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players took on the full complement of an Uplands team that had scorned our lack of numbers at the last meeting and withdrawn from the field.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.
Underhill Park, Mumbles, Swansea
CAPTAIN - Dave Smith 07941 255846
VICE CAPTAIN - Simon Jones 07590 677504
Guildhall Pitches - 3.30-4.30pm - 635411