight one, bringing the Bow Tie Killer to the crease. He gave us an instant boost with some gravity defying Conan Smashes before falling to a beauty. The same bowler ruined my day, just as I was getting my eye in and then Skip fell to a ball he really shouldn’t have. Evil Dave was in next and when he flat batted a ball over the perimeter treeline for six it was almost if Prince Adam had been handed a sword by The Sorceress and decreed “By the power of grey skull, I have the power”. That power didn’t last though, and he was caught attempting something equally gruesome. With Tom and Jerry failing to trouble the scorers, the Quokkas innings ended as it had started, in rather gentle fashion, which meant we had somehow engineered a defeat, again.

    I’d like to think that many of the Quokkas had been distracted by the challenge of getting man to mars, but more likely it was just the tough decision of pork scratchings or cheese and onion crisps to go with the post-match pint that filled their minds.

    Posted by iain @ 10:51 am

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