Sunday 22 August 2021

SCCC 149-9 (35 overs) 
Chipstead 120 all out (33.5 overs)
35 over match
SCCC won by 29 runs
SCCC won the toss

Chipstead is considered one of our better opponents, yet in eight visits to their lovely ground we have never been beaten. This can be attributed to playing declaration games in the early years and routinely conceding massive totals and then clinging on for a draw while they tried everything, especially lobbing moon balls at tail enders blinded by the setting sun, one of the luxuries of having an east-west orientated pitch.

These days it’s limited overs games and now we have won three, each due to a minor miracle. Last year it was Hugh’s first Cryptic century, this time it will be remembered for Rod’s first five-for in his 172nd game, three weeks before his 61st birthday and two years after he retired from cricket. Being a tight Kiwi, he marked his first opportunity to buy a bowling jug by scarpering quickly after the game without troubling the barman.

Drawn matches of yore were invariably dominated by Chipstead’s Dombrandt family, father and two sons who belted the ball miles and took most of the wickets between them. With none playing – young Alex is pre-occupied with rugby now – our family trio, the Grindrods, made this their game and won it for us with little help from the rest.

Jimmy Grinders and Toby had put on a measured 51 off 12 for the first wicket when Jimmy was struck on the head by a bouncing ball being returned from the outfield and ‘retired hurt’, seemingly on the advice of the fielders. He passed the mandatory HIA test, “Who is the best cricketer in your family?” and kept his pads on. There followed a procession of senior Cryptics that accentuated our quest for youth. Keith was plumb LBW first ball but given the benefit of the doubt, only to be sent on his way for testing the umpire again two balls later. Toby fell for 27 after a brief comedy partnership with Hugh whose reluctance to run reached new heights when he biffed one to long off and admired it pull up on the lush outfield before his youthful partner begged him to run a couple. 69-1 became 79-7 between the 18th and 25th overs, Hugh 13, Pippa 5, Scottie 2, Ruffell 1 and Seeckts 0. Dreadful batting, big trouble. Murtaza had taken 5-25 simply by bowling straight.

Jimmy returned to the crease and was joined by brother Ed in a lively stand of 68 that saved the day and made batting look much easier. Ed got himself stumped for 30 including a mighty six into the pond that made us think of Cupit (bowling). That just allowed time for Daddy Grinders to run himself out and Rod to swing and miss, to no-one’s surprise, at the final two deliveries. Jimmy was not out for a glorious 52 of two halves at the end and celebrated later with his first Cryptic jug.

BYO tea was taken with everyone on the ground expecting Chipstead to win, after all our bowling attack consisted of Grinders (in form), Ed (coming back from a broken toe), Scottie (last seen watching his stock balls being heaved over the Blackheath pavilion), Rod (old, injury prone and not having played for two years) and sundry other occasionals.

Scottie was handed the captaincy by a world-weary skipper (this would have happened before the toss but Scottie hadn’t arrived). A plan was made to strangle the chase with tight bowling and tigerish fielding in hope they would get far enough behind the required rate (4.25 per over) before the joke bowlers came on to rattle through the tail. 

Daddy Grinders was parsimony personified as usual from the west end, Rod initially respectable from the east. Chipstead’s openers were unflustered on 11 off 5, waiting for the bad ball. Right on cue, Rod sent down a delivery in his own image, short, wide and of no great pace. Bristow clouted it with gusto towards the cover boundary, only to find the safe hands of Ed in the ring, few other Cryptics would have held on. Farington started to play shots and Rod was tiring but managed to sneak one past No3 in his next over before being ‘rested’ and replaced by Ed.  

Farington clipped DG firmly to EG for another good grab at midwicket and Chipstead were 34-3 off 10. DG’s seven overs cost 13 runs, EG’s cost 20 and Scottie started with a couple of maidens – Phwoar! 53-3 off 20 and the required rate now 6.5, the plan was working. Time for some 5th bowler overs….. Toby hit the stumps and Scottie was again called upon to watch one of his pies sail towards the long off boundary when who should appear but Ed for his hat-trick of catches with the most spectacular of the lot.

Barring surprises, the game was in the bag. Rod came back for his final three overs with only allrounder Murtaza standing between him and a couple of teenagers. No problem for a man of such experience, aided by a catch from Pippa at gully, and a deadly straight one in his sixth over, bringing him to four wickets with eight down. 

Then came the surprise; a random voice bellowing from inside the pavilion that we must all leave the field because of lightning. No umpire, batsmen or Cryptic had seen any lightning or heard any thunder but someone set back inside the building had and seemed to have higher authority than the umpires to end the game. Off we went. Drizzle and discussions and, for the greater good, a resumption.

Jimmy G added intrigue by taking the ninth wicket in the 33rd over but (with a nod to Lord Ted) the stars were aligned for Rod. Naturally, he pulled a calf  – not as good as a lamb eh, Rodders – before taking the wicket that caused wild celebrations, not only because it was Rod’s first Michelle since records began but we had romped to a win against all odds and expectation. Only those present will remember that the final victim was bowled off his pads which were two foot outside leg stump at the time.

The three Grindrods were men of the match but for Rod to finally have his moment, 32 years after his last five-for which predates club records, was a Cryptic achievement for the ages. Speaking of ages, a mainstream bowler who doesn’t take a five-for in his 30s, 40s or 50s, while there are six changes of Prime Minister is an accomplished jug dodger. 

Jingle Bells.