Played 12 Won 4 Drawn/Tied/Abandoned 3 Lost 5

Sunday 3rd September 2017
Woking & Horsell CC 167 all out (34.2 overs)
SCCC 169–9 (35.2 overs)
Won by one wicket
40 over match
SCCC won the toss

Richard Seeckts writes:

Now the traditional finale to the Cryptic season, the Woking game is always over-subscribed for players, generally played in rain and full of noteworthy events. Best of all, it is played in perfect Sunday spirit by two teams who don’t take themselves too seriously and strive, primarily, to slip into winter with a smile.

Writing this rather late, much of the detail has faded. Sane men breakfasted at leisure, convinced by the weather that there would be no game. Woking’s skipper, Martin Peters (no, not that Martin Peters), insisted on playing in constant drizzle, for which he was rewarded with being given LBW to Stu for 0.

Skipper Bridges took the new ball in partnership with Chris Muldoon, the former skittling Dad McPherson, a non-cricketer, early on, then taking some tap from Woking’s H Peters and R Malik whose stand of 70 in 12 overs was as good as it got for them. Muldoon was parsimonious, Goss a little less so but he castled Malik, and Henniker-Smith the usual curate’s egg. Rod’s two overs were smeared to previously unexplored corners of the ground and it took Scottie’s pies to persuade H Peters to send one into orbit which politely came down into the grateful and reliable buckets of Tommy, at the time grazing near the pavilion.

The belated introduction of Grinders saw Woking’s innings almost grind to a halt from 131-3 at 21 overs. Skipper sensed his opportunity to return with full ferreting kit in the 29th over. He bowled A Malik with a good’un in the 31st over, then infant bowlers Carter and McPherson jnr with the following two balls which, with respect to the young batsmen, needed only to be straight. It was unarguably a hat-trick, but cricket record books the world over are littered with such incongruous truths.

Regardless, it gave us a sporting target in the conditions, just about perfect for a tight finish as it turned out. Grinders and Tommy became the seventh opening pair of the summer, and the most hasty. When the well breakfasted Keith replaced Grinders, things galloped along to 71-1 off 12, perhaps reflecting a desire to get out of the rain. Keith’s fine season ended with a brisk 48, Tommy’s with 37. Scottie, Seeckts and Rod went cheaply, Hugh’s 28 was priceless not only to the pursuit of victory but to his own season, taking his aggregate from 11 innings into triple figures and his average into double figures. He was eighth out after tour umpire Scottie had seen fit to trigger Gossy for a golden duck. No need, but more found it funny than not. Stu’s 11 was a season’s best but not enough, so it fell to the last pair, Chris Muldoon and the skipper, to score nine runs in 5.5 overs.

Bridge took a two and a four off McPherson jnr, Chris played out a maiden from the other McPherson jnr, Bridge then held his nerve to slap the winning boundary as if it had never been in doubt. His leading us over the line with the bat dignified his day and left the McPherson family to go home wondering if they’d just encountered Sir Beefy’s previously unknown progeny.

Sunday 20 August 2017
SCCC 229 for 5 (or 8) (35 Overs)
Rowledge Casuals137 for 9 (or 10) (34.5 overs)
Won by 92 runs
Rowledge won the toss, 35 over match

Peter Andrew writes:

Our third new opponents of the year, and probably the gentlest. The home skipper’s advance publicity advertised the Rowledge Sunday side’s ethos thus: ‘We normally play 35 overs each (or 30 sometimes depending on Sat night). Batsmen retire (aspirationally) on 35, and can come back in at the end – this gives everyone a bat. We also normally limit overs to 5 or 6 overs each and bowl everyone that wants to bowl.’ It must have been a tame Saturday evening, as Rowledge were happy to play 35 overs, despite the imminent poor weather. And, having won the toss they were sufficiently clear-headed to insert us, and let us field in the rain later.

They opened with an attack of a combined age significantly less than any of the Cryptic team (save for Seeckts minor). Keith and James Hogben (making his season’s debut after the false start at Blackheath) led us off, Keith demonstrating his fluency and James, perhaps a little rustiness. We were 19 off the first six overs, but Keith then cut loose with a run of five boundaries to be the first retiree with our score on 62. James was still building a nice picket fence when Seb came in, blasted a rapid 35 with his now customary three sixes, and retired again. 105 without – technically – any loss. Enter Cryptic legend and Ex-Ex-Ex-Ex-Ex skipper, Richard Atkinson, at which point Hoggers departed for a painstaking 20. Scottie joined Richard, limiting the latter’s scoring opportunities with faultless ball counting. Also run-counting, but, having manoeuvred himself to 34 and looking to retire on 40, he played all around a straight one. Next over Richard advanced down the track, but not far enough to satisfy Keith whose trigger finger would have outdrawn Wyatt Earp. Toby Seeckts took his mind off imminent GCSE results by flaying a brisk 35 (retired), batting with and marginally overshadowing Seeckts (senior), to the audible delight of a range of his spectating family. A few more biffs, and we were finished for 229, with three retirees. And everyone batted ‘cept PAJ.

Mindful of Rowledge having used eight bowlers, Bridges took democracy to extremes unknown in Cryptic history and asked ‘who doesn’t want to bowl?’ With no volunteers, he set about managing the challenge, beginning with an opening attack (Edwards, Andrew) whose age was more than four times that of our opponents. Four overs in, the second oldest piece of Cryptic cricket occurred as our first wicket was recorded c Atkinson (R) b Andrew (P). (Aggregate age 121 yrs 8 months, oldest remains c Mousinho (G) b Andrew (P) at Banstead 2015, aggregate age 122 yrs 11 months.)

The remaining 31 overs featured a procession of bowlers and landmarks. Out of consideration for the youth of some of the opposition, Seb used his short run, although with no obvious reduction in pace. Keith’s annual spell was as productive as all his previous ones. James Hogben, in his 150th match, took his first wicket in the UK. There was a smart run out (Scott/Roberts). David Grindrod had a quiet game, conceding 10 from four to set against his innings of 11 not out, for Micawber-ish happiness. The second oldest piece of Cryptic cricket was surpassed by a couple of hours, when Witney was c Andrew (P), b Atkinson (R). This was Richard’s first wicket in the UK since James Brooke-Webb caught an Old Salesians batsman in 1994. To expand on the reminiscence, this latter was a match where Richard himself led a total of nine Cryptics on an improbable run chase in pursuit of Salesians’ 226. We fell slightly short, all available Cryptics being out for 37, Brooke-Webb top-scoring with nine.

Back at Rowledge, the rain was falling not quite heavily enough to send us for cover, but more than enough to turn the ball into a bar of soap. This didn’t prevent the usual range of Cryptic fielding, with Keith just failing with a superb catch, before showing how it should be done by shelling a dolly. Skipper Bridges provided a counter-argument by holding a screamer off Hogben at square leg, and then pouching a more regulation effort off Toby. Just to make his day complete, he brought himself on for the last few overs and picked up a couple of late wickets. By this time Seb was behind the stumps, and we had used 11 bowlers. It was like Menorca, but without the weather. (Yep, it rained so hard in Menorca that Jenny was abandoned in her box – Ed)

Regular readers will be wondering at the lack of a tea report. In order to get as much cricket in before the rain set in, tea was delayed until after the match, where an entirely satisfactory, Waitrose-sourced repast was rapidly disposed of before we popped across the road to the pub.

A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon playing against a thoroughly decent bunch of blokes.

Sunday 6 August 2017
Blackheath CC 0-0 (0 overs)
SCCC 0-0 (0 overs)
Match prevented from starting

Richard Seeckts writes:

Eleven Cryptics, two supporters and two dogs arrived at the beautiful, breezy, sun-drenched Blackheath CC looking forward to the usual good game, warm hospitality and first class tea. This has been a popular game for all the right reasons since 2008, after the first attempt in 2007 was rained off.

Gossy was busy moving house on Sunday morning, not looking at his emails and, like everyone else, not for a moment considering that the game could possibly be under threat as a result of Saturday’s rain. It was inconceivable. So he hadn’t read the email sent at 11am with the bad news.

As we arrived at 1.30pm, Blackheath’s unfortunate skipper / fall guy / man sent over the top to deal with 11 astonished Cryptics made profuse and sincere apologies for the decision of Blackheath’s groundsman to prevent the game from happening. To his credit, he called to ask if we could play a shortened game with a later start, but reported back that the groundsman was ‘Adam Ant’. Or something like that. There would be no game, despite there having been a colts game on the outfield in the morning and the ground drying at an impressive rate. Several Cryptics observed that “we played on a wetter one last week”.

To cover his embarrassment, skipper welcomed us into the glorious pavilion for a round of drinks ‘on the house’ and the Test match on the telly, so some merriment was made of a most unfortunate farce. Was it something to do with Blackheath’s ensuing cricket week, games that might be considered superior to a Cryptic Sunday? With no creases painted for the game, when might the decision actually have been made? Did Blackheath expect Gossy to read his emails, prevent us all from travelling and thereby not see the (very good) state of their pitch at 2pm?

We will probably never know. But as some of us made to leave, the tea lady arrived with a cheery smile and a car full of food. Who could blame her? It was 21 degrees out there, and cricket was being played on cricket grounds all over the county. Almost.

Still, as captain Bridges observed from his Portuguese hideaway later, “At least we didn’t lose”.

Not fit for play. Blackheath 6 August 2017

Sunday 30 July 2017
Kingstonian CC 186 for 7 (40 Overs)
SCCC 144 for 9 (40 overs)
Lost by 42 runs
Kingstonian won the toss, 40 over match

Dwight Cupit writes:

It was the best of games, it was the worst of games, such was our Sunday of discontent. Or so it seemed as the Cryptics ventured inside the M25, dodging cyclists who had taken over Surrey roads for the day. Kingstonian is a fine venue from another age when insurance companies owned cricket grounds and one which holds much Cryptic history. It was scene of this correspondent’s first Cryptic match and where Papa Tony Cupit took a wicket with his first ball in England, caught Cupit junior. Divine intervention perhaps? It was also the venue where a young James McDonald asked a lady cricketer for a date on the staircase of the wonderful Art Deco pavilion. History does not record her answer or if she batted for the other team that day.

With skipper away, ex ex ex skipper Seeckts stepped up again and successfully negotiated the toss like he had never left. As is the Cryptic want, we bowled first. With a hat trick of Milners borrowed from Holybourne CC, a variety of headwear took the field; the traditional pink and black woollen, modern touring pink and an Australian ODI caps all featured. The Cryptics fielding three teenagers also reflected the changing times and we were thankful for the youngsters patrolling the busy square boundaries!

A week of summer rain meant a slow and soft pitch and the openers Goss and Elliot Milner were lively, with little success until Goss pulled a groin in his 3rd over and was retired to 1st slip in the absence of a good physio. The soft pitch showed the pitch marks and a very variable length. Rob Milner (snr) took over and snared the first wicket, hitting the top of off stump, or actually landing on it, while Dylan Milner bowled well at the other end with great control and little luck.

Captain Seeckts was searching for wickets and tossed the ball to the clubs leading strike bowler (Cupit, really) who produced a spell of four overs, 1 for 4, including his 4th and 5th maidens for the club (in 100+ games), back to back. Sadly, the scorebook also shows the second 4 overs of the spell being 0 for 26 as normal service was resumed. At the other end the injured Goss finally realised he is now a fully fledged Cryptic and bowled pies off two paces. This suggests his transition to be Jimmy’s heir apparent, once he learns the words to The Lion and Albert. It was however tidy stuff, snaffling 3 for 28 of his 8 overs.

Pup Ware returned from a two year absence to his traditional role behind the stumps which was both neat and excitable. The juniors were not familiar with the pup’s bark, leading to a few unnecessary overthrows in all the tail wagging excitement.

Elliot and Rob Milner returned for the death overs and the Milner family managed to drop, or refuse, a usual level of Cryptic dropped catches off each other’s bowling. Rob at least took one off his own for 2-42. We were all pleased not to be sharing that car ride home while Keith was anointed the new PAJA in the field with a magnificent boot stops! A final score of 184 seemed a tall order.

A modest tea before Pippa (18 all in ones and two) and Keith (19) began the chase as if it was a 5-day game. At 3 an over for the first ten, scoring was difficult until both were triggered, to varying degrees of controversy, for not getting their pads out of the way. Hugh produced a brisk 11 before Seeckts snr prodded and poked 5. With the second 10 overs also going at 3 an over a tall chase was now required. Seeckts jnr toped scored with 34, showing poise, determination and speed that clearly comes from his mother’s side of the family. Ware (6), Cupit (6) and Goss (4) all came and went trying to accelerate the scoring and hope was snuffed out when Toby Seeckts, the only bat to score over 20, was cruelly run out by Milner snr, with shades of Bambi on ice as the younger man was sent back from two thirds the way down the pitch. The Milner trio then saw out the final overs as we fell some 40 runs short, Rob scoring 17*. It would have been a nice draw in declaration cricket but eight boundaries for the entire Cryptic innings reflected the difficult batting conditions, slow outfield and our shortcomings against tight opposition bowling who used all 10 bowling options.

All in all, it was an enjoyable game, a delightful venue, played in the right spirit against good hosts.

Sunday 16th July 2017
Lord Gnome’s XI 186-6 (46 overs)
Surrey Cryptics 122 all out (40 overs)
Cryptics lost by 64 runs
Declaration match played at Holybourne CC

Hugh Greenway writes:

The Second match of the Surrey Cryptics’ Southern Hemisphere Tour (in Holybourne) was played against Lord Gnome’s XI. Given the opponent’s connections with Private Eye and probable experience of the libel courts this report will err on the generous side for them but continue the tradition of traducing the reputations of all those who wear the Pink and Black.

Cryptics won the toss and elected to field on a balmy summer’s day that was not going to afford much movement in the air; perhaps betting on the Holybourne pitch to live up to its reputation for being as reliable and true as Boris Johnson in a Shanghai whorehouse. But for eight overs the Gnomes avoided the strip’s gremlins until Gossy skittled Dunthorne for 8 and shortly afterward Thorpe for a duck to bring Brown to the wicket with the score at 26-3.

The Gnome’s third wicket partnership of 118 was punctuated by most Cryptic fielders failing to catch either batsmen. Toby Seeckts grounded a regulation edge behind the stumps, Greenway didn’t fall over fast enough to a sharpish one in the covers. [didn’t Milner jr., Paja and Keith also drop one..? I forget] (Very likely, we’ll leave it in – Ed)

Best of all, Richard Seeckts continued his series of abdications by demurring to the 14-year-old Milner. Seeckts’s usual scapegoat being somewhere up the Amazon delta at the time and to have had invited Grinderrrrrs to catch it would only have been marginally more ludicrous than the excuse he later produced at tea.

Carter, The Opening Gnome (an alternative name briefly considered by 1980’s indie rock band) made 54 before Pippa took the only catch of the innings off Goss. Brown went on to make 104 before playing round a straight one from Goss who bowled five of his six victims as he knew he couldn’t rely on his fielders (11 overs, 3 maidens, 6-25). The rest of the bowling was unremarkable and the Gnomes declared on 190-6 after 46 overs (or 186 following scorebook review).

After a delightful tea provided by Mrs Milner (the game being a family affair), Cryptics took up their cudgels and began a reply of sorts. Pippa and Seeckts nudged, nurdled and ambled their way to 41 without loss showing the way that the rest of the Cryptics would completely ignore before Seeckts missed a straight one in the fifteenth over. <

Keith added two before being caught at slip (something that doesn’t happen very often when Cryptics field) Greenway spanked one nice four over the bowler’s head before lobbing the next ball straight back to him. Toby Seeckts made a 25 run partnership with Rob Milner, scoring twice as many as his father where Milner matched the combined score of his two sons. Muldoon and Milner offered brief resistance before Peter Andrew was brought to the wicket in the 39th over with the score at 122-9 and six overs to see out for the draw…

Nuf said.

Paja’s first ball

Paja’s second ball

Paja’s last ball

Sunday 2 July 2017
SCCC 184 for 5 dec (43.5 overs)
Holybourne 108 for 7 (42 overs)
Match Drawn
Toss by negotiation, declaration game

Peter Andrew writes:

It was on our Menorca tour last year that the legendary Henry Blofeld came to watch Keith bat. And at Holybourne on Sunday there was much beyond the boundary that would have entertained the dear old thing, despite Keith’s all-too-brief brief cameo. There were rude mechanicals from some noisy farmy thing in the back field. There was a pair of wing-walking biplanes. Hot air balloons drifted over the pitch. Most spectacularly, there was an entire squadron of red kites, wheeling lazily and majestically above the outfield, a bigger danger to little bunnies than even Glenn Close.

There’s little that flies that would take on a Cryptic bunny, of course, though some of Holybourne’s young’uns threw the odd anxious skyward glance. The game featured three Milners, two Wrights, two Rhodes, two Seeckts. More Seeckts and a bevy of Cupits filled the galleries. You’d have thought it was an audition for The Generation Game. A negotiated toss saw Seeckts stepping out restored as Philip’s partner, and they pushed on against an opening attack that had a combined age of less than some of my furniture.

We were cruising nicely on 32 after eight overs when Philip got a complete Jaffa from one of the Rhodes, and returned for 19. Keith picked up a dozen before being caught behind off once and future Cryptic, opposition skipper Rob Milner. Hugh, presumably expecting a one-sided game, had followed Iron Maiden’s advice, but young Ms Greenway was rather more interested in Dwight’s dog than Daddy’s three-ball, scorer-untroubling performance with the willow.

A 79-run partnership between Seeckts and Cupit followed. It could have been more, but the outfield at Holybourne is deep. Nor is it especially quick. Not unlike the batsmen. Thus Richard had a spell of 23 runs between boundaries; Dwight was on 21 before his first. But there was no way Richard was going to underperform on his ‘home’ ground, and he duly brought up his ninth Cryptic 50, his first since Leatherhead in 2009. Indeed he was only nine short of a Cryptic PB when stumped for 65. Dwight continued with skipper Bridges and then with Rod, reaching his own (seventh Cryptic) half-century. Undefeated on 54, this represented more runs than he’s scored in the last four seasons put together. Just before declaration, Rod smeared a mighty maximum, finishing with 20 and a pulled calf. We ended on 184 for 5.

Tea, as regular readers know, is important to this column. The good bits: it was excellent, varied and copious. To the extent that after the game it also served for many as dinner. The bad bit: replete with it, we had to go out and field.

We bowled pretty much in descending order of speed, although Bridges hadn’t seen much of Ben Wright, making his Cryptic debut some 22 years after his kid brother Jonny did likewise, and smeared the Canbashers all around Cranleigh for a rapid 35, with 34 in boundaries. Otherwise he’d probably have opened. Holybourne featured some eight Colts, suggesting that it would all go horribly right or horribly wrong, horribly quickly. Chris Muldoon made the first breakthrough in the seventh over, with the score on 17. 14 overs and 37 runs later, PAJ ended the stubborn Pinnock’s resistance.

Any lingering thoughts of a Holybourne recovery melted in the next couple of overs. Stu and Hugh got fairly short shrift in the previous match report – not so today. Stu bowled a remarkable spell of 6-4-4-2, ripping out the middle order at the start of the final 20 overs. Hugh was showing himself a like-for-like replacement for gloveman Gav, taking a couple of smart catches and eschewing a stumping. His second catch was splendid, taken standing up to Cupit off a bottom edge from Holybourne #3 and top scorer, Toby Seeckts. Has one family ever previously provided the top scorer for each side in a Cryptic match, I hear you ask? Err, no. Almost certainly not.

71 for five became 94 for seven, as Seeckts and Ben Wright weighed in. But the tail, despite some admittedly tame sledging, and a significant and unlucky spell from Bridges, held firm and batted out for a worthy draw.

A lower-key game, perhaps, than last week at Stoke, but none the less enjoyable for that. And certainly more bucolic. We look forward to returning in a week, as hosts to Lord Gnome’s XI.

Sunday 25 June 2017
Stoke d’Abernon 234 for 6 dec (39 overs)
SCCC 235 for 9 (41.5 overs)
Won by one wicket
SCCC won the toss, declaration game

Peter Andrew writes:

Another game to prove that Sundays don’t need limited overs cricket to keep interest to (nearly) the last ball. Invited to make first use of an interesting patchwork track, Stoke tucked into the opening attack of Bridges and Goss with some relish. 10 overs brought up the 50, and it took the introduction of Grindrod to tempt the first wicket via a slice to Keith at backward point. This apparent victory only served to introduce the wristy, nimble Mulchandani, who has clearly played against better teams than us, and will do so again. Even so, our respect was perhaps a little exaggerated, extending to dropping him maybe six times. Certainly three in a single Hope-Dunbar over. It took until the 27th over and the score at 150 for the persevering Grindrod to winkle out the remaining opener via a mis-scoop to Seeckts at short fine leg.

All bowlers relish the challenge of coming on fourth change with the opposition on 176 for 2, and your correspondent is no exception, craftily using the breeze to start with a wicket maiden. Catches by Windeatt and Grindrod followed, resulting in a respectable 3 for 18. Meanwhile Goss finally did for Mulchandani, another Windeatt catch depriving him of a century by a single run. Stoke drew a veil over our overall fielding performance by declaring on 234. We caught five, and must have dropped twice that many, even though not all were easy, notably a couple of brutal pulls from the near-centurion which would have decapitated Grinders had he wandered a bit more.

When the Cryptics started playing, cricket teas were on a par with British Rail catering, curling sandwiches featuring fish paste, and jam. Sometimes together. No longer, and certainly not at Stoke, which is up there with the best.

For the first time this season Philip was given the same opening partner two games running, he and Keith responding with a stand of 80 in 16 overs, before Philip was triggered by Gossy for 32. Tommy joined Keith, and they pushed on with a season’s best second wicket stand of 83, propelled largely by Tommy’s wish to overtake Scottie’s club 6-hitting record before the diminutive banker shrugs off his latest injury and returns to the crease. At 163, Keith departed for a splendid 72, bowled by opposition skipper Ralph Coleman, playing his 600thgame for Stoke and a far, far better bowler than 5th change suggests. Sunday captaincy, eh?

Veterans readers will be aware of the potential fragility of the Cryptics middle order, and on this occasion we outdid ourselves. Tommy fell for a late-adjusted 53, having blagged the umpire into reversing a 4-bye decision. Coleman then ripped out three more, including Windeatt triggered by an itchy Wright, Chris being so close to the bowler’s end when struck him that the decision was easy to see. But he still has a Cryptic batting average of 95. In six overs, 179 for two became 186 for eight, and is the only way Greenway (3) and Henniker-Smith (3 fewer) are getting a mention in this report. Goss and Bridges steadied the ship, putting on 45 and threatening the club 9th wicket record until the skipper was bowled for 18.

Four runs needed, one wicket to fall, three overs left. You can keep your T20. There was a breathless hush at the Rec, all right. This description of the finale is taken from Stoke’s match report, penned by skipper Coleman.

“Ben Townsend bowled a great part over to limit Goss, (26 not out), to three dots and a single to line himself up against No.11 Andrew. He bowled the perfect nut but an edge didn’t carry, bounced through slip and ran into the fence to complete the win.”

Aside from the surprise that such an experienced cricketer should fail to recognise a deliciously feathered late cut, placed to perfection into the gap in the cordon, this summarises the perfect Cryptic outcome. But, as always, it takes two Sunday captains to create a great game, and all were grateful for that. [You’re trying to avoid the cliché that ‘Cricket is the winner’, aren’t you? Ed]

Mid-season stat update:

  • Gossy and Grinders are tied in the race to 200 wickets, both on 196. But with his performance to date this season, don’t bet against Rod (190)
  • Tommy has indeed inched past Scottie in the 6-hit stakes, with 56 to 52 in one innings more. But both should beware Seb, who has 9 from just three innings
  • Dwight has the best bowling strike rate among current players. Yes, really.

Sunday 18 June 2017
Wood Street 94 all out (32.3 overs)
SCCC 96 for 3 (17 overs)
Won by seven wickets
Wood Street won the toss, 40 over match

Richard Seeckts writes:

A shellacking of the good folk of Scottie’s village, but not the injured Scottie, who toddled along just in time for the last rites and a beer, confirming his tardy arrivals are not just for when he’s playing.

On a scorching, two drink intervals day, Skipper Bridges rotated his bowlers dizzy, 11 individual spells from seven men making up the 32.3 overs required to dismiss a team who found an assortment of ways to get back to the pavilion’s shade. Perhaps unfortunate to meet the Cryptics on a day when more catches were held (five) than dropped (three), four of their top six played hideous shots to straight balls and missed them. The other was given LBW to our skipper, though it later emerged that he’d edged the ball onto pad.

Still, the bowlers were due a day of flattering figures after some early season hammerings and Bridges, Grindrod and Muldoon tidied up their stats nicely. Tom Hufton’s annual appearance reminded us that no regular Cryptic is nippy these days with 6-1-10-1, while Rod blossomed with 6.3-1-11-4, missing out on a 5-fer for the 151st consecutive time, a record he extends almost weekly.

The entertainment in the field was provided by the skipper, whose huddle chat focussed on improved fielding, catching and concentration in the heat. He parked himself in the only shade at long leg after his opening over (pre-planted water bottle at the ready) and went through the full gamut of fielding booboos during the next couple of hours. While he coped well with the left / right hand batting combination, the left / left hand combination that followed was almost too much. Still, thinking for ten other heat-wearied souls is harder than it looks while weighing up whether to keep the pressure on at 48-8 or give them a few to make a game of it.

There was a recovery of sorts, but the leadership reflected consensus that getting the first win of the season mattered more on this occasion, a task completed after tea without alarm.

Pippa and Keith, the fifth opening pairing in six games this year, blazed their way to 31 in the sixth over before Pip slapped one too many short and wide balls squarish and found the catcher. Young Toby fell to a fine c&b for a cultured duck while Keith strode on. Hugh arrived with tremendous intent to lose the ball in the woods, making merry with a flurry of singles and fours – his only currency – though one such single travelled all but a few inches to the longest boundary, with no-one giving chase while they both admired the shot from mid-pitch. On another day, it might have mattered.

Keith was approaching 50 when Windy replaced Hugh with 12 more needed. Bookmakers gathered around the the pavilion, offering shortening odds on a(nother) run out, either man hogging the strike to deny the other a 50 / getting off the mark, and other unreportable possibilities. A bit of tension at last…..

For all the speculation, Keith got his 54* and his jug, Windy his cheeky not out, and the rest were saved for next week.

Jingle Bells.

[For the records, this was Seeckts Snr’s 300th Cryptic match. WM]

keith at wood street with a jug of beer
What to buy when you get 50 – Wood Street

Sunday 11 June 2017
SCCC 254-9 dec (42.2 overs)
Chipstead CWCC 241 for 6 (47 overs)
Match drawn
Chipstead Coulsdon Walcountians won the toss
Declaration game

Richard Seeckts writes:

Five meetings between the sides are yet to produce a win for either team, but there have been some nail-biting finishes to the declaration games we always enjoy on this charming ground. Aggregate scores since 2013 are Chipstead 1100 for 26 wickets, Cryptics 920 for 42 wickets. If we played them under pyjama rules, they’d have walloped us four times, but not this year.

This was a day when the Cryptics fashioned a good score like it had been planned. The batting order worked well, heavily influenced as it was by traffic problems delaying several arrivals. Grinders Snr and Seeckts Snr had to open, minutes after the latter had stepped from the car. Minutes later, he could have got back in the car after biffing a long-hop to gully.

Enter Tommy H-D, who often looks less interested than he really is. With wife and parents-in-law looking on, he knuckled down to construct an innings of real class, not least because marriage also gave him a brother-in-law rumoured to be far better at cricket. Grinders and Hugh each went for eight before Pippa arrived at No5, and made rather a good fist of it. Well, he scored 30 in 15 overs without hitting a boundary, but with Tommy slapping 70-odd at the other end and Gossy scrambling a few, we were well placed at 154-5 after 30 overs.

Seb 67 at chipstead lifetime best scoreSituation perfect for the farrier’s technique of Seb ‘loony’ Roberts, despite both hands being bandaged after a Saturday night altercation with a plate. Tommy blazed on to a magnificent 90 (4 sixes, 9 fours) while Seb flayed a lifetime best 67 including 5 sixes and 6 fours, the declaration coming with his dismissal. Meantime Windy had looked a well cast No8 with a brisk 25, before hitting his wicket facing a wide. Is that out? Opinion, needless to say, was divided. Hugh’s raised finger was all that mattered and some posthumous Googling confirmed his decision correct.

This was skipper Bridges’ first ever declaration, made with 100 coming from the last 12.2 overs and well judged in the face of merciless ‘advice’ from his predecessor but one, though it might have been undone by our own admirable over-rate after tea.

Chipstead have batting talent aplenty. For all we know, the tail is rubbish but we haven’t seen it since Ashton Agar and Simon Kerrigan were Test cricketers. Steady was the start – 64-2 after 18 with Roberts having blasted out both openers after miserly opening spells from both Bridges and Goss. Relieved at the absence of Dombrandt B, who has a particular penchant for Cryptic bowling, we had to deal with the incoming Dombrandt A, whose past cameos indicated he could be as unforgiving as his elder brother. Luckily, he edged his first ball, an absolute rocket from Roberts. Unluckily, it found the left hand of your correspondent at slip and, to the surprise of no-one, fell to earth.

Tommy’s glorious day continued with two blinding one-handed catches in the covers, one with the left and one the right. 68-3 after 19 became 218-4 with 3 overs remaining for, while Dombrandt rubbed a Dead Sea’s worth of salt into his first ball let-off with 10 fours and 6 sixes, his partner was more circumspect and they never quite caught up with the required run rate.

Temptation was offered, five overs of grenades from Seeckts with the sun dipping behind his arm wasn’t savaged like it might have been, Stu got off lightly and Rod was disciplined enough to keep them just out of reach. It was, however, the 25 overs for 94 sent down by the real bowlers, Bridges, Goss and Grindrod that stifled the chase from the start.

Rod started the last over of the match with Dombrandt on strike, just past 100 and desperate to score the 24 required. The third ball was walloped skyward towards the extra cover boundary, where Ma Dombrandt was chatting with the fielder, yours truly. It wasn’t going for six and the catch, taken on the run and low down was a mighty relief to take.

The fielder’s claim that it had all been a ruse to make a good game was immediately crushed by that characteristic Pippa mumble, “Yes, but it’s not how to win a game”.

Whatever, it was mainly Tommy’s day and another poke in the eye for limited overs cricket.

Sunday 21 May 2017
SCCC 176-5 (40 overs)
FFOSCC 177-1 (26.3 overs)
Lost by 9 wickets 40 over match,
FFOSCC won the toss

Paul Bridges writes:

After 3 days of heavy rain on an uncovered pitch, it wasn’t the toss to lose but sadly that is what transpired. So after heavy weather it was heavy going. We were 6 (3 extras) for 2 after 7 overs. With Pippa (hungover and then caught) and Keith in a much talked about run out having left the middle for a duck each. The skipper boasted up the order due to the late arrival of some of the team then tried to accelerate the run rate with 39 including three 6’s while Windeatt went slowly about building a 50 (it was noticed that no jug was bought). Time was running short and Greenway accumulated 30 before both he and Windeatt were caught. With just a handful of overs left – Grindrod (16 not out) and Hope-Dunbar (9 not out) then swooshed and smacked as many (mostly singles) as possible leaving us with below par total of 176 for 5.

thumped at folliesThe pitch now drying out nicely, tight bowling and good fielding would be required for the victory. It is fair to say that neither occurred, 4 dropped catches and some erratic bowling from Henniker-Smith, Grindrod, Seeckts and Bridges all going for at least 5 an over. Cupit, full of gusto, got the only wicket but was also expensive at 6 an over. The pick of the bowlers was Chris Muldoon who was the unlucky recipient of a couple of dropped chances kept it tight, however, heads dropped and not even the change of keeper (from Hope-Dunbar to Greenway) at the drinks break changed our fortunes. The oppo reached the target for the loss of just one wicket with 13.3 overs to spare – a proper hiding!

The dissection of the game continued for some days over Whatapp and email – roll on the next game and the hunt for the first victory of the season continues.

Sunday 14 May 2017
Sutton 260 for 4 dec (39 overs)
SCCC 246 for 7 (48 overs)
Match drawn
Toss negotiated several days in advance

Richard Seeckts writes:

A hastily arranged Conference fixture against the mighty Sutton CC replaced the scheduled trip to Crondall, where a dog show on the ground took precedence. Thus we were denied the fabulous deep fried tatties at The Plume of Feathers.

Sutton offered a warm welcome, excellent pitch (if a little large for Cryptic batsmen and a little small for Cryptic bowlers), a fine tea and, crucially, a declaration game. The scores above suggest it was an even contest. Stats, eh?

Sutton’s Saturday 1st XI skipper, Edwards, wanted a bat and, despite a colossal Saturday night of revelry, made his intensions clear by hammering 14 off Gossy’s opening over of the match. As captain for the day, professional physio, fittest Cryptic and best bowler, Gossy immediately announced a damaged hamstring and stood at slip for the next hour, sniggering away while Grinders, Rod and Chris Muldoon were carted into numerous adjacent postcodes. An hour was all it took for Edwards to retire with a ton to his name. Was he dropped by Hugh on about 30? Think bears and woods.

No3 Alabaster went to a more sedate unbeaten 100, which dictated the time of a declaration that left both sides a sporting chance of victory. Meantime Gossy’s hamstring had miraculously recovered enough for him to bowl again as a ‘spinner’ and pick up a wicket, courtesy of a PAJA catch within 40 yards of the bat. Grinders ended with 2-79 from his 10 overs, PAJA was the most economical at a mere 5.2 per over having hidden during the early assault. Ratna, a blossoming Surrey 2nd XI batsman, didn’t even get in. Phew.

The Wright / Seeckts opening partnership was repeated, off to a flier with a run each from the first two balls, before Pippa was emphatically LBW to a swinging left-armer. It was like being back at Salesians in the 1990s. Keith joined for a partnership of 40 before playing all round a straight one. Windy initially was more doldrum but eventually went through the gears to make the chase far more respectable than it might have been.

He finished on 96*, partners that perished in the chase were Seeckts (43), Greenway (19, thereby avoiding a third consecutive duck), Tommy (5), Grinders (14) and Goss (30). The latter’s hamstring injury was completely forgotten now as he ran panther-like between the wickets and took us close to a most improbable win.

Declaration cricket was the winner. Had it been a limited overs match, Sutton would have been emphatic winners and the day not much fun for anybody. We’ve been invited back, though faint-hearted bowlers may find a prior engagement next time.

sutton May 2017

Sunday 7 May 2017
SCCC 172 all out, 38.1 0vers
Reigate 177-8, 43.1 overs
Reigate won by 2 wickets (and the toss, obviously)

Peter Andrew writes:

So, if you had the choice, where would you put a cricket pitch? If you said ‘Out of the back of the pub’, you’d be right. Presumably Reigate Pilgrims’ name reflects where they set sail from, not where they ended up, but this neat ground in Betchworth is worth the exploration. A declaration game (in name at least), and the signal failure of the skipper to negotiate the toss resulting in the rare sight of Cryptics getting first use. Wright and Edwards kicked off proceedings, with the equally rare consequence of Wright returning first, having scored all the runs to that point. All five of them. Rod followed shortly afterwards, without adding to his total. Keith was holding up an end while Hugh came and went, consistently matching his previous week’s score. 14-3.

Taylor and Seb Roberts, making his UK Cryptics debut, moved us forward with a partnership of 49, Seb picking up the lion’s share with a couple of big maximums in his 32, staying true to his ‘see the ball, hit the ball’ mantra. Keith followed a few runs later, and when the skipper was caught behind for not many, we were 76 for 6. On a dry day with a fast, sloping outfield we were at risk of coming up short of setting a decent target. But then Grindrod and Goss came together and put on a brisk 59, with Gossy putting one all along the ground over the pavilion (don’t ask), and David sportingly recalled by the Reigate skipper having been triggered despite the woody noise audible beyond the boundary. Both went by 150, and some nurdling at the end saw us through to 172. Unusually, there were merely two extras.

Reigate’s reply was somewhat brisker than ours, Seb picking up the first wicket with the total on 39. Skipper was rotating his bowling to the extent that it was Rod, bowling fourth change, who picked up batsmen #3 and #4, to leave the opposition on 110-4. At this point, it all looked decidedly ominous, and the pub beckoned. But then Rod got his third, Grinders another one. Seb grabbed two more, taking no chances with Cryptic fielding by clean bowling these, just like his first. Suddenly we had them at 122 for 8, and the siren call of the pub was fading. But after a slow and occasionally streaky start, Reigate’s #10 grew in confidence to such an extent that, finishing with a big six off the previously frugal Goss, he top-scored with 49, his not out partner languishing in the rear view mirror on just 7.

Despite the defeat, a good day of Sunday cricket against people with similar attitudes, and who have the good sense to site their ground next to the pub car park.

Sunday 30th April 2017
Avorians 216 for 3 (40 overs)
SCCC 193 for 8 (40 overs)
Lost by 23 runs
Toss negotiated

Hugh Greenway writes:

New beginnings are always a beautiful, hopeful thing. The slate wiped clean. Much cleaner than some of the kit that emerged crackling and crusty from Cryptic kit bags. But the optimism never lasts long and against a backdrop of bluebell woods the Surrey Cryptics began their annual assault on cricket.

The Cryptics peaked too soon and arrived early due to the annual failing of their southern hemisphere fixture secretary to understand what time it gets dark at the end of April. The toss was negotiated [which sounds like something that happens in a public school] due to the late arrival of some younger Avorians and the Cryptics took to the field.

After 15 overs the Avorians were 50 for 1 with the opener Frise having scored 45 of these and Rod having bowled the number two playing across the line. Avorians profited from a panoply of pathetic fielding errors, indeed this afternoon the Cryptics covered the whole Thesaurus entry for “dropped catch”:

‘Miss’ – Toby Seeckts (keeping in Gav’s absence) conceded only two byes all day but missed a couple of easy chances to take Avorians’ centurion.

‘Shelled’ – Rodders demonstrating the antipodean thumbs crossed, fingers to the sky method managed to drop the ball on his own nose.

‘Disdained’ – PAJA meanwhile merely lifted his own nose to sniff disdainfully at one that fizzed past him at mid on.

But credit must go to Richard Seeckts who, when faced with a swirling skier of regulation height, invented the entirely new category of, “abdicated’. This consists of wobbling a bit, followed by a bit of shuffling then squeaking, “Grindersssss!” [in the tone a firing squad victim might call for his mummy] before watching the ball fall on his right foot. [Lovely prose but scurrilous piffle. Grinders’ catch all along – Ed]

The pick of the bowlers was Grinders with 1 for 31, followed by Bridges with 1 for 38. But the fact that the Avorians retired almost as often as they were skittled was all to do with the failings in the field. The only fielder worth his salt was Hennicker-Smith who took a spectacular one-handed catch diving to his right to complement his 0-30.

Cryptics were faced with 216 to make and Pippa and Seeckts set about building a solid platform. Much in the same way that plate tectonics built the Himalayas… and at about the same speed. They made 30 off the first 10 overs and 53 off the following 10 with the partnership eventually broken on 128 in 28th over by Seeckts’ jug-avoiding hoik across the line on 49.

Taylor, Greenway and Grinders who had been chuntering into their beers on the boundary then proceeded to prove just how a middle order can move things on by scoring 7 between them. Taylor providing a simple return catch to the bowler, Greenway carving across the line for a third ball duck and Grinders caught for two. Skipper Bridges managed to get the scoreboard moving and, when Pippa finally fell for 73 in the 32nd over, put together a useful partnership with Muldoon.

But the middle order failings could not be recovered and the innings fizzled out despite an almost perfect Cryptic cameo innings from Hennicker-Smith; first ball look, second and third balls belted for four, fourth ball bowled carving across the line.

All in all a delightful beginning to the season.