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Tabard Pilgrims Cricket Club

IDYLLIC SETTING FOR BATTLING DRAW AND DISPLAY OF EGG-CENTRICITY

Saturday, September 3 v Chumleigh.

By Bully

This was undoubtedly a good thing we did.

Given the Pilgrims’ legendary disorganisation there was a real sense of achievement when all ten (plus the Younger Younger who fielded with some aplomb) actually turned up on the Friday night before the match as planned.

For some of us, the sun still shone upon our arrival and we were able to take in the beauty of the Chumleigh ground, with its views of Dartmoor in the distance, bathed in the late evening sunshine. The Judge was doing his captainly duties for the oppo – cutting the square and painting the crease lines, whilst Daisy ‘practiced’ (no equipment required) his ‘batting’. It was all very English – bucolic and eccentric in equal measures.

Beer

The pub was then repaired to where the local brews, Butcombe and Otter, were given a thorough testing. The Petrol Baron and his Brian arrived – this seemed reason enough to indulge in more vigorous beer-testing. Persil and Clarence hoved into view – all were unsure if the beer had been tested thoroughly so, just to be on the safe side...

At last, Bully, Daisy, Hansie RIP, Moggie, Xero, YY and the Judge departed for the latter’s homestead where we were bunking. Beer and breakfast supplies were purchased en-route at a surprisingly well-stocked filling station. Eggs, however, turned out to be a surprising hot potato. Daisy was insistent that a hundredweight of small eggs were the order of the day, the rest of us – somewhat bemused – thought a representative quantity of larger eggs would do the trick and these were duly acquired. Undeterred, the stubborn llama went ahead and bought a tray of small eggs ‘for later’. Those of us who had witnessed the infamous frozen prawns debacle on our first tour were filled with foreboding.

Brian Judge had rustled up a hearty chilli and we fell to. The Judge plied us with an uninterruptible supply of home-made scrumpy and all was right with the world.

Some sleep was required and the Bully Suite was opened up to guests. Time passed. Morning and breakfast arrived. Hansie was in his element and much food was consumed. The eggs were lovely.

Golf

Off back up the road to Chumleigh, first stop the local par-three course where all ’Grims were gathered at various holes. Those who had stayed in a local hostelry the previous evening (The Old Courthouse, where all ’Grims were booked for the Saturday) reported that their host, Sam, had apparently excelled himself in his ‘hail fellow and well met’ role and all were looking forward to a reprise of the performance later on.

The less said about the ‘golf’ the better. My group, including Xero, Daisy and Moggie, played an interesting format of the game and everyone was glad to see the back of us.

And so to the ground where apparently there was now a chance of some cricket breaking out. The weather that had been a little grey and iffy early doors had improved immensely and we were now bathed (almost literally, given the humidity) in sunshine.

Given this heat and humidity it was crucial that Penthouse win the toss – he lost it. In response, Kommander docked his iPod to provide some uplifting music but the choice was between a requiem mass or Neil Diamond, so that didn’t really work all that well.

Edgy

So the ’Grims took the field, Younger Younger an excellent 11th man. Petrol and Clarence bowled well, but with no luck. Apparently in Devon the batting technique, coached from a young age, is known as ‘Edgy’ and both bowlers were frustrated not to see a catch go to the slips (whether it would have been caught when it got there is moot).

However Chumleigh settled down and were looking ominous. Fortunately this had been designated a tour game so the Judge couldn’t last long and sure enough he was trapped LBW by Petrol for 14. Our elation was short-lived as their number three, Andrew Heimann, strode to the crease – I had seen him bat before and knew getting him early was crucial. We didn’t and it was. An almost chanceless 117 runs later and the ’Grims were relieved when the Judge decided to declare a little earlier than he had to, figuring 245 for two was just about what was needed to win the game, and who would argue? The only other wicket had gone to Persil who got the other opener for a scratchy 66.

The ’Grims were a little deflated, but tea soon sorted that out and we were in determined mood when Daisy and Bully strode out to open the batting. It was slow going. The bowling was tight and Bully seemed incapable of hitting the ball off the pitch let alone the square. Finally Daisy got one that came into him and he played on without scoring. Penthouse joined Bully at the crease and things looked up slightly as he at least proved capable of hitting the bad ball for four. Bully was marooned and that’s being kind. The opening bowler had taken to bowling round the wicket and this forced Bully to play him, quite literally, off his arse. I’m sure that for years to come this game will be rightly become infamous for these tactics. Never mind ‘bodyline’ welcome to ‘bottyline’.

Bemused

We reached the 20 overs to play mark without further loss with 65 on the board. Penthouse was on 39 Bully on nine (gleaned in an hour and ten minutes). “Right,” said the skipper, “first target reached, let’s push on a bit.” For Bully “let’s push on a bit” translated to “have a go at everything.” And he did. Within a few overs he had reached his 50, whilst a bemused looking Penthouse observed almost exclusively from the non-striker’s end wondering, with the rest of the onlookers, what exactly had been put in the drinks.

Well it couldn’t last and Bully finally departed for 61, a career high. Kommander promised fireworks but the Judge had seen him bat too often and knew just where to place his field. Kommander (three) obliged and taking another huge, abortive, heave landed the ball in the hands of the deepish mid-on put there for the job.

Moggie provided a ‘golden’ moment for which he would pay later, which saw Petrol Baron arrive at the crease. Some lusty blows from him (19) and Persil (22) with Penthouse still playing beautifully saw the ’Grims up with the rate – could an unlikely win be on the cards? Was the Judge beginning to regret his confident declaration?

Gargantuan

Persil went and we were running short of batsmen. Clarence astounded everyone by actually listening to his captain and playing two defensive shots in his innings. He also hit a gargantuan six and was only around for a few balls before departing for eight.

The chance of victory was surely now slipping away but with Penthouse still there hope remained. Alas, the skipper fell for a superb 79, having held the entire ’Grims reply together. Hanse RIP joined Xero and the draw was now the target. With a few alarums and excursions it was duly delivered by this redoubtable rearguard.

For the ’Grims this felt like a win and, having knocked off 225 of the required runs, we had certainly made a game of it.

er... Beer

So to post-match festivities. These largely consisted of beer-tasting, basket meals and endless games of killer. Court was held and much money was taken which we then converted into beer (this being a tour match) – marvellous.

We ended up at the Old Courthouse. Sam more than lived up to the previous evening’s display of bonhomie and it was long after your correspondent had retired from the field that the last dart was thrown and beer tasted.

It was a bedraggled remnant that I caught up with the following day, hanging out in the skittles alley whilst Hansie recovered sufficiently to essay the journey home. Still, one more chance to have a go at that beer-tasting game...

This was a great weekend. Even though only the one game was played it certainly felt like a tour and gave the ’Grims a proper climax to the season. The oppo were fantastic hosts (led by our very own Judge, why wouldn’t they be?), the game exciting, the setting beautiful and the weather perfect. Roll on next year and an expanded itinerary.