We've taken a few spankings from Shakespeare recently, usually bowling second, and after winning the toss their skipper, Toby, had no hesitation in inserting us on a grey, two-sweater day.
The track was sloooow and low and the openers took a while to recalibrate but then Nathan sprang from his customary crouch and launched a mighty thwack that cleared the plane trees. Sneaky singles were snook, both openers went up a gear and under pressure the bowling became a bit ragged. Full tosses were despatched and Robin began to bat as only Robin can. The pair had put on 99 before halfway but then Rob was caught. Great shock. Cue minor collapse as four wickets fell in the three overs before drinks.
After the break Graeme leant into a classy cover drive but was lbw next ball. Taz clubbed several to the legside boundary but the rest of us either mistimed feeble lobs to bucket-handed fielders or swiped at air and got bowled. A rush of late wickets left Carl getting dressed at the crease, taking guard with one hand, inserting his box with the other. But 190 off 35 was a decent total.
The nearest tree to lean our scoreboard against was, unhelpfully, behind the bowler's arm. But master craftsmen Krohny and Carl came to the rescue and using only gaffer tape, wingnuts, spit and elastic bands, rigged up up an impressively self-supporting scoreboard. Sadly, if understandably, it remained unused by the oppo who were camped in the far distance while we fielded.
Shakey opened up with a Rob of their own, who in recent seasons has alternated 50s with 100s from our bowling, but Yates from the Turley End and RJ from the Tedore End fed him nothing. Pitching it full and straight on the still sticky dog, with Robin up and the field set close, they suffocated the usually oxygen-rich Shakespeare top order. 17 came from the first 10 overs. A gem from Yates straightened and took the off stump of the disbelieving Rob, the first of three from Yatesy for which seaming ball preceded falling timber. RJ was rewarded with a deserved wicket for his part in the stranglehold. Krohny bowled like a man in oven gloves (which would have been handy as, to be fair, the cold prevented circulation beyond his elbows) and for a while Shakey rallied, but they were playing catch-up and when Carl found a good one to bowl their top scorer the end was nigh. Taz capped a fine all-round performance with late wickets and a juggling catch at silly mid off from a full-blooded drive off Krohny. Friendly's cunningly-signalled (and executed) stumping off Ferny ended the proceedings.
A convincing victory for the Fields was generously acknowledged by the oppo. Then we retired to the warmth of the pub and added colour to a grey day by drinking orange beer (from Holland) and the odd large glass of rose.
Only the second time we've beaten Shakespeare in the last seven goes. Happy day, cold though...