FAS RAMBLERS 192 for 8 dec.
TGCC 149(ish) for 8

Match drawn.


Every year the FAS Ramblers game comes around at a disconcerting velocity. July? Already? How the hell did that happen?

This feeling of panic, for me, fuelled this year by the impending arrival of a baby due in a matter of weeks and Milky dumping the team selection onto my shoulders less than 6 days before the match. This so he could go on a hipster holiday to Hay-on-Wye. Imagine big tents with sofas, craft beer, organic meat barbeques and ice-creams in shabby chic second hand bookshop cum cafés. I was going to use the word tosser in the next sentence but I was actually quite jealous.

Alas, selecting the team proved a relatively simple process as there turned out to be a quite staggering amount of local wastrels willing to take to the field in the name of Grafton on a Monday afternoon – a mix of Grafton regulars and local cricket club mercenaries making up a more than competitive XI.

At the toss, Hal Dare, the third generation of Dare to captain the FAS at the GCG, called incorrectly but in a moment of weakness skipper Tom Benjamin invited the visitors to bat on a smashingly warm afternoon in an old-school time game.

After 33 runs in the first three overs this decision was looking utterly perplexing as the very real prospect of chasing 500+ off the visitors’ inevitable 47 or so overs was beginning to dawn.

I’m sure Exhall’s Tom Richardson and Dan McAddam – opening the bowling for Grafton – were regretting their respective decisions to play after those early overs but then it all started to go rather well for Grafton. Both opening bowlers, impervious to the early onslaught, bowled beautifully and pegged the visitors back to a more than reasonable looking 40 odd for 4.

From past experience we know that the visitors bat deep though so Grafton continued to apply the pressure with horse faced spinner Matt Harvey introduced to the attack. And the wickets continued to tumble as he picked up three wickets in an excellent spell of 3 for 11 off 5.

His wickets included that of the dangerous Holder in the first of the “did it/didn’t bowl him” incidents of the day. Keeper and bowler convinced, others not so. Out. Harvey was removed from the attack (as he was TOO effective – probably for the only time in his life) and as Roberts entered the fray alongside H.Benjamin the game entered a very soporific phase.

Nothing really happened, at all, for about 90 minutes until Roberts got a bit snarly in the second of the “did it/didn’t bowl him” incidents of the day. Keeper and bowler convinced, others not so. Not out. Soon after, Jos Dare bought up his half century with a rancid mow to leg (his only one in a very pleasant knock) – much to the chagrin of Roberts – and all of a sudden it was time for tea.

FAS finishing on 192 for 8 off 43 overs . Dare 56 not out and Barris (40) the main contributors for the visitors.

Tea was a Dave Jarrett ensemble and it was a fine spread containing a variety of meats, cheeses, crackers and dips followed up by a medly of Tunnocks delights. During tea Grafton managed to inherit a stray child. He sat slap bang in the middle of the tea table and proceeded to plough his way through about a dozen chocolate bars. We presumed he was with the opposition but nobody really knew. In fact, we didn’t see him before or after tea. Maybe he just lives in the borage and popped out for a chocolate fix. Who knows.

To the reply and, by virtue of having to depart by 6pm, Mark Onens opened the batting with the Chairman and both batsmen got Grafton off to a flying start. At 67 for none and with well over 20 overs in hand to get the remaining 125 required for victory it was inevitable what was going to happen next.

No not Grafton cruising to victory but an enormous collapse. 67 for 0 became 115 for 8 in the blink of an eye as Holder and Wyatt sliced through the Grafton batting line-up. Holder picked up 5, Wyatt 3 as the crushing inevitability of another defeat to our old foes FAS seemed to be on the cards.

But the draw is a tantalising get out of jail free card in this old fashioned form of the game so skipper Tom Benjamin ordered Sam Roberts to shut up shop when he joined him at the crease.  And with that cricket hating instruction both batsmen set about destroying the game as a contest –successfully defending the final 9 overs of the match. Match drawn.

With Roberts going against every attacking instinct and everyone else looking rather glum that their early pub visit was going down the drain I can quite confidently say that there was only one person enjoying himself at the GCG during this period. Me.

Another pleasant afternoon of cricket was followed at the Cross by beer, cider and chat about days of yore. It’s always an enjoyable fixture and must be one of the longest continuous fixtures in Grafton’s history having now been played for well over 30 years. Roll on next year.

Finally, many thanks to everyone for making the effort to play; especially to our local cricketing mercenaries Steve Franklin (Bearley), Graham Ciderman (Warwick County Council Staff), Tom Richardson and Dan McAdam (both Exhall).

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