Sunday 3 September 2023

Woking & Horsell 169-8 (40 overs)
SCCC 170-7 (36.5 overs)
SCCC won by 3 wickets
40 over match
SCCC won the toss by negotiation

Team at Woking & Horsell 2023

Richard Seeckts writes:

A hot and sunny day ensured the traditional season’s curtain call was full of fun with some distinguished spectators, delightful opponents, wonderful tea and aprèz-match hospitality. 19 men batted, 13 bowled and nine took a catch. There were drops too but they served to make the contest closer than it might have been.

As at Blackheath, some Cryptics were reminded of their vintage by the callow appearance of some opponents’ parents. Alan Hansen’s infamous 1995 assertion that “You can’t win anything with kids” has been soundly rubbished by the Cryptics this year so, to demonstrate our diversity, (kid) skipper Ed Grinders chose his Dad and New South Wales over 60’s allrounder Ross Greenwood (122 birthdays between them) to open to bowling. OK, the early overs went for a few but Mr Dubey often ignites the start of the Woking innings, only for things to settle down once he’s out.

Ross, fresh off the plane from Melbourne and whose most recent game in England was in 2002, tore in from the Brewery Road end bristling like fellow Victorian Merv Hughes who is, remarkably, three years Ross’s junior. Finding the edge in his third over, he remembered the frustration all Cryptic bowlers suffer as the ball thudded into Seeckts’ midriff and down without touching a hand either on the way in or out.

Grinders, meanwhile, reprised his first-over-at-Woking habit of seeing the ball despatched into a neighbouring factory car park, though this time it came back, eventually. Sure enough, Dubey sent Grinders sky high before long and the ball fell into Ed’s safe hands while nearby fielders retreated.

Stu, in his first outing since June, bowled tidily as another drop at slip testifies but got his reward when a full toss hit the stumps which lit up and flashed in celebration themselves. It remains unknown whether all Cryptic bowlers are quick enough to extract a ‘’zing’ from such stumps and bails. Ed cannily rotated the bowlers, himself, Sam Gibb and Scottie offering a variety of challenges. All the bowlers took a wicket or two, Gibbo’s first being the undoubted Champagne moment as he dived full length forward in his follow through to grasp the ball inches from the turf in his outstretched left hand. Most of us got over the shock in the gleeful huddle that followed, Gibbo’s stunned silence seemed to last an age but the grin said everything.

The zing bails lit up for Scottie once, his second wicket was down to a running backwards and diving catch at mid-on by Ross, putting any number of younger Cryptic fielders to shame. Ed’s two spells amounted to 5-3-7-1 simply reinforcing that he is as tight with the ball as a Kiwi at the bar. Pup vocally kept everyone alert from behind the stumps while keeping the bye count around average (don’t ask, others fare no better and they all have Cryptic bowling to contend with). Tea was taken cheerfully, knowing that a target of 170 was just six more than we strolled to in 2022’s ambush on the same ground.

Cynics and liars say county cricket is watched by two men and a dog, precisely what we could count as fans by tea. Mark McLoughlin of course, a brown labrador and its master, one Dave Peacock, aka ‘General’ of the Barmy Army whose unalloyed delight at finding a couple of Aussies in our ranks further raised the enjoyment for the rest of the day. If that was a surprise, the other was that PAJA arrived after, not before tea.

Statto was thrilled to note that scoring was simultaneously being done in proper scorebooks and on an I-Pad with a direct feed to play-cricket and in case anything wasn’t covered by those, Woking now have a frog box, a live streaming camera on a pole that takes no prisoners. News of this spread worldwide during tea and by late Sunday night 127 people had been watching. (For the record, the scorebook has thrown up queries but I doubt PAJA will scour seven hours of YouTube to resolve them.)

Gossy is statistically the best Cryptic bowler of all time to have played more than 35 games. 234 wickets @19 and he’s bowled more maidens than anyone else. Surplus to bowling requirements on this occasion, however, his batting record (11th on the all time run scorers list with a higher average than six of those above him) easily qualifies him to open the batting with Jimmy Grinders.

Jim, having patrolled the outfield with immense energy before tea, was unfortunate to nick off second ball – it’s hardly in the spirit of Sunday cricket to have a slip who can catch – making way for Pippa to almost open. Then Gossy nicked to the ‘keeper and Scottie was in as the middle order of Seeckts, Greenwood and Ware put down their pints to get padded up. That wasn’t in the plan.

Scottie knuckled down, Pippa nudged a respectable 13 before a Jonny Ayling straight one nipped back and took his leg stump. Seeckts kept the Ayling straight ones out and nicked a rare wider one (that pesky slip again) for 0 before Ross (18) shared a partnership of 65 with Scottie to have us 107-5 when he ran himself out by nine yards, not expecting to find a Pom capable of a direct hit from mid-off. Remember Gary Pratt? Pup breezed a sprightly eight before holing out to allow skipper Ed to share the final 50 required off 15 overs with Scottie.

“Scottie won’t finish it” chimed 25 Cryptic phones with a message from Vietnam viewer Toby who has seen all manner of Cryptic horrors in his short life. And he wasn’t wrong, the little fella perishing just 17 short of what would have been a fine century to join his already bulging collection (7), and 28 short of the target. It fell to Daddy Grinders to join his first-born lad and finish the game in style with three overs to spare.

Jingle Bells!

A brief post match huddle and chat concluded with Ross being presented with the match ball for travelling 12,000 miles to play, scoring runs, taking a wicket and a catch. Who better to make the presentation than English cricket’s founding Barmy fan, General Dave who has a well rehearsed volley of chat for erudite Australians (oxymoron? – Ed) so it took a while.

A wonderfully enjoyable season finished on a high with 8 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses and 2 abandoned due to rain. Come to the dinner on 10 November to celebrate 50 (mostly) glorious years of the Surrey Cryptics.

Ross in bowling head gear Woking 2023

Aussie head gear

Gibbo catch Woking 2023

Gibbo dives for his brilliant catch

Scottie at Woking 2023

Sun sets on Scottie’s job half done

Ross and Puppy at Woking 2023

Ross tries to interview the Chancellor