Sunday 23rd June 2019
West End Esher
40 over match, lost by 5 wickets
SCCC won the toss and elected to bat
SCCC 217 for 7 off 40 overs
West End Esher 218 for 5 off 39.4 overs

Hugh Greenway writes:

There is an art to the skippering of a Sunday cricket game, even the vulgar 40 over variety. Masterpieces are defined by their contrasts: light and shade, comedy and tragedy, age and youth, craft and calamity. On an overcast and slightly muggy day in Esher, ex ex ex Richard Seeckts set about preparing his palette. His opening batsmen, his own best beloved heir Toby and friend Freddie Guy from school, had a combined age that was little more than a quarter of his strike bowling partnership Edwards and Andrew (124 years if anyone is interested). Freddie fell for a duck, confirming his status as ideal Cryptic material and bringing Scottie to the wicket. Toby, fresh from finishing his A levels, bustled to a quick 10 before Scottie began to tackle his perennial problem of finding a Cryptic batting partner who would stay around long enough to score more than extras.

I could compare Scottie’s innings to a faultless, creation of grace and elegance but in the end it bore more in common with a 2.30am doner kebab, ugly vicious slices of unrecognisable tawdriness with the added benefit of guaranteed runs. He was dropped twice in the midwicket region playing off his his hips, once in the slips and once more at deep cover point. But his eventual 93 had more calorific value the the rest of the Cryptics combined. Ingo was dropped in the slips by an infant, so considerately offered him a slower and easier repeat chance that was also dropped on his way to a personal best for the Cryptics of 31.  Seeckts fell for 20, Grindrod 11 and Henniker-Smith buckled his swashes at the end for a quick 14 not out. Overall only Scottie and Ingo scored more than extras (26) in a respectable total of 217 for 7.

Towards the end of the Cryptic innings, Toby Seeckts alarmed those seated around the scorer when he stood up suddenly and declaimed, “Right. I’m going to put on some shorts and go and relieve Rod!”. His actual intentions remain a mystery to this day.

After a modest tea on a delightful balcony overlooking the pitch, the Cryptics set about defending their total with the aforementioned fearsome strike partnership of Edwards and Andrew. Over tea Richard Seeckts had discussed with some of the team the fact that Light’ning Edwards was 32 runs short of conceding his 5,000th run for the club. Much of the ensuing innings turned around Seeckts engineering this milestone, then completely forgetting about it before returning to his theme at the death. Rod was taken off for bowling too well (4-0-8-0) to reach the magic 5,000 and kept for the death overs. 

However, it was Andrew charging in off his longer run who claimed the first scalp of West End opener Miller for 5 in the fourth over. West End then set about rebuilding with a 90 run partnership for the second wicket much of which went through Stu Henniker-Smith’s legs or fingers. As Stu admitted later, “You know it’s a bad day when Rod is heckling your fielding!”. But he was not alone in a properly Cryptic day in the field of denials and excuses.

Skipper Seeckts masterfully repositioned his fielders and rotated his bowlers to ensure that none of the latter went for less than five an over and some went for more than six. But always there was Henniker-Smith on the boundary to rely upon when the scoring slowed. And Grinders. The always dependable master of the ox bow lake bowled seven typically parsimonious overs before meandering disastrously off course in his eighth, the 37th of the innings, which included three wides, three long-hops and went for 15. 

Edwards reached his milestone, conceding a single off the first ball of the final over and looking utterly bemused by the warm appreciation from teammates. In the end West End achieved their target with two balls to spare. Edwards took two wickets, Andrew one and debutant Guy took the other after learning that you can’t rely on Cryptic fielders to catch the chances you create.

Not quite jingle bells but a lovely day in the country.