by Troy Utz
Ducks (the cricket team as opposed to that wonderful accompaniment to plum sauce, spring onions and thin little pancakes) - all out for 153 from 14 overs
London Fields (the cricket team as opposed to a conglomerate of all the open spaces within greater London) - all out for 67 from 8 overs
Perhaps you have just spat at the screen or if you're a real whiz, your Blackberry. Maybe you have rushed to send an obscene email or a vicious phone message to our esteemed skipper, Christopher Skinner. I am not suggesting that you shouldn't, in fact, the ruder the better, but only if you are displeased with his breath or beard line or some other trifling complaint I have been privy to in recent weeks. But don't dare issue correspondence deploring the man's leadership skills as captain of the midweek team highlighted above - because things, dear fellows of the willow shafts and leather balls, are not as they seem.
In the words of one of the many sages of LFCC, Mr Paul Turley, 'We were outplayed...'
Much like his run up and delivery action, this is truth and brevity in pure harmony. And so it should have been that he opened our attack on an eye-wateringly windy Monday.
A solid spell of bowling, on any other day a troubling one, was issued. Beware the smoke screen that figures of 31/1 from 4 throws up. The two openers were good. So good in fact that there was hushed discussion from the Ducks that a Pakistani international had narrowly missed out on playing the ringer role for the lads, as he was the cousin of one and visiting in between tours of the cricketing world. With this kind of genetic advantage pulsing through the opposition, what chance did we commoners have? Mercifully he didn't show.
From the far end, Ben steamed in, still feeling confused no doubt from his weekend considerations that '...only the bad balls get a wicket.' There was no room for an addled mind though as the two openers tore into the bowling, bad ball or not. He finished with figures unlikely to bring a smile at 56/2 from 4, although the boys did aim to raise a smile in the tall right-armer with generous bottom pats and flattering support when the wickets did come.
Few decisions in life can be more difficult than that of who to bring on as first change bowler when the chips are down. Captain Skinner refused to burden any of his cavalry with such responsibility and courageously took the now battered sphere and eyed the terrorising batsmen with a gaze far more intimidating than that of the name dropping Duck, grinning through his helmet guard. Surely a wicket was imminent. But don't be fooled, he was promptly dispatched for a boundary. There was a shaky second over when Chris turned to me on our long trudge to the boundary and said 'Keep loose'. I promptly reached for my pocket sized butt spindle and loosened my drawstring but was hastily told to save it till after the game, and that he had meant my shoulder in preparation that I might take the next over should improvement allude him. This was not to be, however, as a wicket fell in his following over. A marvellous outfield catch by the pre-mentioned sage, swirling wind doing little to hinder his confidence beneath the high ball. The Skip ended his spell with 37/1 off 4.
If anyone could stop the onslaught, it was to be talisman of the moment, Taz. With 27/3 from 4 he seemed to have dragged us back into contention. Special mention must be given though to P. Teasdale, who issued two stumpings and generally kept wicket with aplomb.
And so his gloved person reflected what had been a really rather fine display of committed fielding from all the chaps. We felt warranted in congratulating each other as we headed for the kit bags and cigarettes.
But take nothing away from Ducks, they had shown us what good batting was all about and the challenge had been set.
And what a challenge! The Ducks bowled perhaps even better than they batted. Quick and straight, with movement and cut from the openers and flight and guile from the slow change at the members end. Again, don't let the figures dissuade you from remaining a member of this fine club, don't let them twist your arm into issuing a direct and petty letter of resignation to the proud and drink-enthused elders of the club. The following scores were gained not through poor batting or lazy defence. They were the product of sweaty twos and threes, comrades egging one another on to still greater feats of risk and reward. It was just that the risks were too great and the rewards utterly underwhelming.
But let us not trifle with names, blames and, indeed, shames. It is sufficient to say that the opening three scored 18, 17 and 19 respectively. The remaining five contributed 6 runs between them, of which three contributed none. But let's not get caught up in silly things like ducks (if only we would have thought of that before we played them - yes, ha ha, what a fabulous dose of Fry-like word play that was).
Like a team of true champions, if not a champion team, nearly all retired to the nearest house of ale and shared a drink with one another (um... one each that is, not a bag of straws and a pint). There was no word of commiseration though, just a gaggle of heads held aloft at what a great effort we had put up in the field, and how humble and yet positive we had been in defeat. Talk soon turned to the tour, and for the lucky few allowed to go a new fever of anticipation began to bubble.
So there it is, a poor effort on paper, one of embarrassment even, but don't be fooled by the red faces of the men who stood tall this Monday evening, for it is the flush of warmth, of camaraderie, of knowing that there is always going to be someone better than you in life and that the sooner you give in to it the sooner you can really start to enjoy life. A life of liver damage, a life of bottom-patting, a life of mates, a life with London Fields Cricket Club.London Fields Batting
67 for 7 in 8.0
|Paul Turley||—||Not Out||Unknown||0|
153 for 3 in 14.0London Fields Bowling