Played 19 Won 11 Drawn/Tied 5 Lost 3

Sunday 30th August 2009
SCCC 190 (37.2 overs)
OCA 54th CC 194-5 (30.4 overs)
40 over match
Lost by 5 wickets
OCA 54th CC won the toss

Richard Seeckts writes:

A new fixture at the Wandgas ground in Worcester Park, where only very old Cryptics had played before, way back when Mark McLoughlin’s arm was almost as high as some of his teammates were. For once in this soggy summer we had a hard and true pitch, seemingly full of runs. Skipper Goss was given day release from paternity detention to lead the club to its first defeat since his last appearance.

To be fair, as the absent Scotty might say, this was a below strength Cryptic team. Gazzola, Ware and Seeckts at Nos 3, 4 and 5 would be a good con trick on other weekends. This time it was done almost on merit. On paper, the bowling attack looked even lighter, Goss and Grindrod leading an attack that could have been drawn from a pink hat.

Nevertheless, a solid platform of 91-3 was built in the first 20 overs. Jurek fell early to a fine catch at cover, whereupon the next three came and went in a relative blaze of shots, scoring 25, 23 and 28 respectively. Seeckts even smashed roof slates, something more often seen when he’s bowling. Grindrod’s aggressive 32 gave us the necessary boost to 172-4 at 31 overs. All the while Wright had plodded, nudged, anchored and scampered his way to 46, aided by the fielders’ generosity in overthrows.

Quite why Grindrod, Nat Guillou and Wright all chose to miss innocuous straight balls in the 32nd over remains a mystery, but Dan Espejo followed their lead in the 33rd, as did Goss in the 35th . Kelvin Meek and Nick Miere then had the task of scoring at least 50 from the last five overs to make a contest. Meek was rightly jubilant after playing an on-drive worthy of Martin Crowe and would doubtless have hit more of the same but for Miere’s second successive run out. Accused of trotting like a dressage horse with his bat in the air when dismissed at Claygate, the reprise here was slightly more comical, coming as the result of a dropped catch. Eight Cryptics were bowled (is this a record, PAJ?); only a special performance in the field would save the day.

So we fielded like a bunch of colts. Espejo had a rare bowl, mixing the unplayable with the unreachable. Goss unleashed a month’s aggression in his first spell, claiming the early scalp of Hamel. Asif strode in with his 700 runs for the season in sight. Next weekend he’ll start even closer to 800. Dropped by both members of the Haslemere Chapter early on, his 114 was otherwise great to watch, which is about all you can do until the ball lands 30 yards beyond the boundary. His mate Basharat was in a hurry too and the game could have been lost with the use of only four bowlers. Goss, however, had a plan, “I’ll give Kelvin a go, then I have a trick up my sleeve”.

Kelvin’s 16 balls for 37 meant the trick had to be pretty special. It was, but the sleeve was short. Jurek’s second over saw Asif and Dutfield castled, giving us a genuine sniff of victory. If we could just take five more wickets for one run……..then the ball was lost in the hedge and a mighty good stuffing was complete.

Consensus amid the end of term cheer in the bar was that we’d found a decent fixture with friendly opponents who enjoy their cricket. We’ll be back for the Bakewells and chocolate roly-poly, and also to find out what the heck OCA 54th stands for.

Next up Oporto. A massively experienced Cryptic XI set off on Thursday for two games in forecast belting heat this weekend. Five survivors from the first Oporto trip in 2000. Skipper has to find a way of hiding six fielders.

Sunday 23rd August 2009
Headley 205 (35.5 overs)
SCCC 176-5 (41 overs)
Match drawn
SCCC won the toss

Out with the old, in with the new. As the shabby old brown burger van across the road at Headley has been replaced by a pristine mobile café, so the prosperous looking gents of yore have given way to young, mobile cricketing talent. More gel than grey under the caps these days.

That said, they still bat like champagne Charlies, this time all ten being caught playing their shots, eight of them in front of square. The Cryptic bowling fluctuated between generous and dreadful, Jack Nihill being the only bowler to command a modicum of respect with his big inswingers. Grindrod induced the loss of two cricket balls in conceding 8 per over, but maintained his record of dismissing the dangerous Chapman every time they have met. Dr Kelvin Meek’s mildly better figures (2-36 off 5) reflect the unpredictability of his offerings, his five overs comprising about 40 deliveries.

Headley were set for a big score at 173-4, and may have got a touch excited at the sight of Cryptic skipper-for-the-day Peter Andrew marking out his run, but few young shavers have faced his kind of bowling and the club statistician modestly informed the fielders that his second wicket was his 200th since records began (some while after he began). Headley’s batting had imploded, PAJA finished with 4-34 and Scotty nicked a couple of cheeky ones with his unrehearsed left-arm……..spinners.

Cryptic catching was far better than usual, partly because the ball avoided certain butter-fingered veterans and partly because catches look so much better when taken by a fielder nearly, but not quite, in the right position. Wojtek Jurek (with 3) and Nihill (2) led, ‘keeper Hope-Dunbar, Scott, Espejo and Grindrod followed. The only drop came from Scotty, whose fielding has gone the opposite way to his girth since marriage a year ago. Thankfully, his batting remains top notch.

205 looked a reasonable target, even allowing for the new local rule banning sixes on the road side of the ground. It’s a typical 21st century legislative sop to someone; the ball is struck into the road as frequently as ever but you can’t score more than four. Needless to say, some care more than others about the new rule, and nobody bothered to tell Pippa.

Tea taken, enough time available, chase on. If there was a surprise on the day, it was the quality and depth of Headley’s bowling. They gave nothing away, especially left-armer Mearns and off spinner Hopper who extracted turn and bounce, and varied his pace cleverly. These two bowled 22 overs, taking 4-52 between them. At 63-4 from 21 overs when the final 20 overs were called prematurely, a rate of three per over had to rise above seven to achieve the win.

Jurek had struggled after his delightful knock at Oxshott, Espejo showed his lack of experience at Headley by allowing the ball to hit his pad at the wrong end. Left arm over, short of a length, not swinging, big stride, front pad…..obviously plum. Read Headley reports passim and learn, Dan. Peter Kurtz was undone by Hopper, Seeckts and Scott added 49 in 10 overs but all the time the required run rate increased. Hope-Dunbar joined Scott for the final push, but even these two big hitters could only manage 77 from the final 12 overs. Scotty finished on 66*, Tommy 29*. Headley showed no inclination to buy the wickets that would have won the game for them, preferring to send it the way of a tame stalemate. Man for man, Headley had the superior cricketers, but experience will not be overcome without greater temptation.

Rare are there days when a limited overs game would have been more appropriate than proper cricket – read reports of our last three games – but this might have been one.

We’d have stuffed them in a 1980’s pop quiz, though.

Nihill fan club at Headley 2009
Nihill fan club at Headley 2009

Sunday 16th August 2009
Claygate 241 for 5 declared (41 overs)
SCCC 245 for 8 (41.5 overs)
SCCC won by two wickets
Claygate won the toss

Cryptics at Claygate

Peter Andrew writes:

So, it was back to Dalmore Avenue after a break of a mere 16 days. More pertinently, it was back to the ground that used to be a 500-run fiesta every year. Not that the track is docile – there was lift if you could find it, and the occasional shooter, but the baked outfield was lightning fast, as much on the long haul up to the pavilion as the short trip to the basketball court. Even the usually parsimonious Jack Nihill went for almost eight an over.

Anyway, at the appointed start we were short of our keeper (Dwight) and our kit (in Dwight’s car). We were also short of a captain, the nominated skippa Pippa revealing an unexpected [!! Ed] injury that would need all his attention. Thus Seeckts was hauled reluctantly [!!! Ed] out of retirement for his 146th match as leader.

Having got the irrelevant toss out of the way, his first problem was to find a keeper. Much shuffling of feet, looking at shoes and finding of urgent things to do somewhere else ensued. Then Dan said brightly [does he have another mode? Ed] ‘I’ll do it’. ‘Done it before?’ ‘No. But it doesn’t look too difficult’.

And he looked pretty comfortable in borrowed pads for the three overs it took before Dwight arrived and got the mums and dads on. Not that much was getting past the bat of veteran Rufus Legg and his opening partner, Holmes. Jack and Dave Grindrod toiled away for a dozen overs, with only Rufus’s castle to show for them.

The introduction of James Bailey, a full four years after his debut at Follies Farm (3 for 18 from 8, on that occasion) injected yet more pace in our attack, then a few overs later PAJ introduced something more docile. These two toiled in tandem for 19 overs, picking up a couple of wickets apiece, including a stunning running catch by Jack that started at regulation mid-off and finished somewhere around deep extra cover to dismiss the Dwight with cut lipunlucky danger man Holmes for 49.

By this time Dan had the gloves back again, Dwight having fielded a leg side lifter with his lip. [Use the gloves next time, Dwight.]

Claygate skipper Wood had been aggressive from his first ball, effortlessly moving PAJ from Lidl to Waitrose, aided by some iffy groundwork and some faulty sunglasses. It was an unfortunate time for Nick Mière and Gareth Bennett (like Bailey, returning for his second Cryptic cap) to come into the attack. Wood moved his account to Fortnums.

Eventually, resistant to Seeckts’ encouragement to declare earlier in the interests of his average, Wood set us a target of 242 to win, while compiling an undefeated 73.

And so to tea. Regular readers of this column will know the respect accorded to good teas, which have increased in general standard steadily over recent years (while drawing a discreet veil over Saracen Riffs). Well, if cricket teas had Michelin stars, Claygate would be Le Gavroche for 2009. Nuff said.

A solid if measured start from Pippa and Dan took our reply to 70 from 16 overs, before Pippa chopped to point. Gareth followed shortly afterwards, after showing us enough touches of class for us to know he’s better than his stats suggest, in both disciplines.

Following his brutality in the cricket week fixture, Grindrod’s innings was but a cameo this time, 16 from four scoring shots before edging to Legg behind the stumps. This brought Scotty into the equation, who having got off the mark with a 6, gradually began to drive down the required run rate in a stand of 39 with Dan who, waking from his usual mid-innings nap, moved on to 60 before giving Claygate’s skipper a return catch as he sought to buy a couple of sorely-needed wickets.

This brought in Jack, which resulted in a five over, 38-run delight as he and Scotty combined athleticism, anticipation and telepathic communication in an orgy of smart running. Jack’s 18 had but a single boundary.

Such communication was less obvious when Seeckts joined Scotty in their own version of the tortoise and the hare, moving us to within 16 of the target, at which point Scotty was bowled for 53. At 226 for 6 the full glory of a Cryptic pet shop was exposed.

In the ensuing wobble, run outs disposed of Mière and Seeckts, giving Claygate a glimpse of an unlikely victory. We had entered the final over needing six to win, with three wickets standing. Richard, however, had the presence of mind to ensure that James Bailey remained the not out batsman, and it only remained for him to reveal himself as a wolf in a bunny-suit by smearing the fifth ball through mid-wicket for a most entertaining win.

We must make honourable mention of Rufus Legg, stalwart veteran of the Claygate club, who has been a friend of the Cryptics for many years. His friendship this year extended to 28 byes (not always helped by his bowlers), and some quite outrageous refusals to award wides, of which PAJ was often the beneficiary.

Almost 500 runs, 83 overs, and four results possible at the start of the last over. It’s been said here before, but who needs a limited overs format when there’s two sides who want to play a game of cricket?

Dan and Scotty - 50s jug
Dan and Scotty, happy juggers

Sunday 9th August
SCCC 213 all out (40.3 overs)
Blackheath 183–9 (Approx 43 overs)
Match drawn
Blackheath won the toss

Read last year’s report and add one wicket. 19 in the game was one too few for the Cryptics, captained for the first time by Dwight Cupit, and celebrating James Hogben’s 100th cap. Blackheath’s welcoming, youthful team could teach their counterparts at Crondall some cricket as well as a few manners. The club is thriving, the setting beautiful, the tea fabulously pre-New Labour and the cricket as God intended. No pyjamas, Duckworth-Lewis or sightscreens here.

As in 2008, law boys Hogben and Benham kicked things off, the latter this time taking care not to run out his senior colleague. So much care, in fact, that he walked at the first opportunity, having not edged a ball to the wicket keeper. Next ball Seeckts showed how to edge one properly and swiftly returned to the Cryptic creche on the boundary. Out Raviing Ravi, this was his third duck in four, reasonable grounds for the creation of a Cryptic 2nd XI.

The absence of a sightscreen made batting tricky as diminutive left-armer Hodges delivered the ball from in front of a dark window. Right-armers and taller men did not have the same advantage. Hogben damaged his back in the course of making five (22–3), and skipper Cupit’s batting order left the door ajar for Blackheath throughout. Peter Kurtz (17) and new boy Michael Cornish (40) got stuck into the change bowling, adding 48 in nine overs, leaving Gazzola (34) and Cupit (36) to enjoy some generous offerings later on, not least from Chambers, whose shopping amounted to 4–0–39–1, the wicket being Cornish stumped off a wide. Cupit’s straight six, into netting protecting windows was undisputed shot of the day, and maybe the shot of his career. Grindrod and Hope-Dunbar, down the order purely on grounds of their recent success at Claygate, played the part of tailenders with distinction, as did Dr Kelvin Meek, who flayed a blacksmith’s 12 and infuriated the bowlers as tea approached. Hodges ended up with four wickets and should always do well with a red ball against a black background.

Jam roly-poly duly devoured, Rod Edwards and David Grindrod saw their own brand of confectionary eagerly consumed and crashed to all parts by openers Smith and Jones who, alas, threatened to wreck Cupit’s day at the helm. Gazzola suddenly produced a sharp catch behind the timbers to see Jones off, then the change bowlers ripped out the Blackheath middle order. Hope-Dunbar (“Is hope your stategy?” chirped a local heckler) and Cornish (pasties, obviously) grabbed three wickets apiece without the unreliable assistance of outfielders and Blackheath had slumped from 95–1 to 125–7 with 18 overs remaining.

Cupit’s captaincy, already a roller-coaster ride, faced its first real test. He discovered that coupling the Cryptic ethos of involving every player with trying to win every game can be a considerable challenge. Meek’s allsorts kept the tail interested in the chase, Seeckts took a wicket with his first ball and induced a run out in which Gazzola spectacularly and utterly demolished the castle, but nobody, not even the returning Grindrod and Cornish, could break the last stand between Allen and Chambers. Blackheath deserved the draw.

The Cryptics had fielded throughout with 10, none of the three generations of Hogbens on the ground being fit for purpose after tea. Benham had a shocker, failing to get his hands to a catch that hit him clean on the sternum, Giz showed his versatility again with tidy glovework and H-D was all chatter, his mute button seemingly broken. The bar was a cheerful place after the game, though most of the opposition seemed to have gone home to bed.

Sunday 2nd August

SCCC 195 all out (42.5 overs)
Maori Oxshott 196 for 8 (42.3 overs)
Maori Oxshott won by 2 wickets
Maori Oxshott won toss

team at maori oxshott
Team at Maori Oxshott – 2 August 2009

Peter Andrew writes:

Well, the wheels came off the jingle machine on Sunday at Steels Lane.  We looked good on paper; a core bowling attack of Goss, Nihill and Andrew already having taken 36 wickets for the season.  The batting might have been stronger, but we had two with County credentials in the immediate family, including the annual outing for the lop-sided grin and 3,200 Cryptic runs of the Great North Run Machine. Invited to make first use of a decent-looking track, the All-Australian pairing of Jurek and McDougall set off at pace, Wojtek looking especially comfortable as he picked up boundaries with almost Grindrodian ease and frequency.  To the extent that Luke had scored but 6 in a partnership of 34 when he went first.

Wojtek (43) fell at 59, Seeckts two runs later having avoided a third successive blob by a mere 4 runs. It can be a career-limiting move always volunteering for the one-drop spot, Ex – just look at Bopara.  Anyway, on we limped – Benham (9) departed at 75, Atkinson (6 – including at least two on the off-side, so we knew he was out of sorts) at 87.  But then the stiff public school upper lip shown by Radleians Dyson and Hope-Dunbar at Claygate was reprised by Cranleighans Ware and Goss, with a confident stand of 53 before Pup was run out for 27.  Next, Goss fell to Jesse Jackson for a righteous 36.  In doing so he set another club record by being the first Cryptic to succumb to a girl (on a cricket pitch, during play) – Jesse properly being Jessica, but no less competent a bowler for that.  We will face less disciplined bowling than hers this season.

By now we were 156 for 7, and not quite sure how.  Oxshott’s attack was varied, and at times naggingly accurate, but most departing batsmen were blaming themselves rather than the ball.  Dan and PAJ clubbed 30 to set a season’s record for the 8th wicket; Dan and Nick Miere then set a season’s record for the 9th wicket, albeit with 9.  Jack Nihill, clearly misplaced at 11, fell first ball as we sought to set a target while also wanting to get to tea to find out what was happening in the Test.  195, from 43 overs, was not a great contribution in the circumstances, and one that had been exceeded three years ago on the same ground by Wright and Harley alone, for the first wicket.

Oxshott’s initial reply was muted, as Dan and Jack both picked up early wickets, but a decent partnership followed as Goss mixed up pace (adding himself to the openers), the spin of McDougall and Miere, and whatever it is that PAJ bowls.  Further catches for Ware and Jurek disposed of the danger men, but it was still 5 an over needed with 20 to go, and 6 an over with ten left.  The returning Nihill picked up another couple, for his best Cryptic figures of 4-42, and we felt we were in with a chance.  But with all results possible going into the last over of the day, a couple of lusty blows took it away from us, and we perished by two wickets.

Another ten runs, either from the bat or prevented in the field, where we had perhaps too many immobile geriatrics to compensate for Luke’s massive arm in the deep, might have given us the chance to save – or win – the game.  But credit to Oxshott, who proved that what’s good on paper isn’t always good enough on grass.

Friday 31st July 2009 (Claygate cricket week)
SCCC 263 for 5 dec (52.5 overs)
Claygate 176 all out (37.5 overs)
SCCC won by 87 runs
Claygate won the toss

Peter Andrew writes:

A delightful and refreshing change from last week. A generally youthful opposition were not snippy and yappy, although – this being their cricket week – a number were definitely still hung-over after Claygate’s lock-in until 4:00am on Friday morning. Outside of games on tour, this was our first mid-week fixture for some time. We made the most of it, and were helped by the weather which stayed unexpectedly clear and bright. The raw statistics make it look easy. It wasn’t.

Team at Claygate 2009

Inserted, we began brightly as Nat Guillou took fours from the first over, delivered by Claygate veteran Nigel Abbott. At 20 after four overs, we entered a spell of seven overs where 2 runs came from the bat as we lost three wickets – Dan Espejo’s batting streak came to an end with an over-ambitious, star-gazing swipe at Abbott that resulted in a rap on middle stump (Dan now averages a mere 60), Puppy perished likewise (his average now drops below 50), and Nat fell for 15. It didn’t look great for us at this stage (23 for 3 from 11 overs). Ed Dyson, playing his appointed anchor role, and Tommy Hope-Dunbar took us safely to lunch, at which point we were 101 from 28 overs. An excellent lunch consisted of fish, chips and peas, helped down with a crisp Pinot Grigio, followed by cheese and port. Or in Tommy’s case, a load of port, and a bit of stuff in batter.

The afternoon session saw us ease to 113, before the Radley boys’ stand of 90 ended when Ed was bowled for a tidy, often elegant, 30. This stand had lasted 22 overs. The next stand was also 90 runs, but lasted only 11 overs.

There must be days when David Grindrod strides into the classroom with gown flowing, pings Bromwich minor in the back row with a chalky board rubber for talking out of turn and takes the class by the scruff of its neck. Detentions fly like confetti, the ignorant cower and shrink, hoping to avoid the withering sarcasm that attends a wrong answer like the pebble-dash that inevitably follows a bucket of Bass. So it was with his batting on Friday. He was quite, quite imperious. It must be frustration itself to bowl at him in this mood, because he is in such command of the situation that you know the only person who’s going to get him out is himself. And so it proved. A glorious run of 18 scoring shots that featured two 6s, thirteen 4s and three lonely singles ended when he tried to launch the bowler over the kiddies playground into the car park of the Hare and Hounds. He had scored 72 out of the 90-run partnership, the more remarkable in that his partner was no-slouch Tommy.

Tommy himself then took over the senior mantle as he and Jack Nihill (a classy, effortless 25*) put on a further 60 to take us to the declaration. The declaration was a little delayed as Tommy dithered in the 90s, tempting skipper Goss (supported by cheerleader-in-chief Edwards) to declare with his brother-in-law on 93. And 94. And 99. In the end, though, the big man pushed a single for his maiden century, and we declared on 263 for 5, with Tommy’s season’s average at 123.

Claygate’s response was hindered by the twin hurdles of Jack Nihill’s miserliness (7 runs conceded from 6 overs) and the itchy trigger finger of Claygate’s visiting umpire. After the second interesting lbw decision, the visiting was likely to involve his loved ones, a saline drip and a bag of grapes. Although Goss is convinced that his was plumb, as lbw’s always are for a left-arm over bowler. Claygate is a renowned batting track (as James Brooke-Webb knows), and the game was far from over. An aggressive stand between Law and Dear temporarily wrested the initiative away from us, but as each moved into their 40’s the returning Edwards cleaned up both with catches from Ware and Nihill, finishing with 3 for 35. He’s now level with Grindrod on 94 career wickets.

The kind of calling mix-up that attends a desperate run-chase left Puppy with the easiest of run outs as both batsmen convened at the bowler’s end. It remained only for the slower men to buy the remaining wickets, aided by some decent catching – we held seven this week. Jimmy was in South Molton Street, collecting 2 for 70 from eight overs, PAJ a little more Brent Cross, with 3 for 34.

A most satisfying afternoon, in excellent company that had more than half our team still helping Claygate’s bar profits at 21:30, in the dark. We have now won the last seven matches on the bounce, a Cryptic record jointly held with spells in 2007/08, and in 2004.

Claygate 2009

Sunday 26 July 2009
Crondall 67 all out, 29.2 overs
SCCC 70 for 4, 22.1 overs
SCCC won by 6 wickets
SCCC won toss

Peter Andrew writes:

A fractious day spoiled by more than the weather, as the Cryptics extended their unbeaten run against Crondall to five matches. Indeed, only the tie of 2006 stands in the way of a perfect series of victories. But the Spirit of Cricket, so evident in that game, had taken an early holiday that Sunday.

Crondall isn’t an easy ground to find, even when you’ve as short a distance to travel as Benham did, and we started with nine. Good thing Scotty wasn’t playing as well. We had reached full complement by the time deflections came into play on a pitch that was lively at both ends, despite recent rain. First Rod flicked a return drive onto the stumps, stranding the dangerous non-striker, Gooden; lousy way to go, but they all count. Shortly afterwards, Dan at second slip finger-tipped a regulation chance out of the reach of Benham beside him, to Rod’s chagrin and the entertainment of the regular slip languishing at backward square leg. Subsequent chatter in the cordon was not well received by some of the batting side. No matter, Jack Nihill was getting both pace and lift down the hill, and was unlucky to end with a single wicket after a six over spell that included three maidens.

The openers’ tight, controlled spell had kept the run rate down, and only 34 came from the first 10 overs. At 49 for 4 skipper reckoned there were cheap wickets to be had, and came on in support of your correspondent. Sure enough, as Crondall crumbled from 66 for 5 to 67 all out Gossy ended with 6-4-7-2. PAJ, supported by solid catching, took 3 for 18. We bowled fewer than 30 overs, of which 10 were maidens. Unusually, we held eight catches, the rest being run out.

Our reply was measured rather than cavalier, as Pippa’s recuperation continued and Grindrod sought compensation with the blade for a mere two balls in the Crondall innings. The opposition were a bit chatty and chirpy, which increased when our first four wickets were down for 33. This brought the year’s batting sensation Espejo in to join Cupit. The simmering tension boiled over when the contentious rejection of a run out appeal resulted in dissent that would have led to red cards in other sports. All the more disappointing given that we were, at that point, fewer than ten runs away from victory with six wickets standing. Even a fabled Cryptic middle-order collapse would surely have enabled Rod to come in at jack and smack the winning runs. So we finished, with Dan on an undefeated 27 – almost half the batting runs – on a bitter, toy-relocated note, when we should have been pleased even to get a game in, given the threats all afternoon from the weather. But jingle, anyway.

Team snapshots

Wright: err…Law 28, clause 2
Grindrod: six wickets short of Cryptic double
Benham: good decision by mother to leave before our innings
Seeckts: consistent recent scoring
Cupit: averaging over 50 against Crondall
Espejo: 299 runs for the season
Guillou: 3 smart catches and a run out
Nihill: brisk, lively, dangerous
Goss: sporting skills less required than diplomatic ones
Andrew: good with the ball, better with the book
Edwards: damaged finger scant reward for good spell

Sunday 12th July 2009
SCCC 221 (39.1 overs)
Money Programme CC 191 (36.4 overs)
SCCC won by 30 runs
Money Programme CC won the toss
40 over match

Jack Nihill writes:

Though this game was organised at the last minute through the cricket conference, we were confident of a decent contest on a decent wicket at a decent ground. Confidence soon turned to confusion when we arrived at Cockpole Green (snigger) to a bunch of ten year olds warming up and a totally unprepared wicket. Something was clearly amiss and after some scratching of heads and a few phone-calls, we were back in the cars and off to the nearby village of Littlewick, which must be famous for its cold showers or something.

The Money Programme CC captain didn’t take long in deciding to insert the Cryptics on a slightly damp, green wicket. Pippa wasn’t phased, but Dan may have been worried that his purple patch with the willow could well come to an end… least that’s what a few middle order Cryptics were thinking, or expecting, even hoping!

The pair got off to a solid start, before Pippa was caught behind for 14. Seeckts didn’t trouble the scorers, but the Melbourne lad with the funny name showed some dash, lofting shots to all parts. Dan was striking the ball unnervingly well, but his luck would surely soon run out. Actually, it was Jurek who was run out, for 37 after a direct hit from their only decent fielder. Dwight bet the guy he couldn’t do it again and lost his wager by about 4 feet a couple of overs later to the same fate. Scotty was stumped after looking quite good, Dan started picketing and Grinders creamed the first six of the day. Another fine batting display by Dan ended agonisingly close to triple figures, caught in the deep for 91. With a season’s tally of 272 from only 5 innings, we may have to start officially calling him a batsman. Grindrod, Jimmy and Goss all helped lift the total in the dying overs to a respectable 221.

Too many profiteroles at the tea break saw Nihill and Goss struggle with line and length – the MPCC batsmen having no trouble finding the boundary in the early overs. Both bowlers recovered to pick up one wicket each, Pippa snaffled a good catch off Grinders and from what we could gather, the tail soon beckoned. The next pair got stuck in though and saw the MPCC tally rise, so Goss called upon the wise head of Jimmy Greenhough and the inevitable variety of Kelvin Meek to sort things out. Jimmy got spanked around the park, but was rewarded for his patience, flighting one above the batsman’s eyes and picking up the valuable partnership breaker. MPCC’s chances now lay firmly with Maund, who had been there from the start and was getting on top.

Kelvin’s radar was working quite well until he slightly over-pitched one and caught Maund flush on the shoulder……one of his better directed full tosses. No serious damage was done by the Doctor, only some softening up as luck would have it. Jimmy got another one bowled and would have wrapped up the game earlier if catches were held (no need to mention names). Scotty always holds them though, helping Kelvin get his first, which he followed up an over later, fooling Maund with a straight one. Bowled.

The last few wickets were just a formality, Jimmy bagged another to finish the day with 3 and Dwight finished things off after a tussle with a debutant wipper-snapper in the fading light, eventually picking up the youngster and reducing his bowling average by half in the process. Cryptics win.

It was getting late, so off to the pub across the road. Dan’s shout.

Sunday 4th July 2009
SCCC 228 for 6 dec (44 overs)
Shackleford 115 (24.5 overs)
SCCC won by 113 runs
SCCC won the toss

Jack Nihill writes:

If ever the timeless cricketing proverb ‘catches win matches’ were to ring true it was on a fine and sunny day at the Shackleford Slope.

The afternoon started with a regular throng a vehicles bringing ones and twos. The most anticipated arrival being that of the birthday boy, Tom Ware. To the delight of stand-in skipper Hope-Dunbar, Pup’s arrival brought with it an ample amount of pink & black iced birthday cakes, with half of Pup’s weekly wage clearly being put towards purpose-built, designer Tupperware specifically for the occasion. The cakes were very well received, especially by the Shackleford tea-makers and also by young William Ware who may have turned into a cake if he had downed one more.

Hope-Dunbar won the toss and called for Pippa and the in-form Espejo to pad up. Both openers found the middle of the bat regularly in the opening overs, canvassing a number of full pitched deliveries to the boundary. After a great start by anyone’s standards, Espejo soon decided boundaries were not his preferred scoring method and settled into a sustained period of picket fence building. Pippa’s recovering buttock obviously wasn’t up for the quick singles, fittingly being “caught behind” off the bowling of a guy for 29. Sorry, make that A. Guy – the scorebook momentarily deceived me.

The departure of Pip brought Pup to the crease, but his batting tally only reached about half the number of standard drinks he had consumed at his own birthday party the night before and he was back in the shed with 10 under his belt.

Benham had a little more success and worked about building a middle-order partnership with the top-scoring Man of La Mancha. Benham nicked one to slip in the 29th over and was out for 30, Espejo soon followed after another very good innings on 75.

Scotty and Dwight paired up in the middle earth and shortly thereafter the score had reached the 200 mark, but both fell in the mid twenties when trying to set a decent target. Gazzola took to padding up in the dying overs, but still managed a couple of late boundaries along with one from Tommy H-D, his batting partner for the last few balls of the 44th over.

The Shackleford innings started with “Lightning” Rod Edwards taking – and losing – the new pill after being dispatched to the blackberry patch on the extra cover boundary off his 3rd ball. Jack Nihill had to settle for taking the old ball for his first over and warmed into a swing-free spell for a change. The Aussies have not yet mastered the art of reverse swing with the old ball and Nihill was clearly no exception, even coming up with a straight one to remove one of the openers LBW. Rod had a little more luck with the old ball, swinging one past the more talented of the two openers, crashing one into his pegs. Nihill’s second wicket was a questionable bump-ball, caught behind by Ware, who quickly claimed the catch and sent the young lad on his way. No further correspondence was entered into.

Pippa staked his claim on the coveted SCCC catch of the year moments later with a reflex right-handed pluck in the gully off a lightning delivery. As good as it was, the unassuming opener had to settle for the bronze gong, as classic catching soon appeared to be the order of the day.

With the old-ball wreaking havoc on the Shackleford top-order, the home team sent a crack search and rescue unit into the blackberries and emerged with the original newie. This allowed Nihill to get his swing mojo back, bowling the incomer for a blob.

With the home side now reeling at 40-5, Hope-Dunbar decided to even the game up a little and introduced himself into the bowling attack with immediate effect. Boundaries started to flow before Gazzola put an end to the crisp hitting of Brown by snatching a left-handed gem at deep mid-on. The celebration that followed was elation fuelled genius, complete with shirt over the head and arms outstretched in a formation made famous by a miracle maker of a previous generation. This carry-on was clearly designed to thwart the chances of Pippa claiming the catching award. The judges were suitably impressed. We had a new leader.

Grindrod soon took the ball at the Peper Harrow Lane end and despite bowling a consistent line and length; some lucky hitting now saw runs flow to all parts of the ground. The surrounding greenery threatened to swallow the cherry a number of times, but some good team efforts saw it located and returned on each occasion. It’s always in the last place you look! Benham, standing at second slip, appreciated the breaks in play more than the tiring bowlers, favouring the Wimbledon updates on the iPhone in his back pocket over assisting his teammates in the thicket.

With the lower order batsmen taking to his medium pacers and Dwight offering little support at the other end, Grinders was always a chance to snare a few tail-end poles. He got his first one bowled, but his best came on the next delivery – a memorable outside edge in the direction of Puppy’s right glove. Fortunately, Scotty didn’t get an invite to Pup’s birthday celebrations, so his reaction time was a little better in 1st slip. Scotty threw himself way left to hold the low catch and the nod of the judging panel for catch of the day. Though Grindrod missed out on the hat-trick, he soon wrapped up the innings – thanks to more smart catching by Nihill and Scott – and finished with his seasons best of 4/36.

No dropped catches, but Dan was dropping plenty late in the day.

Jingle Bells, Espejo smells, Cryptics all the way!

Sunday 27 June 2009
Banstead 210 for 9 dec (39.4 overs)
SCCC 211 for 5 (37 overs)
Won by 5 wickets
SCCC won toss

Peter Andrew writes:

The bare statistics make it sound comfortable. It wasn’t. The day yielded some remarkable firsts, Scotty being first to the ground not the least of them. Clearly the consequence of having a good navigatrix.

Anyway, Banstead were new opponents to us, who happily accommodated us on their second pitch, the main one being in use by some rather over-enthusiastic youths in pyjamas. This was a nice hard strip, well-proportioned, and fringed on two sides with barbed wire and cattle fences. Good to get on with your neighbours. Really helps when – as we did – you lose five balls in the first innings alone. We had an experienced side – over 900 Cryptic caps on show – and Gossy chose to insert on winning the toss.

Banstead made steady rather than spectacular progress against Grindrod and Goss, who picked up the top three for fewer than 50 before pace was swapped for guile. Jimmy and PAJ wheeled away, stymied by a healthy stand between the powerful Estall and the diminutive 13-yr old Stainer. Seeckts kept up a running banter with the young ‘un, and may be interested to know that apparently there’s a mansion going spare in California for that sort of thing. (Steady on! – real Ed) Eventually Jimmy got his man, the 15th successive match in which he’s got wickets, and also caught the boy off the returning Goss. A bit of long handle at the bottom of the order pushed Banstead over the 200 mark, as Goss strove for a debut 5-for, which he achieved three balls before the impending declaration.

A first Michelle [Pfeiffer, five for – geddit? Ed] after a mere 74 caps and 630 overs, bringing him up to a par as bowler with Richard Atkinson and Philip Wright (although these two only needed 112 overs each for the feat). Also on one Michelle are a cast of characters recognisable only to geronto-Cryptics: Kuys, Chitnis, Richard Elliott, Shaun Taylor. Oh yes, also Pow and Blamphin. Gossy also enhanced his day with a couple of catches – he now has 36, more than any non-cordon Cryptic outfielder – and a run out, whilst being most remembered for the refusal of one that fizzed past his waist like a snitch. [Keep up the literary allusions. They add tone. Ed] We were also entertained by Scotty and Gazzola in the field, ever-vigilant, ever-acrobatic, sometimes successful.

Chasing 210, our top order (Seeckts, Hogben, Ware) was designed to lull the opposition into a false sense of security (sorry, James). To call our start pedestrian would be an insult to walkers, as we moved cautiously to 9 from 7 exceptionally good overs. The large group of WAGs and Cryplets, safe from the sun under the boundary trees, were getting restless. After 10 overs, extras were still top scorer. James was caught at slip, Seeckts was dropped by his juvenile nemesis, pointing out what a great leveller cricket is, and then bowled for 21. 51 for 1 from 15, when by our estimates we’d be needing about 5 an over. Gazzola watched Puppy thumping runs, including a couple of 6’s, before perishing cheaply. Hope-Dunbar was uncharacteristically restrained and mature in his approach, having been on avuncular duty on the boundary. Ware went for 38, then the in-form Scott joined big Tommy (it had been suggested that a Cryptic side with Hogben, Hope-Dunbar and PAJ would be better off challenging them to a tug-of-war, but that’s just cruel). They plundered 50 from 8 overs, both then resorting to helmets as the powerful Solomon tested their nerve with a series of lifters at the bouncy end of the strip. Tommy was caught in the deep for 37, and it remained merely for Scotty to complete the formality of an unbeaten 59 as we moved past the winning total with three overs to spare. Sounds easy, but one more wicket would have revealed the depth of our batting.

Scotty is already 7th in the all-time run aggregates, and moving up fast behind Andrew Thompson. [Not a safe place – Ed] Another 50 runs, and he’s off in pursuit of Hogben, some 550 runs (and 64 innings) ahead of him. He averages 120, one of four Cryptics exceeding 50 so far this season.

A close game against decent opposition, a good clubhouse, a very fine tea – why wouldn’t we come back again?

Sunday 21 June 2009
SCCC 275-3 dec (36 overs)
Kingstonian 198 (43.1 overs)
Won by 77 runs
Kingstonian won the toss

Scottie’s match, simple as that. The diminutive, ginger, left-handed boy from the midlands, whose age and waist are locked in a neck and neck (surely chin and chin – Ed) gallop towards 40, had the kind of day most Sunday cricketers can only dream of. Anyone there will know that the pitch (or deck as the kiwi women confusingly call it in their funny accent) was a belter, the outfield lightning fast, Kingstonian’s bowling was extremely tame and their tail enders were woeful, but apparently the scorebook never lies.

Those lucky enough to get an opportunity were bound to fill their boots, once Jurek and Seeckts had fallen cheaply to the early demons. Scottie then joined Dan Espejo in a third wicket stand of 168 in 23 overs. Espejo was opening having expressed mild frustration that the Cryptic tail hardly gets a bat. Rarely looking like a promoted bunny, he mostly played crisp, elegant drives until exhaustion took hold. Then shot making became hard, running even harder and the second half of his innings contained only one boundary. However, his 84 was a notable personal best which would have been the highlight on any other Sunday, but few remember Maurice Leyland’s 187 at The Oval in 1938 because some Yorky scored 364.

Luke McDougall assumed the supporting role for the last seven overs, making 13 in a partnership of 78. By this time Scottie was biffing innocuous pies to all parts and records were tumbling by the over. His previous three innings had produced scores of 1, 0, and 0. Removing those commas proved tricky at first as he struggled to time anything or find the middle of the bat for almost an hour. His first 50 was the second worst 50 of the day, but having lofted a mammoth six over the bowler’s head in the 24th over, all hell broke loose.

Smashing 24 fours and one six, Scottie finally silenced Greg Andrell, whose 132* was the Cryptics’ official highest score, although he claimed to have scored a 140 before records began. True or not, it doesn’t matter now. 148* may stand as the record for a while and we now know we have a decent number 9 for the Portugal tour.

David Grindrod, skipper for the day, confidently declared early, but looked less relaxed when Kingstonian were 61 without loss after 10 overs. Openers Walsh (64) and Wise (45) are their best players, and though they briefly threatened something dramatic, only three wickets were needed to expose the skittles that followed. Special mention goes to Cadman, whose response to surviving a stone dead LBW shout was to sweep so frequently as to adopt the moniker of Janitor. Also surviving run out attempts and drops, he reached a half-century even worse than Scottie’s first. It later emerged that Cadman and Scottie were at university together.

Grindrod’s cavalier captaincy saw 10 bowlers used, almost exactly in reverse batting order. On paper, we had very little bowling. On grass even less, as illustrated by a series of full tosses and 14 wides. Ropey fielding reflected the mood of a game that really only became interesting when you-know-who finally had a bowl with nine overs remaining and six wickets intact. Grindrod (9-4-13-2) is congratulated on his first wickets of the year and Scottie’s myxomatosis cull (4.1-1-6-4) saved Mr MacGregor’s lettuces and radishes. Cotton-tail’s last words at the crease were, “That’s the first four I’ve ever hit”. Flopsy, Mopsy and Peter were less fortunate.

The following also paid to watch this one (OK, three) man show: Dr Kelvin Meek, PAJ Andrew, Peter Kurtz, Dwight Cupit and Tom Ware.

Still, it was a win on a lovely ground and a decent day, playing with and against a good bunch of people, and the tea included chocolate mini rolls. Bells jingled and some jugs of ale did the rounds. Scottie probably crossed the Thames on foot on the way home.

Sunday 14 June 2009
Follies Farm Old Spots 164 all out (38.4 overs)
SCCC 166-6 (35.2 overs)
Won by 4 wickets
SCCC won the toss
40 over match

Richard Seeckts writes:

Down on the farm, where first timers always arrive late having got lost, two well-matched teams once again sportingly tried to let the other win. That the Cryptics eventually triumphed owed much to the very private rivalry between brothers-in-law Goss and Hope-Dunbar. Watched for the first time by infant twins Douglas and Rory, Dad and uncle put on an unbroken stand of 92, rescuing the side from a perilous 74-6 in the 20th over.

Follies were again without their talisman, David Leng, harnessed this time at a pony club camp. But they have plenty of other talent and, like the Cryptics, their batting order is rarely decided on merit alone. Inexplicably, they batted like a team of Owais Shahs, pressing the self-destruct button time and again, with the notable exception of Moore, whose 64 could have been a century had any of his partners been minded to help him out.

Rod Edwards’ and Jack Nihill’s opening spells were equally testing. Edwards’ prospects for a second spell in the heat looked so bleak that he bowled his eight overs straight through for 2-20, beating the bat many times and finding the edge enough for new ‘keeper Nat Guillou to cling on to one and T H-D to wave a few past his ample frame covering first and second slip. Nihill’s prodigious late swing gave him 3-15 by the time he’d returned at the death to wrap things up.

There was little other bowling on the Cryptic team sheet. Goss held himself back but his part-timers were so fortunate, sorry, brilliant that he bowled only one uneventful over. Hope-Dunbar scores and concedes runs at the same rate, his 48* with the bat just shading 2-46 this time. Cupit, Seeckts and Scott rattled through the middle overs showing guile beyond the wit of the quicker men and reaping the rewards, the former skipper narrowly missing out on a hat trick.

The injured Philip Wright turned up to umpire the second half, witnessing an opening stand of 40 in seven overs by Guillou and Hogben, whose flurry of twos indicate a tendency to find gaps in the field but not the middle of the bat. One filthy, blistering, cross-batted smear straight back past the bowler typified Hoggers’ return to form. The revolving dressing room door then spun furiously while five wickets fell in five overs, Peter Kurtz being the only unlucky one, LBW to a Cryptic umpire (Edwards) from an alleged inside edge. Scottie also quacked back to the pavilion, last year’s century a fading memory.

Skipper Goss, treating himself to a deserved opportunity with the bat at number 4, took responsibility for the recovery and, with Dwight Cupit, constructed a neat picket fence in the scorebook until running the older man out for 10. Enter Big Uncle Tommy. 15 overs of controlled aggression and 32 extras later they walked off with 44 and 48 respectively, some craftily celtic jug avoidance and a fine win achieved.

West End Esher Ducks
Team at Follies Farm – 14 June 2009

A welcome clutch (or possibly a stitch) of Cryptic WAGs and kids showed their appreciation of the excellent Follies hospitality by filling the bin with nappies and draining the pink wine. More fun than an NCT coffee morning.

Sun 7 June 2009
West End Esher: 193 for 3 (30 overs)
SCCC: 148 all out
West End Esher won by 45 runs
SCCC won toss (I think)

Peter Andrew writes:

Records suggest this was the Pup’s debut as Cryptics captain. They may be wrong, in which case we’ll rewrite history. Anyway, on June 1st last year, Barclays shares were over 4 quid, the Australian Army pulled out of Iraq and the Cryptics lost a cricket match at Leatherhead by 5 runs, despite Scotty’s ton. More than a year on, we lost our next one, to the resurrected fixture at West End Esher. Pippa swears we used to play them, but we have no records, so that must have been in the first Grindrod era.

Anyway, don’t know what they were like then, but they’re not bad now. The weather was appalling in the morning, but the wicket had been protected by a large sheet of hi-tech polythene. Unfortunately, in clearing it, a manual mishap left a damp patch across the middle that no-one wanted to lie on. Sorry, bowl on. Since it wasn’t on a length, there was every likelihood that this would cause our bowlers a problem, so we waited a half-hour for some of it to dry. Puppy used this time wisely to upgrade the fixture from the suggested 20/20 game to a more reasonable 35 overs a side.

On winning the toss, he elected – unusually for this season – to field first, opening with Espejo and Grindrod. Dan began aggressively, the ball regularly slapping hard and firm into Dwight’s hands. Unfortunately, Dwight was at first slip, and the batsman hadn’t hit it. David’s radar was a little better, but both teachers went wicketless and were swapped out with the score on 60 after 10. The mode switched to left-hand, featuring debutant Gareth Bennett and veteran PAJ, but the runs still flowed. We weren’t helped when Pippa began to chase a ball glided through the vacant slip area, but abruptly pulled up clutching what looked like a hamstring, but which was later claimed as a gluteus maximus issue. ‘So’, said one of their umpires, ‘a pain in the arse, huh?’ We agreed. Cryptics down to 10 men, West End moved comfortably on to 96, when an acrobatic rolling, tumbling catch by Grinders on the long on boundary gave us our first wicket.

This did little to stem the tide, however, and our only subsequent successes were a couple more victims to Puppy, who continues his relentless chase of Greg’s tally of 69 keeping victims from 57 matches. The Pup now has 47 from 32. Sunday’s victims included the traditional stumping off Jimmy of a batsman who was clearly good enough to have known better. Good enough, but not old enough. By contrast our failures were too numerous to chronicle individually, and the opposition felt comfortable enough to declare after 30 overs on 193 for 3.

In the enforced absence of our regular opener, Grindrod and the skipper started our reply. We moved quite comfortably to 19 before skip fell for 14 of them in the fifth having passed his 1,000 Cryptic runs on the way. Our best partnership ensued, Dwight celebrating paternity with a pretty picket fence, dotted with the odd 4. Grinders was piling them on at the other end, finally falling for 58 (caught twice) with the score on 104, after 22 overs. Hope still glimmered.

Seven overs and six wickets later, we had moved the score on by a whole 31, losing Cupit (27), Gazzola (17), debutant Darren Pruschino (4), Meek (0) and Greenhough (0). This was followed shortly by Espejo (0), whereupon handshakes were being exchanged only to be curtailed by the sight of the limping Pippa, approaching the crease and explaining the rules of how to be a runner to Dan. Shades of Colin Cowdrey against the West Indies. But Colin Cowdrey (those Cryptics who heard him speak at the Headley centenary dinner know him for his first name, Mogadon) didn’t need 3 runs for his 5,000 at Lord’s in 1963. Which Pippa duly collected, and then departed lbw, stranding the hapless PAJ only 8 runs into what would clearly have been an heroic innings to win the game.

West End Esher Ducks

It is true that we did well to get a full game anyway, given the deluge earlier in the day. For much of our innings, a massive black cloud hovered low over the ground, as threatening as a Vogon constructor fleet. The kind of cloud that would have sent Shem, Ham and Japheth hurrying indoors, ‘hey, Dad, come and look at this! It looks like you were right about that boat thingy.’ But would it dump on us, sending the scorers scurrying for logarithm tables and looking up Duckworth and his mate on Wikipedia? Would it heck. So we proceeded to dump on ourselves, shedding 8 wickets for 44 runs. It was unfortunate that our worst performance of the season coincided with playing our best opponents to date. Never mind, we can hopefully retain the fixture against a good bunch of blokes, and the WAGs can spend more time and not a little money in the posh garden centre across the road.

Sunday 31 May 2009
SCCC 239-7 dec (42 overs)
Leatherhead & Cobham 115-8 (41 overs)
Match drawn
SCCC won the toss< “There are two sides out there. One is trying to play cricket, the other is not.” The words of Bill Woodfull in January 1933 when things weren’t going the way of Australia in Adelaide. (First quote of the Ashes summer as a reminder of who started the whinging.)

Well, there was nothing as exciting as Bodyline at Leatherhead and the crowd got rather bored. Mostly, the Cryptics played well while our hosts offered little more than the mother of all stone-wallings. We had them at 26-7 in the 13th over but only managed to take one more wicket in 28 overs. This winning the toss and batting lark is all very well, but…..

Uninterrupted sunshine and a gentle breeze provided the perfect summer’s day for cricket on a flat track, sullied only by being within earshot of (the spectators at) a charity football match. Wright and Hogben set off in unfamiliar manner, the senior man quickly into his stride while Hoggers struggled, unable to find the edge of the square, let alone the boundary he prefers. Run out for one taking byes in the tenth over; better days lie ahead.

Pippa continued to dominate a measured partnership with Seeckts until the veteran twirly men came on. Almost immediately he self-destructed as he himself had predicted when the bowling was changed. Evidence enough that batting is a mind game, but he had made a stout 60, falling tantalisingly three runs short of a career aggregate of 5000. Tommy Hope- Dunbar then joined Seeckts for a partnership of 81 from 11 overs, singles being easy to collect when the field spread after a flurry of boundaries. Former skipper reached 50 with a monstrous six but was almost immediately run out by the craven Celt’s crass call upon hitting the ball to short mid-wicket. H-D went on to 56, thereby outscoring his entire 2008 five-fold in one dig.

Craig Gladman, Luke McDougall, Tom Ware and David Grindrod all chipped in as the declaration approached, as did new boy Wojtek Jurek, the second Polish player to repesent the Cryptics and, on the evidence of a few sweetly timed strokes, manifestly the better. With a name to win any game of ‘Hangman’, the man we thought came from Warsaw opened his mouth and spoke pure Melbourne. No wonder Ashes tickets are scarce.

Post tea the Cryptics set out with gusto, partly to show that 15 overs per hour is pretty shoddy on a Sunday. Espejo and Goss were tidy from the start, Pippa took a spectacular diving catch at gully and Goss held three, one off his own bowling.

10-2 became 26-7 with the introduction of McDougall’s rarely pitching legbreaks as Leatherhead & Cobham’s middle order collapsed with bewildering haste. McDougall’s removal from the attack after taking three wickets in two overs opened the door to a recovery led by the veteran Symes, batting far too low at number 9. He offered only one chance, the simplest of stumpings, of which the Puppy made a king-size bag of Bonio with Chum on top. Generally, the Pup had a shocker behind the timbers, the bye count ensuring L&C made it past 100.

Skipper Goss tried all sorts as the overs ticked by, his own figures of 13-5-16-2 indicating how dull it became. In the end stolid resistance won the hour, but not the day. Symes and the third Claydon patted back the last 16 overs against their skipper’s orders. It was a fine achievement for L&C to escape with a draw, but Sunday cricket should be played with more of a smile.

Sunday 17 May 2009
SCCC 67-1 (11 overs)
Match abandoned as a draw
SCCC won the toss

Badshot Lea on Sunday was like an English beach on a Bank Holiday. In unbearable conditions there were still enough deluded souls to think that cricket was a good idea. It wasn’t, and after 11 overs of farce the hardiest of optimists eventually caved in. We don’t play village cricket for days like this. Leaden skies delivering rain driven horizontal by a bitterly cold wind. If you were ‘rotated’ out by the selector, count yourself lucky.

Evenso, there was time for three Cryptics to have a bat, two to umpire and two to score. The book was still catching raindrops six feet inside the pavilion, such was the wind, but it records different approaches to the conditions. The bowling was moderate, gentle, often short and sometimes wide. Nick Benham gave it what it deserved in making a spritely 34 before playing too early and toe-ending a long hop straight upwards. Gazzola, initially reluctant to get his hair wet, made a rapid 10* before everyone retreated to the pavilion, by when he had developed tremendous enthusiasm to continue. All the while Pippa prodded away at the other end showing his massive experience. A couple of fierce looking hooks found the bottom edge and trickled off for singles, after which he settled for a cheeky not out, the 20th in his last 217 innings. He’s approaching 5000 career runs, but the way he got these 14 suggested it has taken more than 217 tries to get there. Perhaps sharing a car with the perpetually tail-wagging centurion Puppy is taking its toll.

A good old fashioned tea was enjoyed by all while the telly showed the opening ceremony of the closing of the Centre Court roof at Wimbledon. Another great piece of English sports stadia engineering, the cost of which is a secret closely guarded by a right handed Englishman in the top 5 of the career averages. Let’s ask him at about midnight at the next club dinner.

Sunday 10 May 2009
SCCC 200 for 9 dec (41 overs)
Stoke d’Abernon 111 for 9 (44 overs)
Match drawn
Stoke d’Abernon won the toss

Peter Andrew writes:

The previous week at Cobham, the match was effectively over at half-time, before Avorians had begun their crawl to half our total at the end of their allocation of overs. In this Sunday’s declaration game, a couple of miles down the road at Stoke d’Abernon, our opposition had similarly scored little more than half our total when their last pair came together with seven overs left. But the drama was played out through to the last ball as the pair stalwartly and successfully defended their wicket against the combined power of Goss, Grindrod and Nihill. Oh yeah, and Scotty. So much for the excitement of limited overs cricket.

We batted first, for the fifth match in succession. This does not go down well with those whose favourite part of the game is the bit in between the innings, since it requires too much running around on a full stomach. Does this trend to field after tea reflect the relative fitness levels of our two most recent captains, or is Gossy just a poor tosser? [Incompetent tosser jokes are too easy. Try harder. Ed] We scampered to 11 before Scotty adjudged Pippa had glided one down the leg side into the keeper’s gloves. James Hogben picked up his 12th Cryptic duck soon afterwards (he’s now second only behind the Ex), but Benham and Grindrod steadied the ship. Both, however, fell in the 20s, Benham failing to reprise his ton here last year. A stand of 85 in 15 overs was remarkable for Scotty being the junior partner, picking up 32 to Jack Nihill’s aggressive, six-laden 46. Tom Ware was off the mark with a 5, as he set off for another big score to follow last week’s ton. You can only win Cryptic of the Year once, Pup. Easy, boy. He fell for 24, the tail fell away except for Dan Espejo’s best score (22*) since his debut at Putney two years ago. We declared at 200 for 9, to protect the skipper’s batting average.

Stoke’s reply was measured.16 from seven, 27 from 14, as Goss and Edwards strangled the top order, Rod picking up a couple of wickets while deserving more, and Dan pouching a couple of catches. Or four, if you count the juggling involved. The introduction of PAJ accelerated the scoring and gave Goss and Grindrod catching practice. There was never a serious danger of our losing, having taken the wickets of Stoke’s better batsmen cheaply. Espejo, Nihill and Scotty also increased their wicket tally, as Stoke inched past the 100 mark with half the last 20 gone. Our catching was also well above average Cryptic standard. And so to the tension of trying to pick up the last wicket; it’s never easy to take all ten on Stoke’s track, and we didn’t. But we did have fun all the way to 7.45, and that’s important as well.

Sunday 3 May 2009
SCCC 305-3 dec. (35 of 40 overs)
Avorians 156 (41 of 45 overs)
Won by 149 runs
SCCC won the toss

Tom Ware’s Match

Rod Edwards writes:

The new season ignited in bright sunshine with 12 Cryptics at the ground by 1:40 – surely not – but then Scottie doesn’t start playing till later in the season! PAJA had turned up not to support the Cryptics, but to watch the Cardiff v. Leicester game – a true opportunist Cryptic. There were three debutants, all Aussies, bringing the antipodean contingent to six. With a team full of bowlers, Gossy won the toss without a coin being seen and elected to bat. The game was to be a 40 over game – pyjama cricket as Ex loves to say.

Avorians had the pitch on the nearest side of the square and with an attack of several colt players, some 13 year olds, Gossy hoped for some runs. Usual openers, Hogben and Wright started comfortably. Hoggers almost hit the first 6 of the season with a leading edge push to the short boundary. Wright, dropped twice in one over pushed and prodded reasonably well, testing Hoggers’ fitness with a few well placed 3s.

Having pushed the score along to 72 in the 14th over, Wright fell for 27, surprisingly to a catch. Hoggers followed soon after for 34, bowled by a youthful full toss. This brought the first of the Aussie recruits, Gladman to the wicket. An ex-baseball playing Melbournite, he tested the Avorian fielding with many line drives and fly balls, but no bunts. Six fly balls were dropped by the Avorians who, in the kindest terms, were generous in the field. Gladman bludgeoned a highly entertaining 87 including five 6s. With 2008 Man of the Year, Ware, playing remarkably sensibly they compiled a rapid stand of 136 in 14 overs. Gladman was eventually caught just short of the long on boundary.

On a day when a rugby game is decided on penalties, all things are possible. Ware followed up last year’s first 50 for the Cryppos with his maiden ton. I did say the Avorians were generous, with a further 3 chances being put down. During Ware and Cairns’ (2nd Aussie debutant) fourth wicket stand of 92 in 6 overs, Gossy was pacing the boundary asking if you can declare in a 40 over game. Well you can now, so after Ware’s push for 4 to bring up his hundred, Gossy called them in with the Cryptics at a remarkable 305 for 3 declared after 35 overs. Ware finishing on 103 not out and Cairns undefeated on 29. To carry on the generous spirit Gossy donated the remaining 5 overs to the Avorians chase.

Edwards and the 3rd debutant, Nihill, opened the bowling. They bowled steadily while finding the short boundary was very close. The first wicket fell at 32, being Nihill’s debut wicket, caught by fellow Aussie Gladman. Meek, replacing fellow Kiwi Edwards, showed that generosity was the order of the day, interspersing fine balls with several fine wides. All six bowlers used took wickets and with Avorians 77-6 the game looked done. Then the young Avorians showed what good coaching (in batting, not catching) can do, propelling them to 156 all out in the 41st over. Meek’s 3 -42 and Nihill’s 2 for 22, being the best figures for the Cryptics. Ware provided a direct hit run-out as the fielding highlight and taking a leg side catch to finish the Avorian innings.

So a comfortable 149 run victory to start the season, with a new record team score – Jingle Bells again.

Editor’s footnote:
Puppy - Tom WareThe Puppy’s maiden hundred came in his 86th game. In an hour and a half he managed to achieve what he had never done in any of his first 11 seasons as a Cryptic, namely to score 100 runs. Now nearer 40 than 30 years old, he is maturing into an Old Dog like so many of our number. Nobody expects him to emulate Jack Hobbs, who scored a hundred hundreds after the age of 40, but this was a glorious moment in a career notable for loyalty, determination and a willingness to contribute in any way possible.

As a puppy in the 1990s, Tom thought, and we hoped, he could bowl leg-breaks. Alas, he couldn’t. Disatrous flirtations with quicker bowling and a patchy batting record (career average 14.78) were partly compensated for by his excellent fielding and enthusiasm – hence the nickname. Turning to keeping wicket has been his making as a Cryptic, and as a sharp-eyed umpire he has occasionally come to the club’s aid, sometimes even without stirring up the opposition.

His name now adorns the elite list alongside Dodemaide, Andrell, Atkinson, Wright, Scott, MacDonald, none of whom he could hold a candle to as a cricketer, but one of the beauties of a team game in which individual performance is so measurable is that when a dog has its day, the scores can not be forgotten.

Some may scoff that the Avorian fielding was lamentable (Pippa quoting Hazel Blears, honest) and there was a short boundary, but most hundreds involve a bit of luck with the umpires or the fielders and many batting records from village green to Test Match have been achieved in very favourable circumstances.

So celebrate the Pup’s moment of glory, due reward for a dozen years of commitment to the Cryptics and a moment that may not come round again in a hurry.

Puppy in Antigua - 2009
Puppy celebrates his century