TGCC 211 for 5
EWCC 136 a/o
TGCC won by 75 runs
Irony of ironies – for the first time since Pontius was a Pilate we have a glut of players ready to throw themselves into a friendly fixture – 13 in total – and we end up taking to the field with 10. Quite remarkable. The appearance of George Wilcock, our erstwhile 11th man, would actually have made this 10-a-side affair even more one-sided so for all concerned he was best off shopping for gnomes and bags of bark chippings or whatever foul family enterprise one gets up to on a Bank Holiday Monday.
Russell declared he wanted ‘time in the middle’ and thus set forth to plunder runs from an opposition made up of captain Tom Burgess (30-something) and his team who he could mathematically have sired himself. Lewis Bilbrough did likewise (batted, not sired) and they both looked very good for their 61 and 37 respectively. Comfortably the most lively pitch we play on but coming on to the bat very nicely, it was difficult to ascertain what is a good score but the inevitable progression towards 200 one suspected was enough. Williams (7) kept a remarkably cool head, not swishing until he couldn’t help himself. When Burgess finally threw off the wicket keeper gloves and bowled himself it was likely that the tempo would change, but a spate of toe-crushing Yorkers aside the runs still came at a healthy clip – Wheeler in particularly fine fettle for his 47 not out and Young a quick 17 – ensured, despite a few wickets at the death, a competitive 211 for 5.
Exhall tea is unique for its individual servings laid out ‘old school’. A nice respite before going out in the field to bowl at quite what no-one was sure.
As a huge bank holiday away crowd gathered with all sorts of waifs and strays from the stews of Alcester, streaming over the hill like some avenging mob, young Ben Ashfield charged down the hill, Howard Benjamin – who had spent the last three hours necking Longhorn – choosing the uphill route. Ashfield’s first over claimed an opener as he (accidentally) persisted with the short ball and McAdam juggled successfully down at long leg. Benjamin (4-1-13) does what Benjamin always does from the other end and the entire Exhall innings, and therefore the match result, very quickly boiled down to Burgess stays in, we lose, get Burgess out at any time at all before 212 is reached, we win. And so for the best part of an hour he heaved 79 runs with some extraordinary sixes crashing into the neighbourhood. Someone should have messaged Wilcock to pick up a few roof tiles while he was in the home improvement and DIY section. Very good spells from Alex Summers (6-1-25) and McAdam (when not bowling at Burgess), and quite remarkable fielding from Summers Senior (brilliant) and Williams (less so) but by now there was a game of ‘give him a single’ cat-and-mouse cricket playing out at which Grafton were always going to be out-manoeuvred. If Burgess stayed in, we lose – simple. So, the ball is tossed to Russell and the rest is history. The Inquisitorial Spanish devised some pretty ghastly modes of torture but nothing compared to being bowled at by Mark Russell when you’re flaying everything to the boundary and know full well that you will, oh you will, have to charge down the wicket and smash this insult towards the A46. And charge he did, three huge air-shots, before being bowled fourth ball. Russell’s reward was to bag a few cheap kids and, an Ashfield/Bilbrough run out aside, game over – 80-odd short.