MATCH REPORTS 2017
Expectations were low after a week of rain pounded the longsuffering wicket at Underhill, but the sun shone brightly all Thursday, meaning the big match against the arch rivals would go ahead.
If expectations were low, numbers were even lower. Five Badgers arrived by the 5:45 kick off, and a further two by 6pm. Thus, the opposition kindly agreed to let us bat first, as we promised a full complement was en route.
Looking through the scorebook for names who’ve avoided batting so far, Chris Price promptly put his name forward to open the batting, but had a change of heart after four balls and ran himself out. He clearly wanted to practise his umpiring. Thomas Sr. was then joined at the crease by a resurgent Iain Sullivan, putting on a steady 33 partnership, before being caught out. Tomos Jr. had no interest in batting with his father, lobbing a bottom edge down leg side for an easy caught behind so he could concentrate on the bowling line-up and learn the names of the fielding positions.
Craig tried to pick up the pace, Anthony Coles tried to keep pace with the former captain, but both succumbed to two further good catches by a good fielding side. In fact, the only thing slower than the wicket was the Badgers’ scoring – even Rhodri had to resort to a couple of sixes, with hardly any balls reaching the boundary. Then came Alyn Ridler for a final flurry - under the pressure of performing in front of his boys and a lady we presume was his wife – and with the score at a mere 80, his two 4s in the final over could prove very valuable.
It is worth noting a rare occurrence – Paul brought his son, Harley, along, and they even batted together, meaning that two father-and-son pairings batted together in the same innings.
The star batsman was Rhodri, hitting a strong and stable 33.
A target of 90 seemed too low for a strong opposition, so the big guns were brought out with both Labbetts opening the bowling, with quite some pace (and occasional bounce) from both. Paul smashed the stumps over with the first ball of the innings, with the opening pair conceding just 9 runs between them from the first four overs, giving plenty of hope for a close game.
Next up were Dave Bratley and Iain Sullivan. Dave’s persistence with the nets is certainly paying off, clean bowling a good batsmen to keep the wickets falling. But they were tumbling frequently the other end, with Iain coming down the hill to bowl that rarest of Badgers feats – a wicket maiden.
Continuing the family tradition of the evening, Thomas and Tomos joined forces (fathers and sons had now both batted and bowled together in the same match) to keep the scoring low. Although no wickets were taken in these four overs, only 11 runs were conceded.
With the fielding impeccable, led by Craig who was determined not to allow any singles when the ball remained on the square, hope turned to optimism. Next up was a reluctant Craig himself. Why he should be so reluctant we’re not sure, as he clean bowled (or should that be rolled?) two fine sloggers. The wickets kept tumbling, and Craig rose to the top of the leading wicket takers for the season, returning figures of 2 for 13 off 2.
With Alyn Ridler and Anthony Coles unable to bowl, another over each was required. The Labbetts returned, and were again mean with the ball, going for 7 between them (and Harley was most unfortunate not to take a debut wicket, a catch being dropped on his final ball). Then the star bowler returned, insisting that he couldn’t possible change ends to run uphill, Iain’s final over so two run outs and another clean bowled (he finished with 2 for 5 off 3).
Taking three wickets in an over, the optimism evolved into expectation, with all fielders now looking nervous, determined not to let victory against the old enemy slip. However, with all bowlers bowling straight and true, 22 required off the last two was always a big ask against a Badgers side filling with confidence. T+T kept the scoring low enough, with Rhodri taking another wicket in the final over, taking the tally to a frustrating 9 wickets (when did we last bowl a team out?) Victory was secured by 8 runs in a low scoring game, with the Badgers faces failing to hide their glee, and a little bit of shock. Let’s hope this first win since the tour last year is a sign of a good season ahead.
A word must be said about the opposition also – we again failed to reach 11 players, but the captain had no hesitation in offering us a fielder to plug the gap, and that on top of allowing us 3 overs each (they bowled the usual 2 for each of the ten players) as well as allowing us to bat first. This was a match truly played in the spirit of the Badgers, which is nearly as important as the win!
Surprisingly against familiar and friendly opposition this turned out to be a rather flat encounter.
It was a warm sunny evening and having battled through heavy traffic that seemed to have gridlocked the city The Badgers eventually ended up with eleven players. In the absence of the skipper Gareth as his new deputy took charge. At least he won the toss and elected to bat. The innings got off to a steady if unspectacular start against a good attack. Anthony took advantage of batting up the order scoring a fine 17 runs as Steve, Chris, Ian Sullivan and Dave Bratley all chipped in supporting him. The later stages were given some much needed momentum by the prodigal Simon Jones who opened his account with a maximum and whose first four scoring strokes accumulated 20 runs. Someone had enough of this and ran him out for a fine 36 leaving Alyn, Craig and Gareth to garner what they could. 120 was a respectable score and has many times been a winning one.
The Badger bowling started in generous mood as a strong Harpist batting outfit took up the chase. Even the late chairman could not produce his legendary magic. Gareth was the only bowler to really earn respect. Simon and Craig managed a wicket a piece as the Harpists got across the line with a couple of overs to spare.
The highlights were to see Barry, Roger and Colin in support. It is a pity they did not witness a more memorable game.
However, as the excitement builds towards the long awaited Italian adventure and the Badgers return to their foraging ground at Underhill next week the intensity will surely be expressed in our next encounter with occasionally cross All stars from Mumbles.
Forbear the chianti for just a while longer - we need a win.
Short of captains vice or otherwise, Steve Lisle took the poisoned chalice for this encounter on an evening that started off warm and sunny. His first job was to lose the toss and set a field with 10 players until Alyn soon showed up to make up the full complement. Steve seemed to be working the magic as Rito the two Ians and John managed to get through the first 8 overs at just about 3 runs apiece. Rito was the pick bowling his two overs for 1 run and clean bowling the opening batsman. He claims to have cut down his pace but he has certainly upped his accuracy and menace - great things are expected. However, after the resolute containment of the first ten overs the All Stars who have clearly been very busy in the transfer market started to open up. With wickets and a surfeit of regular league players in hand the innings took an exponential acceleration notwithstanding the vagaries of the Underhill wicket and some steadfast bowling. There were chances created and on another day this would be another story, yet again Craig took great catch to remove a dangerous batter. Late in the day Steve showed his astute leadership qualities by bring on Dave Bratley against the full broadside of the Mumbles batting. His 3 wickets for 16 runs was a welcome and deserved reward for bravery under fire - he is probably the leading wicket taker of the season. At least the bullies did not have it all their own way and all were cut short before a fifty was scored. However, a score of 159 was daunting.
The Badger reply got under way with Craig and Alyn starting brightly against a pacy attack. The wicket had gradually become slower and lower with the occasional unexpected bounce. Alyn departed first after his usual belligerent knock and Rito did not trouble the scorers impatient to get off the mark. Phil, Alex and Ian all chipped in perhaps trying to force too hard. Craig stuck around for some time playing the ball very late until he eventually played too late and was bowled for a fine double figure score. Simon after his cameo the week before also departed for a double figure score of 2. Everyone found the going tough as the attack was unrelenting and the wicket difficult to play. Steve, however, came in to play the captain's innings and scored a rapid 25 in trying circumstances. The Badgers fell well short in a one sided game but stuck to their guns and their ethos.
The opinion polls point to a landslide victory over Pennard next week with the return of some senior players. Dave, Gareth and Chris have been away on various fishing expeditions and must be concerned about their ratings. Ian Sullivan pulled off a majestic, slow motion stumping which must be of concern in certain quarters and Ian has proved to be made of the Wright stuff with his all-round performances under severe questioning. Good to see Colin and Roger leaning slightly to the right in support which had nothing to do with the hot dogs and chips on offer at the Newton. Rhodri strangely umpired for a change practicing for his night at the count. The Badger constituency has always been marginal so now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party.
It's raining, it's pouring…
A fine evening in Underhill Park saw the Badgers take on the mercurial eleven from the Evening Post.
Following the snap election that provided neither crackle nor pop the Badgers returned to the comfort of their natural lethargy. At the appointed time for start of play a sample of four players had arrived. Consequently, an exasperated vice captain agreed to a game reduced to 18 overs and had to bat first.
The innings was opened by the Bratley boys who went off at such a pace that John was still searching for his box when the first wicket fell. From then on in a sensible sedate pace was set as Iago tried to test the fitness of his puffing companion. He rather surprisingly got bowled just as he started showing some intent. Alex then gave the innings some momentum hitting the ball hard and inelegantly and after John failed his bleep test was joined by Steve in the best partnership of the innings. Both top scored on 14. The Underhill surface is not the batsman's friend and it is a bit of a lottery when trying to push the pace. Simon scored 50% more runs than last time and Alyn perished run out at the third attempt when going for it. Craig took one for the team coming in in the last over with a strike rate of 200/100balls. The chairman entered the fray with three balls remaining and to ensure the Badgers batted for all their allotted overs stylishly defended his wicket for two balls before being bowled by the third. The gnashing vice captain was left stranded on 5 not out.
A target of 67 looked a good 30 runs short and the chameleon Underhill surface tends to favour the chasing side. However, the Badger bowling proved to be up for the task and was the meanest it has ever been. Craig is finding his form at last and took a good wicket as did Steve Long and Iago. John also chipped in late after being violated by a middle order swinger who took one liberty too many. Gareth, however, donned the crusader's cape and bowled with an accuracy and control rarely seen in a Badger attack. His first of two wickets was the inevitable culmination of an over to a well set batsman that probed and tested with subtle variations in line and length that completely undid the opener who was trying desperately to score off him. A magnificent wicket maiden that deserves special recognition (Flintoff to Ponting). The ground fielding was adequate but there are still certain sections where the concept of the long barrier is an alien one. Craig has set the bar pretty high in the field and having uncharacteristically missed a half chance and rattled his change in the process clung on to a real stonker left handed at short cover. With a bit of luck this game could have been won. Unfortunately, the skipper was on call saving himself for the challenges of leading his men on a campaign in foreign fields. Every Badger will be envigorated by his return and follow his example on and off the field wherever that path may lead.
Kevin Costner was towing a light gang mower over the outfield putting the final touches to the ground he had prepared. The touring Badgers arrived down a dusty trail cutting through the fields tall with densely planted maize. `Build it and they will come' The legends of Lodi transported in the shuttle bus provided by the friend of one Luciano Molinari, hotel owner and enigma, gazed around them in wonder at this little Eden created amongst the dusty fields and irrigation ditches that formed the outer reaches of the small medieval town. It was hot! Too damned hot! It was a day from the deep south of Burl Ives in a white suit and a steaming Elizabeth Taylor. The boys of the Idle cricket club showed that southern hospitality and greeted their guests with enthusiasm and beer. They were a cosmopolitan lot and in keeping with the Badger experience of international teams abroad a mixture of nationalities with representatives from India, Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Italy and of course ex pats from the UK. In such circumstances there is always that air of mystery in the collection of so many back stories brought together by something so banal as a cricket match on a foreign field.
However, Dave, our skipper, was the coolest dude present - Like Alistair Cook he doesn't sweat like the rest of Badger kind. He won the toss and elected to bat. Quite rightly, leading from the front he opened the batting with Steve Long as the first of the 35 overs began. The innings got off to a pretty good start with runs coming at a reasonable pace. The bowling was fairly friendly but the artificial pitch presented a few difficulties with its variable bounce. To a team used to playing at Underhill Park this is not an unusual problem. Steve was the first to go, unfortunately run out with the controversial help of Roger our square leg umpire in a swirl of heat crazed mirages. Simon joined his skipper at the crease and started to show the form that had deserted him earlier in the season hitting cleanly and with some power. Even an eccentric delivery that flew off the shoulder of his bat and into his chin did not unsettle him. He was caught when going hard at the attack for a rapid 16. Rhodri then joined Dave who was scoring freely in his usual untroubled way and gave us a cameo that we have come to expect. A change of bowler brought a change of pace and with the quicker deliveries Rhodri found his timing hitting a couple of sixes over Daisy's head and a consummately struck straight boundary for four which was the shot of the day. As is so often the case when two batsmen are going well both Dave and Rhodri fell in short order with Dave being bowled going for a pull off a full straight one for a fine 36 and Rhodri in similar fashion for a characteristic 39. Every Badger batsman contributed with Gareth scoring a rapid and hard hit 26, Chris, on his day off from the greengrocer's didn't hang around for his 10 runs (he claims 14 but look in the book) Steve Lisle, Alex, Alyn, Iago, John, and Dave Bratley all helped to push the score up to 187 which seemed a good par score in the circumstances. Curiously, there was no not out batsman at the end of the innings a fact that the combined wisdom of our travelling umpires Lynn and Roger could not explain.
Tea was taken between innings and was a fusion spread of pizza, curry, cooked meats and cake well complemented by bottles of beer. The temperature reached 35degC + even in the shade of the large gazebo and tea was for survival rather than refreshment.
The Badgers took to the field with confident step as the Idle innings commenced. Peter opened the attack determined to add to his tally of wickets for the season. It is generally agreed that the British are the supreme masters of irony yet the founders of Idle Cricket Club might have a claim. The opening assault by Sunny 1 the first of three players by that name lent the match a slightly different perspective as 13 runs came off the first over with three fours crossing the line with one bounce. The battery continued unabated for several overs until he was eventually stumped by a typically lunging Chris Price off Iago's mysterious spinners. He had given chances but rode his luck with the ball dropping tantalisingly into gaps in the field. Steve Long tried to hold on to a violent hit to deep long on and received a bruising ricochet to the chest which resounded round the ground. The listening medics proclaimed the echo proved a sound respiratory system. Fielders were melting in the fierce heat but retrieved and ran with surprising commitment with the occasional descent into the drainage ditches at the boundary edge to fetch the ball. Tony Bidder with a nagging line and length was the first to make a breakthrough with Steve Lisle taking a smart catch to remove the other opener. Gareth has become the go to bowler of recent times and produced again here taking two wickets the first caught by Iago and the second bowling the new batsman for the only blodger of the match. Alyn joined the party bowling another Sri Lankan middle order batsman for 51. The early scoring rate had been too rapid for the Badgers to claw things back and with the eccentric Italian, pipe smoking wicketkeeper (what is it about wicketkeepers?) watching at one end another batsman from the subcontinent finished things off with 19 off five balls.
It was a hard days cricket for the Badgers but enjoyable nonetheless as the game was played in the right spirit and new friends were made. Even the mayor elect of Lodi who was the club president made an appearance. The hosts had been generous and considerate. They provided a shower fed by a hosepipe at the boundary edge to combat the searing heat. As the temperature climbed dignity dissolved and Badgers of all sizes were to be seen cavorting in their underpants through the cooling spray. There would be dancing in the streets of Lodi tonight.
The reality of domestic cricket now returns to bring us down to earth so in the words of the enigma that is Luciano Molinari `Bye bye'.
Another ominously grey evening saw 10 Badgers (Prof. Chase was running straight from the theatre) take to the field in a fine drizzle, with the forecast making the prospect of the full 40 overs very bleak indeed. (Some would see this as positive, with many wounded Badgers still recovering from Roger's stag do at the weekend.)
Iago and Craig opened the bowling, and after a steady start the gap in the field obviously began to tell, with boundaries increasing the run rate substantially. Iago eventually removed the opening bat, clean bowled, and Craig returned later in the innings with some more mean bowling and extending his lead at the top of wicket takers board (clean bowled also).
Alyn got a taste for bowling in Lodi, which has been missing for a couple of years, clean bowling a fine batsmen for the second match running.
Gareth was next into the attack, forcing a fine caught behind with his first ball, and limiting the opposition to just 9 runs of his 3 overs.
He was supported at the other end by Phil, also conceding only 9 runs off his 2 overs, and taking 2 wickets in the process.
The first of which was the real talking of the evening (and the reason why this report is so late, as I needed to buy a bigger thesaurus). Fearing the worst when a fair delivery was hooked to the boundary, Craig leapt from a standing start like a young Peter Schmeichel, and twisting his arm to face the ball, took a one-handed catch at full stretch, and managing to keep hold as he hit the ground again with an almighty thud a couple of yards from the boundary line.
It is without any hint of hyperbole that I declare this to be the best catch during my time with the Badgers, and I apologise that I don't have the descriptive talent to do it justice - just ask someone who was there and watch their eyes glaze over. (There are rumours that Gareth Edwards has sent his own congratulations.)
Following all the excitement, Alex and Dave closed the innings very respectfully, limiting the Lawyers to 125 - not too bad after the early boundaries.
The batting, however, never got going. Only two batsmen reached double figures, and with the opposition only using four bowlers (even in the dark and rain), we were eventually bowled out for 44 in the 16th over.
Mumbles CC has become a bit of a bogey ground, so we look forward to the familiar settings of Underhill this week, and we may even see 11 Badgers turn up before kick-off...
Oh Lodi, Lodi, Lodi ! What a heroic encounter on the Badgers return to their home ground after their adventure overseas. Eight and a half players took on the full complement of an Uplands team that had scorned our lack of numbers at the last meeting and withdrawn from the field. However, this year the game was played as seven veterans of the Italian campaign bolstered by Phil Connor and Ian Sullivan stood firm like Michael Caine and Stanley Baxter in the face of insurmountable odds. As Simon Jones enjoyed a leisurely drive back from Plymouth the Badgers took to the field with one extra man borrowed from the opposition. With counter intuitive wisdom the skipper opened the attack with the experimental pairing of MacNulty and Sullivan. Almost immediately John bowled one opening batsman and Ian with a balletic dive with no concern for his safety or the local geology caught and bowled the other. This was good stuff and the ground fielding responded in kind being superbly marshalled by Dave. As John returned to the long grass the other bowlers stepped up to the mark in the face of some batting that was trying to push on. There were plenty of very good LBW shouts some of which even Roger Brown would have given. Iago was particularly unlucky as batsmen played and missed or lobbed chances into the inevitable gaps in the field. Phil Connor nearly clung on to a hard chance at mid wicket which curiously he went at one handed - he will have to get out of his deck chair next time. However, he bowled a good spell snaring a dangerous batsman who was threatening to break loose. Dave Bratley took another two wickets which must take him well up the leader board for the season and Ian ended up with a brace after coming back late on. Dave Smith put himself in the firing line at the death but managed to keep things tight. The Uplands finished with 96 runs off the bat and a total of 113 for six which probably represented the best Badger Bowling and fielding of the season especially given the circumstances.
The Badgers innings began with some hope as the total was eminently gettable. Rhodri opened with Iago against an erratic attack and runs came at a satisfactory rate. However, Rhodri couldn't quite find his timing as he had done in Lodi and skied a bottom edge when trying to accelerate. Chris who has looked solid with the bat this season did not slow the run rate as he played all round a straight delivery and was bowled. Iago and Phil then proceeded to build a promising partnership with some entertaining yes/no interludes along the way. Phil was eventually undone by an astonishing throw from the boundary by Colin Bland that hit the stumps side on with Phil only half way down the Kingsway. Iago who also scored 15 good runs was bowled next ball as uncertainty set in. Simon who had arrived between innings then joined the skipper at the crease. Both are good players square of the wicket which suits the turgid nature of the Underhill pitch and began to restore momentum. Dave made another superb innings of 30 not out and Simon who was really starting to get going at the end an unbeaten 13. As the final overs ticked down hope was starting to peek over the wall of expectation even those who couldn't add up were getting excited. Alas Smith and Jones could not quite get there as the weight of numbers told and the Badgers lost by 7 runs.
It was a good enjoyable game that was competitive throughout but only so because the teams were well matched and the right ethos respected. If it were not for the gaps in the field the Badgers would have won. Is Kitchener pointing at you?
Great to see Dave Harris and Colin in support. Unfortunately, our usual after match haunt has closed down - we await news. The gang retired to a temporary home at the Mumbles Ale House to debrief. What will Roger do on his return when presented with the prospect of no chips?
Controversial fixture next week Mumbles tarnished Stars.
Match report ...LOST
Extra! Extra! Read all about it Badgers triumphant at Underhill. The news of Alyn Ridler's ‘man of the match’ performance has gone viral. Bloggers blog and tweeters tweet to spread the gospel of a memorable and thoroughly enjoyable game in the gloom and drizzle that could not dampen the badger spirit.
Gareth stood in for the skipper who was stuck in the abysmal end of term traffic and won the toss. His decision to bat first was telling a product of great cricketing wisdom or the fact we were as usual still waiting for a full complement of players. John and Alyn opened with a watery sun still peeping out through the darkening skies. The start was solid if not spectacular as the spongy pitch and lush outfield made quick runs awkward to come by. John perished fairly quickly trying to go over the top as Alyn began to find his touch. As Dave Bratley, Simon and Rhodri joined Alyn in a supporting role the run rate was reasonable and momentum maintained. Everyone chipped but boundaries continued to be as rare as hen's teeth only Simon and Alyn having the muscle to find one a piece. In the last few overs Dave came in to give a final flurry to the total as Alyn's team mates counted down towards a long awaited 50. Exasperatingly, it would not come as the rain began to fall more heavily and the ball soften. Shots that would normally have yielded twos or even fours were giving reluctant singles. Alyn eventually carried his bat for 48 and left the field to justifiable acclaim - a proper Badger innings by a proper Badger!
The total of 102 for 4 seemed perhaps a little slim even in the now dismal conditions. However, the Badger fielding and bowling performances of late have been well above par. The plucky Harpists began their innings in very busy fashion deftly finding some gaps and pushing for irritating singles. However, they were never allowed to get away with things as Gareth and Ian bowled tidily despite a now soggy ball and wet run ups. The momentum was surprisingly further contained when the pace was taken off the ball with the introduction of John and Steve Long into the attack. There were several chances and near things until the first breakthrough was made. In the absence of our resident acrobat Craig, Steve Lisle has began to threaten his supremacy in the field. Steve Long dropped a little short and the left handed opener pulled hard to square leg where Steve realising he might have to turn and chase the ball took off and dived full length to his left managing to pluck the ball cleanly out of the air and hang on as he hit the ground. Craig will be scratching his head. From then on in wickets began to fall regularly as the bowling was naggingly accurate and the batsmen became more desperate. Dave Bratley continued his profitable season claiming two more wickets - both of them bowled. It is not his straight arm we are worried about now but his bent one! Gareth returned for a second short spell and also grabbed two. Steve Lisle was asked to bowl the penultimate over when the game was very much in the balance with the harpists needing about a run a ball. He took a crucial wicket that severely dented the opposition morale. Significantly, the scorebook shows a possibly unique dismissal `Caught Price bowled Lisle'. As a further great comfort to Chris the Harpist keeper had earlier experienced a Herschelle Gibbs moment.
The skipper who managed the field superbly despite some chuntering from deep mid wicket took on the burden of bowling the last over when nine runs were required. His nerve and his line held as two wickets fell in successive balls and the match was won. He had earlier taken a third wicket which was brilliantly caught at deep mid on by Alyn to secure his `man of the match accolade'.
A great win which reflected a general improvement all round with everyone contributing in one way or another. The skipper is off on a well deserved holiday returning to Italy in search of more Machiavellian strategies to implement on his return.
At the debrief in the Mumbles Ale House food was brought in from the chip shop up the road bizarrely cooked by Gareth late of the Newton Inn. Isn't life strange.
It was a pleasant evening at last after the unseasonal rain of early August that had seen two fixtures abandoned to the weather.
After the promise of a surfeit of players the Badgers again displayed their catholic tendencies for late withdrawal and by the start of proceedings were down to a bare eleven. Such cavalier brinkmanship will surely end in tears one day.
The opposition have conceded more to the Badger ethos than they had in years gone by although they still seem to regard this fixture as a bit of a net for their band of Saturday cricketers. Tomos ap Thomas stood in for the absent skipper and having won the toss elected to bat. Rito who has been missing in action for some time and Phil got things going against an attack which was pretty accurate without being fearsome. However, the poor wicket and some millionaire batting led to a steady decline in the innings. Phil lobbed a drive to mid on which he would normally have thrashed to the boundary and Gareth was bowled trying to be Ben Stokes. 5 for 2. Rito and an emaciated Chris Price steadied the ship for a while until Rito decided to launch an expansive shot six inches outside the line of the ball and was bowled. Always the samurai. Dave and Tony did not interrupt the momentum Tony being caught and Dave unluckily falling to a superb direct throw in the field. Chris, despite being nurtured on the rolling decks of a fishing smack, couldn't deal with a leg break and despite scoring the first 2 of the game was bowled. The chairman, raised from his armchair, arrived at the crease and was shortly joined by the in form Riddler. Together they put on 40 odd runs at a decent rate both finding rare boundaries and Alyn making the chairman huff and puff for some sharp singles. They both scored 20 runs giving the innings an air of respectability. Out of the total of 68, there were 50 singles.
Gareth and Ian opened the attack for the Badgers and demonstrated the continued remarkable improvement in the field. Ian was unlucky eliciting a number of false shots and half chances. Feeding off the pressure Gareth steamed in with great purpose and took three wickets in short order one bowled, one caught and bowled and one smartly caught behind the wicket off a classic outside edge. Rito joined in the fun bowling as quick as ever despite his dodgy shoulder. He induced a top edge off a threatening middle order batsman that Chris took one handed stretching high and to his right. It was one of those instinctive reaction catches that somehow stick against all expectations and all the more sweeter for that. Undoubtedly this had been facilitated by his recent practice in hailing his leader.
The faint whiff of victory, however, soon evaporated as the runs were gradually knocked off. The ground fielding was again good and the bowling pretty tidy but 68 runs were too few to defend.
Colin and Dave witnessed proceedings and Roger instinctively knew that the Newton had re-opened and sausage and chips were on offer.
Sadly, only two games left so a special effort is needed to see the season off in style.
It was again a cool evening for August and the wind, usually pretty strong in these parts, whistled across the cliff tops and encouraged all the players to search for long sleeved jumpers that were cast to the bottom of kit bags in Lodi.
The Badgers were again short on numbers and with the kit and a number of players on their way at the appointed hour once again Gareth the vice captain elected to bat. Ian and Rito opened to face an accurate and sharpish attack. Rito misunderstood the brief to consolidate while reinforcements were on the way and was bowled misjudging the length. John and Ian then stayed together for a while and got things going as the kit and additional batsmen arrived. John was then caught at long on trying to up the pace and to further move things on Tony decided not to trouble the scorers and made room for the vice captain. Gareth proceeded to provide some youthful muscle as the bowling became less pressing and quickly collected a couple of fours and a maximum. Ian eventually fell after a sensible knock caught off the bowling of a professional colleague playing for the opposition which pleased him enormously. Alyn then joined Gareth for the most productive partnership of the innings. It has become a matter of grave concern to the statisticians that Ridlers batting average has far outstripped his bowling average. Some have suggested texting Kevin Pietersen to find out how to get him out. Gareth showed him how by getting caught trying to go large again. The eventual arrival of the skipper to the crease after problems with his footwear maintained the tempo and he finished not out after a quick 14. Alyn also remained not out with a belligerant 27 with Gareth having scored 21. This left the Badgers with a respectable total of 93 off sixteen overs.
The Pennard reply began fairly sedately albeit helped by Rito's attempt to recall Steve Harmison at Brisbane. He recovered however, to have one of the openers taken by the skipper a la Craig at cover. The general bowling standard which has been consistently high of late slipped a tad and the surviving opener, Sheldon, began to demonstrate his big bang theory. The innings then became very much a one man effort as any short pitched deliveries were dispatched with Ridler type venom to the boundary. Even Gareth, who has bowled intelligently all season and secured the second wicket (an easier chance to Dave at cover) did not escape punishment. Dave Bratley, who had been the leading wicket taker could not add to his tally as the signs of autumn rust returned. Tony, John, Dave and Peter kept things fairly tight and the target was only reached after fourteen overs.
Ian had bowled a competitive over conceding just 4 singles. The second ball of his second over produced a half chance low to his left hand side. Ian does not have much in common with Tom Daley save his penchant for diving, balletically or not. This launch when viewed through the prism of the Newtonian laws of motion was never going to end well. His shoulder with arm outstretched took the full force of the landing as swan like glissade with tuck became crumpled heap. Forced to leave the field Ian received the traditional sympathetic Badger response which must warm the heart. To add insult to injury Rito conceded 8 runs off the remaining four balls of the over. Speedy recovery Ian as you return to hibernation - hope to see you soon.
Barry and Dave turned up to support and should have been roped in to make up the numbers.
Believe it or not next week sees the final game of the season. Even so we are left with a number of unanswered questions:
Has Roger ever upheld your LBW appeal?
After Lodi does Chris Price think there are other fish to fry?
Does Tony prefer thick or medium sliced?
Is Iago hiding in Alex's garden?
What is Simon's handicap?
How do you get Ridler out?
And so many more...There is a curry booked for end of season beano so playing or not bring your fork!
It was not so much the Golden but Bermudan Triangle as the good ship victory sailed off to be enveloped in the gathering gloom, co-ordinates unknown, destined to drift rudderless with the phantoms of that mysterious sea.
Short on numbers to give a certain symmetry to the season the Badgers batted first against an unorganised but excited team who largely had not heard of Biju their patron and arrived with no stumps or match ball. However, with borrowed kit, they started off well with an accurate seam attack that put huge effort into every delivery. Their endeavors were quickly rewarded as Phil, Peter, Chris and Rito all departed in short order and the Badgers were 10 for 4. Meanwhile Dave was overseeing matters at the non strikers end but slowly getting his eye in. Alyn, the man of the moment entered the fray and began with a muscular four through mid on off his first ball. However, he could not continue the momentum established over the last few games and became the fifth victim after the addition of only another single. This brought captain and vice captain together at the crease and as a combined show of authority they set about showing how things should be done. Gareth climbed into the bowling and cleared the rope a couple of times in a rapid 27. Dave had already upped the pace and scored freely as the overs ticked by. Gareth was eventually out the fifth of the first five wickets to be clean bowled. John came to the wicket in the last over and in the absence of the resident specialist, Dave Bratley, demonstrated the art of the diamond duck. These days when the tanker gets up a head of steam there is no turning back. This allowed Tony some exercise running for Dave's final flurry as he carried his bat for a splendid 39.
The Badgers' bowling and fielding has shown a huge improvement this year and a total of 92 off eighteen overs looked like a reasonable target to defend especially as the pitch showed signs of variable bounce and the light was fading. Simon, in natty shorts, and Rito opened the bowling and gave nothing away save a couple of wides when extra effort was put in. Peter and Gareth continued in like vein as wickets at last started to fall. Alyn did his bit too as his Heinz 57 spread confusion. The fielding was pretty smart too with Simon and Alyn particularly prominent. John bowled tightly and had a couple of half chances as the batsmen tried scampering for unrealistic singles. Dave, selflessly, took on the challenge of bowling the last over. After a couple of singles were conceded the game was suddenly over as the opposition claimed the target had been reached and the win was their's. Colin, the Badger supporter of the year, could not believe what he witnessed through the gloom. It was not just Simon's shorts and the orange jumpsuits worn by some of the opposition but the arithmetic. The scorebook is enough to give Poirot a nasty turn. Suffice to say the Badgers had a losing win according to the Lucknow /Pradesh method.
Demob happy, the ten Badgers retired to the Patti Raj for curry and beer. The recovering Rhodri came to lend moral support but could not stay in case he laughed (Alex pointed out that Peter's jokes were no laughing matter). It has been a memorable season with performances both on and off the pitch being entertaining for all kinds of reasons. Dave deserves great dollops of praise for his captaincy and Chris for leading us astray. After the highs and lows of the year have faded the kaleidoscope of sensations of the tour will remain. There will always be Lodi.
Underhill Park, Mumbles, Swansea
CAPTAIN - Dave Smith 07941 255846
VICE CAPTAIN - Simon Jones 07590 677504
Guildhall Pitches - 3.30-4.30pm - 635411