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