It's raining, it's pouring…
Match report to follow...
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 togeUnderhill Park, thursday 17 May
The Badgers returned to Underhill for the first time this season hoping that home advantage would be their 12th man in the latest edition of the fiercest rivalry in sport, however this optimism was soon laid to rest as only 10 Badgers appeared. The pitch looked dry following a week of sunshine, so there was also hope of some bounce. This hope was also misplaced, as it looked from very early on that this would be a very low-scoring affair, much like the Badgers victory in the corresponding fixture last season.
In the absence of Dave and Simon, Gareth took the captain’s duty, won the toss, elected to bat, and even volunteered to open the batting with Chris. Stumbling to 9 off four overs, Gareth had enough and swung at a straight yorker, and was the first of many to be clean bowled. Chris was joined by Ian Wright, who both fared much better, Ian one of only two batsmen to reach double figures, but both were eventually bowled, trying to push the pace, for 9 and 10 respectively. Paul Labbett clearly preferred the idea of umpiring, and Dave Bratley returned promptly so as not to trouble his own scoring.
At 33 for 5 off 13, we called on the Ridler to move things along, and he did indeed hit the only boundary of the innings. Iain Sullivan is still moping after last week’s performance, so it was down to Steve Lisle and Peter Blyth to see out the innings with an endless series of singles. Pete finished top scorer at 11 not out.
Setting a target of 59 never seemed enough of a challenge, but the opposition also remembered last year’s result, and took nothing for granted. This said, they offered us an extra fielder for the duration of the innings, for which we were very grateful.
Paul and Pete opened the bowling as tightly as was asked of them, each going for only 5 off their two overs. The Beast was again frustrated, but Pete took a wicket for his efforts. The first change saw Ridler and Wright take over, continuing the good start, with Alyn adding yet another wicket using his copyrighted round-the-wicket-behind-the-back-line launches. The run rate was low, but good enough, so much was hoped for from last season’s two leading wicket takers: Gareth and Bratley. Neither disappointed, returning figures of 1-5 and 2-4 respectively. Adding to last weeks two wickets, Dave Bratley seems intent on stealing the crown this season.
The Badgers were now quietly confident of a close game, and although a respectable bowling and fielding performance, the total set was indeed too low. The Hedgehogs got the winning runs circa the 14th over. Another game played the right spirit against our old friends was followed by generous pizza servings at the Mumbles Ale House – Jezz is putting in the effort to keep our business, and he has nothing to worry about there.
Match report to follow...
Match report to follow...
Match report to follow...
It was not a propitious start to proceedings as the recent sunny weather gave way to cloudy skies with the constant threat of rain and a local dog had left a message on the threshold to the changing rooms. The skipper was away and the pool of available players pushed the average age skywards.
However, unusually, the Badgers managed to muster eleven players and a scorer. As custom dictates for a vice captain Gareth lost the toss and the Badgers took the field. Ian and Rito opened the attack finding some assistance from a sticky pitch and the impatient batsmen. The opening four overs yielded only 6 runs (3 apiece) and gained two wickets both to Ian Sullivan who nagged away with excellent line and length. Craig took what for him was a straight forward catch and Ian's second victim was clean bowled. He deserved a third as a looping snick off the opening batsman eluded our diving keeper who like Tom Daley has never taken the conventional route. Rito was unlucky not to strike in this early spell. Since an injury enforced drop in pace he has become one of the best of the Badgers' attack.
Alex and the chairman as first change continued in like vein. Alex is forever pushing the horizons on his Badger career. Not only did he claim a wicket with his first delivery it was LBW and surprisingly the appeal was upheld by the opposition umpire. Peter induced a false shot and another smart catch was taken by Craig. By now a growing sense of urgency overtook the batting side and a number of boundaries were either bludgeoned or sliced through unguarded territory. Nevertheless, Steve and Phil continued the pressure and John claimed a wicket with Ian taking a comfortable catch at short cover. It was an Allis/Tomos combination that brought about the decisive breakthrough as the flagging opening batsman finally ran out of luck and played a straight delivery from Craig uppishily to square leg. Gareth dived forward and to his right as Chris looked on studiously. The ball stuck in his right palm bringing an instant facial expression of surprise and delight. In recent times Craig has set the bar in the field and deserved a little payback. Thus emboldened Gareth went on to take three wickets without assistance two bowled and one caught and bowled. He continued superbly not allowing the batting side any way back. Rito returned to polish off the innings with a much deserved wicket shattering the stumps in an emphatic finale.
The chase was on. 87 seemed an eminently gettable target even in the gloomy conditions.
Alyn and Craig opened the innings and faced a pair of spinners who immediately found their length and unusually for an Underhill pitch plenty of turn. Both batsmen are greedy to score and this time both missed their mouths, Craig hitting one hard but straight back to the bowler and Alyn bowled aiming for the leg side boundary. With Rito and Rhodri together normal Badger service was resumed. Rito examined several ways of getting out playing like Warren Buffet eventually settled on running himself out. Rhodri, so long the central plank of Badger life, could not assume the role when the stage was set. Turning for a second run he was felled by a sniper shot from the grassy knoll as his hamstring packed up. He will need plenty of physio to be ready for the upcoming tour so consulting with Skills, the current expert on the upper thigh, might prove useful. The loss of Rhodri brought Gareth in to join Steve at the crease as morale was on a downward track. However, Gareth started off in belligerent mood scoring a rapid 14 before being well caught in the deep. Alex joined Steve with ten overs to go and still plenty to get. Cometh the hour cometh the man. Steve gradually upped the pace and tested Alex's hips. He was unrelenting on his partner as he scored 15 singles and 9 twos with another 4 singles and a two coming from Alex himself in a match turning partnership. As the overs ticked by and off field calculations were made small shoots of optimism began to reappear. When the gallant Alex left the field after a superb supporting role Ian briefly joined Steve in the middle. It was not an easy pitch to start on and Ian perished trying to keep the momentum going. However, there was no stopping Steve who now in the company of Phil started reaching the boundary and what had looked a daunting and distant target was reached with ease. Steve reached 50 for the second time in a Badger shirt and his innings this time of 54 not out was surely his best. Even if he had been joined by Mr Tate his feat could not have been more sweet.
Alex again peeped over the horizon and experienced his first Badger victory to which his contribution was by no means insignificant. The victory was celebrated in good style at The Mumbles Ale House with pizza and esoteric beers. Lynn Evans and David Harris turned up in support and witnessed the heroics. We look forward to the return of the skipper, a big round cheese and riches yet to come.
Confidence was high off the back of a rare victory, backed up with the appearance of all three recent captains together for the first time this season. The average age was brought down further by the addition of The Beast Jr., however the absence of usual stalwarts meant the 9 Badgers had to ask politely if we could bat first. The Evening Post obliged, and promised a fielder later in the game too.
Chris and M. C. Nulty opened, going at a steady pace for the first few overs, but with boundaries hard to come by in the long grass. By the sixth over Chris had lost patience with John insisting on frequent quick singles, and looked to take advantage of a juicy full toss. The result was inevitable.
Dave Bratley joined our former VC, but with the score at 35 off 10 overs, he decided to quickly make way for our returning current VC to pick up the pace in the second half of the innings. And that he did – Jones swiped left and right as if it’s become second nature. In no time at all he was forced to retire, having reached 33 not out. Johnny Mac – with next week’s tour clearly laying heavily on his mind – also decided to retire himself for a recharge.
Dave Smith and Gareth got themselves out rather cheaply, before Craig added a rapid 13 (to make up for last week), before the Labbett family brought the innings to a close.
A target of 98 seemed defendable, even lacking fielders.
Paul opened the bowling as efficiently as we’ve come to expect from him, even securing a maiden in his second over – a rarer feat than wickets in the Badgers – going for only 7 runs from his 3 overs. David Bratley partnered him at the other end, but on this occasion, he forgot that he’s this season’s leading wicket-taker.
Simon Jones then attacked with Craig, with Skills rushing through his three overs before departing for what we assumed was a very important business meeting with a client. With both batsmen nearing retirement at 30 runs, the required run-rate began to drop.
Harley Labbett was up next, and after an unfortunate first over, produced a wicket maiden (this following a maiden by Gareth) to make a game of it again. Only 5 runs were conceded in four overs, but the gaps were beginning to show in the field, and Dave and Johnny couldn’t quite defend a challenging 5 needed off the last three overs.
So, déjà vu all over again for the Badgers – losing a tight contest, played in the right spirit.
Sausage and chips helped the recovery, and aided an excited discussion about the tour next week, as well as planning next year’s. Let us now hope for a bounce against Biju before defending our trans-dyke title against a Dave Waller XI (is that pints or players?)
Rhodri should have known better. The Badgers are nothing if not late.
It was, therefore, inevitable that their continued cultural development would be curtailed. Having eventually been released from the gravitational pull of Swansea at around 10.30 am en route to Shrewsbury a fully laden minibus headed vaguely in the right direction to commence the Badgers Cricket Club 2018 tour.
The shortened itinerary allowed for a single diversion at the southern end of Offa’s Dyke. The small hamlet of Cwmvoy just outside Abergavenny boasts a stone built church dating back to the 7th century. Dedicated to St Alex or St Martin, time and subsidence have so twisted the structure that it resembles a ship tossed on a stormy sea rather than a solid building on a hillside in rural Wales. As with the Badgers not all is what you see.
There have been over time many Badgers possessed of super powers and Simon Jones is certainly not an exception. Popeye has his spinach, The Incredible Hulk his gamma radiation and Simon has Wye Valley 1985. The picture below of the doorway to the leaning bell tower illustrates how he sees the world quite differently from other mortals and an interpretation of this image was the foundation of the Freud family fortune. For Simon, as with other super heroes there is a price to pay as he has to endure, for eternity, alternating periods of hyperactivity and extreme torpor.
Lunch was taken in a sunny pub car park in Hay on Wye – still hours to go.
Eventually the minibus arrived at David and Nancy’s fine country house in Cound where our indefatigable hosts immediately produced beer and nibbles for the dazed rabble to consume in their habitual frenzy. The ‘campers’ unloaded their gear in the lower field although some essential pieces of equipment were curiously abandoned under the seats of the bus. They then joined their colleagues for the short trip to the Meadow Inn and food. The accommodation besides the backdrop of four enormous cooling towers belonging to a decommissioned power station, the cosy low ceilinged bedrooms, the flies, the blocked drains, the sticky table tops, the landlord who had obviously missed the meeting with Alex Polizzi, the half bar water pressure, the speckled grout and strange new world wine list, was first class. Hearts went out to those deprived ‘campers’ who had to find protection from the disturbance of twinkling stars and summer zephyrs in the Spartan comfort of Cound Hall.
Saturday morning broke fine and sunny and after a full breakfast which in some cases consisted of four or five courses the pariah brigade headed in to Ironbridge. It was a pleasant walk along the riverbank to view Thomas Telford’s iconic structure but as certain powers began to wane a restorative visit to the Malthouse was required. As Simon was nearing peak fitness Rhodri arrived in the minibus just in time to make a late start to the main business of the day.
Two 20/20 games had been arranged by our host who was the only member of both opposition teams. Ironically, the Cound Hall Cricket Club who were first up were still waiting for some players to arrive and so it was agreed that they should bat first. The Badgers opening attack with Iago and Tony getting things under way was pretty miserly with Iago only conceding 1 run from his two overs with Tony being a tad more generous. However, with the score standing at 25 for no wicket hopes of an early breakthrough were diminishing fast. However, Simon is not the only one with special powers, Dave, our ice cool skipper, whispered ‘shazam’ and unleashed his pensioner. John dismissed both openers, one caught by Phil who has become Mr reliable under the high ball and the other stumped smartly by the skipper deputising with the gloves. A stumping is a rare dismissal in Badgers cricket but shown here to be quite possible. For good measure John dismissed the new batsman almost immediately helped by a straight forward catch by Iago and Cound were 33 for 3. Simon, entering a period of hyperactivity took the next wicket with a good straight ball. Continuing his Xavier like control the skipper now made the counter intuitive decision to bring on Dave Bratley and promptly pulled off another stumping. Bratters finished on 2 wickets for 6 runs. The chairman kept up his usual contribution by bowling a middle order batsman who took a liberty too many. Alex, Phil and Ridler all helped to restrict the opposition to a gettable total. Gareth also bowled. Despite some late hitting by the Cound lower order the Badgers were quite happy to have held them to 98 for 7.
Rhodri replaced John for the run chase and opened the innings with Phil. Despite Rhodri using Iago as a runner from the outset things progressed serenely with few alarms. The outfield was difficult to penetrate and many good hits were restricted to singles. Phil was first to go trying to hit over the top and was caught for 10. Iago worn down by his running duties followed in the same manner. Rhodri retired on the agreed landmark of 25runs which brought together Alyn and Gareth. Characteristically some real momentum was introduced as the pair added a rapid 30 runs together. However, almost inexplicably the required run rate could not be maintained despite the late attempts of Alex and Tony as the innings rather faded away finishing short at 91 for 4. What had appeared at first to be a leisurely stroll to victory had dissolved into a leisurely stroll to defeat.
Naturally, refreshments were abundant in the interval between games as our hosts stream of generosity continued unabated. Burgers and beers revived any flagging spirits as the second match got under way against a colourfully named Jimmy Davs team. Again the Badgers took to the field. This time the batting side looked far more threatening despite an early run out. Tony Bidder was one of the first to feel their muscle but managed to bowl the opener nonetheless. The early onslaught saw a stand of just short of fifty in rapid time until the introduction of Alyn Ridler and an unexpected breakthrough. The number three batsman had been retired for 28 when Ridler immediately trapped his replacement LBW and followed up by having another caught by Phil with a third caught and bowled as mayhem threatened. Dave Bratley chipped in with another. A late order thrash yielded plenty of runs as Peter, Simon, Alex and Phil did their best to stem the flow. Rhodri, suffering from his earlier exertions with the bat came in off his shortened run of one pace. He managed to outfox a batsman on the verge of having to retire and claimed the final wicket to fall. The opposition innings closed on 141 for 7. Peter was the only Badger not to bat having protected his significant batting average by hiding from the skipper or umpiring. Gareth also bowled.
The Badgers were a little despondent given the daunting target and a ground despite its slope which gripped the ball in the lush outfield. A rapid start was required. Super Jones was now fully primed and strode to the wicket unperturbed. He battered the opposition bowlers from the first ball and retired on 29 in no time at all finishing with a straight six. The platform had been laid and Dave Bratley too was retired, although the bishop’s crook was rather ungenerously employed when he had reached 23. Dave Smith meanwhile carried on in his usual untroubled way and scored rapidly on his way to an unbeaten 27 without ever looking to be in a hurry. He was briefly joined by Tony Bidder who became the first and only batsman to be out, caught for 5. Dave was then joined by John who had earlier discovered exhaustion as a way of manipulating his average. However, Dave marshalled the run rate so efficiently that new ways had to be found. Gareth joined John in the middle in the penultimate over with only 9 runs required. John managed to hit two allowing Gareth to face the final over. In belligerent mood Gareth reached the target with four balls to spare. However, a new target was now posted being the aggregate of the two opposition innings. This too was surpassed with Gareth hitting two consecutive boundaries. Incredibly, the Badgers had reached 151 for 1 and won the day.
Great joy and celebration. Warm beer and cider were relished and songs hung in the heavy warm evening air. As the sun settled on the horizon and Ian Sullivan crossed the finishing line in the Swansea half marathon the contented players trooped across the upper field back to the magnificent Hall and an evening to savour.
Glasses were raised to absent friends and Gareth did his best to lead and control Alex in the traditional post match singing. The Badgers were helped in this by an enthusiastic reception and a number of impromptu performances by others. Even Max the dog gave his rendition of Silent Night.
Needless to say the buffet supper for some 40 people was magnificent yet further testament to the boundless generosity of David and Nancy. As the evening came to an end in a fitting finale Tony Bidder gave us a rendition of Eli Jenkin’s Prayer, an earlier work by Dylan written before Subterranean Homesick Blues.
Simon, his work done, retreated to his dormant state, Alyn at his creative best captured the treasured moments and the chairman quietly noted themes for his next speech.
Match report to follow...
It was back to more mundane affairs after the excesses of the tour to Cound. However, the sun continued to shine and the two teams gathered at the Sketty Lane ground in perfect conditions for cricket. The pitch was flat and the outfield fast so Uplands RFC chose to bat.
The opening batsmen adopted a fairly cautious approach against the Badgers opening attack of a miserly Ian Sullivan and a slightly kinder Tony Bidder. The first change of Harley and John continued to contain the batters to under five an over for the first eight overs which was below par on this pitch. However, the Badgers made no inroads despite a couple of decent lbw shouts. Gradually the Uplands openers developed a little urgency and the chairman’s first delivery was deposited over the rope for a maximum. He subsequently pulled it back nicely and only conceded a further seven runs off 13 balls. Bratters bowling from the pavilion end into the full glare of the sun suffered a little more as the batsmen began to put the hammer down. It required the intervention of the skipper to make the first strike and although struggling with a sore fetlock found a good straight one to take the first wicket to fall. Step forward Craig. This game was largely about Craig. He was, again everywhere in the field always creating doubts in the batsmen’s minds. He came on to bowl and opened up with a couple of grenades – the second one he took the pin out and bowled the new comer who was bamboozled into playing across the line. In similar fashion he removed the next in line. The Uplands batsmen were swinging now as 15 overs had passed and Craig was unlucky not to collect another scalp. He found a top edge that flew some distance vertically with Chris performing an Alicante pirouette flamenco style beneath it as Craig charged down the wicket like a Pamplona bull towards him. The ball fell to the ground beside the batsman. Gareth bowled as quick as he has this season and was particularly unlucky not to take a wicket, John still awaiting his prosthetics shelled one at gully and Roger Brown was the umpire. To add insult to injury he conceded 5 runs when Craig picked up in the covers and shied at the stumps only to miss narrowly. On the boundary edge Paul demonstrated why Queen Victoria had so many children and Craig redesigned his doghouse.
Uplands RFC scored 138 for 3 which they were lucky to get. Craig and Harley opened for the Badgers with hopes high that the target was achievable. However, Harley an elegant looking batsman, played too early to one of the beach boys and was caught in the covers. Craig though was inspired and beat his first two deliveries for four. He was joined by Peter who has shown good form with the bat this season and has even taken to running singles. The pair added 40 runs together and were up with the required run rate. Craig made a new friend in the chirping wicket keeper but kept the scoring going after he lost the chairman lbw. The skipper joined him at the crease and gave him much of the strike. A number of one bounce fours could well have become maximums if Craig had swapped his sand wedge for a seven iron. He was eventually superbly caught on 41 when threatening to win the game single handedly. Dave and Chris tried valiantly to maintain the momentum but fell in the attempt as the best bowlers of a good bowling side were brought back in to the attack. Paul and Gareth were left not out with one apiece as the Badgers reply finished on 114 for 6.
Dave Harris and Roger Brown gave good support and Rhodri, nursing his leg/shoulder/back/hip, did the scoring. It was an enjoyable game in perfect conditions against a strong URFC team which was a good testing return to the bread and butter stuff for the Badgers. Craigs 50 will not be long coming so watch this space.
A full starting XI turned up to celebrate with the stand-in skipper, which is as good as it got, as Gareth lost the toss, and things never really recovered following this early disappointment.
The Hedgehogs opted to bat on a very hard ground, and started the innings in true 20/20 fashion. Both openers started at speed, aided by stand-in wicket keeper Rhodri missing a possible catch from the very first ball and dropping another by the end of the first over – they never looked back, punishing all good and bad balls, before Iain clean bowled one in the fourth over, by which point he had raced to 26. We had agreed to retire at 30 for this match, and the other opening batsmen soon departed not out. However, there was no respite for the Badgers, with all bowers seeing the ball regularly find the boundary – batsmen 3 and 4 soon retired also.
Gareth brought himself on, going for (only) 11 off his two overs, and forcing a very, very rare drop catch by star fielder Craig. [The usually reliable Phil also dropped a difficult chance, trying to break his hand in the process, but that was nothing compared to the wicket-keeping – more to follow.] The pick of the bowlers was the Chairman, with Iain taking a very high catch indeed to earn him a well-deserved wicket. But the fours continued with regularity, until Rhodri finally slowed them down as the last bowler – conceding just 6 runs from his spell, and forcing two run outs in the last over.
The Badgers fielding has improved greatly during recent seasons, no doubt helped by regular Badger Cubs turning out – but Chris Price insists that the substitute-deputy-vice-wicket-keeper be mentioned, finishing with three dropped catches and a missed stumping – he’s lucky that we’ll never know the bye count, as the scorer decided to give everything against the bowlers. A fine birthday present from the former skipper to his firstborn as stand-in skipper.
All this led to the Hedgehogs posting a remarkable 169 for 4. All the spirit of Cond would be required to overcome this.
Deciding that attack was the best option, the Badgers went with speed opening with Steve and Gareth. Steve disagreed, getting out for 1. Rhodri joined Gareth (with Steve as runner), but alas, the first father-son pairing of the evening was not to last either. [Having bowled, batted and ran, this was not the end of Steve’s evening.]
Young Jake Chase was next in, and finally a partnership got going. If anything, Jake is more laidback than his father, not seeing the importance of calling at the wicket. Boundaries, so frequent in the first innings, were hard to come by for the Badgers, with Gareth eventually sweating out for 12 singles. Alex joined his son for another family partnership, which wasn’t to last as Jake retired at 30 not out (all ran!)
As the opposition were short, we gifted them Tony Bidder in the field, but without the skipper’s knowledge, fitness enthusiast Steve Lisle took his place. In the next three overs or so, he bowled Alex, caught Phil out, then clean bowled Craig too. In one evening, Steve now has as many wickets against the Badgers as he has for us in the last two seasons combined. Git.
The target would always be too high, however, even with Tony Bidder striking our first four in the sixteenth over. Jake Chase even came back in as the wickets tumbled, to be at the on-striker’s end for the whole of the last over. For those who are keeping count, we finished 87 for 9.
Beer and pizzas followed, of course, with the Hedgehogs picking up the tab (as it was their home game), to show that this greatest of rivalries in world sport would continue.
They made Steve Lisle man of the match, and offered him a contract that very evening. More to follow when we have the details…
At last the hot summer has managed to knock some life into the Underhill wicket which showed signs of a little pace and bounce, a welcome change from its usual turgid character. Another welcome change saw a surfeit of Badgers available to play so Rhodri and John were not considered for selection. Sick transit Gloria mundi! Captain Cool was busy elsewhere saving the world from disaster and his vice Gareth was according to Steve at an important software symposium with friends known as the G.I.T. Hub. Ian has returned to the dark side and Ridler is missing.
Craig took on the mantle of skipper and having cleared the first hurdle decided to bat first. For some reason Rito again opened the batting having been awol for many weeks. Iago joined him for a couple of deliveries and having twice felt the middle of the bat charged down the wicket on his way to the psychiatrists couch. The chairman demob happy with an exotic holiday imminent decided not to trouble the scorers. This brought Craig to the crease and a sense of pragmatic urgency pushing his partner for twos which Rito would have preferred to turn into ones. Rito found some fluency and the boundary as his confidence grew. Craig’s belligerence eventually came to an end as he was caught taking on the quicker bowlers for a rapid 21. Rito departed shortly afterwards for a top score of 37 being bowled by the delivery of the day a fine inducker from the opposing skipper spearing in on his toecaps. Otherwise it might well have been Rito’s Badger fifty. Chris and Dylan then put together a well managed partnership of 60runs with accelerating momentum off the final six overs. The youthful Dylan striking some lusty blows remained unbeaten on 35 ably supported by Chris who finished 15 not out. Against good bowling 132 for 4 was not much more than a par score and would require some defending.
The Badger attack was taken up by Iago and Jake as the Harpist opening pair set off at the required run rate. Simon and Dave came on as first change with Simon making the initial breakthrough with a smart caught and bowled. Two balls later he induced a steepler from the other opening batsman which continued in an upward trajectory while Chris Price had a fag in the covers. Luckily Steve Lisle was beneath it and took a pretty cool catch. Steve then came on to bowl and castled the number three batsman who was threatening to hit every ball in to Mumbles. He also induced his replacement into a skier and Simon at deep mid on returned the compliment by latching on to it having spilled a slightly easier one two deliveries earlier. Peter had one caught behind by Craig who was deputising for a fatigued Chris as wicketkeeper. Craig also added a stumping off Alex late in the innings. Tony Bidder, normally the Tom Tom of the bowling squad switched off his sat nav to add some piquancy to the unfolding drama as the required run rate was retrieved with six overs to go. Dylan and Rito pegged them back again to wrap up fine all round performances. Rito had even provided the entertainment of the day. In attempting to position himself under a possible catch he stepped backwards over some uneven ground and collapsed inelegantly to the ground. The ball dropped over his prostrate form and rolled towards the boundary. Quickly recovering Rito grabbed the ball before it reached the line and in an attempt to throw in his return promptly put his foot over the whitewash and conceding the boundary. Were these extra runs to be the deciding factor? The tension wound up as even Roger, umpiring in his best Dickie Bird style, became distracted. Finally, it came to the last over with only 7 required for a Harpist victory. There have been many dynastic influences on the Badgers over the years amongst others the current crop include the Bratpack, Tomos/Thomas, the Beastie Boys, and hiding in the wings the Chase family. Step forward Don Alex in a Machiavellian power play. He had already assembled the entire clan as a show of strength – too much for the Bratpack who retreated mysteriously as the contest neared its height to an unknown destination. Six balls to go and honour at stake requiring a cool nerve and resolute spirit. First ball – a wicket straight away as the batsman swung wildly at a ball on middle stump. Second ball a dot to the new batsman. Third ball a wide to feed false hope. Fourth ball an edge for two runs. Fifth, sixth and seventh the merciless coup de grace - no runs. The goose was cooked as the Harpists were well and truly plucked.
Gareth did not bowl.
Pizza and pints in the Ale House rounded off a happy evening.
It was a beautiful hot evening and a treat to visit Goweton where the wicket is always good and the outfield quicker than most. It was just a pity that more Badgers did not get to enjoy it. With only 7 turning up Gowerton lent three players to the Badgers so at least both sides could take the field with 10 each.
The Badgers batted first opening with the senior Badgers John and Tony. Gowerton have a large pool of players and are often less vet than their opponents. No sooner had the innings got underway than Tony called for a run off a drive to deep mid on. Surprisingly hesitant having called for the run Tony did not see the danger and was undone by a direct throw. Simon joined John at the wicket and soon overtook him in his customary fashion striking his first scoring shot for four. Meanwhile John was chugging along trying to rotate the strike but missing out on the four balls. When on 13 he went for a single too many and tweaked a hamstring thus leaving the field with another discovered ploy for protecting his average. Simon was retired after a rapid 27 and Dave Bratley was joined by one of the young substitutes for a sprightly partnership that added some 20 runs. Dave likes this ground and has shown a big advancement in shot selection and run rate. He was run out for 14 well made runs going for it. The second substitute added 10 and was joined by Craig as the Badgers finished on 81 off 18overs. Although a below par score it was against a good bowling attack that gave nothing away. The run rate always suffers when the Badgers are short of players.
The run chase started in stark contrast as the Gowerton opening pair readily found the boundary off the opening attack of Craig and Tony. It was not really Tony’s day as when he was not bowling the ball followed him around constantly usually making him turn and run after last causes. He will be looking for deep third man next week. Chris lent his pads to one of the Gowerton lads to keep wicket and had a gallop in the covers. John, having sat on an ice pack for the remainder of the Badger innings was persuaded to take the field as an obstacle and was placed by the skipper at slip. At least if the ball hit him it wouldn’t go for 5 runs. However, the Badger skipper has an uncanny foresight in such stratagems. One of the young Gowerton substitutes came on to bowl first change, his pace no doubt raised at the prospect of bowling against his mentors. His third delivery was attacked with gusto by the batsmen whose flailing square cut only managed to find the edge. It went straight to fly slip at head height where John had to catch it or swallow it – he chose the former. The following over from the same bowler induced a similar shot from the other opener, this time the ball travelling lower and to John’s right which protesting hamstring or not he managed to take. Unfortunately, these were the only two wickets to fall and the Gowerton Vets reached their target with four overs to spare.
The usual generous hospitality was shown by our hosts in their approach to the game and a good tea. It is a puzzle why one of the most enjoyable fixtures in the calendar so often finds the Badgers short on numbers. It was great to see Barry come to support along with Dave Harris and Roger. Hopefully, they will have something better to cheer next week.
Gareth did not bowl.
Match report to follow...
It was a strangely eventful evening at Sketty Lane as after much uncertainty eleven Badgers turned up for the game. Conditions were good with a hard wicket and fast outfield promising quick runs. Gareth, back from mysterious duties in Cardiff and an ambiguous press, mounted the bucking bronco of captaincy with Dave being away on holiday. He promptly lost the toss and was about to lead his men onto the field when fate summoned an air ambulance helicopter to the ground. Despite chuntering from some quarters convention was observed as cricketers gave way to air traffic and stood aside as the lengthy protocols of patient transfer were completed. The helicopter at last departed with Tony Bidder still clinging on to the tail fins and play commenced.
Rito opened the attack with his usual accuracy and claimed the first wicket. Batsmen have found it hard to score off him all season. If the Badgers can fashion a sharp stick to poke him with they may be able to add a little more venom. Tony already warmed up bowled tidily but without luck as the batsmen looked to score with the game reduced to 16 overs because of the delay. At first change John was treated with disrespect from the batsmen and his own fielders going for 12 an over off his two. Iago’s all sorts suffered a little less. Runs came apace with a short legside boundary and a set slogger with Craig, Peter and Gareth tempering things slightly by taking a wicket each. Craig also took one of his trademark stonking catches at short cover. His energy in the field is remarkable and it’s a pity some of his colleagues cannot be infused with it despite the medical resources available. Phil and Dave had the thankless task of bowling an over each at the death.
The Badgers reply began with Rito (Droit de seigneur) again opening the batting. Having failed to guide a delivery to slip at the first attempt he then adjusted the shot and succeeded. Pugwash Price at the other end started off with a boundary and looked to be going well before top edging to the keeper who demonstrated the effective pirouette and catch. With the temerity of youth Iago set about the bowling with aplomb keeping the Badgers up with the required run rate while he was at the crease. He has come a long way under the Badger influence (Lodi). He was caught in the deep still chasing the daunting 140 target for a well made 35. As the chase became more frantic Phil fell to a run out and Gareth was bowled as the heavens opened out of the blue and heavy rain fell for ten minutes ruining the pitch and the scorebook. Dave Bratley, who was probably winning the curry in his private battle for most runs with Chris was then given out LBW by his adversary. Craig followed after a typically belligerent couple of boundaries as the innings subsided with Peter, Tony, John and Ian unable to resist.
Ian has been a stalwart of late and when he ever recovers full fitness will once again be a force to be reckoned with. His batting and bowling are due a renaissance alongside his Craig like enthusiasm in the field. Bit of TPC & TLC should patch him up.
Too soon the end of the season beckons with mighty deeds still to be accomplished. Rally to the cause and finish off like Simon Jones!
Match report to follow...
The taste of victory is a chicken biryani and enhanced by countless side dishes of personal triumphs and landmarks. This time it was the Evening Post who left the field chastened and unfed as Dave returned from foreign adventures to lead his men to a fitting finale and a rewarding feast.
The memories of a hot and sunny summer were already fading and there was considerable doubt that the weather would allow this game to start. However, after foolishly playing in the rain the week before, the darker clouds scurried off down the Bristol channel having watered the ground leaving a just about playable pitch. Dave wisely lost the toss and the Badgers took to the field. Rito continued to confirm his position as leader of the attack as he began with that rarest of Badger feats a maiden. Again he was unlucky not to strike with a number of testing deliveries. John at the other end ran in like Bambi across the wet grass but managed at least a couple of balls on the spot. At first change Iago was as usual experimental but denied the batsmen any real run scoring opportunities. Steve who has been missing for some time with insufficient excuses renewed his relationship with Chris now restored to keeping duties. There is a pattern here like drop stitch knitting where alternate ones are deliberately missed to produce an overall entertaining effect. Gareth is not party to this level of subtlety and, envious of Craig’s pre eminence in the field this year, saw a pull off Steve hurtling high towards him. Having initially, misjudged the flight, a la Connor, Gareth realised the ball was about to sail over his head and back pedalled furiously thrusting his right hand at full stretch above him. The ball was past him before it smacked into his palm and was held – the astonishment on his face bore testimony to the feat. The chairman bowled at his miserly best and as has become expected picked up a couple of wickets. He was a bit slow, however, in retreating to the sanctuary of slip and found himself fielding out of his comfort zone in the covers for a few overs. Gareth also bowled and ran Rito close for pace and accuracy. He pinned the best opposition batsman just when he threatened to break loose. Dave Bratley was handed the poisoned chalice of bowling at the death but he accomplished that with steady nerves and consistent line and length. He has had a good season and made the statistician work.
68 was the target and Dave and Steve set about the chase efficiently. Dave reached a magnificent milestone of 1000 runs for the Badgers with his first scoring stroke. Steve was the first to go, caught trying to push things along with the damp pitch not helping. Iago came in and looking good was promptly run out by the skipper. Rito replaced him and wouldn’t play himself in although there was plenty of time and was bowled past an expansive drive. Sanity was restored by Gareth who kept Dave company as the target was reached with some ease and an over to go. A few mutterings were heard as stumps were drawn as there had been a tentative agreement to retire at 30 with Dave carrying his bat for 39. It was an honest oversight that would not have altered the result nor diminished a match winning performance.
A happy band retired to the Patti Raj for the traditional end of term curry. Players were joined by late arrivals, Tony risen from his sick bed, Simon and Alyn with Craig not quite making it after a hard drive from London. Rhodri had found a free meal somewhere else. Alex is Alex. All in all it has been a good season for the Badgers with 5 wins and a number of close run encounters. The tour to Cound was the obvious highlight with a number of individual exploits along the way. It is impossible to single out one champagne moment as so many instances have their claims and Alyn would have had to buy a bigger bottle.
Many thanks are due to Chris for making the season happen, to Gareth for counting the beans and bullying the members and especially to Dave for leading the rabble in a sensitive and generous manner. Special mention should be made of our supporters, Roger, Dave, Colin, Lynn and Barry who bear witness to triumph and disaster with fortitude and last but not least Sue Waller.
There is certainly an autumnal feeling to the weather now after such a glorious hot summer. Whether or not it is down to global warming is unsure but today over Swansea there is a significant Badger induced depletion in the ozone layer.
MATCH REPORTS 2018
Underhill Park, Mumbles, Swansea
CAPTAIN - Dave Smith 07941 255846
VICE CAPTAIN - Simon Jones 07590 677504
Guildhall Pitches - 3.30-4.30pm - 635411