Badgers Cricket Club – Season 2008 Match Reports


This page holds the match reports for all games played during the 2008 season. The links below provide a direct route to the report for each game plus access to the reports for seasons from 2000 to the present. It is also possible to link to them from the associated rolling results page entries and I hope to extend that facility to include all of the historical results pages, once I’ve figured out the best method of doing so.

Unless otherwise noted both summary and full match reports were written by your host and webmaster, Steve Pitts, as were all editorial comments and statistical notes. For reasons that are now lost in the mists of time, the reports are laid out in reverse chronological order, but hopefully the links above make that an unimportant detail.

28th September – Badgers: 219 for 4 dec.   Chiltern Gypsies: 105 all out

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[This report courtesy of Graham Ward, with extra indented contributions in a different font from normal by Steve Pitts]

The last game of the 2008 season brought a brand new fixture. The rebadged Chiltern Gypsies were this week’s host in the hamlet of Cadmore End, near High Wycombe.

The Indian summer continued into this weekend and a beautiful autumn day was spent in the leafy environs of Cadmore End Cricket Club’s quaintly shaped ground in the Buckinghamshire hills. When Jacqueline and I arrived there was a small cluster of Badgers (Mark, Ben, Ian and Bill) out in the middle admiring the greenness of the wicket and a large bird of prey circling above. None of us were sure what the bird was but a subsequent accidental discovery whilst searching for more info on Cadmore End suggests that it might well have been a red kite. We also proved our ignorance on the wicket front, all being in agreement that it looked like a good seamers track and that the spinners would be out of luck – jokingly stated as a ‘doubt that it will even turn on the fifth day’.

The Gypsies won the toss and were keen to put the Badgers into bat on a ground that sloped down towards the pavilion via some shot inhibiting long grass. The captain and chairman opened and made steady progress, until the former was adjudged LBW by a young umpire who admitted to being not entirely familiar with the laws.

Greggy, having another go up the order came and went and was followed by his son-in-law Bill Jenkins. Bill initially unable to claim the strike, played second fiddle to the chairman for the start of their partnership.

Then it happened. This match will always be remembered for that special moment that occurs once in a blue moon.

The bowler Lall bowled wide of off stump, slightly short of a length and then master technician Simon Fox, while in pain with a bruised coccyx, crashed the ball through cover off the back foot. The fielder set off in hot pursuit and with help from the long grass grasped the ball before the boundary. The rest of the fielding team, still mesmerised by Foxy’s gracefulness, especially while posteriorly hindered, had forgotten to man the bowler’s stumps. The fielder’s long throw back serenely passed the wicket and observing this oversight, the batsmen spotted another run to be had.

There was time to amble this single, and amble Foxy did. So much so that the bowler had time to aim a shy at the stumps with the chairman well out of his crease. The ball missed the stumps once again, and our trusty batting heroes needed no invitation to run another. The ball was collected by the fielder back on the cover boundary and returned to a newly manned bowler’s end. The result was an all run four via double buzzers.

No doubt Graham will be surprised but this is the first time that I have ever heard that term, and those as unfamiliar as I was might find some enlightenment in the Wikipedia entry for overthrow. I wonder if the term is Australian in origin although it isn’t an easy thing to search the web for given its fairly generic meaning in ordinary English and its regular use in relation to basketball, but the only other reference to a double buzzer that I can find in relation to cricket is in a match report for a Scottish club.

From there on the crowd were further entertained by an explosive innings from Bill. Having starting claiming the strike and now well set, he mixed power with timing and raced to fifty, just beating Foxy to the landmark. Simon was bowled after a tired shot and was replaced by Richard Ward. Richard’s first ball was squeezed down to square leg via the inside edge, and hesitation ensued. Unfortunately Richard was left with too little time to get to the bowler’s end and was short of the crease. Patrick was next up the ramp and he was happy to let Bill continue his onslaught and he ended the innings in style, bringing up a superb century and losing three balls in the process.

The third wicket partnership between Simon and Bill, worth 117 runs and amassed over just 58 minutes and 14.1 overs, is the third best in club history. It is probably worth recording that Foxy claimed afterwards that he only played the ugly smear, that resulted in his dismissal almost immediately after reaching fifty, because he had looked over to confirm that it was me doing the scoring and therefore he was unlikely to come off the field to discover that he’d only made 49, or later be docked a couple of runs when the scores didn’t add up ;-{)

The Black Caps came out after tea looking to defend a decent score. A sneaky look at the Gypsies scorebook would have shown a few matches where they came up short hanging on for a few draws, and the Badgers needed to be wary of this.

The Badgers were, on paper, light on bowlers for this match, and chose to open with Graham Ward and Ian Gregg. The first ball bowled by Graham, turned sharply and past the outside edge. The second ragged square, and drew oohs, aahs and gasps from all over. The Chiltern opener was living on borrowed time and seemed relieved when he was out to the sixth ball of the over – a dolly for the Skipper.

Oddly those first two balls from Graham turned out to be an isolated occurrence, with the ball continuing to turn throughout the home side’s innings, but without ever achieving quite the same venom or change of direction. Fortunately for us, the more normal turn that Graham was able to extract from the pitch was more than good enough to bamboozle the home side.

A tight over from Ian followed and then in the third Graham found an outside edge and Steve Pitts was on hand to catch it, apparently with his elbow rather than with his gloves. Either way it brought up Steve’s 300th wicket keeping dismissal for the Badgers, comfortably a record.

Not long after Graham trapped the other opener plumb in front. So plumb in fact that Graham could tell you the angle at which the stump would have been laying on the ground had the pad not intervened. Height was never an issue either. Greggy then claimed another catch later in the same over stooping forward to bring up number four.

Graham’s ‘not long after’ here rather compresses what was probably the Gypsies best partnership since the third wicket actually added 38 runs in one ball short of eight overs with M.Gillett being the opening batsman dismissed leg before for 11 and Brightwell at the other end racking up 56. It may be that Graham is blocking out the less positive elements of his performance since the wickets fell in his sixth over, but the fifth was his most expensive at 17 with each of the subsequent three overs costing ten apiece. Oh, and for the record, I would have been highly aggrieved to have been given out LBW to that particular delivery, and got the impression that Mr. Gillett wasn’t too chuffed about it either.

Ian then got himself in on the act up the other end with a clean bowled, reward for his good tight control. For a period Brightwell started getting stuck into the bowling. Some powerful hitting was displayed and Graham in particular was despatched for a few, including a couple of maximums. However, Graham got his revenge when a miscued slog went high into the leg side. Greggy turned and chased, running at full speed, arms outstretched, and pulled off a truly memorable catch.

Another chance was offered at mid-wicket off Graham’s bowling and this time Bill Jenkins added to his good day by taking the chance, bundling the vice captain out of the way in the process. Graham was still getting decent turn and got through another Gypsy defence and only the ball colliding with the timbers prevented a stumping chance.

Ben Valentine by now had replaced the tired Greggy (1-30 from nine overs) and he too got one in the wickets column. Whether Foxy saw the ball before it stuck to his person is neither here nor there – either way, the Gypsies were nine down and staring down the barrel. Badgers’ fans didn’t have to wait for long and Graham flighted another one, and an unproductive swish of the bat later it was all over. Graham finished with his personal best figures of 8 for 65 and the Badgers had won by more than a hundred runs.

This was comfortably Graham’s best ever bowling performance for the Badgers, beating the 6 for 41 three years ago at Blindley Heath, and the best bowling figures for the club since Alan Tickner snared 8 for 28 against Merrow back in 2003.

So there you have it, the season ends with a blazing century, an eight wicket haul and double buzzers – what more could you ask for?

On a purely selfish note I could ask for one less extra during our innings. I set myself the target of scoring more runs over the course of the season than the renowned Xavier Tras but a lack of opportunity over the final two games, and a lack of skill with the bat over the other sixteen, left me one run short of that milestone. Now, that may seem like an odd target to set, but if I tell you that only two other Badgers managed the feat this year, that Pat is the only one to have bettered extras in each of the past five seasons, that Mark is the only other player to have done so over that span, that 1998 was the last time that as many as four Badgers did it, and that I haven’t managed to outscore extras since the year 2000, then perhaps you’ll understand why coming up one run shy is such a big deal to me.

Statistical Notes: As mentioned above Steve Pitts duly reached 300 dismissals, courtesy of a caught behind standing up to Graham Ward which lodged in the crook of his right elbow rather than nestling safely into the gloves, thus neatly summing up thirty years of Steve’s wicket keeping for the Badgers. I should also point out that Bill’s ton is the first century by a non-member, and to think we’ve always viewed him – especially in his role as scourge of many a Badgers net session – as a bowler rather than a batsman!!

21st September – Ockley: 77 all out   Badgers: 78 for 5

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[This report courtesy of Keith Miller]

A fine, sunny autumnal afternoon greeted us in Ockley on Sunday with the Surrey Hills providing a wonderful backdrop to what we all hoped would be a closely fought contest.

How wrong we were!

Things did not start off too well. Ockley only had nine players and we started with eight players from the team sheet plus Daniel & Jake from our ‘next generation’ Badgers grooming school.

Rakesh Dawar had left his boots behind, so had to return home for them – fortunately he remembered to bring Sahil. When they eventually arrived, Sahil took to the field immediately as he was already changed. It was a further 30 minutes before Rako emerged from the dressing room as he needed to go through all of his pre-match mental preparation.

Richard Ward went one better – he turned up at Merrow (with the team kit) and wondered why there were no other Badgers there (and indeed how we were supposed to play with the square dug up as it was).

Mark lost the toss and Steve had to keep wicket with pads borrowed from the opposition.

Mark & Graham Ward opened the bowling and managed to contain the opening batsmen despite our initial reduced fielding capacity. Their opening 16 overs only conceded 34 runs. Mark, at less than full pace, managed to get a ball to come back up the slope to remove the batsman’s middle stump. Pick of the crop was Graham with three wickets for 21 runs from his nine over spell.

Paul took an impressive catch diving forward at short mid-wicket to claim the first wicket (yours truly managed to spill a similar, but much more difficult, opportunity a little later). Graham also took a fine, sharp catch in the slips, whilst Mark continued his obsession with placing himself in just the right fielding position to claim two dolly catches and maintain his stranglehold on the fielding cup.

Ben Valentine claimed his first wicket for the club in his second over, with a stumping by Steve who was most relieved after having missed a similar opportunity off the second ball of Ben’s first over. Sahil bagged one wicket for 17 runs off six overs and Ben achieved two wickets for 16 runs off five overs and one ball.

Bringing up the rear, Rako conceded four runs off his two overs (none of them off the bat, just two no balls and two wides – Statistical Ed.) before the Ockley innings came to a premature end (battus interruptus) when they ‘declared’ on 77 for 8, mainly due to the fact that they had no more batsmen.

The Skipper was then caught in two minds – making a game of it or trying to end it all before tea. He decided to ‘reverse’ the batting order, sending in Rako and Paul Wilson to open.

Rako made four from two impressive strokes before getting caught in the slips. Keith then came in to move things along and was promptly clean bowled for not very many (zero, to be precise). Enter Barry Davenport, in his last game before going to work in Australia. He promptly went to work in his usual style and at tea Badgers were 37 for 2 with Paul on six (off 38 balls) and Barry on 27 (from 25 balls). Interesting statistic, that.

Tea was leisurely and we were just about to see a repeat of the opening episode of Merlin when someone switched stations to a sports channel. How bad is that!

Play continued, pretty uneventfully, after tea with Barry reaching 32 before getting out (don’t ask me how, I can’t remember). Badgers finally passed the required score with Richard Ward undefeated on 20 and Sahil, who looked impressive with the bat, on 8.

The only notable event during the last session was an altercation between the Skipper (umpiring) and an Andy Parker reincarnation who claimed a caught behind off his own bowling. No one else appealed, even the bowler’s appeal was not the most vociferous that I have ever heard. However he was ‘not happy’ and carried on doing a Mr. Grumpy impression for the rest of the match. Maybe he will ‘mature’ but then again, if our experience with AP is anything to go by, maybe he won’t!

Game over – and nothing else to do but get changed, with or without a shower, and retire to the bar for an earlier than expected drink. There was some discussion about next week’s game against the Chiltern Gypsies – it was rumoured that they have may have been moved on by the Constabulary and could now be encamped further down the M40 corridor, possibly on someone’s cricket pitch. Watch this space to find out what happens next week.

Statistical Notes: No major milestones this week but Steve Pitts is now one shy of 300 wicket keeper dismissals for the club.

14th September – Headley: 234 for 7 dec.   Badgers: 133 all out

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[A full match report almost certainly won’t appear here in due course, because nobody seemed interested in trying to do a more timely job than Rako, Matt, Chris or Darrell have managed, so this one paragraph summary will have to serve for posterity]

Summary: A lovely sunny day heralded another woeful Badgers batting performance which saw the whole team fail to pass the score of Headley’s young opener James Moss, who battered our bowling to all parts in the course of racking up 138 in the home side’s total of 234 from just 34 overs. It is difficult to blame the bowlers for succumbing to such a display of clean striking, and other than a couple of tough catching chances and ragged throws when run outs were on the cards the fielding was blameless this week too. When it came our turn to bat, the Ward brothers got the innings off to a steady start, with Richard (27) aggrieved to be given out caught via his boot to a ball that he was sure he didn’t make contact with. Graham continued to prosper but eventually ran out of partners likely to score at a fast enough rate and perished for a well made 66 trying to push the score along. He was the sixth wicket to fall, with the score on 132, and it is a measure of our incompetence on the day that only one more run was scored.

Statistical Notes: Graham Ward inevitably passed the thousand run mark with his first scoring shot, but did it in style with a boundary. Only another 935 to go for the 2000 Sharky :)

Severe doubt must be cast on the accuracy of the bowling figures for this game, but it was impossible to be sure of exactly what was wrong after the fact. Mark was shown as having conceded three sixes in his second over, which we are quite sure he didn’t, and even Darrell accepted that there was no way that he conceded half as many runs as Graham, since both were on the thick end of the Moss barrage.

31st August – Badgers: 98 all out   Blindley Heath: 81 all out

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Anyone living in the South East of England will no doubt be astonished to learn that we completed a full game without interruptions, albeit that the captains very sensibly agreed a thirty over per side contest in order to give maximum flexibility in dealing with potential rain breaks. Pretty much everyone involved had come through heavy storms and reported that it had been raining all morning where they lived, but this one little corner of Surrey had had only an hour or so of rainfall in late morning and not only was the pitch playable but there was also a hopeful band of bright sky off to the south-west where the weather appeared to be coming from.

So the game started more in hope than expectation with Badgers being given first use of a perfectly good wicket partly thanks to the generosity of Blindley Heath’s skipper who commented to Graham Ward – our captain du jour – that we’d come all this way and he’d better let us have a game. Unfortunately we started out like we didn’t welcome the chance, and the top order problems of the previous three weeks were put into perspective by a score of 15 for 5 after nine overs. This had included the loss of three wickets in four balls and saw such luminaries as Richard Ward, Pat Redding and Barry Davenport all back in the hutch, with Pat having added to last week’s second ball duck with an invitation to the Primary Club this week.

Opener Simon Fox (23) was still in harness and ably assisted by Guy Walker (16) he started the recovery process, the pair adding 23 runs from the next four overs, and this continued when Steve Pitts (21) replaced Guy and proceeded to score freely from the bad balls. Unfortunately Simon’s serene progress was disturbed by the arrival of a runner when Steve pulled up lame in the nineteenth over and he nicked a straight one onto his off peg, breaking the best partnership of the innings at 34. Steve followed soon after, trying too hard to clear the boundary at square leg and it was left to Graham Ward (14) to shepherd the tail which he did with moderate success until giving a caught and bowled off the final ball of the penultimate over.

The Badgers total of 98 looked some way off a par score, especially with Steve unable to take any further part in the game, and one over into the home side’s reply it looked even less so, with a couple of Graham Russell short balls having been despatched to the boundary. Ian Gregg (3-13) balanced things up a little with a wicket maiden in the next over, the scoring rate slowed considerably, and tea was taken after seven overs with the score on 15 for 2.

Heath’s batsmen were obviously refreshed by the break and when play resumed they slowly but surely started to take control of the game. The next ten overs yielded 37 runs before Greggy made a key breakthrough, in what turned out to be his last over, having opener Earl (27) caught at the wicket by Barry Davenport (a more than adequate stand-in for the injured party since he finished with two catches and a stumping). As often happens this wicket begat another in the very next over as Graham Ward (4-20), who had replaced his namesake from the pavilion end, completely bamboozled the new batsman with his chinaman.

Thereafter the visitors were able to apply the pressure slowly but inexorably and with Darrell operating in harness with Graham the pair squeezed the life out of the batting side. Graham broke the fifth wicket partnership at 15 when he induced a false stroke from number four Britten (27) and the innings then declined rapidly from 69 for 4 to 81 all out. Darrell snared the key wicket of Neil Burchett for a second ball duck, courtesy of a diving catch by Pat at slip, and the innings came to a close with a run out off the last ball of the penultimate over as a desperate attempt to keep the adult of the last wicket pair on strike failed.

In closing I would like to proffer my thanks to Blindley Heath’s captain Ian Smith, who very kindly offered the services of a substitute fielder in my place and especially to young Dylan Tame for filling that role for most of his team’s innings. With the closeness of the game their generosity might just have changed the end result and it is good to see that such good sportsmanship still thrives in village cricket. Kudos to all concerned.

Statistical Notes: Graham Ward had his best attempt yet at reaching the magic four figures, thus depriving me of the pleasure of crediting Foxy for using the term ‘asymptotic’ in its correct context, but came up just a single run shy. The cliffhanger continues into next week and the watching masses want to know if the Shark will even be enquiring about the availability of Graham Davenport or David Jones??

Whilst it was only a thirty over game both teams were bowled out inside that and the team scores represent the lowest totals and lowest aggregate since the first game between the two teams back in 1985, when Blindley Heath took 44 overs to amass 73 for 7 and the Badgers notched up a nine wicket win in 16.1 overs. It is also worth noting that this is the first time that Neil Burchett has made a duck against us in all of that span, and he has played in all bar two of the 22 contests, with his average before the game standing at over 47.

23rd August – Badgers: 160 for 6   Morden Corinthians: 161 for 7

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[A full match report is unlikely to appear here in due course, even thouhh Paul Little was persuaded to try and produce something]

Summary: The omens were not good – a limited overs contest, late arrivals due to the vagaries of the M25 and a shortage of bowling resources – but this one ended up much closer than the previous two defeats. Badgers were asked to make first use of a typical recreation ground wicket at the Raynes Park Sports Ground and Pat was its first victim as the second over started with a wide that scuttled along the floor to the keeper followed by a snorter that lifted from just short of a length to take a glove and gift him only his second duck as a Badger and the first in nearly five years. This presaged another ‘failure’ from the top order with the third wicket going down in the twelfth over with just 31 on the board. Steve seemed determined to stop the rot, possibly a little too determined since he had amassed just four runs after fifteen overs, but good support from Matt Mann (35) and Guy Walker (27) created stands of 56 and 53 for the next two wickets and a change of bat at the drinks break saw Steve slowly awaken from his slumbers to finish unbeaten on 52 in a score of 160. The bowlers exerted considerable pressure on Morden’s top order and their innings followed a similar pattern, with Greggy and Allan Butt conceding just seven and nine runs respectively from their initial four over spells and the scoring rate barely getting above two. Despite the change bowlers breaking the second wicket partnership at 50 and taking a couple more scalps to boot the scoring rate crept up to the required four an over after 25 overs with the Badgers fielding growing increasingly ragged. With all of their middle order contributing quick runs and both of the openers coming in for some stick when reintroduced into the attack even a fine spell from Graham Ward (2 for 21 from seven overs) was not enough to stop the home side reaching the required total in the penultimate over.

Statistical Notes: Steve Pitts finally passed Brian Moore into third place in the all time run makers for the club (although Brian took a lot less time to get there), but Graham Ward only managed to inch five runs closer to his first thousand, still needing another fifteen. With Graham Davenport still poised eight runs away from the same milestone, the question still remains which of them will be the twenty-sixth Badger to reach the thousand, or will David Jones make a surprise appearance and pip them both to it??

When he came off the field at tea on Saturday Steve made the observation that his innings was the second most boring ever, and that fact is borne out by the statistics, at least in terms of opening batsmen carrying their bat. Since 1988 (the first season for which we have the full details in the database) there have been 45 instances of an opening batsman finishing not out in matches that were not abandoned, and his proportion of the final score (32.5%) is the second worst ever. Jeremy Clayton’s 42 out of 170 (24.7%) against Newchapel back in 1988 is the only innings that is worse, and that has the distinction of also being the only time that a Badger has carried their bat whilst all ten wickets fell at the other end. Strangely, Steve also has the best percentage – 80 of a winning total of 115 (69.6%) against Old Alleynians in 1989.

17th August – Maori-Oxshott: 212 for 3 dec.   Badgers: 152 all out

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[This report courtesy of Simon Fox]

For the second week running Badgers XI were all fit and willing at one o’clock, but no sign whatsoever of any opposition. Some debate ensued about Hon. Secretary’s organisational skills, until a lone Oxshott player appeared and explained the situation – he’d seen that the fixture was due to start at one, but knew nobody would turn up then, and arrived at his normal time. Once again, Patrick fully exonerated.

Mysteriously skipper Mark was not in the eleven, though he was clearly listed on the team sheet. Something about a mysterious holiday in Egypt leaping out and grabbing him…. So we were left in the more than able hands of vice-captain Patrick, with Chris Turner filling in at last minute for Mark. No contest, can I hear you mumbling?

Arrangement was in the air – Patrick won an arranged toss and elected to field, opening bowlers arranged ends amongst themselves, and the Pitts contingent attempted to arrange an extended tea. Ian Gregg and Allan Butt opened the bowling but unfortunately were not able to re-arrange any wickets! I guess it couldn’t go on.

Oxshott batted carefully for the first half of their innings, punishing the bad balls but otherwise just keeping the score ticking. Ian and Allan bowled tightly, their opening 18 overs conceding only 45 runs, but no wickets. There were a couple of tough chances – diving efforts at balls struck from the middle – which set us pondering whether we might be missing the Skipper after all! A double bowling change brought on Darrell and Badgers debutant Graham Russell, who bowled at a lively pace and within five overs had hit the stumps twice, removing both of the well-settled openers.

The score moved from 95 for 2 off 27 overs to 150 for 2 off 40, still a respectable containment effort. Darrell had been replaced by Chris Turner, after spilling another very difficult chance caught & bowled, injuring the index finger on his right hand in the process. In a momentary lapse, Patrick called upon Simon Fox to complete the innings, and whilst there was immediate success with a sharp and somewhat incredulous caught and bowled, this brought to the wicket Oxshott’s #5 Benzies, who with the diminutive Harper proceeded to smite the ball to all corners, and lifted the score to 212 for 3 from 47 overs.

Best of the bowling was Graham (2 for 32 from nine overs) and Allan (0 for 24 from 8), but Ian deserved better than his 0 for 59 from 15, having suffered somewhat at the hands of Benzies (his opening spell was even better than Allan’s – 10 overs, 4 maidens, none for 24 – Statistical Ed.). Our reflection was that 212 was definitely gettable in the 90 minutes plus 20 overs we had for our innings – alas no extended tea!

We were about to discover the Harpers: our innings started briskly but we were soon in trouble as Steve Pitts, Simon Fox and Richard Ward all fell caught behind off Harper snr. Barry followed with one of his familiar trebles – first ball defended away for two, second ball eye-in for four and third ball middle stump upended for glory. Richard had looked in good touch for his 23, but at 48 for 4 we were in the mire. Patrick and Paul Little went about rebuilding the innings with uncustomary caution, against Ms. Jessie Jackson of Surrey Ladies Fillies (assuming that’s the feminine of Colts – sadly the reality seems to be rather more prosaic, since I cannot find any reference to fillies in relation to cricket in general, although there are a couple of women’s teams that have it as a nickname, and even the ECB regulations use Colts in relation to junior sections for women’s cricket – Clarification Ed.) and 11 year-old Harper jnr minor. Fear of ignominy is a powerful force! But it worked as they survived the onslaught intact, and were just about looking favourites – both batsmen set at 100 for 4 at the start of the last twenty.

Enter the fray Harper jnr major, who after a wayward first over induced Paul to play, in the words of the captain – a ‘horrible’ shot – straight to extra cover for a restrained 40. Ian’s innings was too brief to describe – suffice to say that Allan survived the hat-trick! Alas, however, not the dolly-drop next over as he was out stumped by half a pitch! Our last three bats did their best to keep Patrick in the game but Harper jnr major proved too much and we were all out for 152 in the 37th over, with Patrick stranded on 55 not out. Harper snr returned 4 for 30, Harper jnr major 4 for 28 and Harper jnr minor 0 for 18 off 4.

On paper this may look like a fighting defeat, but we were definitely outplayed by the better team on the day. We can only reflect that our top order failed to deliver for the second week running.

10th August – Badgers: 88 all out   Reigate Cavaliers: 90 for 2

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[A full match report might still appear here in due course, since Graham Ward volunteered to try and do a more timely job than Rako, Matt, Chris or Darrell have managed, and tells me that he just has to type it up]

Summary: The winning streak came to an abrupt end in the lovely surroundings of the Reigate Priory ground, on a blameless wicket, with the Badgers failing to post a defensible score having been asked to bat first. Wickets tumbled from the first over of the innings and the scoring rate hovered around two an over. A watchful 32 from Pat, constructed from 67 deliveries, gave some hope of recovery but when he fell in uncharacteristic fashion – shimmying down the wicket and poking a tame return catch – the late middle order collapsed further and even Mark (22) and Graham Ward were unable to drag the total to respectability. Needing only 89 to win the Cavaliers rode their luck early on, despite a hostile spell from Mark Gordon – featuring a rib rattling for the local MP Crispin Blunt – and economical spells from Ian and Darrell, before cruising to an easy eight wicket win. We didn’t help ourselves, dropping opener Gomez (36 no.) twice from successive Greggy deliveries, but the home batsmen were better used to playing on such a good track, even leaving some of Mark’s short of a length balls to pass over the top of the stumps – a trick that most sensible Badgers would never even consider due to the vagaries of the wickets we normally play on, although Richard Ward did try it and was cleaned bowled for his pains.

Statistical Notes: Looks like I put the mockers on everyone because both Graham Davenport and I made ducks (he faced one more ball than I did, but we managed just three between us), Greggy finished wicketless and Graham Ward only scored a third of the runs he needed to reach a thousand. Which Graham will get there first??

27th July – Ham & Petersham: 141 all out   Badgers: 142 for 5

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A baking hot day on Ham Common and another solid Badgers performance that extends the winning streak to four games. The day started promisingly, with skipper Mark Gordon winning the toss for the first time in a fair while and choosing to field, but his luck had deserted him again by the second ball of the innings when a sharp chance to the slips only managed to bruise the end of Richard Ward’s little finger. Opener Zeeshan (30) was the recipient of that piece of good fortune, and it proved to be by no means his only moment of luck as he mixed several immaculate shots with a smattering of edges before becoming the second of Graham Ward’s four victims, courtesy of a sharp stumping.

Graham had bowled the other opener in his second over, which itself followed an expensive opening over that had featured a couple of full tosses, and once Zeeshan was removed settled down to the longest spell of his Badgers career. The second wicket had fallen with 38 on the board after seven and a half overs but thereafter the scoring rate slumped especially once Allan Butt replaced Mark and immediately found himself amongst the wickets thanks to a neat catch by Ben Valentine at deep mid on. Richard made up for his earlier miss by snaring a low catch at slip to give Allan his second, and two straight balls in succession just failed to bring a hat-trick despite the first of them castling one new batsman.

Graham continued to toil away at the other end and received further reward courtesy of a catch at the wicket and the first of Mark’s three, a simple affair in his usual short cover position. At this point the home side had slumped to 65 for 7 from the better part of 22 overs but there would be another twelve overs of toil before the eighth wicket would fall, as Graham gradually tired in the heat and Ben’s first spell for the club proved fruitless. Woolmore (40) and Inns (20), the protagonists in that eighth wicket stand of 56, were both fairly limited in their stroke making but both made good use of the sweep shot and by the time Darrell Pitts replaced Graham this had led Mark to position himself at backward square leg.

Darrell’s third ball was a leg stump full toss which Woolmore duly clouted square of the wicket only to watch in astonishment as Mark threw himself full length to his left and clung on to a low catch with his left hand. The innings then came to a swift conclusion on 141, with Mark finally snaffling a wicket having returned to bowl his leg breaks and then helping Darrell snare the final wicket with a more orthodox catch at backward square.

After an early blip, when Graham’s scoreless exit brought the first ever all Davenport opening stand to an abrupt end, the Badgers reply got off to a solid start with Barry clouting the ball to all parts in his usual style, scattering three big sixes and seven other boundaries amongst his 55 runs, and Paul Wilson offering increasingly assured support at the other end. The pair added 57 for the second wicket before Paul’s stumps were disturbed and when Barry fell to a good catch at long off the score had risen to 85 from just 16 overs. The second father and son partnership of the innings got off to a steady start but Steve Pitts became increasingly becalmed and he and Darrell traded singles before both eventually succumbed to straight ones in the over before the start of the last twenty.

Their stand of 41 had managed to take the Badgers within sixteen runs of victory however, and Richard Ward and Patrick Redding were able to bring up the target just two overs later. The visitor’s total included a worthy contribution from stalwart twelfth man Extras, whose 33 runs included the unusual combination of five off a no ball, five off a wide and three leg byes.

Statistical Notes: No major milestones were passed this week but several are looming between now and the end of the season – Graham Davenport remains just eight runs shy of his thousand for the club, Graham Ward is thirty short of the same mark and Steve Pitts now needs just twenty runs to pass Brian Moore for third highest run scorer in club history (although it looks like Mark will go past them both some time during the next calendar year). Steve also now needs six wicket keeper dismissals to bring up his three hundred, Allan Butt another thirteen wickets for a similar number and Ian Gregg twenty for his two hundred.

13th July – Ockham: 128 all out   Badgers: 131 for 4

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[A full match report is unlikely to appear here in due course, even though Darrell agreed, after a certain amount of ribbing about the Job Seekers Allowance, to try and do a more timely job than Rako, Matt or Chris have managed]

Summary: A full complement of Badgers this week for our second ever visit to Ockham and with the weather warm and heavy a solid all around performance precipitated a welcome early finish. The early Ockham batsmen were all keen to give the ball a good whack and a balanced contest between their top order and Mark and Greggy ensued with honours pretty much even after twenty overs with the home side on 82 for 4 but with the dangerous looking opener Couchman castled by a beauty of an outswinger from Greggy. At this point there was a danger that Ockham would go on to make a big score, with number five P Randles (52) starting to boss the game. However, the introduction of Darrell Pitts as first change turned the game the visitor’s way as the batsmen struggled to cope with the lack of pace on the ball. Matt caught two steepling catches at long on, the latter eliminating the danger man, and the rest capitulated tamely either missing a straight one or giving catches to Pat at point (who probably had fewer toxins in his system than last week). The innings came to a close at 128 with Darrell taking a catch, to give his great-uncle Allan a wicket, and finishing with an impressive 5 for 31 from 6 overs. The Ward brothers gave the Badgers’ innings useful early impetus, although both rode their luck – Graham being dropped at the wicket and scoring a fair few runs through the slip cordon. They had added 69 for the second wicket when Graham was undone on 43 by the first ball of Hignett’s second over and Richard smeared across a straight one to end the same over. However, Darrell’s good day was topped off by three fours and he helped father Steve (35 no.) ease the Badgers to a six wicket win.

Statistical Notes: Before we started our innings the Ward brothers were both aware of closing in on their personal landmark of a thousand runs for the club. Richard needed just twenty (but only knew that because I told him that’s what I thought he needed, and was able to confirm the fact after the game) whereas Graham reckoned that he needed 45 runs to get there. As it was, Richard made just enough to pass the milestone whilst Graham came up short of what he felt he required and by my reckoning he needs another thirty more to get there. Oh, and the eagle-eyed amongst those that played may notice that the individual scores for Darrell and I have changed. Whilst driving home Darrell expressed surprise that he’d been credited with four fours in his innings and upon reviewing the book we discovered that one of my boundaries had been credited to him, hence the change.

5th July – Morden Parish: 211 for 7 dec.   Badgers: 212 for 4

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[This report courtesy of Allan Butt]

Due to the vicissitudes of availability, holidays and last-minute unforeseen circumstances, the Badgers took on Morden Parish at Raynes Park Sports Ground on a warm and sunny but windy afternoon with only nine players.

Of those nine, Patrick Redding and four others had travelled back from Wales that morning, having spent the previous 36 hours celebrating Patrick’s forthcoming nuptials. Such dedication was reinforced by assurances that they had acted with considerable restraint on the Friday evening, bearing in mind the forthcoming drive and cricket match, and it has to be said that, on the whole, performances, if not appearances, supported those protestations.

Rumour has it that the opposition were looking for a limited overs match of 35 overs per side, but Badgers skipper Mark Gordon was able to persuade them, apparently for the first time in their albeit short history, to adopt the Badgers normal format of a timed match. This was just as well, since it saved the rest of the team from the reaction of Steve Pitts, whose well-known dislike of limited-overs games would not have improved his mood on arrival late having, on his birthday, spent the best part of two hours on the M25 on a journey which, two weeks earlier on a weekday, he had completed in 45 minutes.

Morden Parish won the toss, and after some debate amongst themselves, decided to bat first, possibly because they also started the game with only nine players, although their remaining players arrived during the course of their innings. In the absence of Steve at the start, Patrick donned the wicket-keeping gloves, having had some practice in the T20 game against Tadworth earlier in the week, although he did remark that, in that game, few balls had actually reached him!

Mark opened proceedings bowling down the slight slope with the wind behind his left shoulder, and proved to be virtually unplayable, his first six overs including five maidens and three wickets, all clean bowled, for just two runs. At the other end, Ian Gregg toiled away into the wind and up the slope with his usual accuracy, being awarded one LBW decision, and Morden Parish found themselves in trouble at 29 for 4. However, their opener Clarke stood firm, and started hitting the ball powerfully, taking advantage of the inevitable gaps in the field. Mark was replaced at the top end by Allan Butt, and soon after Patrick surrendered the gloves to Steve, although he may have regretted the change because, fielding at cover point, he put down Clarke twice in successive overs from Allan, who seems to have suffered rather more than others from catches dropped off his bowling this year. Chris Turner took over at the lower end, after an unbroken stint from Ian of 12 overs, 3 maidens, 37 runs for 1 wicket. Clarke was supported by Cilley, and together they put on a stand of 139 off 19 overs, Clarke eventually being bowled by Allan for 113, a maiden century which apparently overcame him so much that he took no further part in the match, leaving the ground at the tea break citing work commitments.

Cilley went on to score 52, and he and the lower order pushed the score to 211 for 7 at tea, by which time 40 overs had been bowled, and Graham Ward and Mark, in a second spell, had taken a further wicket each, Mark finishing with figures of 11-5-43-4. Badgers were not unduly despondent, recognising the difficulty of defending a large playing area with only seven fielders in addition to the bowler and wicketkeeper, and having established recently a history of successfully chasing totals of over 200.

Steve opened the Badgers innings with Simon Fox, and adopting his usual attitude of hitting the ball if it was there to be hit, was dropped twice in the opening over. However, Simon was first to go for 6, bowled by a ball which came back off the pitch, and having hit one glorious cover drive which obviously made his day! Steve went next, bowled for 15, and Ben Valentine was unlucky to be bowled for 7 by a ball which would have missed the wicket had he not deflected it with his foot. Badgers thus found themselves struggling at 42 for 3, and at 63 for 3 at the start of the last 20 overs still needed 149 at a rate of 7.4 per over. Patrick and Mark then embarked upon another of their rescue efforts, although having both been on a score of 28 at one stage, it was Mark who led the way, Patrick, possibly hampered by a knee injury aggravated whilst fielding, having reached 42 when Mark was out for 69, bowled by what Steve described as probably the best ball of the day. Yet another century stand by those two, of 116 this time, and the second in successive weeks, had reduced the rate required to 5.3 per over, and on this occasion Badgers avoided a late innings collapse, the Shark batting nicely for an unbeaten 27 in support of Patrick who ended unbeaten on 63, but who reckoned that his innings was typified by the fact that the winning run came from a bye and not his bat. Badgers had reached 212 for 4 with nearly two overs to spare, and Morden Parish had finished the match with only nine players, another of their number having found something more important to do mid-way through the Badgers innings.

An enjoyable game played in a good spirit, with Badgers indebted yet again to a man-of-the-match performance from their captain, but no catches for Mark this week, the single Badgers catch being taken by Steve behind the stumps.

The day concluded in somewhat bizarre fashion, after several Badgers had immersed themselves under the showers before realising that there was no hot water. After Graham had departed for yet another party in London, the remaining Badgers, sitting around a table in the Raynes Park Tavern, and being responsible citizens, were enjoying their third round, drinking orange and lemonade, apart from Allan who was enjoying a coffee, when they were harangued with liberal use of the F word, by a somewhat inebriated gentleman who could not understand why they should be sitting in a pub without an alcoholic drink between them!

Statistical Notes: Three things worth noting about this game are that this is the first time since the Beechwood game in June 2005 (unless you count losing by ten wickets to Maori-Oxshott back in August 2006) that the Badgers have played a game without taking an outfield catch (in fact both sides were guilty of some very sloppy catching – Patrick both giving and receiving in that department whilst Steve was dropped twice in the first five balls of the game); that this is the ninth time in the past six years that we’ve scored 200 or more in a successful run chase whilst the previous 44 seasons had yielded just one such chase (it may be coincidence, although I think not, but Pat has featured heavily in seven of those nine games and didn’t play in the other two); and that Mark has now tied Alan Tickner by sharing in sixteen century partnerships for the club.

22nd June – Badgers: 192 for 9   Tadworth: 158 all out

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[This report courtesy of Patrick Redding]

Another fine all-round display by captain Mark Gordon was the catalyst for an excellent 34 run victory for the Badgers against hosts Tadworth.

The captains agreed (Mark reluctantly!) that the contest should be forty overs per side, with a maximum of eight overs per bowler. However things didn’t start too well for the Black Caps who were asked to bat first on a difficult wicket where extravagant and unpredictable bounce proved a stern test for the batsmen throughout the match.

Tadworth’s young openers, Bellringer (2-12) and Button (1-21), bowled superbly for the first 16 overs of the Badgers innings. Some fine deliveries and Rakesh Dawar’s overambitious running (!) soon combined to leave the visitors reeling on 14 for 4. It was at this point that Mark joined vice-captain Patrick Redding at the crease and they proceeded to build a partnership to repair the early damage. Patrick was fortunate to be dropped at deep long on while still in single figures and this proved to be a costly miss for the home side.

The Tadworth change bowlers were not quite as accurate or penetrative as the openers and both Mark and Patrick grew in confidence as the board ticked over. Deep set fields allowed both batsmen to accumulate runs, with the pair improving on their calling and running between the wickets from the week before! The odd well placed boundary, including a top edged six by Mark over long leg, helped the innings to gradually gain momentum. The pair had put together an excellent fifth wicket partnership of 141 runs in 20 overs when first Mark (62) and then Patrick (85) fell, as they attempted to push the score up to 200. The inevitable late flurry of wickets saw the Badgers innings close on 192 for 9, with Simon Fox the only other batsmen to reach double figures. Considering the vagaries of the wicket Badgers were rightly pleased with their competitive score. Of particular note during the innings were the four catches taken by the same Tadworth fielder at deep long on – a serious case of déjà vu for the small smattering of people watching the game!

After a very pleasant tea, which as well as the usual cakes and sandwiches featured a good selection of fruit, Tadworth set about their task of chasing down the Badgers score. Although the wicket was still playing a few tricks the Tadworth openers Davsion (38) and Robinson (37) successfully negotiated the opening spells of Alan Butt (0-29) and Darrell Pitts (0-28) – although the bowlers weren’t helped by a couple of dropped catches by their team-mates! The opening partnership was finally broken when Mark produced a superb delivery to bowl Davsion, but Tadworth were still well placed when the last twenty overs began with their score on 73 for 1.

Momentum switched back to the Badgers thanks to some inspired fielding by Sahil Dawar who scored a direct hit to run out the Tadworth twelfth man, who was batting at number three. (Perhaps we’ll leave the question of whether he should have been permitted to bat without the permission of the Badgers’ captain to another day?!) Not to be outdone by Sahil’s great work, Mark himself swooped to run out two more Tadworth batsmen, including the promising Bellringer. The remaining Badgers’ bowlers Ian Gregg (1-25), Sahil (3-26) and Graham Ward (1-30) tightened the screws and a succession of Tadworth batsmen succumbed as the innings fell away.

A last wicket partnership gave the Tadworth innings a look of respectability but to be honest they were out of the game with more than seven overs to go. It was fitting that Mark (2-17) ending proceedings, stretching high above his head to take a well judged caught and bowled, leaving the home side all out for 158 in the 39th over.

As a final note, it has become commonplace for the Badgers to be in awe of Mark’s amazing deeds on the cricket field but just in case he ever did get an inflated opinion of himself, rest assured that his children would soon bring him back down to earth. Never has this been better illustrated than during this game, shortly after Mark had executed one of his superb run outs. The Badgers were gathered in their usual jovial huddle waiting for the next man in, when they became aware that Mark’s children Jake and Amy were running towards their father. Mark (together with the rest of the team) probably anticipated that they wanted to congratulate him on his heroic deeds. Much to Mark’s surprise Jake and Amy proceeded to run straight passed him to talk to his cousin Ben Valentine instead. Mark looked suitably crestfallen as his children, having relayed their message to Ben, ran off with hardly a word to their father. His team-mates, ever supportive of their Skipper, collapsed into fits of laughter!


15th June – East Horsley: 265 for 4 dec.   Badgers: 194 for 9

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[A full match report is unlikely to appear here in due course, even though Chris Turner was given the job of writing one in the hope that he might do a more timely job than Graham, Rako or Matt have managed – and Patrick put them all to shame by producing the Tadworth report before I’d even had the chance to knock up a summary]

Summary: You would probably have to go back to a one-off game against Egham in September 1994 since the Badgers were on the receiving end of such a battering in the field (last year’s Blindley Heath match came close but the small ground and a lack of bowling were mitigating factors) but the game started normally enough with Mark and Greggy operating well in harness and causing the batsmen problems. However, first change Allan Butt made the mistake of breaking the second wicket partnership and that brought the left-handed Foster to the crease who proceeded to batter the bowling to all quarters in the most brutal fashion. Despite only being at the wicket for roughly seven overs his 77 runs included eight sixes and totally turned the game on its head. When he fell to a fine catch by Pat on the long on boundary he had ruined the figures of both Allan and Chris Turner and he left the incumbent opener Stewart (80) and Jones (63 no.) to keep the scoreboard rolling along with some aggressive running between the wickets and the pair eventually accelerated comfortably before being parted with the score on 265 and the declaration followed three balls later after just forty overs had been bowled. A couple of early setbacks dogged the Badgers reply but Pat led the fightback ably assisted by Foxy (36) and the pair had added a third wicket partnership record of 152 when Pat ran himself out for what turned out to be 99. This precipitated a collapse from 158 for 2 to 188 for 9 before Greggy and Paul Wilson hung on for the draw.

7th June – Badgers: 192 for 9 dec.   Epsom Methodists: 76 all out

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[A full match report is unlikely to appear here in due course, even though Matt Mann took on the task of writing one once the scorecard data was posted]

Summary: The Badgers were asked to bat for the second week running and this week’s ‘council maintained’ recreation ground wicket was one of the slowest and lowest that I can ever recall playing a game of cricket on. Fortunately Mark was prompted to let Pat have a crack at opening the innings for the first time this season and his technique and patience were the foundation on which the Badgers posted a more than decent total. When Pat was out in the 33rd over he had contributed 65 to the Badgers total of 118 to that point, with an increasingly frustrated Steve Pitts (50) sharing the previous 23 overs and 85 runs. The lower middle order came and went but between them dragged the score to 192 when Mark declared an over or two later than the home side felt was reasonable. However, they proved unable to cope with Chris Turner’s combination of slow medium pace and late in-duck either missing straight ones or dollying up catches on the rare occasions that he dropped short and Chris recorded his second five-fer in only his third game for the club. Methodists skipper Mark Johnson fell to a stunning one-handed catch by his namesake, skulking in his usual spot at short cover, off a strangely out-of-kilter Allan Butt and Graham Davenport (3-8) accounted for most of the tail as the home side slumped to 76 all out with nearly a dozen overs still to be bowled.

(You might also care to check out Epsom Methodist’s take on the match)

31st May – Badgers: 172 for 7 dec.   Leigh: 177 for 6

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[This report courtesy of Simon Fox]

After what has seemed like weeks of relentless rain, it was great to find the gods on our side for our annual sortie to Leigh. The weather was dry but sultry, and the pitch a typical early season plodder, albeit beautifully cut by Leigh’s proudly exhibited new mower.

The captain lost the toss and was asked to bat – a situation that rendered him somewhat confused, not being accustomed to making decisions on the batting order before tea. This situation fortunately resolved itself when Allan Butt declared he had previously opened at this venue and Graham Ward spoke sartorially on the subject of correct underwear required for batting. The opening foray was bright enough but sadly lasted only a couple of overs before Graham was bowled by an unplayable delivery, this observation of his – doubted by some – in due course corroborated by both umpire and keeper, apparently without any monies changing hands. This brought to the wicket your chronicler for this report, Simon Fox, who went on to labour for all of 38 overs, finally ending up with 53, scored almost entirely in singles. Not a pretty sight, I am sure; I’m just glad I didn’t have to watch!

Allan continued to play properly for twelve whole overs, a feat he proudly announced was his longest such achievement for many a year, but finally temptation got the better of him, as he attempted an almighty ya-hoo at a perfectly decent straight ball and was bowled for 12. Ian Gregg, promoted up the order to number four on the strength of his exemplary batting the previous week (all one ball of it), hit a dashing 28, causing bowlers and fielders much agonising as he smote their best deliveries to far corners with utter disrespect before eventually being caught on the boundary. Paul Little entered and continued in like vein, not bothering with the niceties of playing himself in or assessing the wicket. He was undone for 14, caught and bowled by Leigh’s pie-chucker, who was in fact merely doing what he had to in order to avoid being gelded by a lusty return drive.

Next came the captain, who for a while caught singles-itis from his above-mentioned partner, as over and over went by with a regulation three singles. At this stage a score of 150 was looking favourite, but eventually Mark’s innate juices took over and net practice paid off, as he took 16 from one over and accelerated the score towards 200. However, he was cut off in his prime for 38, a good catch off a skier. The remaining overs were unspectacular, not many runs and the loss of Simon’s and Steve Pitts’ wickets. All in all, 172 for 7 which we thought might just about be enough.

We hadn’t reckoned however on an excellent tea and the effect this would have on our efforts in the field. So we took to the field:

  1. Weighed down by quality tea – some more than others let it be noted
  2. With three groin strains – including our fearsome opening attack
  3. And two back-aches
  4. And one sexagenarian
  5. And one girl – of whom, I’d stress to add, no complaints – thank you Jacqueline for volunteering to play and helping us out of our little predicament

So we opened with Graham Davenport, unsuccessfully attempting to complete a hat-trick started at Dormansland, and Darrell Pitts. This however turned out to be a cunning strategy as Darrell opened his spell with a juicy leg-side full-toss which the Leigh opener gleefully hit straight into the hands of Ben Valentine at square leg, taking his first catch for the club with nonchalance. Two balls later, when their number three hit a sitter to Mark at short cover, they were 5 for 2 and in some disarray. After some considerable time another batman emerged and normality began to prevail. These two steadied the ship and moved the score along until Graham Ward entered the attack, whereupon Leigh’s Dudley plonked it straight into the hands of Paul Little at long-on and not so long after Graham had his sweet revenge with his own unplayable flipper that bowled opener Adams all ends up.

New batsman Letts took up the challenge, playing himself in and then accelerating to a well made 76, taking Leigh to within 20 runs before he was run out in an athletic Badgers triple-play involving Allan, Steve and finally Graham, doing the business at the non-striker’s end. Mark and Ian came on for the last ten overs for the close out, but a few lofty blows from Leigh’s skipper put paid to that, reaching the target for the loss of six wickets with eleven balls to spare. Allan contributed nine accurate and economical overs in mid-innings without success, and Graham Ward (2-65) deserved better than the scorebook alleged. Darrell recorded the best figures of 2-19 from six overs.

All in all, a good close game in which luck didn’t break for us. We held all of our chances, but the ball dropped into empty space twice as often. A jovial après-cri followed proceedings, during which – as usual – Steve robbed me of about 5 runs. Thence to bed, with aches and pains in every crevice, a just desert for two hours of batting à la Boycott.

[Editor’s notes: there are a few deliberate minor inaccuracies in the above report that I’ve left in for comic effect. However, for those that weren’t there I should point out that Mark’s ‘sitter’ was a typical two-handed diving effort off a full-blooded shot that left the batsman with his mouth hanging open, that Simon’s own efforts deserve more credit than his modesty allows, that only two-thirds of his scoring shots were singles, and that it was two runs not five that I deprived him of, but it is hardly my fault if other people can’t even add up a simple sequence of numbers between one and four – although to be fair to whoever added the score up originally it wasn’t easy avoiding going boss-eyed tallying the sequences of ones!?]

25th May – Dormansland: 163 all out   Badgers: 143 for 9

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I’ve often whinged about the Badgers playing limited overs matches and this game was a perfect illustration of why I prefer timed games. One team got a few more overs than the other, but that created an interesting balance between bat and ball that the Badgers came quite close to overcoming. More importantly, as a non-combatant Nick Hellier observed in conversation at the scorer’s table, if we had been playing limited overs the last few overs would have been played with seven men on the boundary whereas Dormansland, because they were trying to win the game by bowling us out, kept a far more balanced field and thus made the game much more interesting for players and spectators alike.

The day started unpromisingly on the weather front but we were lucky enough to be able to play the whole game uninterrupted in the end. Skipper Mark Gordon won the toss so the Badgers found themselves in the field and it was Mark himself who got the game off to the best possible start inducing an edge with his very first delivery which Patrick Redding was alert enough to snaffle after keeper Steve Pitts, surprised by the pace of the pitch, had failed to hold on to it. There then followed an absorbing passage of play featuring an epic battle between opener Buzzing, who looked like he could bat a bit, and Mark (2-22) with his dander up, which included three consecutive maidens as the two locked horns.

In the end that battle was unresolved with Darrell Pitts (4-45), who had been keeping things tight at the other end in a completely different style to Mark, inducing the batsman to chip one to Graham Ward at mid-wicket. At that point Dormansland were 37 for 4 after sixteen overs and things did not get any better for them whilst Mark and Darrell were in harness as they found themselves six down for 61 eight overs later. At that point the game turned on its head with number five Musgrave (76) gradually increasing in confidence and granted a couple of lives thanks to some sloppy fielding. Graham Ward, despite catching three others, was guilty of dropping a straightforward chance, John Larkin had obviously had a good night and had a few struggles at mid on as well as dropping a sitter at point, Steve missed a simple enough stumping chance, whilst Ian Gregg was unlucky not to cling on to a diving attempt at slip and Paul Wilson seemed determined to break a bone or two with his attempts to stop the ball with his shins or ankles.

The seventh wicket pair added 66 runs to the total before Graham Davenport (3-42) clung on to a caught and bowled chance and Graham Ward finally ended Musgrave’s pivotal innings in the same manner. Dormansland skipper Jarret (18 no.) added a few lusty blows before the innings closed at 163 all out with Graham Davenport poised to bowl a hat trick ball the next time he bowls for the Badgers.

The Badgers got off to a slow start with neither opener contributing a great deal and just fourteen runs accruing over the first ten overs. Sadly the situation never really improved with an almost strokeless number four Paul Wilson piling the pressure on Patrick Redding (42) at the other end to provide all of the impetus. The last twenty started with exactly six an over needed and a frustrated Pat eventually holed out at deep mid on with thirteen overs left and 99 still needed to win.

A delightful cameo from Barry Davenport (32), which included two big sixes off Stuart Hellier (5-70) immediately after the ball had hit Barry’s stumps without dislodging the bails, at least meant that the run rate hovered around eight an over but that target proved too much even for Mark’s prodigious talents and the lower middle order perished in vain pursuit of the run chase with the Badgers eventually coming up twenty runs short with their ninth wicket falling from the last ball of the innings and Mark unbeaten on 38.

In the end an honourable draw, a good day all round, and the usual pleasant evening in the bar afterwards. I would like to end by pointing out that this was the fiftieth meeting between the two clubs – a fact that I wish I had checked before leaving home rather than after getting back – and that each club has won 17 of those games, with two others being unfinished due to the weather. Oh, and with my veteran’s hat on, it also worth mentioning that whilst Dormansland fielded a team with eight youngsters it was the three old boys who provided the majority of the runs and wickets to their cause, a fact which gladdened my heart :)

11th May – Sutton: 188 for 6   Badgers: 190 for 1

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[A full match report almost certainly won’t appear here in due course, since Rakesh took several months to come up with something that did not make a lot of sense and was barely more detailed than this summary]

Summary: Another solid bowling performance this week against new opponents on a baking hot day, with the two Grahams being particularly miserly especially in the context of a limited overs contest, although the fielding was extremely patchy despite Mark’s return to normal form. The batting was a vast improvement over last week, on a pitch playing like a midsummer strip rather than a typical May pudding and with the ball therefore coming on to the bat. The opening pair added 80, despite the trepidation of facing a twelve year old leggie, with Steve (51) making the lion’s share until being dismissed off a stray right boot. The second wicket pairing topped that, however, with young Larkin continuing to a largely untroubled 65 whilst an old Fox at the other end contributed 58 to their unbroken match-winning 110.

4th May – Broadbridge Heath: 168 for 9   Badgers: 51 all out

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[A full match report might appear here in due course, but there again it may not since no one seemed particularly interested in writing one for this debacle]

Summary: Some solid bowling, including Chris Turner’s first five-fer for the club and miserly contributions from Greggy, the Skipper and Darrell (3-33), was marred by a poor catching performance – with Mark, almost unbelievably, having a horror of an afternoon and spilling (at least) three eminently catchable chances (well, catchable by Mark’s lofty standards) – and an even worse batting display. Only Richard Ward (21) showed the required nous or patience as the Badgers set off in pursuit of Broadbridge’s 168 for 9 and the rapid deterioration to a lowly 51 for 9 (all out) – the club’s worst score in over five seasons – was capped by a final over that featured a single, a four, a six and three wickets.

27th April – Badgers: 166 all out   Beechwood: 107 for 7

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[This report courtesy of Graham Ward]

Having had a rather pleasant Easter it was somewhat of a surprise to find the dank weather for our first fixture of the season. Although that is somewhat generous, it actually felt like the middle of November. It was then a surprise that the rain stopped and the sun shone on the Badgers’ first April outing since we played in black and white (and I’m not talking about the club colours).

The Skipper lost the toss and the Black Caps were inserted on a damp pitch. Steve Pitts and Graham Ward opened the batting and Steve was first to go, removed for 11. Next man in Barry Davenport departed after fielder Savory held on to a catch despite a mid pitch collision. One sandwich Pittsy was glad he had nothing to do with.

From there the engine room of the Badgers’ batting got going. The contrasting styles of the elegant, graceful, mercurial Ward and pugnacious explosiveness of Matt Mann (43) was there for all to see. Time and again Beechwood gave it everything but it took 110 runs for the partnership to be broken when Matt was stumped for his best ever score. Graham soon joined him back in the pavilion, also recording a personal best with 74 and unfortunately a major Badgers collapse was well under way. With no one able to stick around to help Patrick Redding (20 no.), the Badgers had fallen from 138 for two to 166 all out.

With Greggy getting a couple of early dismissals, Beechwood were very much on the back foot. Ian was supported by Darrell Pitts and Beechwood’s scoring remained low. On debut Chris Turner was introduced into the attack and his variations of speed and length made it difficult for any of Beechwood’s batting to settle. His accuracy on a slow wicket was crucial and he finished with the excellent figures on 4 for 28 off nine overs and but for a dropped catch at the wicket would have had a Michelle (five-for). At seven down, Beechwood’s thoughts turned to defence, and they were successful in this regard as the Badgers were unable to get any further breakthroughs. Even Mark’s rarely seen leg spin was given an outing. It was a winning draw if ever there was one and a solid performance by the Black Caps on their reappearance.

Statistical Notes: Graham Davenport’s wicket in this game was his one hundredth for the club.

(You might also care to check out Beechwood’s page on the match which features an equally comprehensive report along with scans of the scorebook pages and some photographs)