Played 15 Won 6 Drawn 3 Lost 5 Tied 1

Sunday 10 September
Woking & Horsell 176-6 dec
SCCC 155
SCCC lost by 21 runs
SCCC won toss

Seeckts handing captaincy to Goss - Woking 2006
Paul Goss accepts the captaincy from Richard Seeckts
to the delight of a Cryptic cheerleader

So, the end of an era, as Seeckts’s 11-year captaincy tenure went out with a pleasant whimper in the deep sunshine at Woking and Horsell. 151 matches, of which he played 135. Pippa played in 124, James Hogben a distant third, with 82. His full record reads P 151, W 71 (47%), D 34, L 38 (25%), NR 7, with one Tied game. An official Wisden photographer was in attendance.

The game itself had its unusual aspects: PAJA top-scored (with the bat). David Grindrod dropped a straightforward catch. Pippa didn’t play, Blamphin did. Richard Atkinson scored runs on the off side. Goss went wicketless for the second Peter Andrewgame running (which has happened only once previously in his 50 games – hopefully not another to find the burden of captaincy restricting his potency?)

Other things were to be expected: Pippa was injured. We held difficult catches (notably a blinder by Tommy H-D in the gully), and dropped others that were easier. Jimmy baffled. Grinders bowled tightly and successfully.

But there was an end-of-season feel to the game. The sun dappled the outfield of this big ground. Property twins Brooke-Webb and Blamphin mused on how many bijou duplex maisonettes with south-facing balconies could be accommodated without moving the boundary too much. We used eight bowlers, and went for the win when a draw might have been more judicious. We lost this fixture last year, when some of Woking’s Saturday players made an obvious difference. This time we were more evenly matched.

“Where’s the ball?”

Seeckts won the toss for the second game running. Surprise, surprise, we fielded first. Goss and Grindrod shackled a pair of very correct left-handers, until David induced a false stroke, and Jimmy held a regulation catch at mid-on. Two catches later – Atkinson at slip, and Tommy in the gully, both off Grindrod – and Woking were 40 for 3 from 18 overs. Blamphin replaced Goss, and next year’s skipper promptly held a decent catch off the Ulsterman. Jimmy’s first ball gave the batsman enough time to make his mind up, change it, have a cup of tea, and phone a friend before lapping it tamely to Glen Skarrot at square leg. However, at the other end opener Woods was moving smoothly to 102, whereon he was well caught from a feathered leg glance by gloveman Cupit. He walked instantly, saving the umpire a difficult decision.

Shortly afterwards, having received 38 overs, the Woking skipper declared. Woods, and not out batsman Cochrane with 58*, scored a remarkable 91% of their total runs. Grindrod got half the wickets to fall, with 3-14 from 9 tidy overs. And so to possibly the healthiest tea of the season, with more fruit than Borough Market. Or Thompson’s address book.

Lacking regular openers (and, indeed, much batting of any description), Skarrot and Hope-Dunbar set off in search of 177. Seeckts, sadly, failed in his quest for his 2000th Cryptic run, his concentration probably ruined by the box-tickler that also lost us a couple of overs. This attainment is now further from his influence, as he loses control of the batting order next season. We were still well adrift on 28 for 4 when PAJA joined Atkinson, two greying veterans batting together for the first time in 14 years. That day, PAJ indirectly caused some damage to the Headley pavilion by running out his then skipper, who – long memories, these Lancastrians – nearly returned the favour today. Atkinson (13) gave way to Brooke-Webb, but there was to be no Claygate 2000 repeat. Andrew’s 27 was his highest in the UK for five years, and his first double-digit performance with the bat this season in any form of cricket except ‘Owzat! It also, finally, brought up the first recorded Cryptic double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets. Eventually Grindrod (25) and Goss (14) left the stage to Greenhough and Blamphin, who gave us an entertaining cameo in an attempt to chase 46 off the last 8 overs. They put on 24, equalling the club’s last wicket partnership record. Blamphin’s 12 was only his second Cryptics foray into double figures in 66 matches, and he surely hasn’t hit a 5 before.

Peter Andrew
PAJA reaches 1000 runs in 16 years. At last!

But we perished for 155, with 3.2 overs remaining. This was true Sunday cricket; a relatively low key contest, played in excellent spirit against decent opposition on a lovely ground and a glorious day. A fine and gentle way to end the season. Statistical highlights for the season will follow in due course. Anyone seeking detailed personal information should send their requirements directly to the statistician. With the bung.

Sunday 3 September
Headley 189
SCCC 145
Lost by 44 runs
SCCC won the toss

Suddenly it was as though nothing had changed in all the years Richard Atkinson has been away. This was a very experienced Cryptic side, and yet at least six of them had never tasted defeat at Headley before. The last occasion had been in the early 1990s when Atkinson was at slip, Pippa in the gully, Seeckts mooching around in the covers, Rod and Jimmy did most of the bowling. Not much changed there, except that the first three all dropped catches on this occasion.

The Saturday pitch, soft and worn, was used as the groundsman appeared to have gone on strike. Goss laboured hard for 10 overs without reward – see drops – and Edwards laboured harder into a fierce wind, taking 1-46. Headley were cruising at 91-1 with their talented skipper Chapman building a fine innings until the introduction of David Grindrod. Reliable and accurate as ever, the teacher’s cunning variations in pace accounted for both opener Pickering, a rare Seeckts catch at slip, and Chapman, caught and bowled. The door was now open for Greenhough to befuddle Headley’s youngsters and rattle through the middle order leaving them 129-7. Goss, playing to the considerable gallery, made a regulation skier into a spectacular, diving, over the shoulder catch to give Jimmy his fourth wicket.

Enter Waller, hard hitting and with an eye to envy. Spectators beware, fielders go fetch, Grinders have a blow mate. (31 off 7, 51 off 8). Pippa made a bold attempt to catch Waller on the car park end boundary. In doing so he cartwheeled backwards over a bench and the fence like a lousy steeplechaser. So many body parts hurt that he didn’t know which to moan about, but he took home bruises to match Mrs Pippa, who fell through the garage roof on Saturday. Cupit eventually caught Waller after an eye-catching juggle in front of the gallery and Greenhough finished with a 6-45 to be proud of.

The usual first class tea was enjoyed under the fluttering Cryptic flag, in the company of nine Cryptic women, eight children and three bumps. Pram racing in the intervals next year.

James Hogben led the reply in forthright manner, ignoring the incessant babble from behind the stumps. Bashing 54 of his 62 in boundaries while Wright, Cupit, Seeckts and Ware amassed three between them; he revelled in the short boundary, but took a toe-breaking blow to the (stationary) left foot in surviving one of many ambitious appeals. By then Cupit felt unfortunate to be LBW, and Ware was sent on his way after appearing to complete a suicidal run. Ed Dyson steadied the ship with 17; Atkinson and Grindrod edged us closer to the target. Atkinson was comically triggered twice, the first occasion being such a bad call that Chapman diplomatically called him back, everyone knowing that he had hit the ball. Not so lucky second time, he sauntered off calmly when once (well, frequently in fact) there would have been fireworks and structural damage to the pavilion.

Greenhough’s luck had run out at tea, Goss played for pride and 18 runs but it was all over with seven overs remaining and a jolly time, sausages and all, was had in the bar while the pink and black flag flew at half mast.

Sunday 13 August
SCCC: 234-5 declared
Claygate: 224-6, innings abandoned
Claygate won toss
Match abandoned as draw

Peter Andrew writes:

It was a day for the gods at Claygate on Sunday. Rain god Jupiter Pluvius came out of the stalls first, and it drizzled all morning. However, in the late morning Aeolus (wind) and Helios (sun) got the upper hand, and we were ready for an almost-prompt start just after 2:00pm. The traffic gods must have been on overtime, as well, since Scottie was there at the outset. Seeckts, however, has clearly been mucking about with the daughter of Sors (Roman god of luck), since he lost the toss for the eighth time in the last nine. Thus, again, we were inserted.

Pippa started with his 4th opening partner this season, David Grindrod, who was looking to fill his boots on Claygate’s renowned batting slab. And he was only dropped twice in reaching 9, when he gave a return chance to Tom McKinlay, (who bowled rather better than did his brother, who was loaned to us in 1998 when we pitched up with 9 and bowled 2 overs for 18). He and fellow opener Webb were quite brisk, and exploited the lift available on a hard pitch with a greasy top. But after Pippa returned for 13, three decent partnerships kept the scoreboard moving, in the face of a measured (almost pedestrian) over rate.

First, Seeckts contributed 28 (24 in boundaries) in outscoring Tommy Hope-Dunbar in a stand of 54, before perishing to a skier. Tommy went next ball for 21 (20 in boundaries). Enter Scottie, still gingerly exercising a recovering hamstring, who put on 54 with debutant Saffa Dave Meehan. Scottie’s injury, which generally led him to avoid his trademark quick singles, eased noticeably towards the end of the overs when he was facing, restricting Dave’s share of the stand to 12. When Kowalski replaced Meehan, we had 144 from 29 overs. Around this point Tommy, who had been audibly needling the compact left-hander about his lack of six-hits, went out to umpire. Scottie promptly cleared the boundary with three successive scoring shots. The 200 came up in the 37th over; the partnership was worth 56 – Kowalski had six of them. At this point Pete seemed to realise what the lump of wood in his hand was for, and added his own effort to the rising six-count. The partnership eventually realised 90 from 11 overs before Seeckts declared on 234 for 5 from 40 overs, with Polish on 30 and Beam-Me-Up on 90.

Chasing 235, Claygate were pinned back from the off by tight bowling from Goss and Grindrod, and looked remarkably uninterested, even through Seeckts left big holes in the legside for Claygate’s Atkinson-clone. The first run came in the 4th over, the first from the bat two overs later. At 18 for 1 from 9, skipper Seeckts decided some good shopping was needed to keep the opposition interested. PAJA responded admirably and, inspired by Mercury (god of commerce and shopping), served up eight overs of total Ratner at a cost of 77. Straight in at number 16 on the all-time best shopping charts; definitely more Manolo Blahnik than Mister Byrite. Glen Skarrot wheeled away at the other end, and eventually we had the game back on an even keel. And then listing the other way, as serious gloom and a procession of darker and duller replacement balls made spotting the ball difficult. Eventually Kowalski made a key breakthrough, having opener Guyatt caught by the Pupster for 54.

We had had a few spots of rain on and off throughout the game, as though Pluvius was just shaking the drops off. In this we were remarkably lucky, as the thunder and lightning all around us suggested that Esher and Oxshott were getting a pasting. (So, two weeks running for Oxshott then – Ed). At 223 for 4, Claygate needed 12 from the last 5 overs. But Goss provided Puppy with his third catch of the day (now level with Fox on 29 victims, and starting the long trek in search of Greg’s 69), from the first ball of his 13th over, and then bowled the new batsman five completely unplayable balls. Mainly because it was too dark to see them.

Grindrod came in for his ninth over, and cleaned up young McKinlay. Still only 11 needed from 21 balls. But just as we were rationalising our approach (‘We always play to win, and consequently lose games that could be drawn’ claims the Corinthian puff on our website), Pluvius had the last laugh. It came down in stair rods. Never mind cats and dogs, this was aardvarks and armadillos. As we took shelter in the pavilion, we listened to the pounding of the rain on the roof, and to the conviction of the six Claygate batsmen who didn’t have to go out there again that it was only a bit of drizzle and why had everyone wimped out. Eventually, in the biggest of anticlimaxes, the two skippers went out to look at the pooled water on the square, and immediately drew stumps. It had been fun, fun, fun, but sadly now Daddy had taken the T-Bird away.

Statistically, Goss moved onto 18 wickets for the season, the 11th highest ever, with three matches still to go. He chases 4 people on 19 in a season (including Jimmy and Seeckts), then Grinders with 21, last year. After that it’s Saffa legend Fred Kuys with 23 (1995), Jimmy with 25 (1990), former skipper Paul Dickson with 29 also in 1990, and then the unattainable Ross Greenwood who got 36 in 2002 (at an average of 9.39).

Scottie responded to the Harley charge by lifting his season’s average to 123.33. But he’s still 21 short of being the highest scorer of the season.

On to Blackheath. Gorgeous ground, new opponents. Bet Scottie goes to the wrong place.

Sunday 6 August
SCCC: 272 for 1 dec (38 overs)
Maori Oxshott: 149 all out (38 overs)
Maori Oxshott won the toss
Surrey Cryptics won the match by 123 runs

Peter Andrew writes:

We went into this fixture with some trepidation, having minimal bowling against a side whose web site included Sunday team stats of played 12 won 12. Only later did we discover that the information is three years old, but remains there because it looks good. Rather earlier we discovered that they were missing three or four key batsmen. Which may be the reason we were playing another declaration game, but we weren’t complaining.

Seeckts extended his toss-losing sequence to seven of the last eight, and Wright and Harley put the pads on. Prescient James Murray, at number 4, didn’t bother. We went off at a canter, Philip back to his early season belligerence and clearly matching Paul’s more extrovert style. At drinks, after 15 overs, we were 93, each batsman on 44. On being told he was up for a jug anyway, Phillip pointed out that based on his performances in the last 14 years, he wasn’t one shot away from 50. However, his 50 soon arrived, rapidly followed by Paul’s. Again, making the most of a lightning fast outfield and a generous attacking field, they stayed in step through to their 70s, at which point Harley began to open his shoulders.

Oxshott 2006
Peter Andrew searches for a couple of leg byes to lend Paul Harley

The penalty for breaking step with his partner was to perish, stumped giving the charge, for 98 – 3 sixes, 14 fours. The pair also established a new Cryptic first wicket record of 200, 25 shy of the all-wicket record. James Hogben went in with only 30 overs gone and half an hour to tea. He went after anything loose (which by now, with a hot and dispirited fielding side, was a fair proportion of the bowling), and bludgeoned a brisk 47. Seeckts allowed the pair to break the club record score, and declared on 272 from 38 overs. Philip should be hopping all week, having achieved a lifetime personal best of 111.

To the disappointment of those hoping to bowl, tea was excellent.

It was indicative of our attack – using the word in the sense that a poodle is an attack dog – that PAJA took the first over, and the skipper took the second. And, statistically speaking, most of the third, as the umpire was unduly harsh on width and height. Kowalski took the fourth over. Oxshott were moving along respectably until the ninth over, when PAJ sent both openers back to the pavilion through a swirling catch from Conrad Marais, and a more regulation one from Philip, surprising only for his ability still to bend after carrying his bat. Kowalski then had the #3 caught at his bootstraps by the nimble Skarrot.

The game began to drift a little, and was in danger of petering out into a tame draw, until another two-wicket over, this time from Marais – the first, a well-judged catch by Nick Andrew deep at long leg, and then a smart lbw – woke us and the game up. 90 for 5, from 23. Skip now hung out the Summer Sale signs, hoping to attract some bargain hunters, but a combination of Seeckts (showing a Sobers-like ability to captain and to bowl quick and to bowl spin), Skarrot and Wright conceded 43 from 13 overs without a corresponding entry in the debit column, proving that Jimmy doesn’t need to be looking over his shoulder yet. Oh, and there was a run out by keeper Harley from PAJA’s throw (yes, that’s not a mis-print).

It took pace to make the breakthrough, led by James Murray’s 2 for 16 from 3, at which point he felt a Cryptic bowling average of 6.60 was quite sufficient, and yielded to youth, with Nick Andrew then getting into the hutch and bowling the third two-wicket over of the innings.

The last wicket fell with 7 overs to spare. The game was played in excellent spirit, and was not as one-sided as the raw statistics suggest. Plaudits to the skipper for getting almost everyone involved, with only Greg preferring not to bowl. The clubhouse has the biggest jug we’ve seen in a while, and gets full marks for catering. Definitely a fixture to keep.

More opportunities for the flat track bullies at Claygate next week.

Sunday 30 July
SCCC: 197-9 (42.5 overs)
Crondall: 197 All out (41.5 overs)
Crondall won the toss
Match Tied

So, another Cryptic record goes west – although by the narrowest possible margin – as the first tied game in the record books took place at Crondall’s warm and windy ground on Sunday. Cryptic support was out in force, such are the attractions of this typical village ground.

Skipper Seeckts continued his run of form with the coin, losing again and being inserted. However, we did at least have the luxury of an old-fashioned declaration game, against the usual Sunday mixture of veterans to dispense the wisdom, and young pups to do the running around.

Pippa and Hogben opened, briefly, before James continued his patchy season by playing around a straight one for 6. Nick Andrew sparkled briefly for 12, Seeckts didn’t ignite, and suddenly we were 41 for 4 after eleven overs. A patient, grafting innings from Ed Dyson shored us up, and he deservedly ended with a Cryptic p.b. of 63. He put on 50 with David Grindrod, whose 22 featured seven drops, although four of them were part of the same juggling act; 25 with the Pupster, whose quest for a ton (in the season) was advanced by 17; and 49 with Glen Skarrot who – always a man to eschew the rapier for the claymore – picked up the game’s only 6 in his 24. Eventually undone through having the turning circle of Johnny Vegas on stilts, he charged and missed a slow dobber, and avoided the ignominy of a futile dive back to the crease by strolling off to the pavilion while the keeper was still waiting for the ball.

Despite Crondall expecting a declaration exactly at 4:30, Seeckts, fortunately umpiring at the time, was able to persuade them that he’d like a little longer. This led to a further eleven balls, during which time 6 more runs were scored, Dyson and Goss got out and Peter Andrew cemented his position at the top of the ‘not out’ list with 24. Last man Jimmy Greenhough took off his pads and looked forward to a bowl.

Crondall went off at a canter against openers Goss and Grindrod, until five maidens in a row slowed them up. In the meanwhile, Grinders had the opener pouched by Puppy for the first of four catches, and Goss removed the dangerous-looking Laughland along with his off stump. As Godden and Rook began to regain the ascendancy, skip turned to the change bowlers. Jimmy licked his lips, opened the box marked ‘flight and guile’ and discovered he hadn’t packed them, going for 28 off two. Thanks Jim, have a blow.

A good-looking lbw appeal against opposing skipper Rook by Andrew (snr) saw the umpire unmoved. However, as he was taking a bit of tap, Skip – ever ready with an experiment – went for a contrasting double change. Andrew (jnr) came in off a Dennis Lillee run from the top end, while Ed Dyson twirled from the other. Radar-wise, Nick’s input was more Thomson than Lillee (if anyone is confused by these references, ask your grannie), but one of better balls had opener Godden well caught by keeper Ware for 62, to provide his maiden Cryptic wicket.

At around 100 for 3, Seeckts, sensing an opening, brought back Goss, and then switched the Leicester pie-man to the bottom end, where the cross-wind could blow the ball out to gully rather than down the leg side. The Gozza was flying by now, taking a sharp c&b to dismiss Rook for 44. Runs still came, but Andrew (snr) teased out a good catch by Dyson, then a better one by Pippa. Ware took a fast one off Goss, and was then denied a second by the umpire. Etiquette on walking was discussed with the young batsman by the cordon. Next ball, an action replay saw this appeal upheld.

Crondall were now within 10 of the target, with two wickets yet to fall. PAJA snatched an unconvincing c&b in the gloom. The last man arrived. The over finished with Crondall two runs short, and two overs to get them.

After a single from the first three balls of the penultimate over, PAJA treated the batsman to a wideish (actually very wide, Ed.) one. The umpire, clearly believing that cricket matches are there to be won, not surrendered, was unmoved. The batsman then tried to pull a rare straight one through mid-wicket, and some people were on the pitch! It was, indeed, all over, and the first tied game in recorded Cryptic history. Doubtless Greg will recall a comparable game back in pre-History, against someone like the Luton Fire Brigade, but they’ve probably thrown away the stick that they marked the notches on by now. Bowling plaudits to Goss, whose 4 for 46 from 16 overs establishes him firmly at the club’s 5th highest wicket taker with 78 victims, chasing Blamphin’s 81. Then a few seasons’ hard graft needed to get to Mark McL’s 128.  On which note, PAJA’s 4 for 53 brings up his 150 for the club. Puppy’s four catches leave him only five victims short of cat-like(r) Neil Fox.

Crondall August 2006
“Hang on chaps, I’m just trying to get these scores to balance”

We next go to Maori Oxshott, scene of Greg’s accumulation of the highest Cryptic individual score (caveat, caveat…). From the look of the side to date, we have no bowling. Hope Skip’s a better tosser next week.

Sunday 23 July
Ottershaw won the toss
SCCC 217-7 (40 overs)
Otts 100 -6 (49 overs)
Match Drawn

Baggy Green hero Tony Dodemaide was eclipsed by new Cryptics superhero David Kent at Ottershaw on Sunday. Mild-mannered Kent shed the glasses and showed us his cape as he lamped a pedestrian attack for 106, setting a new Cryptics debutant score and – like Glen Skarrot last year – hitting the only 6 of the day. Same nationality, different shape. Entirely. But he also showed some traditional Cryptic frailty in the field, treating the ball like Kryptonite.

None of this prevented us from losing our 100% record against Ottershaw and Hamm Moor cricket club. L-plate skipper Goss showed he’s learning from Seeckts, by losing the toss. Gleeful at having negotiated a declaration game, he promptly declared after 40 overs. Mind you, we were on 217 for 7 (or 216, or 218 – James Hogben having reluctantly assumed scorebook duties; lawyer he may be, accountant he’s not. Mind you, his batting didn’t need an accountant yesterday either).

Kent was the star of the show, hitting the ball powerfully off front and back foot, and almost entirely along the ground. He shared stands of 72 with Pippa (who got fewer than 20 of them), and 71 with Ed Dyson (who got 6 of them). And, although 77% of his runs came in boundaries, he also ran enthusiastically enough to satisfy Pippa, who played a key supporting role with 29. Paul Harley had already weighed in with 24, bringing his Cryptic average plummeting to 56. Also noteworthy were a scurrying, scampering debut for Conrad Marais – surely from the same litter as our own dear Puppy, whose no-show had afforded David Kent the game in the first place – and a Cryptic p.b. of 19 for Nick Andrew. These two even managed an all-run 4 (not least through being the only ones batting below #4 capable of such lunacy).

Chasing 218 appeared to daunt Ottershaw, who scored their first run in the sixth over, as the largely antipodean attack of Goss and Edwards pinned their openers to the crease. They were 5 after 8 overs, and 33 after 17. Goss finished on 1 for 7 from 12, with 7 maidens. Would have been more but for a fetish with bowling for caught behind. The change bowlers were barely more profligate, and the traditional entertainment of watching the opposition trying to fathom Jimmy Greenhough was almost as much fun as watching keeper Harley trying to fathom him. Jimmy ended up with 3 for 20, as the usual procession of bemused and self-flagellating batsmen returned to the pavilion.

Skipper Goss used eight bowlers as he rang the changes in an attempt to force a result. Kent proved too brisk for the stubborn half-centurion Hynds; Dyson put in three maidens in six tidy overs; and Nick Andrew would have had his first Cryptics wicket had it been the outgoing skipper (or, indeed, his predecessor) rather than next year’s model at second slip. In the end we bowled 49 overs, of which no fewer than 21 were maidens. We were as chirpy in the field as you’d expect from a side containing three and a half Australians, gloveman Harley in particular negotiating the fine line between banter and insult, whilst keeping a clean bye sheet.

But ultimately we only took six wickets, and lived up to the Cryptic philosophy that if you don’t get all ten, you don’t deserve to win. So our record against Ottershaw slips to three wins and a draw.

Random stats corner (based on extant records, etc, etc…): Jimmy now has 207 wickets, nearly half as many again as anyone else. We’ve used 28 players in 10 matches so far this season, the two skippers & PAJ leading on 8. Highest partnership to date – Harley/Morton, 110 vs Bounders (see what good that did them). Grinders most wickets (14); Scottie most runs (280); Rod still only 3 catches from 63 games.

Next week we go to Crondall for the third time, and the skipper comes back from his caravan holiday to try and sustain our 100% record against them.

Sunday 9 July
Shackleford 231-8 (35 overs)
SCCC 235-5 (34.4 overs)
Won by 5 wickets
Toss by negotiation
35 over match

Another bloody limited overs game! And only 35 overs at that. It is an absolute disgrace (disgusted of Tunbridge Wells/Cheltenham/etc). The last six Cryptic games have been this Johnny-come-lately tip-and-run stuff. Of which, incidentally, we have won three, lost two on the last ball, and been mullahed by the Bounders last week. So we can play it. We just don’t like it.

The counter-attraction of the final of the French head-butting championship led to an unusual 12:30 start. A negotiated ‘toss’ allowed the skipper not to lose it again, and Shackleford duly batted. Any pique David Grindrod might have felt at not being offered the new ball disappeared, along with the new ball, into the mushroom farm. Several times. The first wicket fell at 90. It was the 12th over, and Cooke, the departing batsman, had made 63. Nick Pow went for 41 from 4, and promptly tweaked a hamstring. Should do more nets. The change bowlers made it look like Ikea on Bank Holiday Monday. It was 103 from 15, and 142 from 20.

Shackleford cricket pitch

Desperate to protect his own season’s figures, the skipper turned to Cupit. Twice batsmen who were set holed out to Brooke-Webb, straight and deep. A quite ridiculous clean bowled which landed first bounce on the bail was followed by a sharp c&b. The hat-trick ball was ushered toward the boundary by the skipper, as it passed him at catchable height going flat and fast as an Exocet. Grinders came on later than normal, picked up 2 in 2, and retired grateful to the pavilion with 2-30 from 7. Dwight basked in 4-34 from 5, some of which had even been seen by his fan club. A target of 232, at over 6.5 an over, while not a gimme, was not the mountain we thought we’d have to climb at one point.

Goss, whose excuse for getting thoroughly bladdered the night before was that – since Mrs Goss is incubating their Gossling – he now has to drink for three. It didn’t affect his bowling that much (1-30 from 7), but it did warp his judgment in volunteering to open the batting as well. And to take strike. 10 balls later, he had plenty of time to do some umpiring. Hogben (for once making hay under parental supervision) and Seeckts took us to 48 from 8, before Skip succumbed for 16.

Hoggers and Dad

At one point it seemed that Shackleford would give us the game on extras, apparently determined to compensate for the seven-ball overs allowed by their more innumerate umpire. Tommy Hope-Dunbar joined Hogben, and they brought up the hundred in the 13th over, at which point James departed for 35. David Gazzola then gave us back some of what he owed, after decking the high-scoring Cooke early in his innings. Decking, incidentally, in the Geraint Jones sense, not Zidane. David went for 16, his Cryptic personal best.

The hefty Jock with the Sassenaccent then laid about himself in fine style, plundering the Shackleford attack for 89, including 6 sixes. Which is, remarkably, as many sixes in a single innings as the prolific James Macdonald managed in all his 24 innings for the club. And two more than Pippa has in 189. Tommy is, in fact, in line to become the top six-hitter in Cryptic history, despite a mere 27 innings; already equal, on 34 sixes, with leg-side legend Atkinson (R), he only needs a further two to draw level with Kiwi lip-glosser Andrell (G). His apathy towards running is amply (amply – geddit? Ed) demonstrated by the statistic that 70% of his Cryptic career runs have come in boundaries, a figure only exceeded by Rafe Morton. Scotty, for example, trails this by a good 5%, his six-count of 12 also putting him well behind such notable stroke-makers as Thompson (A) and Andrew (P).

Sadly, one run short of his Cryptic p.b., Tommy was held on the boundary (where else?). This only unleashed the previously-subdued Grindrod who cruised to 28*, ably supported by lethal twirler Cupit, as we knocked off the winning run with two balls and five wickets to spare. We were helped by Shackleford giving us another three overs in wides, and the best part of another in no balls. Extras (that’d be sundries to you, Ross) were second top scorer with 37.

Other notable stats – Puppy only let though 2 byes, but then not much was getting past the bat. He did hold a couple of swift chances, though, and is already 3rd in the all-time stumpers list.

Success, but it doesn’t feel as good as getting all 10 out.

spin twins
‘Hefty’ Jock 89 but still no jug of beer – Shackleford 09.07.06

Sunday 2 July
SCCC 256-7 (35 overs)
Bounders 260-7 (31.2 overs)
Lost by 3 wickets
SCCC won the toss
35 over match

This was a strange game indeed. Played in belting heat on a prep school sized outfield at the sumptuous Bank of England ground, two batting-heavy teams competed to see which could concede the most runs. So we won. Jingle Bells. We won on extras too, ‘scoring’ 52 to Bounders’ 27, and had the highest scorer of the match, debutant Paul Harley with 88.

Close examination of the scorebook suggests that we received 36 overs and the respective scores may have been 253 and 265. None of it matters, but you can tell PAJA was not there doing the book. Regular Cryptics had pretty regular days. Skarrot, Morton, Hogben, Cupit, Edwards, Greenhough all made a contribution. The skipper had a shocker, getting a second baller, dropping a catch in Rod’s first over, and having his own one over smacked for 17. Won the toss though.

If any aspects of this game live in the memory, they will be the work of the debutants and occasionals. Harley, the first Cryptic from Kalgoorlie, W.A. (where all the women are hookers, he says) batted beautifully and threatened to join another Aussie, Tony Dodemaide, on the ‘Century on debut’ list until he lifted one to mid off. Flagrant use of the top hand made him look like a ringer, but Harley is a quick learner and a few more games should see him cutting out those textbook cover drives and taking the aerial route over midwicket instead. The boy can keep wicket too, though on the day it was a shame he couldn’t bowl. Matt Dooley, about a quarter of our Queensland contingent by weight, played well for 30* while all around him missed straight balls. By far the best fielder on the day, it is Dooley who must take most of the credit for Mark Blamphin’s bowling figures, 3-60 off seven overs. Marriage has rendered the Ulsterman a once a year man, but a lucky one. Sure, he got spanked around like the rest of us, but three of them went to the hands of Cryptics who could catch.

Last word must go to new boy David Gazzola, Giz to his mates. Fifth Aussie on the day, dodgy orange hat, confident and cheerful. Volunteered to keep wicket, “Yeah, I’m a good ‘keeper” but missed out to Harley. Asked to bat at 6, “Yeah, 6 is my spot, I can bat”. Offered a bowl, “Yeah, love a bowl skipper”. Now a member of that rare band who have more wickets for the club than runs, thanks to his longest hop finding its way to Blamphin’s bucket-like paws. Good solid Cryptic material in the bar though, and best of all he agreed to come to Shackleford for another go.

For the record, 256 is one shy of the Cryptics’ highest losing score, 257 at Claygate 1998, and only four shy of the highest ever score, 260-7 at Headley 1999.

Sunday 25 June
Shere 148 all out (33.2 overs)
SCCC 150-6 (26.1 overs)
Won by 4 wickets
Shere won the toss
40 over match

Another new fixture, another 40 over match. Declaration cricket seems to have lost its way in Blair’s Britain. Any suggestions as to why the inferior format of the game has become dominant on Sunday afternoons, when no winner is required for competition purposes, would be welcome here.

Yet again the Cryptic skipper called wrong at the toss, on a sloping pitch at the foot of the North Downs. It was never going to be a 250 pitch, such was the unpredictable bounce and lateral movement aided by the slope. Straight bowling would reap its rewards as David Grindrod showed by hitting the stumps with both of his first two deliveries. Nick Pow was not to be outdone and at 25-5 Shere appeared keen to watch the 4pm game of Association Football. They then played the joker, sending in a schoolboy too young to face a rampant Goss and too disciplined to fall for the ancient guile of Andrew and Greenhough. Young Green occupied valuable time until Shere’s best player, Frost T, arrived from scoring a half century elsewhere in the morning. Frost was last man out for 47 after a face saving partnership with Mike Tappin, whose 28* comprised only resolute defence and extravagent aggression. Goss was perhaps unfortunate to come up against the opposition’s best player again, but such is the responsibility of leading the Cryptics’ attack. Frost’s younger sister, Millie came in last, ran one from a looping Goss wide and promptly padded Scotty onto her stumps. Scotty’s first wicket since 7 May.

Shere’s capitulation did not deprive the Cryptics of another remarkable fielding performance, and this time it wasn’t dropped catches. Evergreen Jimmy Greenhough held on to four (out of four) without ever looking confident as the ball approached him. With Peter Andrew taking the other catch of the day, any bookmakers on the ground would have left happy as Jim led us from the field to a mammoth tea. There was something for everyone, and then seconds.

This game would have taken some losing, and it is not unfair to suggest that all six Cryptic wickets fell as a result of over confidence, sloppiness or a willingness to let someone else have a bat. The Wright and Rafe Morton opening partnership works well. 45 from seven overs before Wright (8) was stumped by several yards. Pippa’s method (40% of June’s runs in singles, 33% in boundaries) is in stark contrast to the heavier Rafe’s (7% singles, 78% boundaries) but the combination works wonderfully from a cricket point of view, as well as providing limitless material for the mischief makers. Morton (56) was brilliantly caught on the boundary just when a rapid hundred looked possible. Seeckts, Grindrod and Scott all chipped in with a few lusty blows, Hope-Dunbar played like a first timer and was lucky to get one. Brother-in-law Goss is creeping up the batting order on merit, plays straight and survived the 10-year-old’s over.

Kiwi Rod Edwards also played, and bowled tidily enough, but kept wanting to talk about rugby so was sent for a long spell of umpiring.

Sunday 18 June 2006
Follies Farm 206-7 (40 overs)
SCCC 201-8 (40 overs)
Lost by 5 runs
Follies Farm won the toss
40 over match

A beautiful day in Chiddingfold with two well matched and increasingly familiar sides, climaxed with Paul Goss being bowled by David Leng’s final ball of the match which, had he hit it for six instead, would have secured a great victory. It was not as if Goss had been without six-hitting tuition earlier in the day. He was the unfortunate ‘death’ bowler as Leng tonked 49* in seven overs, losing 22 ounces of red leather about the farm in the process.

It had all started serenely enough. Cryptics lost the toss again, got put in the field (rendering the toss pointless), tidy spells from Edwards and Grindrod, 29-3 off 8 overs. The Cryptic captain then boldly brought on Greenhough to buy a couple more wickets. Saxel was particularly savage but Jimmy eventually got his man, pouched by Hope-Dunbar, attempting his fourth six. 69 runs was quite a price to pay for one wicket, so Ed Dyson’s economical spell (8 overs for 26) at the other end was a welcome contrast. Follies were becalmed by Dyson and Goss in tandem but when the latter castled Lamont immediately after breaking his big toe, Leng strode out at number 8 eager to give his captain a lesson in batting orders. He was able to do so only after receiving the benefit of enormous doubt in a run out decision by an umpire fleeing towards long off. It was to be the turning point of the match, but Sunday cricket is riddled with such puzzles, and none the worse for it. 139-6 after 33 raced up to 206 from 40 overs. The five balls used in the last few overs went everywhere. Goss, fielding ‘on the boundary’, even managed to drop one going over his head for……………………four. Double teapots all round. And tea.

This particular pig farm provides the finest ham sandwiches on the circuit. Sadly, there were plenty of them still on the table when vegetarian James Hogben returned to the pavilion in the third over of the reply. Seeckts (playing as a batsman this week after destroying Farncombe with the ball) and Wright saw off the opening bowlers without rousing the ample – and mostly pregnant – crowd, before tucking in to the change bowlers. Both had a slice of luck in return for the half dozen chances that had gone begging before tea and though only 10 runs came in the first 8 overs, 50 came up in the 14th and the chase was on. Seeckts fell into the trap of (guess who) Leng on the cow shot boundary for 26 but Wright remained stolid in his anchor role. Hope-Dunbar skied one early on, Skarrot smote a lively 38 which might have been 50 if his turning circle was a little smaller. Pippa’s resistance ended on 55 in the 32nd over. David Grindrod’s vulnerability to his second ball came to the fore again and Ed Dyson’s lack of familiarity with the tough task of chasing a total without the chance to play himself in led to uncharacteristic, and fatal, cross batted swishes.

When Tom Ware joined Goss, 26 balls remained and 47 runs were required. It seemed lost to all but the insatiable puppy who infected his partner with enthusiasm. He scampered, Goss huffed and puffed. They both biffed a few, and if they missed with the bat they got leg byes. Leng finally looked fallible when his penultimate over went for 15. The puppy looked dangerous, Gossy looked knackered. Frantic and tense, this was pyjama cricket at its rare best as the last ball was delivered with both teams still able to win. We lost, but the day was about as enjoyable as defeat can be, and much more entertaining than the previous week’s romping win.

Sunday 11 June
SCCC 219-8 (40 overs)
Farncombe 53 all out (16.1 overs)
Won by 166 runs
Farncombe won the toss
40 over match

What a Cryptic day! If Scottie had gone for a duck, he’d only have averaged 124 for the weekend. As it is, he’s got a Cryptic average for this season of 130. If Matt Dooley had decked Farncombe’s Saturday opener as the ball rebounded from his ribcage, Edwards might have won the game on his own. But then, if my auntie had balls, she’d be my uncle.

Another new opponent for the Cryptic annals, Farncombe play at a spacious tree-fringed ground with a good bar, and provide a tea which would get three stars in the Dave ‘Boy’ Green Guide Rouge. Bit of a Chatham influence in the local populace, but you can’t have everything. Skipper Seeckts failed to exert his normal charm, so we played a limited overs game, and batted first.

Pippa having departed uncharacteristically early, Hogben and Ware took us briskly to 38 from 5. The latter was especially harsh on opener Lamb with four successive boundaries in his 21, as he chases a personal milestone of 100 runs in a season. 60% of the way there now, Pup. But these two and Dooley went in rapid succession to leave us at 50-4 after 10 overs. 86 from 20 wasn’t a whole lot better, but by now Glen Skarrot had joined the prolific Scott, and these two put on 107 in 17 overs, when Glen departed for 41. Not that the PAJA/J-BW 6th wicket record was ever seriously threatened.

The tail crumbled, and largely spent their time watching Scottie moving to an undefeated 86, leaving us on 219 from the allotted 40 overs. Extras contributed 37, even though Puppy didn’t umpire for very long. Farncombe used eight bowlers. We were never likely to, mainly because we didn’t have eight. Even with the Farncombe captain’s generous loan of 15-yr old Matt Harland. (Our skipper was heard to ask ‘so where’s Wolff, then’, thereby showing that he’s as old as he looks).

But not so old that he couldn’t open the bowling. By the seventh over, Farncombe had eased to 24, and Goss was on a breather. Seeckts then clean bowled one of the openers. Next, loanee Matt Harland repaid his home captain’s generosity in giving him a game by comprehensively bowling him with his first ball, for a duck. Wickets then fell at ridiculously frequent intervals; it’s unlikely that a scorebook will again read ‘Warne ct Scott b Seeckts 0’. Harland continued the fun by bowling the captain’s son for a duck.

By the time we disposed of the last available opponent, nine wickets had fallen for 29 runs in eight overs. Seeckts, bowling unchanged, took more wickets in his eight overs than he managed in 50 overs between 1998 and 2004, finishing with 6-18, the 6th best Cryptic bowling performance of all time. But it was a strange day all round, as, among the competent fielding performance (despite a whole eight byes for Ware), PAJA moved to the top of the season’s fielding statistics.

Unlikely heros at Farncombe
Unlikely heroes

Next week Follies Farm, who may or may not have recovered from the last Saturday’s mauling by the James gang and their Grannies.

Sunday 4 June
Cobham and Leatherhead 217-8 (40 overs)
SCCC 213-9 (40 overs)
40 over match, lost by 4 runs
Cobham and Leatherhead won the toss

It was 1989 reprised as the Fabulous Baker Boys ended Cryptics year-long unbeaten sequence. But even then only through an insistence on playing a league format 40-over game; and had Jimmy Greenhough hit his first 6 since the declaration shot at Headley in 1999, we’d still have won it. However, all things must pass (Harrison, G: 1970).

Cobham CC, our erstwhile opponents in this fixture, have ‘merged’ with Leatherhead, who now field four sides of a Saturday, and three on Sundays. We played the Sunday Firsts, of whom around eight had played the previous day for Leatherhead 1st or 2nd. Choosing to make first use of a sound batting strip, our opponents moved to 38 from the first 10 for the loss of an opener, run out by the swooping Pow/tidy Ware combination. At which point Skipper was motivated to show these lads – and lads they were – something they’d not seen before: Jimmy. Their no.3 was immediately caught in three minds, and was stumped by the Pupster. 51 from 15 was not so fast, nor 72 from 20. At this point skipper Baker (D) began a charge that would see him out to a smart low catch a couple of overs from the end for 80. It was David Grindrod’s turn to pick up the discount offers (such as they were), finishing with 3 for 40. Other wickets went one apiece to Goss, Pow and Andrew, as we were set 218 to win. Occasionals Skarrot and Morton will know better than to pitch it short next year; as Nick Pow will know to turn down the chance to bowl the penultimate over. The Pup, with no byes (again), two stumpings and a catch, moved into third place in the all-time wicket-keepers race with 18 victims. Chased by Dwight on 17 and Big Tommy on 13, he now goes in search of Neil Fox’s 29 victims. Remarkably, his 7 stumpings are equalled only by Peart and exceeded by Greg (22).

The Cryptics reply began with a 45-run partnership between the ubiquitous Wright, P and Rafe Morton, in his second outing. Rafe, spurning singles, scored 34 of these, with five fours and a six, before becoming the first of Baker (M)’s six victims. Ware’s day took a downward trend after his first ball; Ed Dyson and Pippa then shared a stand of 77 (including an all-run 4, probably the only two in the Cryptics side rash enough to try such a feat) before Dyson perished for 48. Wright followed soon afterwards for 48. Spooky, huh? At this point (31 overs) we were still up with the clock. But wickets then tumbled rather too quickly, leaving Jimmy Greenhough and Nick Pow to briefly threaten the all-time record last wicket partnership of 24. Ware had a last hurrah for the day in an ever-vigilant umpiring spell which yielded several (though not enough) no-balls.

And so to new opponents Farncombe next week, who may provide more fruitful pickings.

Sunday 14 May
SCCC 202-9 dec (44 overs)
Stoke d’Abernon 172-8 (42 overs)
Match Drawn
Stoke d’Abernon won the toss

team at Stoke d'Abernon
Team at Stoke d’Abernon .06

It took 18 years to renew this fixture after a previous generation of Cryptics lost it in the less diplomatic era. As it was, we were warmly welcomed back and showed our appreciation by dropping another bucketful of catches after tea.

With regular openers Wright and Hogben both absent, the opportunist David Grindrod was padded up as the coin landed. The pads came off after two balls, the second of which was straight. Nick Benham fared better, crafting a tidy 40, mostly in the company of debutant Rafe Morton whose opening scoring shot saw the new ball lost on the adjacent railway line. Morton’s 33 was typical of the modern Cryptic, including some savage blows and only three singles before being run out. The returning skipper was sawn off by an unplayable off cutter and PAJ Andrew also proved vulnerable to the straight one. From 80-5 after 23 overs Cupit (20) and Scott rebuilt well. Scottie opened his shoulders and claimed to be coaching the equally diminutive Victorian all the way. With the declaration target achieved after a brief cameo from old timer James Brooke-Webb, Scott ran himself out for 74.

Stoke’s Saturday 1st Xl captain, Page, opened the reply and stayed almost thoughout thanks to a series of drops, some hard and some dollies, but in the end his 102 was not enough. Only two other Stoke players reached double figures as wickets fell at regular – but not regular enough – intervals. Paul Goss (13-1-45-4) hit the stumps twice in each of his spells, David Grindrod was luckless in 10 fine overs for 18. Jimmy Greenhough bought 3-67 and PAJA produced a more miserly spell for 1-33. Happily, the media will not dwell long on the shoddy Cryptic fielding display in light of the concurrent performance by a better known team at Lord’s. The exception in the field was Tom Ware, ever improving as a wicketkeeper, who can make Cryptic throwing look tidy and did not concede a bye for the second game running. Look out Geraint.

Sunday 7 May
SCCC won the toss
Avorians 209 (43)
SCCC 210 – 4 (35)
Won by 6 wickets

Some truly remarkable things occurred in Cryptics’s debut fixture at the picturesque, tree-fringed Avorians ground on Sunday. Most notable were Tommy Hope-Dunbar finally remembering the combination to his wallet and, after the Teflon fiasco at Kingstonian last week, the fact that we held 10 catches; although sadly Tommy’s third was taken standing with one foot on the boundary line, under the noses and the schadenfreude of Avorians’ fan base. 

However, it started like the (very) old days. We took the field with 9, including 11-yr old William Wright on his full debut. We knew Nick Pow would be late, because he’d told us well in advance. Scottie hadn’t told us anything, but we knew he’d be late anyway. Fortunately, both were on the field in time for the corpulent Caledonian to move into first slip for Paul Goss’s second over, where he pouched a smart chance to send back opener Liddington scoreless. He paunched a second in the skipper’s following over, catching it on the rebound. Avorians 6 for 2, off 5 overs. For a while, though, this was as good as it got, as it brought to the crease one of the more competent of our opponents. Ever.

Some said he was their Saturday opener. Others that he’d played Minor Counties cricket. If he did, it wasn’t for Rutland. All we know is that he ran up a quickfire 100, playing every ball strictly on its merits, before slicing a generous chance to Wright (P) in the gully off debutant Pete Wylie. He started by disposing of our nice new match ball deep into the grounds of the neighbouring girls’ prep school. Several search parties came back empty-handed. He then carted anything loose a very long way. Your correspondent suffered fearfully, almost as badly as Rod as Kingstonian last week.

However, we pegged back the combination of youth and maturity that was their lower order, and took the last five wickets for 36. As noted, catches were held: Scottie’s three make him leading catcher this year; Hope-Dunbar and Andrew also held two each.

Scottie’s 3 for 21 puts him top of the bowling averages; also notable on the day, Grindrod 3 for 41, and Goss 2 for 35.

Chasing 209, Pippa and Hogben scurried to 34 from 7 overs. Like Kingstonian, both openers perished similarly, caught in the gully, James for 5 and Philip for 42. Dwight kept Tommy company for a while, although not always valued by our only camp follower of the season. ‘What’s Dwight done wrong now?’ she asked, looking up from a magazine, as some encouraging comment was passed from the crowd. We were always ahead of the clock, as Avorians tried a proper Sunday assortment of bowlers. Tommy restricted himself to a couple of sixes, in company first with Grindrod (18), and then Scottie (38*), as he led the way home with six overs to spare, finishing with an undefeated 70. Sadly he and Scottie failed by 4 runs to reach the high score for the Cryptics 5th wicket, and Thompson and Peart’s record – set in 1990 and also, by a spooky coincidence, in Cobham – survives a little longer.

With Tommy undefeated, Scottie, having already climbed seven places this season to 17th in the all-time run aggregates, also tops this season’s batting averages (although not the run aggregate). How good would he be if he played the entire match? It only remained for Tommy to buy a jug. He did need a whip-round to complete the payment process, but he did very well for someone so new to it.

So, two weeks to go for an undefeated year, and Goss hands back the captaincy baton unsullied. Only Stoke d’Abernon and Putney to go.

Sunday 30 April
Kingstonian 240 – 3 (44 overs)
SCCC 242 – 4 (36 overs)
SCCC won the toss
Won by 6 wickets

Cryptics start the season with a jingle! Although that didn’t always look likely in a match where almost 500 runs scored at more than 6 an over. No surprise, then, that there was but a single maiden for each side.

Skipper Seeckts, knowing that Kingstonians’ bowling is often more shallow than their batting, and with his key strike bowler at some family stramash, cannily won the toss and inserted the opposition. This didn’t look quite so canny when Kingstonian were 125 without loss around the time that Scotty usually finds the ground. Opening bowler Edwards claimed his 0-59 were his worst figures for the Cryptics. (Sorry, Rod, that would be 0-60 against Spencer in ’98 – PAJ Statto). On a soft but even track, anything short was brutally despatched. Only Ed Dyson’s figures, 1-43 from 11 with several worthy yet unsuccessful LBW shouts, are worthy of comment.

Cryptic catching was well down to its usual standards, as we spilled eight or nine (largely difficult) chances, Ed Dyson’s one from three being our only success. Kingstonian duly declared at 240 for 3 from 44, their top order having posted 98, 59 and 51. The Pupster capped a useful day behind the stumps with a stumping and no byes.

Wright and Hogben kicked off our reply, if not at a gallop, at least at a canter, bringing up 50 in the 11th over, whereupon James edged to the keeper for 23. Pippa and Scott accelerated with 84 from the next 11 before Wright perished as Hogben had done, for 70. Scottie, having cracked the groundsman’s bedroom window with a big straight 6, went next trying for an action replay while on 62.

broken window
Scotty’s smashed window

Nick Benham kept his job secure for another couple of weeks by scoring fewer than Boss Hogben, before Seeckts and Ware came together for a final flourish. Adding 64 in 7 overs, we passed the winning post with five overs of the final 20 to spare. Skip was undefeated on 24, and Ware on 34, his equal highest score in the UK, unless Blair invades Menorca.

We are now undefeated since 22nd May last year; surely we can make our anniversary – only new opponents Avorians, resurrected opponents Stoke d’Abernon and long-standing adversaries Putney stand in the way.