Whaddon – third time lucky!

We like playing Whaddon – jolly nice chaps on and off the field who tend to give us a close game.  So much so that when Ashwell announced that they were off to try their luck in the leagues, a third game with Whaddon was a popular choice to fill the gap in the fixture list.

It had been made clear before we started that a hearty tea was planned - one to savour before batting second.  Nonetheless Mr Inman ignored this, lost the toss and allowed us to be put in to bat first.

Sim Green and Matt Inman got off to a brisk start, with 42 off the first 6 overs, before Matt was caught behind.  Sim stayed out to top the score with 32, but a succession of partners declined various reasons to stay with him for long.  Most were just out, but our illustrious captain took a brief look at the bowling and retired hurt – deciding his back (or his batting) would be better for some prescription medication.  All this meant the run rate slowed down - a lot. So much in fact that by the 15th over we’d only managed to find another 20 runs.  The scoring did pick up a little, but the wickets also continued to fall, and by the time Andy Nunn walked out in the 24th over we were 105 for 7, thanks in part to an obdurate 24 from Ian Bandy.  But as he did so, pots were filled and the covers came off the sandwiches as an early tea seemed unavoidable.  Hope of a decent score had melted away.

However, the tail had a bit of wag as Andy repeatedly found the boundary on his way to a lifetime best of 17. His eventual demise brought back not one Inman but two, as John had decided that running wasn’t for him today, and he’d have his lad do that for him.  As it happened there wasn’t actually much call for a runner as John decided to just slog everything to the boundary – Matt’s services only being required for the inevitable single off the sixth ball.  Unfortunately it wasn’t to last as John fell LBW for 24, with the board showing 164 all out in 31.1 of the 36 overs available.

The tea, at least, lived up to its billing. As ever, Kate Heath did us proud.  The spanikopta samosas were a particular highlight, as were the individual trifles that accompanied the spectacular orange and chocolate cakes and all the usual fare.  Eventually, with regret but with tummies full, we were persuaded to leave Whaddon to pick over the remains and take to the field.  We, that is, and Whaddon’s 12th man, Keith.  John had really taken the idea of a runner to heart, and thus enlisted the opposition’s spare man to run around the pitch for him.

Clearly their openers fancied seconds of tea as they didn’t stay out for long. David Green found the timbers in his first over, and Paul Heath surprised everyone by holding on to a one-handed catch at full stretch off the bowling of Richard Kitto.

However, as with the batting, early success did not last.  Frank Huffer and Peter Haselden set determinedly to their task as gloom descended on Roe Green, soon turning into an unforecast drizzle.  By the time Frank had scored his half century and retired the sun at least had come back out, but the damage had been done.  Peter just missed out on his fifty, falling for 48.  As desperation set in John Inman gamely decided that if anyone was going to be hit for the winning runs, it would be him.  Bowling from a standing start (Keith had drawn the line at performing his run up for him) John managed to prolong the agony for nearly two overs as a glimmer of hope emerged that we might  last out to deny Whaddon the win they deserved.  It was not to be though, and they passed our total with seven balls remaining and 4 wickets in hand.

We retired to Wallington Village Hall to polish off the remains of the tea and, as it happened, the beer stocks.  We may not have won, but by that stage it didn’t matter at all - to us at least.  We had enjoyed an excellent contest, played in good spirits between friends, and that is what Strollers cricket is about.